Never stop exploring!

It's been exactly 2 years since we departed on our year-long family adventure!  We've enjoy our time back in Carmel, IN.  You'd think we'd describe it as a return to 'normal' but we wouldn't describe our life that way and hope it's never 'just normal'.  

So why are we adding to this once-in-a-lifetime blog?  Because that trip wasn't intended to be a once-in-a-lifetime event and this journal is meant to be a living journey of our family adventures together.  

No, we are not off on another year-long adventure.  But we did decide that each year, as near to our July 31st send-off as possible, we'd all go as a family to a new place that none of us had ever been.

So here is our 2nd annual Family, Faith and Fun travel log!

If you look back at our final post, we listed Asheville, NC as one of the 5 places in the US that we knew we wanted to visit. 

Ironically, Aunt Ruby and Roger, two of our role model life-time adventurers who also visited us before and on our last trip, came visit a few days before this adventure too! 

Then our aunt Rachael and cousin Cathy from MN came to visit us! 

We are sooooo appreciative of everyone that visits us and spends time enjoying life with us.

We departed Thursday at 6am on the mark!

There is one major difference on this journey - we now have a dog (Lena) and a cat.  The cat had decided that the dog desired the opportunity to go with us while London stayed home and chilled.

We passed a cross similar to the one we see in Illinois when we drive southwest.

We no longer have BigCountry the RV, so we stayed in a VBRO property called "The Tree House"

We were hungry when we arrived so we had appetizers which included a glass from the very first winery we visited on our year-long trip - Hester Creek, in British Columbia.

Then we walked the 1 mile from our home to see Asheville.

We checked out a couple outdoor store and shops and made our way to Wicked Weed brewery, a place recommended by multiple family and friends

We didn't bring Lena so the girls photographed another dog as we enjoyed boiled peanuts and crazy spiced popcorn

The house we rented had caretakers living below and they had chickens.  They offered us extra eggs so for breakfast we had scrambled eggs with a special cheese to bring back memories from Oregon (to be clear, we had not saved the cheese like we had the was fresh)

After breakfast, we visited the largest private residence in a country full of gigantic residences - the Biltmore Estate.  At 135,000 sq ft, it's twice the size of the Hearst Castle we enjoyed in CA.

The bowling alley and pool were far ahead of their time being completed in 1895!

After visiting the winery on the vast estate and seeing the famous family wedding dresses, including garments worn by Jacqueline Kennedy (Katie stated she now knows exactly what dress she wants), we  went home and walked Lena and then took our own hike, walking 2 miles through Asheville.  The vines and underbrush in this area are so think it's like a rain forest.

Finally we arrived in the River Arts District and the Wedge Brewery with it's visiting Gourmet Grilled Cheese truck. We sampled great beer, played bean bags, and Pokemon Go with new friends!

On the way home we got caught in the rain

And were extremely impressed with the drum circle performing in a park downtown and met a new little friend named Athena.

The next day we departed at 7:30am for the Blue Ridge parkway and Sliding Rock. But first, we stopped for individually, hand made donuts - sesame and Indian spice were our favorites. There was also a reminder picture by the door of our great time in Grand Isle, LA

Next was the Blue Ridge where we enjoyed the views and butterflies.

And then the fun and frigid trip down sliding rock falls!!

A lunch and dip into CoonTree recreation area.

And a hike with Lena where Anna, not Lena, spotted a 2' Copperhead snake within a foot of the trail! For the history record, Daddy and the warden both initially doubted JAK's assessment that this was certainly a copperhead snake!!!

On the way back we stopped at the new Sierra Nevada brewery where we experienced great Serrano pepper beer, amazing grounds, a rain storm, and a very large toad that the girls befriended and shortly thereafter saved from being eaten by another snake!!

We ended the day going go mass at the Basilica of St. Lawrence, opened in 1905 - notice the ceiling tile - it was the crowning achievement of the man who did the pool at the Biltmore as well as famous locations such as stops on the NY subway.

And we headed home early Sunday slowing down only for fog and for ice cream in Ohio!

We can't wait for our trip in 2017!

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