Last Wednesday marked the first year of mine and Blake’s ~official~ relationship. After going on our first date in April of last year and surviving the six weeks apart while I studied abroad last summer, we have finally come full circle. And though I could go on for hours about our past year together, instead, I’ll just sum up this past weekend.
To celebrate a joint 24th birthday and one year anniversary, we decided to spend the Fourth of July weekend in Asheville touring breweries and breathing in the mountain air. We chose to stay just outside of the city, close to Black Mountain so that we would have the opportunity to drive into town and see the sights.
The first night there, we mostly spent driving around, getting a feel for the city and where we were in relation to all the attractions. We took the time to plan out our next day and went to bed early so that Saturday wouldn’t completely take us out. As soon as we woke up Saturday morning, we went to our favorite, Chick-fil-A, to grab a quick breakfast before heading out for the day. (I had to get my minis)
After breakfast, we got ready for the day and left for the Sierra Nevada Taproom and Restaurant at the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River. We knew it was the biggest brewery in Asheville, but didn’t know just what we were getting ourselves into. As we got closer to the Mills River location, the larger of the two, we could tell just what all the hype was about. Entering the gated property by private driveway, it truly presented as the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of breweries. We followed the path around the building to their secondary parking lot, and trekked to the Taproom and Restaurant to find an hour wait for a table. But that didn’t stop us, and quite frankly it seemed to be the norm at Sierra Nevada.
So while we waited, we went to their upstairs bar for a drink and then walked around the property, taking the self-guided tour before being texted that our table was ready. And the food was worth the wait. Overall, the visit was a necessary pitstop in our tour of Asheville.
Next on our journey, was the brewery and arts tour. We wanted to see as much as possible in the little time we had, so we signed up for a brewery tour that started in the River Arts District and ended downtown to give us a peek into both sides of Asheville. It began at Wedge Brewing Co., which was in the heart of the arts district. The restored and repurposed buildings that surrounded the smaller brewery were covered top to bottom in graffiti, each housing a number of independent art studios ranging from painters’ to glass artists’.
Then, we were taxied to the Bywater, a small, members only, hole-in-the-wall taproom that backed right up to the French Broad River. While the bar itself was intimate and dark, to say the least, the people who frequented it were full of life. There were both drunk 20-somethings and families perched between the back porch and around the fire pit, all enjoying their draughts. Some sported bathing suits and brought their own inner tubes, while others dressed as if the main seating options weren’t logs. But it was great. Enough to make Blake think he wanted to move to Asheville, even. We happily drank our second beers while walking down the railroad track and enjoying the riverbank.
After we finished at the Bywater, we headed out for a downtown rooftop bar to watch the sunset and get some dinner before calling it a day. But we got more than just a sunset. As we got our drinks and headed out to look over the city, clouds that were previously predicted to rain out our evening, produced a rainbow over the mountains, and a perfect picture opportunity.
And then came dessert. Once we were done eating, I convinced Blake to wait in line with me for the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, that often saw wait times of 30 minutes to an hour on a given night. But he loves me enough to support my chocolate addiction, and suffered through the line with me so that I could indulge myself in the magnificence that is chocolate crème brûlée. The perfect end to a perfect day.
But wait there’s more.
For our last outing in Asheville, I had to at least drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway just a little bit. So we got our Starbucks and Bojangles’ and embarked on our final adventure. I hadn’t seen the Blue Ridge in years and wanted nothing more than a breakfast with a view before heading back home. My last request, we had done it all.
This past weekend was one for the books, a perfect cherry on top of the year we just spent together. Without getting too sappy, I am the happiest I have ever been and have enjoyed every minute of the past year with Blake. I am thankful for him and all of the time we have shared. Here’s to many more!
Happy one year, my sweet