Monday, April 8, 2019

Number 12 - Asheville, NC

The Theme of #12 - Catawba Brewing
OK, so this is almost a repeat of #11 which is also my last official blog post.  I wanted to check out a Kentucky State Park this year but the only one Steve was interested in was Carter Caves which was booked.  So Asheville it is!  Plus the weather forecast was looking good for some outside activities.

We left Lexington about 10AM.  We got stuck on I75 for about an hour near Mt Vernon due to blasting to expand the interstate.  We had another delay on I40 due to one lane being closed in both directions due to another rock slide just inside North Carolina.  We ended up getting to the hotel a little after 3PM.

This year we stayed at the Sheraton Four Points Downtown.  In all of our trips we had never stayed downtown & I wanted to be able to walk to the breweries in downtown.  That way I could enjoy more flights!

Our first stop was Twin Leaf Brewery in the South Slope. The South Slope area is where several breweries are now.  They were celebrating their 5th anniversary.  Unfortunately, it was our least favorite brewery. They have 5 beer flights.  2 of the 5 beers I picked I don't typically like but didn't realize what they were.  The IPA & Lager were OK but the Gose & the Triple I wasn't a fan of.  The imperial Mexican stout had a bit too much cayenne for my taste.

Twin Leaf Brewing
Our next stop was Catawba also in South Slope.  They offered 4 or 8 beer flights.  We chose the 8 flight since they had so many beers on tap to choose from.  Catawba is one of the older breweries in WNC and it showed.  Their beer was really good. 7 of the 8 were really good & surprisingly my favorite was the Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jelly. It tasted just like a PB&J and was good! 

Catawba Brewing - So many choices
After finishing our flight we made our traditional stop at Mast General store before going to dinner at Asheville Brewing. This is one of our usual stops we make on every trip to Asheville.  They have 4 beer flights & my favorites were Shiva IPA & 828 Pale Ale.   Steve got a pizza & I got the Buffalo Bill salad.  Both did not disappoint.

Asheville Brewing
Saturday we did our usual Saturday morning run followed by breakfast.  Steve runs every Saturday which I have lost track on how many years his Saturday morning run streak is going on, maybe 6?  Asheville is hilly which makes for a really challenging run.  I always think of how strong I would be if I lived in Asheville walking / running all the hills.  Our run was a short one, 2.5 miles or so but it put us at Tupelo Honey right at 8:58 which was 2 minutes before it opened.  Although there was a line waiting to get in we were seated right away. We had omelettes which were good but the biscuits & coffee were amazing. Be advised, breakfast is not cheap here but it is good!

Downtown Location
After breakfast we walked back to the hotel to get ready to hit one of the trails. We decided on the Snowball Trail.  About a 3 miles round trip to Hawksbill Rock with good elevation change about 30 minute drive from hotel.


SNOW!

\
On top of Hawksbill Rock

Hawksbill Rock

Hawksbill Rock
The weather was perfect all weekend.  Mid to upper 60's & sunny.  There was still snow on a good part of the trail but it was melting fast.  There weren't too many people on this trail & the hike was great.  It took us about 2 hours including time at the top hanging out.  It felt good to be hiking again - it's been awhile.

When we got back to the trailhead there were so many cars - I have no idea which trail all of these people were doing but we certainly didn't see them on our hike.  That's another nice thing about Asheville, there are so many good hikes around the area that you can always try out a new trail.

After our hike we got cleaned up & headed out for more, you guessed it, beer!  First stop was Burial Brewing.  This is our new favorite brewery.  It is in the South Slope close to several other breweries.  We got a flight of IPAs and they were really good.

It was such a nice day to hang out in their beer garden & people watch.  It was prime Bachelor/Bachelorette party time.  We saw so many groups that were clearly out celebrating.  Asheville really is a good town for this.  So many fun things to do within walking distance.

Burial Brewing 

Burial Brewing
Our last stop for the day was Wicked Weed.  It's also one of our usual stops.  Unfortunately, they don't offer flights on weekends so had to settle for a pint of Freak of Nature.  We both had burgers which were yummy.  After dinner we walked back to the hotel & called it a night.

Sunday was our actual anniversary.  In the morning we walked back to South Slope to try out Vortex donuts.  They were good but nothing spectacular.  Donuts to me always sound better than what they are.  I am almost always disappointed after eating one.  They are never as good as what I imagine them to be.

Vortex Donuts

Happy Anniversary to Us!
One of our last stops before heading home was surprise, REI!  We had our 20% member discount card & I was looking for a new lightweight pack that I can use when I bike commute.  I ended up with the REI Flash 22 which seems like a good one but time will tell once I start bike commuting again in May.


