Highlights, lowlights, and Christmas lights

Clever title, I know. I was going to wait on another story from Grandma Casebeer to write, but alas, nothing has shown up in my email from her...............yet. You'll be the first to know!

Some highlights since last Friday:
- Men's retreat with Banner Elk Christian Fellowship @ the Doe River Gorge.
- A little background info....I knew approximately 3 out of 34 people on this trip, 1 of which was showing up a day late. Not that it bothered or worried me, but I'm just throwing it out there. 1 person I knew was Alan Yawn, YL Area Director here in town. He is a great guy, and is basically the reason I went. Anyway, we stayed at the Doe River Gorge for 2 nights, and of course had great fellowship, prayer time, and hang time. But I did want to tell one story that I thought was pretty funny. Allow me to introduce Bo Barinowski. Bo is a man's man....a retired Army Ranger (he's only 44), Lt. Colonial, taught at West Point, you get the picture. He's big, strong, and looks lethal. But as anticipated, he's a teddy bear. Bo and I went on a hike on Saturday afternoon, and you hike way up the gorge on the old Tweetsie Railroad. It is awesome for a few reasons...you follow the river, you are looking down a huge gorge, you are going thru old tunnels and over old trussles 50 feet or more off of the river with nothing to hold on to. It is pretty awesome. So Bo and I get to the end of the railroad - about 3.5 miles out - and Bo decides that he wants to go down to the river and try and cross. Sounds fun, right? I thought so. But then again I'm an idiot so that doesn't count. So Bo and I climb down the gorge hanging onto trees and shrubs and falling most of the way, and finally make it to the river bed. Let me add that it is about 42 degrees and raining. But I am thinking to myself, well I'm with an Army Ranger, how much trouble can I get into? It is at this point that Bo jumps in the river, figuring this was the only way to cross. It was officially Man vs. Wild, Bo Barinowski style. It was at that moment that I said, Adios Bo! See you back at the cabin! I did. I ran back, wondering if Bo would make it out alive.

Needless to say , 2 hours later, Bo comes back in the cabin sogging wet, and says only the following before heading to the shower: "Bad idea."

- Another highlight would be seeing BJ Novak last night. He is most commonly known as "Ryan the Temp" on the show "The Office". But he did some stand up comedy last night at App State, and Ashley and I had a little date night and decided to go. Here is my thing with comedians. I have a very low expectation of them before I go. I don't know why. When I go to a movie I think, Man this is going to be good!! I am so excited to see this!! When I go to a stand up show I think, How is this dude going to make me laugh? And it never fails..............I am laughing hysterically within minutes. And it was the same last night...he was hilarious!

- Lowlight - might be selling Jimmy. He sucks and I hate him. His tires suck, the CD player stopped working, and he went on Craigslist two days ago. I am meeting a gal today at 1:30 who wants to look at him...will keep you posted. The only downside to this would be sharing a car again, but hey, that just means more time together, right?

- Christmas lights. It is officially Christmas Season at Queen Street (Ashley's house). I have mixed feelings (maybe mental issues) about this, but hear me out. In my family, it is quite commonly known that Christmas doesn't start until the last person leaves your house on Thanksgiving Day. We then run to the living room and put in the 1st Christmas CD of the season. Thanskgiving, done. Hello Christmas. We've been doing this for all 26 years of my life. Tree goes up and the lights go on the next day, and bam, here we are. But not in the world of Christi Mercer. I quote: "Thanksgiving and Christmas are just one big holiday for me". And what am I going to do, not go over to their house anymore? No way! So in one night their house went from normal mode to a Hallmark store....there is Christmas stuff everywhere! I fought it at first. I bitched and moaned and talked about how my family did this and that. She said, I don't care, you're in Boone now. Good point. But once I started putting some lights on the tree with Ash, and some ornaments on the tree with Christi and Kirbi...I felt like the Grinch: My heart grew 3 sizes that day. Or whatever he says. You know the scene - he transforms from the Grinch to the lover of all people and Christmas. The Christmas spirit was being injected into me against my will!! I confess...I enjoy the tree, and garland, and signs that say "__ Days Until Christmas". And I am putting lights on their bushes today. Did I cave in? Did I go against Casebeer Family Rules? How do I feel about this?

