Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Vacation - Part 2

Midweek we packed up the cars and headed north for a few days in the mountains.  Our destination was Franklin, NC - a short 3 hour drive from home.  It didn't take long before the snow-capped mountains began to appear in the distance.

The view from the balcony was spectacular.  We were fortunate to be greeted by a sunny afternoon and spent an hour soaking up the sun on the deck.

After a few hours of laziness our stomachs began to grumble.  Fortunately we had a easy dinner of leftovers.  Potato soup, arugula salad, and cranberry orange rolls.  It's amazing how much more flavor soups have after sitting for a day or two.

Darkness came and the hot tub was calling my name.  On a day-to-day basis, I doubt I would get much use out of a jacuzzi, but winter vacations in the mountains call for nothing less.

Friday's forecast was for temperatures in the upper 40s - the warmest of the trip - and so we set out for hiking.  We wound our way up the mountain and parked at Tellico Gap, prepared to set out for Wesser Bald Observation Tower.  We had a bit of a minor hiccup when we learned that the camo-clad hunters and their hound dogs were hunting for bear along the same path we planned to hike.  Fortunately they were headed south (we were going north) after having had no luck on the north trail.  Mom was hesitant, but I assured her that the Pitbull station on Pandora would scare the bears away.

We found snow!  Bailey loved leading the way on the three mile round trip hike.  As the leader, she was in charge of bear patrol.

As we neared the observation tower, Dad stopped and pointed to this marking in the snow.  Mom was quick to ask "What's the big deal?", and to that Dad replied "I think it's a bear print."  Let's just say she had some choice words and was ready to run back to the car.  After some brief reassurance, we continued up the mountain.

We've arrived!

The views from the observation tower (formerly a fire patrol station) were breathtaking.  The 360 degree panorama included the Great Smoky Mtns, Balsam Mtn, Cowees Mtn, the Little Tennessee River, Nantahala Mtns, and Snowbird Mtn.

Mom was all smiles once we navigated down the mountain and reached the safety of our car.

We stopped for a few pictures on the way back to the cabin.

Dinner was another great meal - simple and comforting - Veggie Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries, and Veggies.

Royce bought Dad the first season of Homeland for Christmas and we enjoyed lounging around with the fire roaring and watching several episodes.  Other afternoons featured reading, napping, and playing dominos or cards.

Lunch one afternoon was a deconstructed veggie burger with all of the appropriate toppings.  The last night's dinner was vegetarian chili, cornbread, and caesar salad.  Food always tastes so good on vacation!

How's this for a view from the trainer?  Not so shabby for an early morning training session.  Despite threats for snow, it amounted only to some snow showers and a mere dust of flakes.  It was a chilly morning in the 20s, but with the sun shining and crisp mountain air, I couldn't have asked for better.

And that brings my stay in the mountains to an end.  The family is here for a couple more days, but for me, it's back to reality.  It's been a fantastic week of vacation, filled with family time, laziness, workouts, and lots of sleep.  I couldn't have asked for a better way to rest and recharge.

One more week of trauma - the end is within sight.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Vacation - Part 1

Now that my Christmas vacation is nearing the end, I suppose I owe you some recaps.  I'll start with the first few days, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Before parting ways for our split vacation weeks, the trauma team enjoyed a family picture.  Aren't we a pretty fine looking group at 4:30AM?

Friday night, after battling heavy traffic in I-85, I arrived home to this smiling face.  Mom and Dad greeted me too, but Bailey certainly stole the show for enthusiasm.  I was beyond exhausted and frustrated from the long drive and found myself passed out in no time at all.

Saturday morning we all drove into Atlanta for the Christmas 5K in Virginia Highlands.  It was 27 degrees that morning - not exactly ideal conditions for outdoor activities.  Nonetheless, we bundled up and hit the pavement.  Bailey and I ran with Dad in an attempt to help him set a 5K PR.  Thanks to Bailey's zig-zagging through the crowds and Dad's new found speed, we all crossed the finish line together at 25:59 - a 4 minute PR for Dad.  Bailey finished as the second place dog, and I have no doubt she would have taken 1st had we not held her back.

After the race we went in search of a hot cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast.  Thanks to Yelp, I found Highland Bakery just a short drive away.  Oh my - what a meal!  Seriously, you have to check this place out!

RUSTIC ITALIAN  Two pieces of grilled rosemary garlic bread with melted mozzarella served with sauteed mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, onions, red peppers with two over medium eggs topped with marinara, fresh basil and shredded Vermont white cheddar. 