And with one last meal another anniversary & great trip is in the books! 















Thursday, March 29, 2018

Number 11 - Asheville, NC

We celebrated our 11th anniversary last weekend in Asheville, NC. How we love this little mountain town. The weeks leading up to the weekend I was uncertain where we would go. I wanted to check out somewhere new within driving distance. Unfortunately the weather forecast was either rain, sleet or snow any direction we went so as I drove home from work on Thursday I decided on Asheville since as the sign says, is always a good idea!

Yep
We left Friday morning & arrived about 2PM. Of course we drove straight to a brewery. We picked Sweeten Creek based on the online reviews & it did not disappoint. I ordered a flight & Steve got an Irish Red. Every beer we tasted was really good. We also ordered sandwiches which were fantastic. I ordered The Bird (turkey, pimento cheese, bacon & Avocado) & Steve the Italian. The Bird was the better of the two in my opinion.

Sweeten Creek Brewing
After lunch we checked out Asheville Cotton (yeah, I am into sewing now) followed by a trip to Cheap Joe's Art Stuff because Steve is a burgeoning painter now that he is retired. Afterwards we checked into our hotel. This trip we stayed at the Crown Plaza Resort. We walked the grounds after we checked in. It's a pretty nice place and not far from downtown.

For dinner we went to Asheville Pizza & Brewing downtown. We end up at one of their locations on most of our trips. Good beer, good food. This time I had the Ninja Porter & Steve had the Shiva IPA.  They have decent pizza but I ordered their Buffalo Bill Salad. So freakin' good! 

After dinner we walked around town. The weather was a bit chilly but dry. We picked up a sipping chocolate to share at Chocolate Fetish. We stopped into a couple of open galleries & made a quick trip through Mast General Store before heading back to the hotel.

Saturday, Steve got up early so he could get his run in. He opted for the treadmill not because it was drizzly out but more due to the hills around the resort. I always think how fit I would be if I lived in Asheville & walked those hills everyday.  

Remember last summer when we started drinking Kombucha? Well, we have been batch brewing our own since January & I was ready to move on to a continuous brewing system. One of the things I wanted to accomplish while in Asheville was to pick up a handmade Kombucha fermentation vessel.  An acupuncturist I recently went to recommended a studio in Asheville that makes them. I had reached out to them & we agreed to meet up on Saturday. I made the purchase off their Etsy shop & then met them at West End Bakery. It worked out so well & I love the piece. It is now happily sitting in our kitchen brewing up our first batch of continuous brewed Kombucha.


We spent the afternoon in the River Arts District walking through several galleries before stopping in at Wedge Brewing at Wedge Studios. This time Steve & I both got a flight. We ordered mostly the same with the exception that I ordered the Russian Stout & he ordered the bourbon barrel stout. The rest were Payne's Pale Ale, Community Porter & one of their IPAs.  My favorite was the Payne's Pale Ale - maybe because Payne is my maiden name or maybe it was just that good! When I ordered the Russian Stout I missed the small print that said it was brewed with Raspberries. I do not like raspberries & boy did I not like this beer. It tasted like cough medicine. I could not drink it. The other two I picked were OK. I tried the Bourbon Stout & was not a fan of that either although I don't typically like bourbon barrel beers.

We ordered lunch off the food truck that was there.  El Kimchi - mexican korean street food.  Steve ordered the mini tacos & I ordered the Bibimbap with bulgogi beef. Both were pretty damn good.

Wedge Brewing

Baby doll heads creep me out especially ones mounted on a rubber duckie!

Mexican - Korean Food Truck
What is a trip to Asheville without a stop at REI?  Plus we had our 20% membership coupon so we absolutely had to go. What I didn't expect was that we would use that coupon on a giant 6 person tent! Steve is so excited. Car camping here we come! It is pretty sweet. Our other tents are a tiny, tiny tent & hammocks that we take on our bike trips. It will be nice to have a nicer mattress/cot to sleep on & an area to hang out in if it rains, which in Kentucky is most days it seems.

Steve's New Tent

With a divider

We spent some time chilling out at the hotel before deciding on dinner. Since neither one of us eat out a lot anymore our systems were pretty taxed. We finally decided on Bhramari Brewing downtown. The place was packed and it was a grab a seat as you can type of communal dining. Imagine the Southwest flights that don't assign seats & when it's time to board it is a bit of a free for all. That kind of disorder causes me stress but like a Southwest flight this too worked out great.

