Beautiful Day

Friday, December 6, 2013

Counting Blessings (to Bible Bee and Back) Part 2

More battlefield monuments at Chickamauga.  And the view from on top?  A lovely evening sky and a tree line full of fall foliage colors.

Eating at restaurants we don't get to eat at in our part of the country. 
It's true that overall, we don't love to eat out.  The food and atmosphere is so much better at home.  But we do enjoy the occasional eating-out treat.  Since we had to do this more often on our vacation, we made it a point to go to our favorite places that we never get to go to, and that we wouldn't go to any that we could go to "at home."  So, though some may think this humorous, here is our list:
Chick-Fil-A (yumm....peppermint chocolate chip shakes), Cracker Barrel (our older ones love the rustic country d├ęcor, the southern-style food, sweet tea, AND that there are NO television sets in this restaurant), and Carabbas (a favorite date place for Tender Warrior and I when we lived in NC).  We also did get in our pulled pork barbeque meal at a Bible Bee event. We also ate at Outback, and we do have those here, but not locally, and we never go there.

A little walk through the bamboo forest at an arboretum
 Bamboo is such an interesting plant.

Seeing Scripture displayed in public places
We wished we had time to walk through this arboretum--it was beautiful and such a gorgeous, though chilly, morning.  But they had a little driving tour through the riding, and we opted for that since we were on our way to Bible Bee that day.
Speaking of Bible Bee....we made it!  The children had a contest day of both successes and disappointments.  It's one tough test, folks.  As it ought to be, on a national level.  It was a rewarding experience for the three of them to make it this far and to share the journey with many friends.  Regardless of final results, the winning was really in the preparation and knowing God's Word more deeply and thoroughly than before.  It's a season of very intensive study.  No one loses at this contest, not a one!

Watching our children, and our friends' children, be rewarded for all of their diligent efforts.

After testing is done?  A great time of play at the water park!  My girls talked me into the "Storm Chaser" right off the top.  It was really quite fun, though that drop like a roller coaster certainly made me scream!  All of the rest were easy-peasy after this one.  And just a whole lot of fun.

Our last stop, when the National Bible Bee was done and good-byes were said, was a whirlwind day trip through Asheville.  Oh, the memories!  We lived here a few years and truly loved it.  Since we had limited time, we decided we needed to return to the Biltmore Estate.  We spent lots of time here when we lived in Asheville.  They are some of my fondest memories of exploring outdoors and enjoying gardens with my then-little-girls.

Yes, being a tourist-oriented place, it was all decked out for Christmas.  The estate has changed a bit since we left there, but is still entirely charming.  The only "down" side is that an arctic front had just moved through and it was a high of 25 degrees on this day!  We were VERY cold.

We did the Candlelight Christmas Evenings tour this year and it was spectacular!  We never did this one when we lived there, and since we came upon a special deal when we were planning our trip in the fall we thought it the perfect opportunity.  The roaring fireplaces, stunning banquet hall tree, trees and lights throughout, gingerbread replica of the house, and the beautiful choir, harp, and hammered dulcimer music performances just made an exquisite experience.  It was a cold evening, but the ambience here was so very warm.  Have you ever seen the library?  It was all we could do to not jump over the cord railing (to keep you on the tour and out of the room), pull up a seat by the roaring fireplace, and start reading!

There was a wedding this evening (and you can barely see the bride and groom to the left of the Christmas tree).  We thought they must surely be freezing!
4 states in one day! 
Now it's time to go home.  It was a long travel day, actually setting foot in four states during the journey (and in case you're wondering, we were heading to the airport for our flight.  This was not a driving trip, but we did drive from the airport to our destinations).  A little sadness felt by all that our adventures were over for now.  There were so many blessings to recount, and a few challenges.  God was very good to us in them all.  Memories together are so worth the making!


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