I'll tell you how I feel: "It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." ~ W. T. Ellis

Welcome to the season, even if it is 7 days before Casebeer Go Time!


Smelly breath and more hippies

Ashley informed me yesterday I lately I have bad breath. I was offended and upset and I pouted and whined. Then she told me why: the damn tooth soap! She's right! I’m no dentist, but I am guessing that my hippie friend neglected to tell me that this magical soap would be detrimental this breath issue. Moral of the story? SAYONARA HIPPIE SOAP. Welcome back, Crest. Let your minty freshness rule my mouth for years to come!! Thanks to Ash I am now saved from embarassment!!

So Ashley and I have seen two concerts this week, both drastically different. Concert # 1 was of Tim Reynolds. For you music nerds out there like me, you’ll know that Tim is one of the country’s great guitarists – rock, blues, back-up, bluegrass, whatever. He can play it all, and he can play is amazingly. His “best known” album was playing an acoustic show with Dave Matthews, just the two of them. It is amazing. His concert in Boone was nothing like it. I was expecting some 32 year old music-y looking guy, and what we got was a 55 year old hippie (is there a theme here?) wearing an 80’s cutoff shirt and was 5 feet 3. This guy was the weirdest, creepiest looking musician I have seen in years. And some of his songs had words, mostly about sexual things or government overthrows, weird crap like that. Most of his songs were just music. However, the guy could shred! In the end, I didn’t really care that he was a nut-job. In fact I made Ashley go stand in the front row and take pictures because I was too embarrassed to do it myself. Needless to say, it was a funny experience for the two of us…looking like Banana Republic representatives at a hippie fest. Check Tim out below!

The next concert was last night, and it was awesome. It was at this thing called After Dark, and is a secret thing that happens on campuses all over the US. Long story short, there is a musician and a speaker, and that’s all you know, more or less. The musician was Dave Barnes, who I have wanted to see for a few years now. Funniest guy in concert. It is like watching a stand-up comedian play awesome music. I loved it. You should YouTube him, his videos are hilarious. On top of that, he’s a great musician too and a great songwriter, so it was awesome to just sit and enjoy a good concert. He did 2 sets, and in the middle was the speaker, who came out and talked about Jesus, which was very cool and had a big impact on lots of college kids there. After Dark is aimed mostly at un-churched people on college campuses, and this provides a pretty non-threatening way to hear about God. It’s a pretty cool concept.

It is supposed to snow here on Sunday and Tuesday…am I ready? Is Jimmy ready? Will his worn out tires be able to handle the frozen roads of Boone? Time will tell, people. I’m sure I’ll have some idiot crash story to tell. Stay posted. And have a great weekend!


Asheville extravaganza!!

First of all, if you have never been to Asheville, NC, you should go sometime in your life. Or immediately. For a few reasons, really. #1 at the top of the list: Biltmore Estate. We'll get into that later. Pictures to follow. #2: Downtown. #3: Food. #4: Grove Park Inn. We'll start there, and go in reverse order.

Some background info on the trip before we dive in...for my birthday this year, one of Ashley's gifts was a round of golf at the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa golf course. Being from Oregon, naturally I have never heard of this place. But after doing some research, I found out that it was designed by one of the world's most famous designers, Donald Ross. I have never played a Ross course, so this was instantly exciting for me. Then I come to find out that the Grove Park Inn is a Top Ten Spa destination in the world. This place is UNREAL. So anyway, here we go.

