Last Stage

HI All

We are now in LA and have been greeted by some warmer weather in late 20’s and early 30’s which is nice and it makes us look forward to summer in marlborough. The first day we spent at the Santa Monica beach and while Charlotte was doing some yoga Jacob and I visited the pier and went round and round for about two hours on all the attractions.

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Today we are all off to universal studios for the day and tomorrow will be a rest day by the pool in the hotel before we fly out at 10pm. Universal Studios was fun – rides not as spectacular as Disney but pretty close and a lot less manic than Disneyland.  The first ride Jacob insisted on was the Jurassic Park water ride.  We warned him that we might get wet, (takes after his mother in that he is quite particular and hates walking round in wet clothes or shoes), but he was very insistent.  The ride was fairly tame until the end when you suddenly drop down an almost vertical drop, after being assaulted by a T Rex!!  Jacob screamed his little lungs out and we got a great picture of us all.

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After getting his picture taken with a transformer we headed into the Transformer 3D ride which was a simulator ride – fantastic visual effects and the simulator really does make you feel like you are dropping from the top of a 30 storey building!!!!

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I then did the Mummy Ride on my own which was a rollercoaster in the dark with a fantastic takeoff going from 0 to 45mph in a second or two – yeehah!!  We took a little break from the rides and took the studio tour which had a wonderful 3D King Kong experience done in conjunction with Peter Jackson.  Jacob really wanted to do the Simpson’s roller coaster ride which was one that even smaller kids could do so we assumed that it would be a gentler ride – WRONG!!  It was an amazing simulated roller coaster – so yet again Jacob was screaming beside me and I knew that Mark would be getting increasingly “car sick” behind me!!  We decided to leave the rides after that and headed to Waterworld which was a very impressive stunt and action show from the film.  The final, and my favourite thing, was the Animal Actors show – the animals were amazingly well trained – dogs, cats, birds of prey, parrots, pigeons, guinea pigs, cats – it was very clever and funny.

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Waterworld Show

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Looking back now we are really pleased we spent such a good length of time in one place and Asheville was a fantastic place that we will always love and want to return to. The highlight for us was spending some really good quality time together as a family especially while Jacob is at this cool age! We have had some wonderful adventures and experienced new things along the way which we have blogged about. As we are in the final stages of our trip we are starting to realise how much we have missed everyone back home and we are really looking forward to catching up. See you all soon.

Lv mark, Charlotte and Jacob

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Saying Goodbye to Asheville

Hi All

Well, we left Asheville 3 days ago – heavy sigh!! It was very sad to leave Asheville – it had definitely started to feel like home with some good friends and a lovely feeling of familiarity, which is the joy of staying somewhere for 3 months, but tinged still with the excitement of new things and a slight feeling of something different.  The trees with their fall colours were looking stunning – Markey just rolled his eyes when I pointed out beautiful trees to him with the same sense of wonder that I did about 100 trees ago.

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Fall colours on Edwin Place

We had a very busy week prior to leaving Asheville with lots of goodbye dinners and lunches plus visiting a few places that had been on our “to do” list. We had a wonderful meal with Rachel and Kenny at a restaurant called Limones which described it’s food as Californian (so a heavy Mexican influence).  Usually when we got together we had theri 3 girls and Jacob so it was nice to actually be able to talk to them without interruptions.  On the following night we had a final meal with Kiki and Chris at their house. Their son Will had done quite a bit of babysitting of Jacob.  Will is 14 and Jacob loved going to play at his house as Will’s imagination is just as active as Jacob’s.  Kiki took me for a great run/walk the next day at some hiking trails about 15 minutes from town – Bent Creek Gap.  The forest had lots of beautiful birch in it and the trails were fantastic to run on with the beautiful fall colours to block out the pain!

Our last week started with Halloween which seems to be one of the biggest holidays over here with people decorating their homes about month out and stores with loads of merchandise from about 2 months out!  Typically I left it unti the last minute to get my costume.  At the mall they have a massive big orange marquee with the largest selection of costumes we have ever seen – mark loved it and ended up with about 3 very cool costumes!

