Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I’m back!

I had a lovely weekend visiting my brother.  The Asheville area is just gorgeous, and I liked the town quite a bit too.  I can see why my brother likes it there so much.  I miss him, though, so it was very nice to get to spend some quality time with him and my mom too. 
 
What I loved about my trip to Asheville:
•  got to see my brother for the first time since March.  He’s happy, and I’m glad, but I do miss having him around.
•  the place we went for dinner the first night.  Delicious food!  Good atmosphere!  And I got a free little pottery dish.
•  the folk art center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Too bad all of the quilts were thousands of dollars out of my price range.  As a former park ranger, I always like to call attention to the great parks, historical sites and interpretive exhibits the park service has.
•  playing gin with my mom and brother while watching S.W.A.T. on HBO in the hotel room.  I won the card game, and Colin Farrell is my new celebrity crush.  S.W.A.T wasn’t what I would call a great movie, but it was fun to have on in the background.
•  the gardens at the Biltmore.  I thought the house was interesting, but over the top.  Very beautifully and meticulously preserved, but I didn’t care for the fact that you had to pay $39 per person to get in, and then even more money to go on any sort of guided tour of the house.  I really enjoyed the gardens though.  They had an Italian garden, and topiary, and a walled garden, and a rose garden and a conservatory.  There are other gardens too, but we were worn out by then.
•  visiting the Fire Department where my brother is a volunteer firefighter.  I got to meet some of the other firemen, the firehouse dog, and climb on the fire trucks.  They didn’t have a pole to slide down.  Apparently they took it out recently. So sad.  Here’s a great picture of my brother rappelling down a building.
•  the mountains and forests.  So beautiful.
• did I mention getting to see my brother?
 
What I didn’t love about my trip to Asheville:
• my mom’s driving.  You know how there are people who change lanes without signaling?  And the way they change lanes is more like swerving as opposed easing into the next lane.  And then, they sit in the left lane going 70 miles per hour, when the speed limit is 70 miles per hour?  Oh, and just for fun, they sometimes tap the brakes for no apparent reason? My mom is now that person.  She couldn’t understand why everyone was coming up so fast behind her and then passing on the right.  I tried, gently, to point out the problem, but I don’t think she understood that she needs to go faster or stay out of the left lane. 
• my mom’s snoring keeping me up most of the night Friday night, even with ear plugs.  I took care of that problem with a little Excedrin PM on Saturday and Sunday nights. 
• in a related item, my mom (who has literally known me my whole life) forgetting the cardinal rule of my mornings, which is, “Don’t fucking talk to me until after I’ve been up for at least 15 minutes.”  Seriously.  I’m a nice sweet person after those first 15 minutes or so.  But until then, I’m just not pleasant.  And I can’t control it.  Especially not after only getting 3 hours of sleep due to snore torture.
• the dead cow I saw tied to the back of a pickup truck.  At least, I assume it was a dead cow.  It would be even worse to transport a live cow that way.
• seeing my mom get so worn out from walking around the Biltmore.  Yes, there were a lot of stairs and a lot of walking, and she’s had bad knees since she was a teenager.  But it was scary to see her having to stop and rest so many times.  She’s not that old, dammit! 
•  the insanely conservative local news broadcast, which spent 10 minutes on Dale Earnhardt Junior’s car crash, and about 45 seconds on the war in Iraq, seven stories in to the news broadcast.  Oh, and which featured an editorial where the speaker came out against giving people on food stamps debit cards to use at the store instead (which they’ve been using here for years) because “sometimes it is good to humiliate people.  If we humiliate them, they’ll want to get off public assistance faster.  And why is the ‘Angry Left’ so upset about those prisoners getting humiliated in Iraq?  They’re just a bunch of terrorists, after all.”  I’m not exaggerating.  If anything, I’ve condensed what the guy said, and made it less offensive. 
• missing John and Seamus.  Next time, I’ll bring them with me.  I think they’d like the mountains.

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