 Crab Cakes Benedict 
Two lump crab cakes, eggs poached medium, and sauteed spinach, covered in Hollandaise and served on a toasted whole wheat English muffin with choice of potatoes or grits 

 Peanut Butter French Toast 
Challah bread filled with peanut butter, dipped in batter, encrusted with bran flakes and topped with caramelized bananas 

Royce recently took up road biking a few months ago, yet we haven't been able to ride together due our schedules.  We made time though on an afternoon that promised to have a slight bit of sunshine.  We enjoyed 30+ miles on the road and promised to make it a regular ride when I'm home.

Christmas Eve was rainy and we opted for a lazy evening at home.  After filling up on munchies - nothing better than the plentiful food associated with holidays - we played dominos and awaited the arrival of Royce and Erin.

Once the whole crew was home, we dined on potato soup, Great Harvest cranberry orange rolls, and apple banana salad.  Perfect meal for the dreary weather.

After opening our traditional Christmas Eve pajamas, we bundled up and settled down for a long night's sleep, guaranteeing that Santa could work without disruptions.

We must have been two really great kids, because there sure are lots of presents under the tree.

Bailey was more concerned with getting attention from her Daddy than she was opening presents.
My gift to Royce - UGA Cycling Jersey

Mom helps Bailey open a new toy.  A mere 30 seconds later the furry critter received a deathly puncture through the heart.  No more squeeker.
After opening stockings and presents, it was time for Christmas Breakfast.  This meal is a classic - grits casserole, cream cheese stuffed pecan sweet rolls, and grapefruit.   After my meal settled, I enjoyed my annual Christmas morning run with Bailey.

Time for family pictures!  We first took a couple traditional "stand-by-the-tree" shots, but I think this picture does better justice to our personalities.  I wish there wasn't a four-hour drive that prevented from seeing my little brother more often.

These too are pretty cute too!
Another spread of goodies

Mom is busy preparing the holiday dinner.

Royce and I battled it out with a few games of pingpong

Bailey kept herself entertained watching the squirrels in the trees.
Time for Christmas Dinner!
Arugula, Pear, and Blue Cheese Salad, Cranberry Pork Roast with Gravy, Sweet and Red Mashed Potatoes,  and Tarragon Green Beans.
Thanks for hosting another FABULOUS holiday Mom and Dad!!
And that completes the first half of my vacation.  Up next, we're headed to a cabin in the mountains.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012


Our Christmas day included sleeping in, exchanging gifts, feasting on our traditional holiday breakfast, a 6 mile run, afternoon snacks, and a hearty dinner.   I am beyond thankful to be spending the Christmas week with my family, and am savoring every moment.  My hope is that each of you had an equally stellar holiday.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making a List . . .

  . . . And Checking It Twice.

In my typical organization-obsessed nature, I spent a few minutes Friday night making a weekend to-do list.  It seemed quite lengthy, but as I sit here on Sunday night, I'm happy to report that all but a single item has been checked off.  Now if only I could find a pair of brown boots.  Does anyone else struggle to find boots that aren't too big around the calf?  I've been looking for the perfect pair of boots for two years now, and am still boot-less.

While I may be missing boots, I'm pretty sure these new socks are a satisfactory replacement.  Consider these the result of retail therapy after a bad day at work.  Some people have a few drinks to relax and de-stress; I buy compression socks.  Expect these to make an appearance at the Christmas 5k next weekend.

Aside from checking tasks off my list, I enjoyed a few good eats.
Pan-seared tofu, roasted butternut squash and Japanese sweet potatoes, and zucchini

Bagel Sandwich
Asiago cheese bagel, fried eggs, tomato, swiss chard, and cheddar cheese

Eggnog latte made with Silk eggnog, almond milk, and espresso

It's not a weekend unless pancakes are on the menu!
Pumpkin spice pancakes, almond butter, banana, cranberries, maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Sockeye salmon, macaroni and cheese, green beans
Now that I'm healthy again, I've been working my way back into shape - off-season shape, that is.  Saturday I hit the YMCA for an hour of weights followed by a 2500m swim.  I had planned a long run for today, but the cold weather and rainy drizzle meant I opted for a 90 minute bike trainer session followed by yoga instead.

Oh, and I almost forgot about my alternative form of exercise on Saturday night.  BOWLING!  We had a surprise birthday party for one of the residents at Ten Park Lanes.  My round included three strike and a total score of 133.  I'm pretty sure that's a record for this bowler.

The trauma team celebrates a birthday and weekend off with bowling and beverages.
Naturally, I'm beyond excited to celebrate the holiday season, but the recent events in Newtown make me even more thankful that I get to spend precious time with my family.  I have found myself thinking about the children's and teacher's families frequently this weekend.  In an instant their world's have been permanently changed, and I cannot even begin to imagine their loss.  There simply are no words to describe the tragedy.

On an cheerful note, t-minus 120 hours until VACATION!  I can't believe Christmas is a week away!