We had organised to go trick or treating with a couple of other families (Phil, Kristy and Tristan and Rachel, Kenny and their 3 girls).  We went to Griffing Blvd which was just up from our Kimberly Ave house – it is a street lined with big houses and apparently it was one of the best places to go trick or treating (one householder spent $700 on sweets last year to give out!!).  We arrived there at 6.30pm and the place was buzzing – families walking around dressed up in amazing costumes, music playing (one house actually had a DJ), the houses had incredbile decorations – it felt like a carnival.  The kids ran up to the first house – Jacob followed but was a bit hesitant to say “trick or treat”.  then he rushed back and said – I just said “trick or treat” and they gave me sweets and he was off.  People sit on the stoop on their porches with buckets of sweets – some had great costumes – and pass sweets out to endless children!  Quite amazing really. And even better, Jacob had 3 sweets that night and has then forgotten about them – so he had a great experience and still gets to keep his teeth!!

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Mark, Phil, Kristy, Jacob and Tristan

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Halloween garden decorations

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Local residents all dressed up to dish out sweets

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mark and I and really big pumpkins

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On our last Saturday we went out with Kristy and Phi to a restaurant called The Admiral – it is the most unassumig looking restaurant ever but purportedly had the best food in Asheville if not the state!  You really wouldn’t think this from the outside – it is in West Asheville which has gone from a slightly divey to a funky up and coming neighbourhood.  The meal was great!  We then headed to Hendersonville, about 25 mins away, to go to the Flat Rock Playhouse to see a musical/play about the live of Hank Williams Snr.  I had heard of Hank Williams Snr as being one of the most influential country music artists of our times and I had seen his granddaughter Holly Williams live in Asheville but had never heard any of his music.  He died in 1952 aged 29 from alcohol and drug overdose.  The show was fantastic – we all loved it, the actors were great and the music awesome.

On Sunday we visited a couple of homes of people who are interested in doing a homeswap with us so that we can go back to Asheville sometime without having to pay an arm and a leg for accommodation and transport.  Both the homes were great – one in particular was in the funky West asheville neighbourhood.  Both families were lovely so hopefully something will work out with that for the future.

In the afternoon Jacob had a final playdate with Tristan and Mark and I hiked John’s Rock in Pisgah National Forest.  Kath and I had done the walk and I knew Markey would love the views from the top.  Also, since the elevation wasn’t too high the fall colours were stil gorgeous. We picked Jacob up and went to Rachel and Kenny’s for a very yummy taco dinner there – we are going to miss them and their gorgeous girls.

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Tristan and Jacob

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Fall colours at John’s Rock

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View of Looking Glass Rock from John’ Rock

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Monday night and yet another goodbye – Mark and I had a final dinner out and then headed to 5 On Walnut to listen to a jazz band called Hank West and the Smokin’ Hots play – they were fantastic – great trumpet player and awesome keyboardist.  We met my friend Caitlin and Lauren there (and Kiki and Chris came to say good bye too)!  My gosh, I’m going to miss the accessibility of music here! It has certainly made me keen to head up to the Dharma Shed at the Wairau Valley when they get live music up there.

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Tuesday was pack up day, a final tearful goodbye with Rachel at preschool, then shifting in to the Grove Park Inn for our final night.  We have loved the Grove Park Inn so was nice to finish up there.  On the Tuesday night Ann Patchett, one of my favourite authors, was giving a talk and reading at the university so it was quite exciting to be able to go (although Mark did have to push me out the door of the Grove Park Inn which I was grateful for because it was great to be able to listen to Ann Patchett in person – plus found out that she owns an independent book store in Nashville which we visited and I was in book heaven – everything a book shop should be!).

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Ann Patchett’s book shop in Nashville

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Charlotte and Kristy at Grove Park Inn

I did shed a tear as we drove out of Asheville but we’ll be back sometime!  We’ve had such a great family holiday here – we have been so fortunate to be able to do this.  It has been wonderful for Jacob to spend time with Markey and I where neither of us are stressed or too busy – hopefully we can remember to try and not get too busy when we are back home and maintain some of that “holiday feel”!

After leaving Asheville, we drove through the Great Smoky Mountains to a little mountain town called Highlands – the summer playground of the wealthy from Atlanta – we had hired a house and we had a lovely, relaxed couple of nights there.  The drive was very scenic both into and away from Highlands.  We drove through the Ocoee Gorge after leaving Highlands and past Ocoee lake which was beautiful.

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Views of ranges in Nantahala Forest near Highlands

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Falls on the way to Highlands

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View of falls through forest near Highlands

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View of Highlands from Sunset Rock

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Falls near Highlands – can walk under them

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Under the falls

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Our house in Highlands

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lake in Highlands

So, now here we are in Nashille – the Music City.  We went to the Grand Ol Opry last night which was great – it was in  the original Ryman auditorium – the Mother Church of the Grand Ol Opry which has a great atmosphere.  There was about 10 acts who each sing a couple of songs plus some square dancing!  It was lots of fun and great music.  My favourites were Holly Williams and a band called Sons of Fathers.