#4 - Grove Park Inn. Golf? 10. Bloody Mary on the 11th hole? A solid 9. Playing partner? Easily an 8+, maybe a 9-. Negative points for being a smoker - sorry if I offended any smokers. Jason was his name, he was from Alpharetta, GA. Ring any bells? That's right...he lives about 5 minutes away from Ashley's house in GA. Needless to say, he and I had some things in common, and he was a good golfer, so it made for a great day. Between us, we made 7 birdies I think. That always makes things more fun! But as for the golf itself, it was awesome. The course was hard, which I like, and it was in amazing condition, considering we are 2 weeks into November. I was seriously impressed with this place...and would easily go back to play again. The Spa (which we didn't really see the inside of) was amazing just to look at. Most of it is underground...grotto style. Not to be confused with ghetto style. We looked at some prices, just to be inquisitive.....uhh....about $250 for a 60 minute massage...that being the cheapest treatment you can get. Needless to say, Ashley spent her time in Starbucks writing lesson plans, dreaming about facials, peddies, and steamy hot tub. Clearly my stocks need to do a little better in order for us to make a return trip for anything other than golf!! Overall experience? 9.2

#3 - FOOD. I like food, and lots of it. In fact I am kind of getting fat, but that's beside the point. One of Ashley and I's great habits and traditions is finding fun, new, old, young, hip, whatever places to eat in new towns. The nature of our relationship has blessed us in the fact that we have been so many places together and coincidentally have eaten at a lot of great places. We found a place called Table in downtown Asheville (found it on OpenTable.com, great website. If you are a traveler, USE IT). It was small, upscale, fairly priced, and had great food. I had lobster risotto, Ashley had pork chops......But Asheville is supposedly known for it's food, and I can see why. Downtown is laden with small boutiquey restaurants...I didn't really see any chains at all in downtown, which was nice. But you can walk everywhere, get a good glass of wine or drink at tons of places, and it has the feel of a big city eating spot in a setting like Bend kind of. Overall eating experience (lunch at Bello, glass of wine before dinner at ZLounge, dinner at Table, after dinner drink at Zambra Tapas Bar)? 8.7

#2 - Downtown. This will be short and sweet, because I covered most of it already...but once you park, you don't get in your car again until you leave. I love that. It was $5 flat rate all day, and $1 after 7 PM all night. So that takes most of the guess work out of it. The buildings are old - Pearl District feeling - the streets are easy to navigate, and scenery is amazing. Overall downtown experience? 9.0

One now for #1...BILTMORE ESTATE. Let's start with some stats.
- Biggest house in the USA
- 8,000 acres (used to be 125,000, but the wife sold the rest to the government, which is now a National Forest that the Vanerbilt's head landscape guy started on his own, because he was bored, probably)
- 255 rooms, 43 bathrooms
- Built from 1889 to 1895, opened on Christmas Eve, 1895.
- Owner - George Vanderbilt, father of ONE. That's right, three people lived in it.
- Staff was 66 people.....living in the staff quarters....and 435 living in an adjacent villeage.
- 2.4 million cubic feet of living space....can anyone convert that into square footage for me, please?
- 95% self sustaining while people lived in it...they grew, caught, raised, all food and drink, and operated one of the largest dairies in America at the time.

Ok now for some descriptions. THIS PLACE IS HUGE. It is amazing and cooler than anything I've ever seen. The tour takes you thru about 40% of the "house", if you can even call it that. You see some bedrooms, the billiards room, the gun room, the cigar room, the kitchen (which has seperate rooms for: fruit, veggies, canned goods, baked goods, meat, walk-in fridge, its own cannery...), America's first in-house bowling alley, the first house with underwater lighting in the swimming pool, and the first and maybe only house with a fully functional PIPE ORGAN.

It was a crazy life back then...everyone had servants, and the servants had servants, and you had to have someone help get you dressed for every activity throughout the day, the meals were 7 course meals, your guests had trunks full of clothes and funny hats, you spoke with lots of funky words to try to be impressive, and so on. It was an amazing visit for Ashley and I. We spent about 7 hours on the estate, finishing up at the Winery. It is the 55th largest winery in the USA, and totally self contained on this esate.

