We're back from our annual trip to Pinehurst, NC where Brad's dad and stepmom so graciously take us each year for some R&R and family time. Pinehurst is about a 4 hour drive from Richmond and there is a beautiful resort with golf, tennis, spa, pool, etc. and village there. We always stay at the Carolina hotel. I will tell you what I tell everyone - you should go; you will love it. It is impossible not to relax there. Even with a 1 year old.
We've been taking a summer trip with my in-laws since 2001 (for those of you adding at home, that's 10 years!) and this was our 5th visit to Pinehurst. Before we discovered this little slice of heaven, we visited some similar set ups, such as The Homestead (VA) and Skytop (PA).
They were all wonderful and fun, but Pinehurst has been the favorite. Not only is it a pretty quick trip, there are a lot of different things to do there but we're all kind of centrally located at the hotel. That has always been Brad's dad's #1 priority when he picks where we go each year.
In fact, we've gotten in a bind in the past having too much to do and not enough time. However, I think sometimes the very best thing to do on vacation is just nothing at all. Aren't we over-scheduled in real life enough as it is? It's nice to go and do some very serious nothing.
And that is where my most favorite place of all - the Spa at Pinehurst - comes in. It is stunning, it is amazing, if you get the chance to go, pounce on it. It is huge and beautiful, with lots of natural light, vintage-looking tiles, soothing music, and lots green tones and dark wood. Pine scented products, big fluffy robes, smoothies passed on a tray, comfy lounge chairs and all the back issues of Vanity Fair you could ever want.
Sometimes, when I get really stressed out, I close my eyes and imagine I'm there, sitting somewhere in the spa. Typically in this daydream there is a thunderstorm going on outside, so there's nowhere to rush off to - just have to stay and relax. I decided this trip if/when we remodel our master bathroom there are going to be some big resemblances to the Spa there. That's true love people.
Another thing we love to do at Pinehurst is to take walks and check out all the cute old houses. Charlie gets pushed along in the stroller for it while Sue and I dedicate our time to determining which ones we most want to buy and live in. (One was even called Razorback Cottage - it's a sign!) Here's one we love - right in the Village of Pinehurst, which is the Norman Rockwell-ish 'downtown' area.
Here's the main drag:
Since we've visited Pinehurst over the course of 5 years we've had pre-Charlie and post-Charlie visits. I have to admit, it is a huge change taking him and is actually kind of a challenge keeping him occupied and properly fed. (And I use the word 'properly' loosely - this trip he discovered his love of fried calamari and french fries.) Not that I would trade him for the world, but you kinda can't help remembering what you were doing in the exact same location a few years prior. And that it wasn't quite as much work.
The visits before Charlie was born were so self indulgent - sleeping in, reading the paper with coffee, lazing at the spa, shopping as long as I liked, tennis clinics, reading books, long dinners in the Carolina Room. Insert wistful sigh.
Fast forward 4 years and the trip looks more like waking up very early, dodging flying muffin bits at breakfast, hurrying Charlie out of shops when he gets squirmy in his stroller, trying to quiet screams at nap and bedtime and speed-eating dinner before he gets bored. All in a relaxing and picturesque setting. Ha! But seriously, he was much easier this year then last (I was still nursing) and next year he'll be even easier.
He's still too little to do any of the kid-related stuff (pool, playground, etc.) so Brad and I tended to trade him off during the day to give each other a chance to go relax and take a breather. Brad's dad and stepmom also pitched in and would watch him for a while or helped when we each had him on our own. Brad's relaxation time translates into golf or a nap. Kara's is spa or a nap/book. See a theme?
You may be asking, why did we just not nap when Charlie napped? Because he's not about to take a nap silly reader! Charlie refused to nap. Ever. The entire trip. He'd get in his pack n' play and stand up, look at us across the room and scream at the top of his lungs. I feel fortunate we never got a finger wag from the front desk about it since the Carolina was close to capacity all weekend - with conferencing lawyers no less. I think we squeezed a 30 minute stroller nap out of him the last day. I don't know how that child operated on so little sleep the entire time.
After a couple of nights of early dinners at casual restaurants trying to keep Charlie occupied, we decided to track down a babysitter to watch him after he went to sleep. That way, he could get to sleep earlier and we had a fighting chance of having a conversation that didn't sound like 'Incoming bread roll!' or 'Charlie just threw chewed-up chicken tender at the waitress.' For the camera, however, he exudes angelic baby innocence:
He also enjoyed kicking back with a stogy:
We found a very sweet girl who works in the tennis shop, home from college for the summer. She came to sit on Friday and Saturday night so we could go down for grown up dinner in the Carolina Room at the hotel. I will tell you what I tell everyone: If you go, eat there, it's a foodie's paradise. The food is local and perfectly cooked and insanely delicious. I've never had a less-then-outstanding meal there. And if you know me, you know Food + Me = BFF.
Charlie, unfortunately, was not too willing to assist in our plan to escape for dinner. The first night was a complete nightmare - screaming, crying, temper tantrum. I finally had to leave the room and let Sue work her magic. She got him down to sleep eventually, around the time I was deciding in the hall I would just thank the sitter, give her some cash and send her on her way. Instead we got to go to dinner and have a really fun time!
After dinner, Charlie was out cold, Brad and his dad picked up the pack n' play from their room (they had a suite, so it was easier for the babysitter there with 2 rooms), carry it down the hall on the second floor, up the elevator 2 floors, down the hall on the 4th floor and into our room. Before dinner, Brad had let Charlie walk the entire way from our room to theirs using his walker so I guess he figured why not do the same thing with the pack n' play? Charlie didn't budge.
The next night we tried some different techniques and since I was deemed 'emotional and panicked mother', I was actually told to leave the room to give Charlie's sleep a fighting chance. I want so badly to not be a rookie mom, but I totally and completely am. I'm clueless. I feel so lucky Sue stepped in because having a couple of dinners off from baby duty really made the trip for me.
I even got to wear my two new Lily dresses! This is the dressier of the two, my Betty Draper dress. I'm not loving the gold strappy heels with it, however. What would Betty do??
They have a really awesome tennis club there and my sister-in-law Clare, soon-to-be UVA tennis team freshman (sorry, must brag) will typically play with the pro there, Kevin. We all just love Kevin.
Charlie screamed at them for quite a while during one of their games - I don't think he liked sharing his Aunt Clare. Or maybe he wanted one of the tennis balls, who knows. Here in a couple of years he'll probably be running around with his own little racquet.
We reluctantly packed up and left this morning after one last calorie binge at the breakfast buffet. Charlie was none too happy for most of the trip home (similar to the trip up there) and fought his nap when we got home with all his remaining energy. He's now been down for 2 hours. So yeah, his schedule is all kinds of messed up. But in a very worth-it kind of way. :)
So long Pinehurst - see you next year!
Few more pics from the trip - Clare and Art at dinner at the Magnolia Inn.
Brad and Clare with Charlie in the Carolina lobby. Charlie not cooperating. Don't you love the chair Brad is sitting in? I'm always on the lookout for similar ones.
And finally, the relaxation money shots. A peaceful sunset out our window. They used to have bagpipes playing in front of the resort every day at sunset but the kid who played them had to move away to go to school.
And the new Arboretum (or new to me) near the Village. Very peaceful.