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Elvis’s cadillac – Country Music Hall of Fame

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Sons of Fathers – Grand Ole Opry

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Nashville has lots of fun things for kids – yesterday we went to the Frist Center for Visual Arts where there is a whole section of art activities for kids – painting with watercolours, they can try printmaking, sculpting – Jacob, and Markey, loved it.  Today we went to the Adventure Science Center which is kid heaven!

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Printmaking at the Frist Center Nashville

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Off to the Country Music Hall of Fame tomorrow and hopefully some music in the evening then fly out at 7.35am (yuk!) for Los Angeles.  Hoping for hot weather in LA!!

See y’all soon.

love Charlotte, Mark and Jacob. xoxo

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At Taco dinner with Rachel and Kenny

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Grannio and Jacob

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Charlootte and Bree

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Maya, Jacob and Ruby

So much to do, so little time left!!

Mark and I are sitting with our friend Rachel as her 3 girls, Jacob’s friend Gallagher and Jacob go crazy in his room playing “witches” given that it’s halloween this week.  Gallagher goes to Jacob’s preschool and he is a very sweet, very enthusiastic little boy.  When I asked him if he would like to come for a playdate he said “Wow, that would be great, all the way to New Zealand – well, I’ll pack my bag and bring my toys”!!!  HIs father told me he was convinced that we would be coming to our log cabin in NZ.  He gets so excited when he talks that he can’t get the words out fast enough.

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Gallagher and Jacob

Well – it’s a day later now and it’s 8pm and we are sitting at home and mark is watching an NBA game while trying on his Darth Vader halloween outfit!!  It looks very good and fairly scarey!  Jacob is going to be Ironman and I’m a witch (boring I know but all the women’s costumes looked like they were out of the pages of Playboy – the men had really cool things like Woody from Toy Story,  Batman etc and the large proportion of the women’s were sexy bat girls, sexy pirates, sexy tavern maids blah, blah, blah so I went for a witch)!  This is a family show after all.  So on Thursday at 6pm we are heading out with Rachel, Kenny and their 3 girls and Kristy, Phil and Tristan to go trick or treating – should be an experience.  Houses have been decorated with scarey halloween stuff for about a month!

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Two weekends ago my friend Gen, who I’d met at the yoga retreat in California 7 years ago, drove down from Minnesota with her partner Naren.  It was an 18 hour drive so we felt pretty honoured that they came all that way to see us!  They arrived on the Saturday and on the Friday before they arrived we went to the LEAF festival in Black Mountain.  It’s a primarily a music festival but they have yoga classes, contra dancing, healing arts, stalls and lots of things for kids.  We had missed out on tickets as it sold out but some friends managed to get us in free of charge which was incredibly kind.  Jacob had a ball with lots of kid’s activities – a vertical bungy, a climbing wall which he did great at, costume tent, music tent where kids can try all different kind of instruments out, puppet shows – he was very happy.  The festival is round a small lake surrounded by forest-covered hills – very pretty.  It is a 3 day event and heaps of people camp there – it has quite an amazing atmosphere.  There is a dining room where you can get great meals and listen to live music, 3 other stages – very cool.

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Lake Eden – LEAF venue

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Contra dancing at LEAF

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Poso at LEAF

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music tent at LEAF

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Music tent at LEAF

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LEAF festival

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Weaving at LEAF

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Before LEAF Jacob and i went to see an amazing puppet show (think large scale as opposed to hand puppets).  it was a 3 person company from Nova Scotia who created a puppet show 3 of Eric Carle’s stories (The Very Hungry Caterpillar being the most famous one).  It was great and Jacob loved it.

On Sunday we took Gen and Naren to Catawba Falls which is a lovely walk with beautiful waterfalls at the end – Gen and I climbed up beside the falls which was fun – one part had a rope to pull yourself up the rocks – and a fantastic view at the top.  On Monday Gen, Naren and I headed off on the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the fall colours and do another longer walk – unfortunately Naren rolled his ankle 15 mins into the walk – it took us 1 hour to get him back to the car and they had to spend the afternoon at A&E and he had broken his ankle!!  We still had a lovely night with them and I did a run with Gen the next day and we had a yummy brunch together before they left – very nice to see Gen again.  Hope it isn’t 7 years before we see them again!