It is so hard to describe, but I did my best. Ash and I really had a great weekend together, one of my favorites! After 2 months of living in the same town we aren't sick of each other, so that's good! I hope that sometime in your life you can see the Biltmore Estate. And make sure to get the little head-phone tour thingy...Ashley got one and relayed the info to me (we're cheapos) while I walked around in a daze trying to figure out what I would do if I lived there. Rollerblades made the list.

Overall Biltmore experience? 10.7

Overall weekend experience? 11

Enjoy the day!


Grandma Casebeer is the funniest human alive

You might think you know some funny people, or have some funny family members. I am telling you I have the trump card: Marcia Casebeer. She is one of the creative and funny people I have met, and the following story is one that she wrote me in response to my Halloween blog. Enjoy!

"I have always loved Halloween and when the boys were little I would tell them that Halloween was the ONLY time that witches and goblins could be "free" and have a "chance" to capture a little boy or a little girl--and THAT was why it was so necessary to "dress" up in a costume so that the witches would not REALIZE that you were a little boy or girl. Also we had "noise-makers" because the witches could stand the sound of the noisemakers--so the thing to do was to make a LOT of noise and keep your mask on at all times!!!! On the afternoon of Halloween I would go to a neighbors and use their phone to call home--and one of the boys would answer-and in a squeeky-crackly voice--I would say--"this is the WITCH and I will be watching you tonite!!!" After dinner Dick would take them out for the trick or treating and I would put on my "witches costume" and take a broom--and get on one of our bikes--and just ride around the neighborhood cackling etc.--and it would cause quite a commotion--but you could sure hear the "noisemakers" going full blast-and everyone had their costumes on!! Once home I would await their arrival and the stories of how many time they saw that witch go by--it was SPOOKY!!!
- I can only imagine this scene...3 boys and Grandpa running around yelling and banging things while this crazy woman is riding thru the neighborhood on her bike, cackling and laughing hysterically!! Anyway, continue reading, the next story is better.

When we were transferred back to Coos Bay--and Scott was in the 3rd grade-Todd in the 2nd grade-for some reason I decided that I would visit their school the afternoon of Halloween--and they had not idea-none! So I got dressed up in my witches outfit-I had a really big witches hat-=and with my "nose" and "glasses" on you really-really could not tell it was me--and since their classes were all on the first floor of the school building-and because they had low windows--it was easy for me to crouch down and just run the length of their class room--with just the tip of my witch hat showing just above the window sill-and I could hear the teacher explaining something--and then hear a student say--look!! --there is a witch out there!!--and then others would see it--and the teacher would try to get them settled down and say it just could not be witch--by then I was off to the next classroom!! If I did this today-I would be arrested--anyway--this was going SO well that I went inside the school-got to Tood's class first--burst open the door-and with my broom -hopped up on a desk and shouted in a 'Horrible" voice-fee-fie-fo-fum--tonite I will get a little girl or boyium!!!-and off I would dash-to Scott's room-do the same-by now the two rooms were in an uproar-even the teachers--and THEN I saw the principal coming down the hall shouting --witch-witch--no don't go!!! So I stopped and he was laffing so hard--and asked if I would visit ALL the rooms-just quickly--and so I did--and THAT school was totally aware of the witch's "visit". When the boys got home--they could hardly wait to tell me about the witch--actually--ACTUALLY-coming to their school--and into their ROOMS!!!! It wasn't until we moved to Salem that I finally told them who the witch really was--and they had no idea!!!"

Imagine with me, if you will, a woman running outside of every classroom with only the tip of her hat showing. If you were a 2nd grader and saw that crap, I would be scared out of my mind. For Grandma? Mission accomplished! But this wasn't good enough for her...she runs into the school and into the class and up on a desk and singles out Todd Casebeer and cackles at him that she will eat him and get him later tonight. Could you imagine the sheer horror this must created? And at the same time, the sheer delight for Grandma?? Brilliant.

But she wasn't only Halloween tricks and pranks. When we were younger she would keep 4 grandkids busy for hours without spending a dime. We would go to Kueblers Furniture and she would pretend to be shopping while secretly we were all playing hide and seek. She would be talking to the salesman and every now and then would spot us and hiss "I see you!!!! go hide again!!!".

