TLC, Thanksgiving, Montreat, 2004

We’ve started a tradition to meet up with a lot of extended family every two years for Thanksgiving which I wholeheartedly support. This year we were hosted by George & Betsy Ivey who spearheaded the event and landed us three homes in Montreat, NC, a skip outside of Black Mountain & Asheville.

We left on Tuesday, the 23rd. Getting a later start out of town due to unforseen timing issues made what should have been a quick trip a quite long one. We [packed]( up the car with all the goodies aformentioned which did make us look like we were a camping spectacle. We hit a conjested Billy Graham Parkway which led us to an even more conjested and accident riddled 85 South. Once free of those pipes (and realizing that we could have taken 485 to I85 S. doh) we were on our way. 321 & 40 were clean roads. A bit of overcast, some drizzle, a trial through a densely fogged moutain pass, and we were there.

On our arrival there were probaly half of the attendees there. Many would be flying or driving in up to Thanksgiving day. There were three homes, one large congregating home with the main kitchen and setup to host the bulk of us, this housed the eldest adults. A second home was moderate in size and housed the up and comer adults, while the third house held the two families with children. The homes were all very summer home-ish in nature being that as the temperature fell steadily, a dank draft could be felt in all homes. This led to the sound of the Holiday, that of a nose blowing.

Robin & I setup shop in the medium house, its kitchen was cramped but man we all were able to dance in there quite well in the mornings. I pulled on average 25 shots a morning over a three hour period. Dancing with others cooking large breakfasts for all the cousins. It was nice to introduce other blends of espresso and techniques to the family. Those were not big on espresso/coffee really enjoyed Coffee Emergencies [Code Brown](, while those with a discerning taste to espresso already found Intelligentsia Coffee’s [Oromo Blend]( As the week went on and people found their moods I was sad that I never utilized the [Counter Culture Coffee]( espresso’s. Once people found a name or style they liked, they asked for it again and again. We only used the French-Press on the last morning. I packed up the espresso equipment the night before and we worked on dialing in the right settings over a number of trials. I introduced a few to a [Cup of Excellence]( winner out of Honduras which I have been told is one of the brightest coffee’s around.

Once breakfast was over little groups of hikers would get out. The area made for some nice walking/hiking and since the temperature was so chilled not many ventured too far. Others would stay in or venture around the other houses to play with kids or watch football games. Robin and I alternated between reading, working, shopping, and visiting, most of the trip. One mid-morning Ashley, Robin, myself, packed in the Pathfinder for a couple hour trip to Black Mountain. We split up and saw many of the clan in the town. We stopped in [The Dripolater]( I’ll write reviews later. It was nice to warm up and since they had wifi Robin went down to the car and picked up our laptop for some email checking. Ashley arrived to join us and I had no blog time, so after everyone had checked their mail we headed back to the houses.

Thanksgiving day was a busy busy day for all. We had originally 4 turkeys for cooking. Three were to be fried, one baked. We lost one to a pack of [dogs]( that tore into the turkey leaving only a caracass. Amazing stuff these mountain animals. While these houses were stacked with enough dishware their ovens were a little dated and uneven making the juggle of all our cassaroles quite a task. In the end though we really had a fantastic dinner and for a moment all that could be heard was the clinking of silverware and plates. Great stuff.

All would have been well enough but brother Dave showed us a side of him we rarely get to see. His insides. To those that say it is what is inside is what counts, Dave was ready to contest. Whether it was a bug, over eating, over drinking, or quite possibly the chain reaction of Elizabeth’s dangerous choco-pie, David was in for a night of [issues]( “Dave on the Couch”). We thought at one point he was returning to us, but alas, he made a [run]( to the [bathroom]( that few of us will forget for a time to come.

Robin’s birthday was on Saturday, the 27th. Since we were past the mid-way point of the trip the giant party began to see people fade away to homes that might need them. Robin and I were scheduled to cook lunch for the group and had brought enough materials for 30, but in reality only needed to serve 10-15. (So if anyone knows some spreadable cheese recipes, we have quite a few tubs left.) We served a tasty warm roll lunch and then Robin was presented with a Birthday cake and a few gifts. After which we left for an afternoon in Asheville shopping and dinner. The day was overcast but we didn’t consider it gloomy. Rain was deffinitly in the forecast and we were hoping it would be later than sooner and it held pretty close to our own prediction. We shopped as well as we could, but the wind in downtown Asheville was really crisp and cutting and it slowly wore us down. We took a pit-stop in another [SCAA]( “Specialty Coffee Association of America”) membered coffee house named [BeanStreet]( coffee. This [place]( “Gallery”) kept us warm but with 13 second (clear) shots, I was afraid. More on that in another post. After we had thawed and warmed we moved on to a few more antique shops then as we found our hunger gaining and the cold more biting we tried to eat early but quickly found out how many resterants close from 4-5, bah. We blew an hour in a few more retail shops and then made our way back to [Bistro 1896](, where we had a great meal and dessert. Rain had begun to fall outside and we bee-lined it to our parking garage and high-tailed it back to the houses where we found them empty. We watched a movie, and with no one else to entertain us we went to bed early.

Sunday morning ended up quite a hustle. We had planned on making breakfast but everyone was packing and cleaning. Sorting through whose this or that was and cleaning out the fridge. We had not realized we needed to be out by 10 so we hurried. I thought we would have more space than we did in the car, but alas, it seemed more full on leaving even though I knew it wasn’t really possible. Just a poor repacking. We said our goodbyes and thanks and hit the road. On our way out of town we stopped at a little cafe and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast and then were on our way. We made excellent time. It was beautiful and low-traffic’d return to Charlotte. We made the trip in just 2hrs on the dot which made both of us very happy.

The trip, the people, the meals, and the accommodations were superb. The weather was mostly sunny with a morning of flurries which was fun, but pretty cold the entire time. I am glad this went off with few hitches and look forward to the next time we can pull this scale of gathering together again. Thanks to all those who helped and participated. Without everyone giving this could never have taken place. It was wonderful to see you all.