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GEn and Naren just before broken ankle!

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walking to Catawba Falls

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Trail to Catawba Falls

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Catawba Falls

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Dinner at 9 Mile with Phil, Gen, Kristy and Naren

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Graveyard Fields Trail

We moved into a new house on Sunday – we had only booked the original house until 20 Oct as we were originally going to be heading up to New England but we decided to stay in ASheville since we are LOVING it so much.  The new house is only 4 minutes from our old one and in a slightly more rural setting – very pretty.

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We had a relatively quiet week last week.  Jacob had a few days off preschool for fall break so I took him to a children’s hands on museum in Hendersonville (which is about 25 mins away) one day.  It has a little supermarket, a vet centre, stage with costumes, lego car racing track and lots of cool things for him to play with!

On Friday night I headed off to listen to singer/songwriter Crystal Bowersox sing at the Grey Eagle – she was an American Idol runnerup a couple of years ago – she is sort of soulish with a beautiful voice and a fantastic band and not what you would imagine an Idol runnerup to be like – very personal lyrics in her songs and she obviously hasn’t had such an easy life.

On the Saturday morning our little family was entered in a fun run/walk.  The weather turned suddenly cold last week and we woke up on Saturday to an almighty frost – so beautiful but very cold.  The 5 km run started at 9am and the 1 mile walk/run was at 10am.  I was doing the run with the lovely ladies from A Better View – Family Eye Care (which is owned by Kathy Milam our Ashevillian friend who is currently living in Blenheim).  We had met her team when Mark and I got our eyes tested (yes, I now have reading glasses! – which Jacob told me are “very styley Mum”).  Plus we have had dinner with Kiki, the optometrist, several times and been for some great hikes with her (and her son Will babysits Jacob)!  They very kindly included me in their running team so it was a really fun run – I like 5km as a fun run!!  Then Mark, Jacob and I did the 1 mile walk – although Jacob wanted to run so we ran for about half of it (until he got stitch)!!  It was really lovely to do that together!

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Black Mountain Eye Care Tean

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On the Sunday we took a Sunday drive along the Blueridge Parkway – the fall colours looked beautiful.  We drove up to about 5,500ft where it had been so cold that a waterfall beside the road had frozen over – looked amazing!

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Jacob went back to preschool today and Kiki took me running/walking on the Bent Creek trails which are just outside the city.  It was through beautiful silver birch and maple forest and with the fall colours it was gorgeous.  Mark and I are hoping to get out on a longer hike this Thursday – if we can fit it in between Halloween festivities!!

We had a halloween party and potluck lunch at preschool today which was fun – the kids looked so cute dressed up.  One girl came as a turtle, there was a little green dragon.  Jacob went as Superman.  they all painted little pumpkins and then after lunch the teachers had set up a “spider’s web” made out of yarn in one of the rooms, (looked like the scene in Entrapment when Catherine Zeta Jones crawls through the laser beams!!), and the kids had to crawl around without touching the web – they had a ball!

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Rachel, Bree, Kenny and Ruby

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So, busy few days ahead with some meals out, trick and treating tonight – on Saturday night we are going to a play in Hendersonville on the life of Hank Williams – meant to be really good with great singing.  On Sunday our friends Kenny and Rachel are making us a thanksgiving dinner since it is such a big American tradition that we are missing out on by a couple of weeks.

Ilots of love

Charlotte, Markey and Jacob xoxo

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Tristan in front of his halloween decorations

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Pumpkin carving with Bree and Ruby

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pre fun run carbo loading

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our finished pumpkins

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Old time mountain music jam at Jack of the Woods

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with the gorgeous Bree

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Charlotte and Kristy on a playdate in backyard

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Lounge at new house

Grove Park Inn Fire

Fire at Grove Park Inn

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Fall colours on hills behind our house

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Fall colours on Kimberly Ave

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Fall colours on Grove Park Inn golf course

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Fall colours at Black Mounain

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Drive on Blueridge Parkway

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View from Craggy Gardens

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Beautiful house on Kimberly Ave

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Baptist Church

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Artist’s studios in redeveloped River Arts District

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Photos galore!