Another memory would be "fishing". She would announce that we were going to go fishing when we got to the house, and this would be so exciting. We would then spend the next 3 hours or so making the poles...out of things we found around the house...then by the time we were "ready" to go fishing, it would be time to go!! Genius!!

Anyway, this woman is hilarious. You would have to meet her to experience her story telling skills, and how good she is at writing poems at Christmas, and how great of a golfer she is (still plays multiple times a week, came within 7 shots of shooting her age a few years ago). Hopefully you'll get the chance in your lifetime, if you already haven't, to meet the one and only Grandma Casebeer.

In other news, was that election night crazy or what? It is illiciting responses from people that are just downright dumb. Here are some highlights of things I've heard from around Boone and the nation:
- The end of the world is here
- Praise the Lord that I don't have to worry about filling up my car with gas or paying my mortgage anymore.
- Are we living in Revelation?
- Packing up my stuff, moving to Canada
- Be back in 4 years
- Palin 2012

I mean, come on people. I thought Obama did an amazing job in his acceptance speech, and couldn't help think while he was talking that I was witnessing probably one of the top 5 most historic speeches in American History. Pretty cool to think about, and watch, and experience.

That's all I've got for today...if you have any responses for Grandma, post them or email them to me and I'll forward them on! Enjoy the sun if you live in Boone!!


Politics and shout-outs and new pictures!

Well it was inevitable...I had to write about the election at some point. I'll be brief and not profound. My brother and I made a bet yesterday: What time is McCain going to concede to Obama? I went with 6pm EST, he with 8pm PST. I'm guessing he'll win, mainly because he's smarter than me. I voted - absentee - for McCain for a variety of reasons that I will not go into, but we will see what happens tonight!

Election days are exciting. It wreaks of change, and it sometimes tastes a little sour. I say that because it seems like everyone walking around has to get their opinion out on a day like today, and sometimes do it in an abrasive way. I'm at Espresso News right now and everyone is trying to get their point across to someone else. Sometimes I could care less who wins - the economy is bad but guess what? One single person isn't going to fix it by themselves. It will turn around, it always has and always will. Everyone just needs to calm down, go vote, and see what happens. Tomorrow is for being upset or jubilant or "I told you so's". Ok enough politics! On to shout-outs!

So this last weekend I experienced my very first App State football game. A little background on the team...they have won 3 straight National Championships at the D1-AA level (my Alma Mater USD is a D1-AA football teamm too). They have this guy named Armanti Edwards who is a better version of Dennis Dixon (former Oregon Duck). He dominates games. If they did not have Armanti, they would not be where they are, simply put. The guy does it all. Stats from last game: 17-19 367 yards passing, 73 yards rushing, 4 TD's. Oh and he sat most of the 4th quarter. Anyway, Ashley's best friend Alex Whitaker came to town with new hubby Jay (shoutout #1). They are YL staffers in Surrey County, and we like them. Also in town for the game was the infamous Janelle Rose Knox (shoutout #2 - everyone calls her by her full name all the time, I'm not sure why, but I'm going to do the same). JRK, as I will now branch out and call her, lives in Wake County and teaches 4th graders. She lets them blog everyday so I now instantly like her. Another funny thing about NC - this state is pretty much defined by counties. I'm not sure why. Where do you live? Watauga County. Where are you from? Catawba County (Christi Mercer, roommate of Ashley O'Dea, and also shoutout #3). Where do you teach? Wilkes County. Oh my friend lives in Avery County.......get the point? It is strange and kind of cool. I'm going to tell people from now on that I am from Deschutes County and grew up in Marion County, and let them decifer what that means.

I'm done rambling for today. Mainly beacuse I'm out of topics. And I should go work. Have fun watching the festivities tonight, and good luck to whoever you are rooting for! I'l be closely following the Smith-Merkley battle in Oregon, the Soucek-Tarleton battle for the House in North Carolina, and of course, the battle for the Vice President of the United States.

Go America!