Earlier this year, I wrote about a “do-over” of our 2020 SibSab, an abbreviation we use for our Sibling Sabbatical. On these annual trips, just the four of us siblings travel somewhere together to spend time with each other since we live distant from each other. But technically, a most recent SibSab was a real do-over for the one we missed in 2020.
The SibSab we had planned for October 2020 was at our favorite vacation spot, Montreat, where, growing up, we spent a week every summer. But after we had booked a rental home, rising COVID cases in the fall squashed the plans. So now that we were all fully vaccinated, it seemed natural to rebook the same home.
My two sisters drove over from Arkansas and on a Friday morning, we loaded up my car and headed to Montreat. With all of our luggage, we had just enough room in my Subaru WRX for the three of us and my sister’s dog who was making his first trip there.
After the three of us picked up the key to the house, drove through the welcoming gate…
…and unloaded the car, we drove back into town to get groceries and some local beers for my brother and me. Serendipitously, our brother pulled into the grocery store parking lot from his trip down from Pennsylvania just as we were walking into the store. With groceries procured, we headed back to the house for the beginning of our SibSab.
Over our four days together, we had a really great time being in this special place where, for the first time it was just the four of us. Reliving some of the events we recalled on summer vacations, we would often say “do you remember when…” to see who all recalled a certain event or activity. We divided our days into ones for predominately in Montreat, Asheville, and Black Mountain.
On our first morning there, we were greeted by a deer nursing her two fawns who didn’t seem to have any fear of us.
Sitting on the porch, we enjoyed coffee and telling old stories while we watched the sun peek over the mountains.
We then walked down to Lake Susan to take some photos of our favorite spots and to visit the bookstore/gift shop, where buying t-shirts or hoodies is a regular activity.
We each talked about one thing we wanted to do the most and mine was sitting on the porch of the bookstore reading while listening to the wonderful sound of the water flowing over the dam.
We ended the day again sitting on the porch, enjoying a local beer before grilling steaks to celebrate our oldest sister’s birthday early.
Our second day was our Asheville day where we started out at Biltmore Village, the town built by George Vanderbilt near his mansion. After a delicious lunch, we strolled over to the church to see the beautiful stained-glass windows honoring different Vanderbilt family members, only to find it locked. The sign on the door said the sanctuary was only open to the public Wednesday through Saturday so our pictures were of the windows from the outside rather than the inside.
After visiting a huge art gallery with many tempting beautiful pieces, our two sisters indulged my brother and me by accompanying us to a couple of craft breweries (neither of our sisters drink beer).
The second brewery even had hops growing on the side of an outdoor area. This discovery prompted us to regale our sisters with all kinds of beer facts which they found most humorous.
Rather than having dinner at a third craft brewery/brew pub we had planned to visit, we picked up the delicious pizza we had been looking forward to, a pesto base, curry chicken with toasted coconut crust and a crowler (32 oz. can) of their beer and took it back to our house.
Our third day was our Black Mountain day. Here we shopped at many of the small, unique shops, we often frequented, one of which, an art gallery we have been going to for over 30 years. It was nostalgic walking the sidewalks we had been treading on since we were single digit aged recalling the fun we had had in our youth. For lunch, we ate at a restaurant we had not been to before which was quite delicious accompanied with a local beer.
Our final day together started with my brother and sister climbing Look Out Mountain. Our oldest sister had no desire to climb and I, having reached the summit twice in the past two years, did not feel the need to climb it again. So, to virtually take us along, my brother and sister periodically sent us a video of the view as they made their way to the top.
After a delicious lunch at a new South African restaurant in Black Mountain, we drove around to all the places in Montreat we had stayed at over the years, and for some reason even recalling the times we had been sick which must of been one of our worst vacations.
We concluded our tour at the site where we camped so often, right near the burbling mountain stream. It was so peaceful being there it was hard to leave.
We captured our annual photo together in our new Montreat hoodies, me being the red’man out since they didn’t have my size in blue. That night, our sister, a former girl scout built a big fire in the fire pit (after my brother and I had failed)…
…and once we had a good fire with lots of hot coals, roasted marshmallows for S’mores, a treat none of us had had in many, many years.
Packing up the car was a bit more challenging as we had each accumulated some souvenirs to take home with us, but I managed to get everything loaded without having to leave anything behind. Before driving off our separate ways, we stopped at the great biscuit place in Asheville my brother had discovered several years ago for a tasty breakfast.
Over breakfast outside, shivering a bit from the chilly temperature, we talked about starting to have two SibSabs per year. All were in agreement with this idea. We discussed tentative plans for our next SibSab in 2022 which will give us another opportunity to enjoy each other’s company. So, stay tuned for the next installment of this sibling get together.