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top of chimney rock with Rachel, Kenny and girls

 

 

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Blowing Bubbles at Lake Lure

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Drive to Brevard Waterfalls

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Drive up to bottom of Chimney Rock

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Exclamation Point above Chimney Rock

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Fall Colours at Hooker Falls

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Top drop of Triple Falls

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Maya and Jacob at Lake Lure (near Chimney Rock)

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Jacob at Hooker Falls

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the long climb up to Chimney Rock

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looking down 2nd drop of Triple Falls

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looking back down on Chimney Rock

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Jacob and mark on top of Chimney Rock

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Picnicing at Lake Lure

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Ready to climb Chimney Rock

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Charlotte and Jacob at top of Triple Falls

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scrambling up Triple Falls

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Top drop at Triple Falls

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Triple Falls

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Triple Falls

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Full View of Triple Falls

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More Triple Falls – I loved them!!!!

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In amongst it at Triple Falls

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Walking to Hooker Falls

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Morning walk on Cherokee Road near our house – mark’s speed!

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Charlotte’ speed

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Yeh – a cat!

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Typical porch with rocking chairs!

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Typical house in the suburban woods

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Arts and craft architecture

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Cherokee Road walk in morning sun

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Queen Anne architecture

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Orange Peel

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The Big Nasty at 5 on Walnut

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Mark and cat at homeshare accommodation

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Jack o lanterns

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Ironman!

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New moose pjs

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Grannio and Jacob in blanket hut

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Classic US

Still having fun!!

Given that yet again I have left it a bit long to do the blog I’m going to work backwards because I think I will remember it better that way!  Sorry for long blog – feel free to skim read!!

On Saturday, a couple of days ago, we were having a quiet day at home after Jacob had thrown up the night before.  Jacob and I were sitting in front of the toilet around 12.30pm – poor boy felt sick but couldn’t throw up and he just said to me “what a night, Mum”!!  Thank fully he was all better the next day but we just mucked around home in the morning.  It was a beautiful day so I went for a walk on the hills behind us – I took a slightly different route and ended up on a gravel road walking through beautiful forest with the leaves changing slightly.  I thought, what an amazing city because I was still only 15 minutes from the centre of town.

Jacob’s little friend, Tristan, and his parents Kristy and Phil came round in the afternoon – Jacob and Tristan get on really well and so do we with Kristy and Phil – they are lots of fun with great senses of humour and very warm an welcoming.  They stayed until about 5.30pm when we decided we would go out for pizza to All Souls Pizza – was yummy and it is still warm enough to sit out at that time of day.

On Sunday Mark and Jacob went swimming – Jacob is doing pretty well at swimming now and is really enjoying it. IN the afternoon we headed out to Hickory Nut Gap Farm which is about 20 mins from Asheville in very pretty rolling hills.  Hickory Nut supplies meat to a lot of the restaurants in town – there is a big farm to plate movement here.  To supplement income a lot of farms around here open their doors to the public.  At Hickory Nut there are hay rides, a corn maze, pumpkin patch (big thing round here because Halloween is huge), goats, chicks, trike trails, piglets, a cider press… it’s a great place for kids and jacob loved it.

The weekend before we had a fantastic day at the waterfalls in Brevard about 40 mins away.  We wanted to take Mark back to the waterfalls that Jacob and I had visited so we took a picnic.  It was a beautiful day so we had a glorious picnic on the rocks at the bottom of the Hooker falls.  We then headed up to the spectacular Triple Falls further up the river – we all climbed the rocks up to the top of the falls which was lots of fun – a great day.

We were staying in a house share situation that weekend after having to move our of Kimberly AVe for a few days.  It is not easy to get accommodation in Asheville and this seemed like it would be fun as the house was owned by a single mum and her 6 year old son.  It didn’t seem like much fun on that Saturday night those as we offered to babysit their son Theo since we were staying in.  Theo didn’t seem very interested in talking to us or playing Jacob but just kept trying to ring his Mum who wasn’t answering – I found him a few minutes later crying in his bedroom!!!  Not so much fun!! He cheered up after we chatted for a while and improved completely once his pizza arrived – he and Jacob got on well for the rest of the weekend and Jacob and I loved playing with the little kitten.

We happily moved back into Kimberly Ave on Monday morning.  we love this house and will be sad when we leave it.  On Tuesday night we were very excited because there was a NBA game in Asheville – the Charlotte Bobcats and the Atlanta Hawks.  We asked our masseuse (sounds great doesn’t it!!), Maria, to come over for dinner and then babysit Jacob.  She is a lady in her 60’s who has her own grandkids who call her Grannio which is what Jacob calls her.  She is really lovely and lots of fun.  She told us over dinner that she spent 5 years in Peru doing volunteer work in the prisons teaching people how to heal themselves – I think this was only about 4 years ago that she did this.  She is a very interesting person.

