Some families have stayed in one place for generations; others have scattered (often repeatedly) to the four winds. Both The LovedOne and I come from the scattery kind. Thus, for many years, get-togethers were few and far between.

Then a few years ago, we hit on the idea of, each year, picking a place none of us had yet visited and gathering there for a full week. Minnesota’s North Shore in 2017, Taos, New Mexico in 2018, Rhode Island in 2019 (for a nephew’s wedding). Then COVID appeared and there were no reunions in 2020 or 2021. ๐Ÿ˜ข

By late 2021, COVID had eased-off a lot and none of us were getting any younger, so we made plans to gather in Asheville, North Carolina in October of 2022. As a location, it offers everything from art galleries to restaurants to hiking to breweries ๐Ÿบ – all surrounded by peaking Fall colors. ๐Ÿ‚

It was also within driving distance for those relatives still nervous about COVID and crowded airports. And so we had our reunion in 2022! And the weather cooperated with sunny days, ๐Ÿ˜Ž and some rain only at night! ๐Ÿ˜

There are a lot of hiking opportunities near Asheville. But, inexplicably, not everyone wanted to hike every day. ๐Ÿค” So we did some hikes with family, The LovedOne and I did one together, and I did one solo while the others toured the Biltmore Estate. In all, five hikes in a week with family and beautiful surroundings. That’s a hard combination to beat! ๐Ÿ˜Š

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina
Morning comes to the Blue Ridge

Our first hike, with The LovedOne’s sister and brother-in-law, was a loop through the state arboretum just outside of Asheville. Our 4.6 mile (7.4 km) route included the Hard Times, Owl Ridge, and Rocky Cove Roads and the Creekside, Carolina Mountain, and Wesley Branch Trails. It was well past wildflower season but there were lots of Fall colors for our viewing pleasure.

Hard Times Road, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
Starting out on the Hard Times Road
Bent Creek, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
Bent Creek
Hard Times Road, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
Walking on Hard Times
Fall colors, Hard Times Road, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
The range of colors in the canopy was amazing
Owl Ridge Road, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
On the Owl Ridge Road
Yesterday’s fern
Owl Ridge Road, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
Owl Ridge Road
Layers of color
Rocky Cove Road, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
On Rocky Cove Road
Bent Creek, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
Bent Creek
Fall colors in Bent Creek
Waterfall in Wolf Branch, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
A small waterfall in Wolf Branch
Carolina Mountain Trail, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
On the Carolina Mountain Trail
Color on color
Through the arboretum gardens
Wesley Branch Trail, North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, North Carolina
A splash of color on the Wesley Branch Trail
Our loop around the arboretum

Often after a hike, we visit a nearby pub – of which there are plenty in Minnesota. Here we wrapped up the hike and the day with a tour (and tasting) at a WHOLE brewery ๐Ÿบ – Sierra Nevada’s eastern operation in nearby Mills River (their western and original brewery is in Chico, California). This is one brother-in-law’s favorite beer so all of us were obligated ๐Ÿ˜‰ to participate. Bonding over a brew, so to speak. ๐Ÿ˜

Copper-clad kettles, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Mills River, North Carolina
Copper-clad kettles
Fermentation tanks, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Mills River, North Carolina
Fermentation tanks
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