5 Year Anniversary Trip

It's hard to believe that Thomas and I have now been married for five years! And what a wonderful and eventful five years it's been! After the most incredible wedding and a honeymoon in Hawaii, we were off to a new town and our first apartment together, followed closely by graduate school, our first real jobs, two baby boys, one sweet soul in heaven, and our first house. Our actual anniversary was spent at my family reunion up North, so we decided to have a little getaway together this past weekend to celebrate these five sweet years together! 

When it comes to planning vacation, I am Type A to the extreme. I will research until I think I have found every single possible option for accommodations, activities, food, etc., read through dozens of reviews, and then weigh all of those options and plan our days out by the hour.  We were talking about it in the car, and Thomas says I'm like this -  "Well, this place has a 3.785 rating and this place has a 3.894 rating. But there was a cockroach spotted at this place in 2007, so we probably shouldn't go there." - and I have to say, he's pretty accurate hehe!

This was the first time I didn't make any plans or an itinerary for the trip besides a campsite reservation, and we made all of our plans spur of the moment! It only took me five years to start living a little more spontaneously! ;) We decided to go camping for the weekend both because we're trying to do the whole Dave Ramsey thing at the moment, and also because we love being outside and hiking! Plus, the theme for 5 years is wood, so what better way to spend it than together in the woods, right?!

After leaving the boys with my (very gracious) parents Friday morning, we headed off to the mountains without a game plan for the weekend besides that campground reservation. We were nervously laughing the whole way because there was a forecast of rain and thunderstorms all weekend long! 

As we were driving, we decided to head to Chimney Rock first. When we arrived it was so, so foggy. People coming down the stairs were telling us that it wasn't worth climbing the stairs to the top because you couldn't see more than a few feet ahead of you. But we're both determined (Read: stubborn) and weren't about to turn and leave after driving all that way! 

Up the stairs we went, and sure enough, it was SO foggy we initially could hardly see anything! But we just kept on going, enjoying our time together and giggling about being ridiculously out of shape climbing all the stairs. 

We climbed all the way past Chimney Rocky to the very top, where we were met with a thick blanket of fog! 

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BUT on our way back down, the fog lifted, and we were met with a beautiful view of the valley off of Chimney Rock, which made all of that hard work so worth it and made us thankful that we didn't just leave!

We then headed down to check out the waterfall, which was stunning and made us reminisce about all the Hawaiian waterfalls from our honeymoon! 

I got some quick restaurant suggestions from my sister, who lives in the area. We decided to go to the Laughing Seed for lunch, which is a vegetarian restaurant. It was so neat looking at a menu where I could pick from any of the choices! The food was AMAZING, although I'm sure anything would taste good when I was that hungry after a morning hiking! 

We headed to our campsite where Thomas did the hard work of setting up the tent and I did the hard work of taking pictures! ;)  The evening was just amazing! It was so much fun spending uninterrupted time together talking, playing games, making s'mores, and soaking up the beautiful view at our campground. 

But then it got dark. Which, it turns out, is REALLY dark when you're in the middle of the woods. And it also turns out that we like the s'mores part of camping a whole lot more than we like the sleeping in a tent part of camping...not so much the tent part, but the whole being in the middle of the woods in the pitch black part. Our tent site was pretty secluded, so every time we heard a noise, either one or both of us would get startled and jump! Needless to say, we were both pretty jumpy and didn't get much sleep! 

When we woke up in the morning, we went off for some coffee and started looking up some places to stay. We found a place with good reviews on Priceline, so we booked it for the night and decided to forego another night in the middle of the woods in favor of sleep! We had terrible internet connection, so no pictures were loading and we just hoped for the best! We headed back to the campsite and packed up the tent as quickly as we had unpacked and headed off to do some more morning hiking!

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We spent Saturday morning hiking at DuPont State Recreational Forest, which was perfect! It was such a stunning piece of North Carolina with waterfalls galore that left me breathless and in awe of God and his creation. It was another day with rain in the forecast, but it quickly passed and we soon had another beautiful day, for which we were very thankful! 

We may or may not have both broken out into "Just around the Riverbend!" at the same time when we spotted that sign, channeling our inner Pocahontas! ;) 

After a really good morning, we left to check into our Inn in a small town outside of Asheville. The town was so, so cute!! 

And we could not believe our luck when the innkeeper told us our room was the small white cottage with the stone chimney down the stone path!! I'm sure my jaw dropped when he said that. I mean, seriously, look at this adorable cottage! 

It was the most charming cottage! We both looked at each other and asked why did we think sleeping in a tent was a good idea?!

We spent a wonderful evening together with an Italian dinner out, wine, ice cream, and a few pictures to commemorate five years. I couldn't help myself with that pretty lighting and greenery and that hunk of a husband! 

We started off our morning with coffee (for me) and a relaxing morning rocking together at the inn. It was wonderful to start the day off slow and easy compared to the usual go, go, go of an energetic toddler and baby in the morning.  After some coffee and good conversation, we went to mass at a beautiful local chapel.  It was the first time we've been to church without the boys, and it was made even more peaceful by there just being singing, and no background music.  The priest left us with the encouraging message that even though there are a lot of terrible things going on in the world around us, we have to remember God's promises and place our hope in him. And that we can't grow despondent or lukewarm in our faith. He also talked about the importance of both being examples of marriage to your kids and community, as well as making "appointments" to strengthen your marriage, which was rather fitting given our weekend celebrating marriage together! After mass, we went back to the Inn for a delicious breakfast of chocolate almond pancakes. So, so yummy! And a sweet way to end a wonderful trip together (yes, that was a cheesy pun). 

We of course missed our boys like crazy this weekend and were eager to get back to them on our way home, but it was so, so good for us to take time relax, refresh, and grow closer with some uninterrupted time together. We were able to reflect on these past few years and see more clearly how God's grace has been ever present. It was really encouraging for us to look back and see how He has worked out all the details in our lives to bring us to where we are now. Even when we had moments where we didn't understand his plans or were faced with trials, disappointment, and loss, He truly remained faithful to his promise to work ALL things for our good.  We are especially grateful to Him for our marriage and precious, growing family, and we can't wait to see where He leads us over the next 5 years, as well as the rest of our lives together after that!