We recently spent a long weekend in Asheville, NC. My 12-year-old son and I spent a few hours each day doing the “tourist thing” to pass the time. We both admitted to falling in love with the city and surrounding area, so much so that we could readily envision living there – and liking it.

The real clinchers? The people are super nice – or, as my son stated emphatically, “well, it IS the South” – and everything for the most part is dog-friendly.

Keagan and Sara at Biltmore

The Biltmore? We agreed we were glad we scheduled time to visit, but as for the house, we both liked Mount Vernon more: the ceilings weren’t as high, the house was more ‘lived-in’ and cozy, the walls and tapestries weren’t so dark, and there was a panoramic view of the Potomac, a huge selling point for both of us. My son thoroughly enjoyed Antler Village, a retail area located within the Biltmore Estate featuring restaurants, gift shops and the most delicious ice cream shop, The Creamery.

Side view up at Biltmore


Parks and green space? Asheville has enviable options abounding for hiking, disc golf, running or walking, community space, and areas for all sorts of outside activities, and that doesn’t even include the French Broad River, prime real estate for tubing and kayaking. My son heartily admitted he was glad we braved the intermittent rain showers to hike  the trails of Richmond Hill Park, an out-of-the-way forested setting offering several hiking trails. We followed a trail that took us near or over several small creek-type waterfalls, eventually leading us to a double railroad tracks. Upon crossing over the tracks, we reached the French Broad River in all its glory. Both my son and I had a field day taking pictures, and my son climbed a few trees, threw rocks in the water, and captured more than 70 photos on his camera. He was bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement.

Graffiti along the French Broad River_Asheville


Nature is God’s masterpiece.

The following day we covered several miles of walking trails through Carrier Park and the adjoining French Broad River Park, both of which follow along the river. Numerous groups were paddle-boarding, kayaking or tubing, letting the rapid current spin them along lazily down the river. People readily smiled and offered friendly greetings as we passed by along the path. Children rode bicycles and tricycles and numerous folks jogged or walked their dogs. Others grilled their Sunday afternoon meal or sat on blankets reading or sharing a picnic on the grass. We passed by a lawn bowling court, watched as two softball teams battled it out on the field, and witnessed a group of 50 or so youngsters as they fenced off with a few adults using plastic and paper swords and shields in some sort of mock battle. Birds chirped and sang and a light spring breeze rustled through the leaves.

And the food? We didn’t take advantage of all of the eclectic food options available in a foodtopia such as Asheville, but that isn’t to say that I didn’t eat more than I should have over the course of the weekend.

Yes, I fell off the wagon. The hard part has been to stop kicking myself endlessly about it and getting up, dusting myself off, and hopping back on to continue along the journey.

I can’t get anywhere by standing still.

The scales don’t lie. Six pounds. Six stinking pounds. Ugh. One would think that after losing more than 60 pounds over the past six months or so and adopting new eating, wellness and activity habits, that I wouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I felt like a failure. I ate ice cream.

Yes, it tasted so. damned. good. I also ate an 8-ounce steak one evening. And a shaved beef sandwich on thick-crusted bread with horseradish and a Vidalia onion marmalade…with homemade potato chips…and homemade pickles. And a vegetable fettuccine dish with thick, creamy homemade Alfredo sauce.  And a huge breakfast all three days with scrambled eggs, an English muffin with peanut butter, and oatmeal or raisin bran cereal. I still wrote everything down. I still walked or did some sort of activity each day. Of course, it didn’t help that my family members teased me about “eating too much” and “pretty soon your clothes won’t fit anymore” and “didn’t you already have ice cream once today?” (Needless to say, I cancelled my order.)

The morning after we got home, it dawned on me. Something so simple, yet so profound. What will I remember about our trip? I’ll always remember the time my son and I spent on the trails and walking along the river, taking selfies and other photos, and watching a young couple’s dogs chase sticks their owners threw in the river to them. We’ll remember all those moments, those MEMORIES, that will live on forever. Yes, I enjoyed eating all those calories – but what is important, and what I’ll remember, are the memories my son and I created WHILE we ate.

Old habits – and feelings of inadequacy – die hard.

Dig the hole and, once they’re buried, leave them there.

How does that saying go, “don’t let the classroom get in the way of your education?” The same can be said for letting yourself experience the moment. Create memories. Live life.

If it wasn’t for the side trips and detours, what’s really the purpose of traveling the journey?