We ordered beers at the bar & then walked around checking out the lay of the land. As we walked back into the main room towards the back of the restaurant a large group suddenly got up to leave & we had seats! We settled in to watch the second half of the Loyola Chicago vs Kansas State basketball game and ordered dinner. I ordered the wings & Steve had a burger which were pretty good. We were 50/50 on the beer. I had the Lorelei IPA & Steve had the Opulent Couch. The IPA was great but the other not so much. In general, the place was pretty cool & had a nice outdoor area.

Loved this wall at Bhramari - cuts from a tree
After dinner we walked out & it was pouring rain. Up until this point we were very fortunate with the weather. Both days was dry & in the low to upper 50's. Since the weather sucked & we couldn't eat or drink another thing we called it a night.

We were up & packed up pretty early on Sunday. We made one last restaurant stop at the #1 rated breakfast place in Asheville according to Trip Advisor - The Sunny Point Cafe. We drove by on Saturday & there was a line out the door. We must have arrived just early (9AM) enough because we were seated immediately. We both ordered coffee & Huevos Rancheros. Not sure I would call it the best breakfast in Asheville but it was pretty damn good. Our server was awesome & sent us on our way with full to go cups of coffee for our drive home.

All in all it was a great weekend. We have been to Asheville so many times & we love it every time.  The only thing missing from this trip was some good hiking!

Oh, since this is a fitness blog I thought I should mention I did a race a few weeks back, The Lucky Leprechaun 10 Miler.  Still not back to my pre-cancer training but maybe I never will be and I'm OK with that.

Pre-Race Photo







Sunday, January 28, 2018

Long Overdue Update

This post was originally a 6 month update & I wrote most of it but never finished it.  With that said it's now been 9 months since I finished radiation for breast cancer.  In my 3 month update I was recovering from a bad case of pneumonia.  The recovery took a full 12 weeks to feel mostly normal again in every day life but I am still building up my fitness levels.

I had another follow up CT scan & pulmonary visit in early October.  For the most part my pneumonia is cleared, my radiation pneumonitis is improving but I continue to have pulmonary infiltrates.  Each of the 3 CT scans have shown a spot but each month the spot is in a different location. In order to rule out any other funk they did a full blood work up.  They took 7 vials of blood plus a urine sample to check for a litany of things including, TB, histoplasmosisCBC levelsfungalC-Reactive ProteinANAANCAstronglyloides & sedimentation rates.  Thankfully all came back negative.

In November & December I had follow ups with the Radiation Oncologist, Pulmonary doc & my first mammogram since treatment ended. The Radiation Oncologist appointment was uneventful. One last checkup & then I was officially released.  The Pulmonary doc had good news as well.  My last CT scan after Thanksgiving finally came back clear. No more pneumonia, no more infiltrates but all clear! I then went for my first mammogram since treatment. As usual for me, it showed something they want to follow but the results fell in the 'probably benign, come back in 6 months.'  So all in all, really good news.  It took a year but I am finally fully recovered and now able to focus on getting my fitness back.

Prior to pneumonia I had signed up for the Gobbler Half Marathon on November 18th.  During the summer I had written off being able to run the half.  I was thinking I would back down to the 10k.  As I started to feel better I decided to hold off switching distances & just let the training tell me what distance to run.

Seen During Arboretum Run
As of early October my long run was up to 7 miles.  I was doing run / walk intervals of 1 minute run / 4 minutes walk. I can't remember at what point I decided to drop down to the 10K but I eventually made that call and was glad I did.  It took the pressure off & allowed me to enjoy some of my other favorite activities.

In addition to running, I have got back on my bike a few times.

First Post Pneumonia Ride
We also got in a couple of paddles and good hikes in the gorge.

Captain Sammie - Kentucky & Dix Rivers

Mallard Point SUP
Steve's Birthday Hike to Courthouse Rock

Another Red River Gorge Hike
Hike at Big Bone Lick State Park
(Photo credit Mary Henson)
After a fun filled fall the Gobbler kicked off the holiday running season.  This year didn't disappoint!

Gobbler 10K

Turkey Trot 5K in Kansas City - Day 1 Run Streak
Frankfort Frosty 5K

Reindeer Ramble 10K

West 6th Holiday Run
New Years Day 2018 - Day 40 Run Streak
2017 was a rough year health wise and I am grateful to have all of that behind me. As we are wrapping up January, I am now half way through my training plan for the Lucky Leprechaun 10 Miler on March 10th.  

I must say it feels really good to get back to normal!

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