Days 178-184 – Asheville, Week 11

Our drive to DC is very smooth; the sun is shining, the roads are clear and we left early enough that traffic is not too bad getting into northern Virginia, where we’re staying. We have various chores to do, including a haircut for Walt, a visit to Costco, a new phone for Walt and, of course, getting into the pod.

Mostly we’re leaving stuff, but there are a few things we want to retrieve. In my case, it’s mostly “wants” not “needs.” When it turns out that we can’t find the suitcase that I know is in there containing some winter sweaters and pants, I just give up. The additional items would be nice to have but not necessary.

When we packed our pod last summer it was 90+ degrees and it was nearly that when we visited the pod in September. Today it is about 35 degrees and very windy. The pod is stored in a huge warehouse. Normally they place locked pods outside for people accessing them (we call ahead, give the pod number and they put it outside in the morning) but they’re just pulling ours off the stack when we arrive and so they just put it to one side inside the building so we can get our stuff without being subjected to the wind and cold. Such a lifesaver!

Lauren’s up in Virginia for work, so we get to have a lovely dinner with her; our first visit in two months.

We head to a holiday party where Walt catches up with a bunch of friends and I score phenomenal mini chocolate cupcakes with excellent buttercream icing. I manage to sample a few other desserts (I saw other food but I’m not wasting calories while there’s packed dessert trays nearby) but return to the cupcakes. Walt refuses to stash a cupcake or two in his jacket pocket and my purse is too small … probably just as well since we’re having dinner at La Perla, a great Italian restaurant near the Kennedy Center. We have tickets to see An American in Paris, which is just lovely. Great music, great choreography, fun story.

We have a leisurely morning after our late night out, stopping to visit our friend Tony – and both lavish some attention on his adorable dog, Sammie, and admire Tony’s new car – and then head to the Ironworkers’ holiday party in downtown DC, which is always a great time. We get to see a lot of people and catch up, have wonderful food and drink. There’s a great 3-piece group playing songs, which is a very festive touch. As custom, I stash a few iced sugar cookies for later.

We head from the party to Tyson’s Corner mall for some Christmas shopping but we’re just struggling this year. Neither one of us wants to buy things that we don’t need or really want. We don’t have room, for one thing. In my case, I want to save my requests for when we have a house to decorate. I’ve seen lots of beautiful things on our travels – lamps, tables, a desk, a stuffed lynx, a clock – that I would love to own but not until we have a house. We’ve already shopped for Lauren and Bobby in Asheville and I’m lamenting all the great gift ideas I’ve seen for friends during the course of our travels but, of course, haven’t bought any of it due to space constrictions. I think that’s the hardest part of having no home, we can’t buy anything because we have no place to ship it for storage until we actually have a home.

Anyway, we’ve had a great time in DC but are ready to head back to our life in Asheville. The weather’s so nice that we play golf one day – Walt wearing shorts – and take a nice 10-mile hike in the Gorges State Park.

We know going into it that this is not going to be our favorite hike in North Carolina – it’s an out-and-back (as opposed to Walt’s preference of a loop hike), it goes down to a lake and then all the uphill is on the way back to the car and other than the view from the suspension bridge over the river feeding into the lake, there are no views – but it’s a gorgeous day. I’m wearing shorts and a short-sleeve shirt, the sun is shining and we see only one other person on the entire trail. We get our mileage and our 1,900 feet of elevation in and call it a day.

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