The basketball game was great and there was only 2 points in it.  mark and I were quite excited to see Patrick Ewing, a basketball legend who used to play for the New York Knicks about 20 years ago – he was an asst coach for the Bobcats who are owned by Michael Jordan.  The guy next to us was on his own so we were asking him some questions about the players and the teams and he was great – people here are very friendly.

On Thursday afternoon we went to Chimney Rock and Lake Lure with Rachel, Kenny and their 3 girls. (Jacob goes to preschool with Ruby but is the same age as Maya their oldest girl so he gets fought over when they get together – they have another little girl called Bree who is 18 months old and adorable).  It was a beautiful drive to Chimney Rock and then a 25 min climb up steps to get to the top of Chimney Rock and stunning views over Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge.  Jacob did really well to climb all the way on his own. We then had a picnic on the shores on the Lake surrounded by forest-covered hills as the sun went down.

I had found a great band that was playing at the Orange Peel in town which is the top live music venue in Asheville.  We were pretty knackered but I really wanted to hear this band so we headed into town.  The band was called The March Forth Marching Band – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m9xN4Z7gUc.  When we got to the Orange Peel they told us that the lead up band was playing a full set so March Forth wouldn’t start until 10.30!!! So we headed to the faithful 5 on Walnut which was humming with the band The Big Nasty playing.  They are a 4 piece band playing a New Orleans style jazz – fantastic!  The dog that someone brought into the bar particularly enjoyed them!  We decided that we would go and listen to a bit of the March Forth as I really didn’t want to miss them and we were so pleased we did.  The Orange Peel is a great venue and the band was incredbile – full of energy and you just couldn’t help but dance – take a listen on youtube.

The leaves are beginning to change here so we are hoping to get out for a walk at a bit higher altitude this week to see them at their best!  markey is off for a game of golf at the Grove Park Inn tomorrow. This weekend is the LEAF festival at Lake Eden in Black Mountain and it sounds pretty cool – lots of stuff for kids, lots of music, contra dancing, healing arts, yoga – lots of people camp there for the whole 4 days of the festival.  We also have Gen Nagel and her partner coming to stay – Gen was at the yoga retreat in California with me when we both did the vegetarian cooking for 3 months.  She is lots of fun so should be fun to catch again!  They are keen for LEAF and som e hiking and eating!!

In my last blog I forgot to mention about Biltmore Estate which we toured when Kath was here – it is the largest house in the US and was built by George Vanderbilt – it is a great tour and an incredible house.

We also had a quite a bit of fun with Kath chosing cowboy boots – there is a Western Store here that has an incredible selection of cowboy boots.  So Kath and I both got a pair – Kath’s pair are beautiful with flowers on them – mine are a bit more stock standard but I really like them!!

. I was thinking how lucky we have been with the people that we have met here – we will miss them.  We had the neighbours over for drinks last Wednesday and we had a really lovely time – chatting away easily.

I’m sure I’ve missed stuff but you get the general idea of what we have been up to.

lots of love

Charlotte xoxo

Here are some random photos – I’ll post a blog with just photos from the things we did above in the next couple of days.

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Bree, Ruby, Jacob and Maya at Rachel’s birthday dinner

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Rachel and Kenny

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Mark at Grove Park Inn

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Jacob at his lIttle Gym class

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Little Gym

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Kath at Grove Park Inn

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self portrait

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Charlotte at Grove Park Inn

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The Cowboy Boots

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Greenhouse at Biltmore Estate

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Water lily ponds grove park inn

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Biltmore Estate

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Biltmore

We’re Still Alive!!!

Hi All

Well, it’s been awhile – so I should have a lot to write about but without Markey writing down what we were doing everyday I’ve kind of lost track!!  I’ll start with the last 10 days with Kath here and work my way back!!

We got home from Folly Beach last night after dropping Kath at Charlotte airport.  We had a great time with Kath and packed a huge amount of stuff in – it was fun to share some of our Asheville things with someone from home.

