Just kidding. This post is mostly about Girls’ Weekend. While it was a great time, I’m not sure I would categorize it as “wild and rowdy.” With one of us pregnant, at least one of us trying (not me – halt the rumor mill), one on diet restrictions, and two training for a tough mudder, the wildest thing bound to happen was someone forgetting to use a coaster on the coffee table.
Our charming weekend residence while on Lake Gaston!
The beautiful mountains of Asheville are the typical request for our weekends trips but this year was an exception. Rather than being bound to steep slopes, we made our way toward a gentle lake in the heart of Bracey, Virginia. One of our gaggle had been to Lake Gaston previously and enjoyed the experience – it was also slightly more “in the middle” than Asheville. We have also been a crew on the move lately. With weddings, out-of-state bachelorette parties, backyard parties, and the general complexity of life, we are all overdue for some serious relaxation without the need for serious mileage.
I know I have said this at least twice in earlier posts but I still have zero PTO in the bank. I had to work on Friday before I could start my journey to the lake house. I filled up my water bottle, had a bag of snacks in case I got hungry (although I knew there would be cake at the lake house so I wasn’t nervous about being too hungry when I arrived), and summoned my inner road warrior. That feisty woman has gotten me through many a travel. She deserves a name – maybe Miss Giddy. Bonus points if you get the reference!
Baby shower decorations for our beautiful mother-to-be, Sarah!
I arrived to the house – affectionately named Dragonfly by the owners – after a casual two hour drive and immediately knew we would be comfortable. It rests right on Lake Gaston and has two outdoor patios perfect for congregating. The dock to the lake provided ample room for lounging and the two kayaks (complimentary with the rental!) were a terrific option for those of us looking for a splash of adventure. No one actually used the kayaks but it was still a nice option.
Friday night was full of 20-minute back road trips to the local Food Lion, whipping up a quick spaghetti dinner, and decorating the living room for Sarah’s baby shower. She had one a few weeks ago with family, friends, and family friends. We decided to do something a little more intimate at the lake house while we were all together. She was given lots of goodies for sweet Madison’s upcoming arrival (November 1 is within spitting distance!), and we were able to “Oh” and “Ah” over tiny outfits and plush blankets. Our group has changed quite a bit in recent years: between marriages, moves, and careers there is always something new to celebrate. I have a feeling that babies are our next adventure and we will be expanding our groups by one pair of feet at a time.
I hope Miss Madison could feel the love!
Saturday morning got off to a deliberately slow start. I was the first to wake up so I cut the coffee pot on, snuck to the river for a few pictures, and then enjoyed a cup of coffee on the deck in the cool morning shade. The rest of the group joined me one-by-one and eventually everyone was huddled in socks and sweatshirts with a warm beverage and back-and-forth chattering. We offered laughter over the silly habits of our partners, listened with support as we shared our struggles, and enjoyed the ability to talk candidly in a way that texts and phone calls doesn’t allow.
I just missed the sunrise but the view gave little to complain about.
After drinking copious ounces of caffeine and indulging in warm bagels, we set out to explore the town of Bracey. There was mention of a “market” in town that had a “bakery.” Upon arrival, we discovered that it was really a large gas station that sold cakes in the back. You could also buy one of the two parakeets for sale out front. We were able to get a toothbrush for Carrie so it was not a complete waste. A local that was at the register when we checked out was able to immediately detect that we were new to town. He recommended we check out the winery down the road. We had spent too long brushing our hair and putting on real clothes to let the gas station defeat us so we drove a mile or two down the road and discovered Rosemont, one of the most precious wineries I have ever seen. After the market disappointment, I didn’t have high hopes for the winery. It was gorgeous! Surrounded by vines surrounded by farmland, the tasting room offered good wine with amazing views. We did a wine tasting (Sarah was only able to smell the wine but she did so with a smile and little contempt!) before selecting a delicious bottle of red wine to enjoy on the upstairs balcony.
A delightfully unexpected adventure.
By the time we finished the bottle, we were ready for a little lunch and lake lounging. The sun had warmed the air enough that we could bask on the dock without turning into a sweaty mess. Some of us enjoyed the water, some of us just watched, and we all belly laughed watching one another flop around in the water. My group has never been too proud or dignified to make a fool out of ourselves. I greatly appreciate that.
We were anything but graceful.
We enjoyed the water until the sun started to set before we rinsed off and set to work fixing dinner. We baked chicken kabobs in the oven and served it over rice with side salads and cheesy bread. We had enough citronella candles to keep the plagues of Moses at bay so our final meal outside was spent without critters biting at our ankles. We (eventually) got the fire pit roaring and indulged in a few S’mores before heading inside and enjoying a board game. Our day had enough activity and adventure that boredom was not an option without the exhaustion of doing too much. The eating was good, the drinks were cold, and the weather was perfect. Despite being one of the shorter trips we have taken for Girls’ Weekend, I was very satisfied when the time came to head back to Smithfield. I think the departure is also made easier knowing that my next trip to see the girls will likely include a tiny baby Madison. It is hard to be sad about today’s good-bye when tomorrow’s hello is bound to be beautiful.
Some candids while they weren’t looking. I took a ton of these pictures but most have people awkwardly talking. I’m still getting the hang of picture taking!
I got home with enough time to wash my hair (another perk of a girls’ weekend: you don’t have to wash your hair once and no one cares), paint my nails, and wrap up birthday presents before we went to the Thacker’s house to celebrate Reed’s upcoming 4th birthday. We got him a coon skin hat and a wooden pop-gun to help him channel his inner Davy Crockett. My only regret is that the gun is a little louder than I anticipated – I’ve already given Erin permission to “pay us back” if we decide to have our own children. I know how much parents LOVE loud gifts! I took a million pictures and can’t wait to share them with Erin after I have some time to edit them. I’ve included a few in this post so you can get a taste of the cuteness that we got to experience. Miss Claire is getting to the age where she is starting to interact with people more. She thought my camera strap was delicious and chewed on it for a while before licking the lens for taste. I can’t wait to go to her birthday parties in the future!
Tell me those babies aren’t precious, and I’m likely to go full crazy on you.
After a weekend of friendship, I feel so full. I have known most of the girls in my core group for 15-ish years now. And I have known Carrie at least 9 or 10 years. Our lives look so different now than they did when we were eating Chinese food in the lounge or when we were wandering the bars of Raleigh. We were all single and young when we first met. Now we have partners, careers, and are working on expanding our families in various ways. We have been with one another when our parents or grandparents were ill, we have celebrated countless birthdays and engagements, and we have given enough advice to make Dr. Phil proud. I chuckle as our conversations turn toward retirement planning and equity rather than the stress of finals and dating. But such is the progression of life.
Me and this amazing woman go way back – back to when we listened to Dashboard Confessional and cried over Wizard of Oz themed decor (you had to be there)!
I do not always talk or text with them like I want to. But I don’t worry about the bonds we share. They’ve gotten us through harder times and will likely see worse times to come. But those bonds have also been strengthened by the laughter and love we share for one another.
Cheers to another year of adventures that give us plenty of talk about next year!