A couple of nights ago, as I was just putting jacob to bed, we had another visit from the mother bear and her 3 cubs.  The rubbish had been put out so they were coming for dinner.  They were just wandering down our driveway.  Jacob and I were looking out the window as one of the cubs was by our car – it stood up on it’s hind legs to try and find the rest of them and it looked so gorgeous.  Eventually the neighbours drove their little mini cooper up the driveway and herded them back up to the woods – it makes me a little sad that they have to come down and eat our rubbish, I guess due to the expansion of surburbia into their woods with the resultant loss of food source for them.  However, still pretty amazing to see them! (Actually, that also reminds me of our previous bear sighting when Kath was here – my most vivid memory of that time was of Kath running out to the street, straight from the shower, dressed only in her towel, to take pictures of the bears.  I think it is also the most vivid memory for Kurt, the autistic 27 yr old from next door, who just kept saying, in a heavy southern accent – “that girl ain’t got no clothes on”!!)

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There was lots of things we did while Kath was here – contra dancing, lots of eating out at great restaurants, kath met some of the friends we have made here, a wonderful afternoon/evening at the Grove Park Inn Spa (just amazing)!, lots of fantastic yoga classes – but one of the highlights was a fantastic walk that Kath and I did in Pisgah National Forest.  It was called John’s Rock and was a 2 hour loop track through beautiful forest with a wonderful view from the high point.  As we were standing on a rock slab on the edge of the mountain two eagles were gliding on wind currents above us – very cool moment.

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Kath on top of John’s Rock

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looking up at John’s Rock where kath was standing in previous photo

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After the walk we decided that we had just enough time to squeeze in Sliding Rock which was just up the road.  Fortunately we had no time to prevaricate about whether we would careen down the rock slide into the freezing cold river pool because we only had 10 minutes or we would be late getting back to Asheville for Jacob’s kindermusik class.  We rushed down to the river, with a group of elderly onlookers cheering us on, (they were very excited, and somewhat amazed, that someone was actually sliding down), climbed up to the top and slid down before we could chicken out (of course how could we disappoint our adoring fans)!  It was lots of fun and incredibly refreshing!!

Back again after a day’s break!  We have had to move out of our Kimberly Ave house for a few days (always makes me sad as I love that house).  We are currently in a very cool condo about 5 min walk from town (and just across from the Wholefoods supermarket – yeh!). Fun to try out different accommodation experiences – apparently this is Jacob’s favourite so far!  After this we heading to another house for a couple of nights because we can’t stay in the combo (musical houses)!  We are going to another place in town but this is a room in a house owned by a solo mum and her 6 year old son!  She is vegetarian and I get the impression she is a little yogic so that should be an interesting experience too.

Last night mark and I had dinner at a friend’s house – Rachel and Kenny and their 3 kids under the age of 5!  It was Rachel’s birthday and they had invited us and her sister over for dinner.  Jacob had a great time with all the girls – he goes to preschool with Ruby and also really enjoys spending time with her older sister, Maya.  Kenny is a chef so dinner was yummy with beautiful chocolate cake to follow!  We then went home and put Jacob into bed and, after the babysitter arrived, headed out to the Grey Eagle to listen to some live music – Eilen Jewell and her band.  They were fantastic – sort of sounded like Gin Wigmore with a country influence – very cool.  http://www.youtube.com/artist/eilen-jewell

While Mark was back in NZ Jacob and I had a much quieter existence (although I did still manage to get out to contra dancing and book group).  We had some nice times with Rachel and her kids coming over to play and also with another family, (Kristy, Phil and their 5 year old Tristan who jacob likes very much), that we met when we first got back from dropping Mark at Charlotte.  We went to Biltmore Estate where they have free concerts on Friday nights – the band plays outside and you can take along wine, food, blankets etc and have a nice relaxed time (well, sort of relaxed – Kristy and I traipsed around after jacob and Tristan as they played all over the place but we did have some nice wine with us and good conversation.  I really like Rachel and Kristy (and their husbands) – we’ve been lucky to meet up with them. Tomorrow night we are doing another Biltmore evening with Kristy and co.

Jacob and I did some nice things while Mark was away.  We had a lovely day in Brevard, a small town about 40 minutes away which is the waterfall capital!  We visited two beautiful waterfalls – the second one is called triple falls and is quite spectacular.  Not sure if the link below will work – but just google “images triple falls brevard nc”

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=photos+triple+falls+brevard+nc&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=QgpOUtfCD4vlyAGx-YDoBQ&ved=0CCkQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=667&dpr=1

After the falls we headed to the Mountain Music Festival at the Brevard Music School (which is a very impressive place and has fantastic music events).  This is a bluegrass festival and had some great acts – Steep Canyon Rangers, Caroloina Chocolate Drops – it was awesome – I love that music.

On a Wednesday Jacob and I would go to kids zumba at the gym, then have a swim in the indoor pool then head out to dinner at the Sunny Point Cafe – it was a really lovely little routine!  Every now and then after dinner we would head down to the Ultimate Ice Cream Parlour and sit outside watching the sun go down with our incredibly yummy ice creams (my favourite was lemon custard berry swirl on the bottom and rum and raisin on the top – jacob favoured lemon mint sorbet with vanilla)!  So we had a lovely time together but were both very happy to welcome Markey back!!

Time for bed now – I’ve realised there are a few key things and photos I’ve left out so will do some more soon.

I will just say that I had a wonderful birthday thanks to Mark and Kath arriving, lovely drinks at night with new friends and lots of wonderful presents from home – thank you very much.  When I woke up that morning I was so busy thinking about getting us out the door to get to the airport to pick Mark and kath up that I forgot about my birthday.  Then I remembered and thought I should mention it to Jacob but it didn’t really feel like a normal birthday – until mark gave me so many lovely presents from home so thank you to everyone who went to the effort of getting me something and getting it to Mark – I felt very spoilt!!!

lots of love

Charlotte xoxo

A great Groundhog day time

Well the girls are just busy enough at the moment so its a wee blog from Mark again!

So how y’all doing, we hear the All Blacks are doing well but what happened to that sailing thing! We leave the country for a few weeks and it turns to pieces but the good news is the exchage rate has improved and the Auckland house prices might settle down again with out the pressure of hosting for the cup.

After approx. 30 hours each way I finally made it back to Asheville to a emotional welcome and boy it was great to see Charlotte and Jacob.  I was sure Jacob had developed a slight american slang, as i picked up that he was rolling his rrr’s! You will be pleased to know Charlotte was as hot as ever!

So with my travel buddy in tow (katherine Hume-Pike) we loaded up the car to start our 10 day adventure with her.  It has felt like ground hog day (in a good way), as we re-live all the highlights of the trip so far and revisit these favourite places again (and some new places that we have wanted to go).  Except instead of feeling like a vistor and not knowing our way around we have taken on the role of tour guide!

The biggest problem for Kath and I has been getting use to the different time zones so there hasn’t been a lot of sleep going on but we are just starting to get that under control. Just in time before Kath has to fly home again tomorrow.

I am writing this blog from a condo we rented in Folly Beach and the girls have gone into Charleston for dinner.  Today Charlotte and I took Jacob to Patriots Point in Charlestown that is home to a 1950’s aircraft carrier, battleship and submarine that have all been decommissioned and set up as a museum. We spent the afternoon touring the decks and experiencing life as a US Navy Marine.  Jacob thought it was all very cool and made us go on a simulator ride where a fighter jet takes off and carries out a mission before being shot down and landing safely!

Apart from being back at the beach again the girls have been hitting the yoga studios in Asheville and doing big walks around the mountains.  I could tell you all about the massages and trips to Grove Park Inn and Spa but I wont! (like I said just having a cool ground hog day time).

Asheville is starting to change seasons and we have definitely started into fall.  Generally in the mornings there is quite a big fog around that lifts into a beautiful warm day, still around 25degrees.  The trees are starting to change colour slightly and we can tell already that fall is going to be spectacular so we look forward to sharing some photos.  Everyone we talk to says that October is a really beautiful time in Asheville so we are quite excited. (OMG that’s right up there with yoga and that downward dog thing and being spiritually connected to the environment – it’s ok I just gave myself a slap!)

The other big thing happening over here is the build up to Halloween!  There are pumpkins everywhere and costume places are popping up all over the show.  Charlotte has met a new friend Rachel and their family is going to give us the full on Halloween experience finishing with a proper ‘trick or treat’ street trip around Asheville to some of the more popular sites.  Apparently around our area is some of the best to visit so watch this space it all goes down on the 31 October!

The other big news is that we had another Black bear visit in our back garden only this time she had three cubs with her – i’m sure you will be pleased to know that none of us were eaten in the process but it was very cool.  This time we managed to get some photos so I will get Charlotte to post these next time (I dont know how to do it!)

Tomorrow we leave Folly beach and Charlestown for the last time and drive back up to Charlotte airport to drop off Katherine and then we head back to our home in Kimberley Avenue.

I hope you are all being as good as you can possibly be!

Love Mark