OK, so last/last weekend? Was fun!

Annnnd it’s only taken me a week to write about it.

When we last left our story, Tori was unexpectedly flying out to North Carolina to A) go the the Asheville Homecoming concert and B) spend a couple days at the Grove Park Inn. (I know. I’d hate me too.) I’ve actually never been to the Grove Park Inn before, but I have really wanted to go ever since they shot that Homecoming video there and Russ called me and said it was absolutely gorgeous and we had to plan a trip there immediately. That was in, I believe, 1999. It took us a while. So when Bill and Gloria said they were going to stay over a couple of days and did we want to join them, of course I said, “Oh, H*LL YEAH!!!” OK, I totally did not say that. I would never say that, especially out loud to the nice lady at the Gaither offices. But I hope you will not think less of me when I tell you that I absolutely yelled that inside my head. And possibly out loud to Russ. I’m not entirely sure, there was a lot of happy dancing, hanky-waving and glory shouting going on at the time. Mostly from me.

Anywho, I called our beloved Bridget to see if she could stay with the girls, I went to Costco and loaded up on stuff to stock the fridge– and yes, I realize a better woman would have whipped up batches of heathy homemade meals to leave them, but whatever– I packed my suitcase and I was out the door! There was a layover in Charlotte, and I spent a lovely hour in the airport eavesdropping on a couple sitting next to me in the waiting area who were trying really hard to have a nice quiet inconspicuous Major Disagreement. So of course I had to tweet about it:

Yeah, it’s probably not ever a good idea for me to be in a public place with time on my hands AND a portable means of mass communication…

So I finally landed in Asheville and was whisked away to the Grove Park Inn where it was love at first sight. The setting is breathtaking, the hotel is historical and has a rustic kind of elegance, with giant fireplaces and Mission furniture everywhere. The interior is decorated in the Arts and Crafts style, completely authentic to the period and it was just big piles of GORGEOUS with a side of AWESOME SAUCE everywhere you looked. I settled into my room and almost didn’t want to come out again. Seriously, there are few things on God’s green earth I enjoy as much as a really fine hotel. I’m like Eloise at the Plaza… remember those books? Yeah, I was born for hotel life. Here are some photos:

**One of the lobby fireplaces

**Hand-forged copper and iron light fixture– sadly, would not fit in my suitcase.

**Elevator door detail

**Vintage framed print

**(Interesting bit of trivia: E.W. Grove, the guy that built the Inn made millions by selling this ‘elixir’ called Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic, which was basically quinine that he added sugar and lemon flavoring too, because quinine by itself is bitter and nasty. It was supposed to be a preventative and a relief from the symptoms of malaria, which was prevalent in the mosquito-ridden South. Back in the days of high child mortality rates, it was considered a sign of health to have a chubby kid, which was a big selling point for Grove’s product. I love this ad so much. I might want to get that big-headed pig-kid tattooed on my arm.

** ‘Hall tree’– GET IT?!

**This was in our ROOM!

I finally was forced at gunpoint to leave my room and head to the concert, which was fabulous. (This is where I would be inserting concert photos if I had actually taken any, which was kind of impossible to do since I left my camera in the aforementioned hotel-room-I-would-like-to-be-buried-in.) I sure missed Michael English, but it was so wonderful to catch up with Marshall Hall. He looked and sounded great, things are going well for him and his family in Arizona. I also got to meet some Babybloomr readers, which made me all kinds of excited– I just love it when I get to do that! (And if I hugged any of you guys too hard or too often, I apologize. I had a lot of coffee.) After the concert, Bill, Gloria, Russ and I sat on the bus for a while and talked to the GVB while they sucked down every snack in sight– singing is hungry business, ya’ll. This little interlude was especially entertaining for me because Gloria kept going through the bus cupboards like the Nutrition Police and confiscating any crappy, sugar-laden breakfast cereal they had squirreled away behind the healthy stuff. They cried like little girls. Then the four of us got in Bill’s rental car and promptly got lost eventually found our way to one of those exotic after-hours spots you’ve all heard so much about; I believe it was called the International House of Pancakes. Ate facefuls of pancakes, met even more concert folks and then retired back to My New Favorite Place On Earth and went to sleep and dreamed of angels.

The next morning we woke up to a gentle, misting rain.

The mountain were shrouded in clouds, and under other conditions I might be a little disappointed that we didn’t have perfect weather– but since this was such a quick trip, and since a beautiful sunny day has a tendency to make me try to cram an entire week’s vacation into 24 hours, I actually really LOVED our rainy day. It was the kind of day that gives you permission to just putter around and be lazy, which we did.

Gloria and I spent hours poking around the hotel’s incredible shops and galleries, while Russ and Bill headed down to the spa to get on the treadmills and then relax in the pools. Gloria always has her eye out for all kinds of special treasures that she can order for the Gaither Family Resource Center. Here she is waaaaaay at the top of the stairs talking shop with one of the gallery owners:

I just love her.

OK, but here’s the best part! It was Bill’s birthday, right? Well, we found out that Buddy Greene had also stayed over in Asheville because he was going to be performing at a retreat over at the Billy Graham training and conference center, The Cove, so B & G invited him to join us for dinner that night at our hotel. When he got there, we were seated at a lovely table by the window– here’s what it looked like outside:


So we’re sitting there with Buddy and he’s telling us all about the event at the Cove, and how incredible it is to be working with living legends like Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea– who is 101 years old, by the way! Russ and Bill chime in too, and they’re all telling stories about these guys, and all of a sudden we look up and there is is this distinguished white-haired gentleman slowly walking by with a cane, and it’s Cliff Barrows! In the restaurant! And George Beverly Shea is right behind him! It was so cool– Russ and Buddy and Bill looked like little kids, they were so delighted to see them. Everybody hugged everybody, and they sat down to visit for a minute. Cliff and Bev Shea were like an old married couple, they finished each other’s sentences and listened to each other’s jokes like they were hearing them for the first time. And trust me, there were definitely some jokes being told! They may be old, but dang, they were sharp– honestly, they didn’t miss a thing and they were FUNNY! It was a big ol’ sloppy lovefest, and here are some pictures that say it all…

(Russ kinda looks like he just got asked to the prom in this one…)

Bill had a great birthday, and we had a wonderful weekend– just wanted to share it with you guys, thanks for indulging me!

35 Responses

  1. Tweets that mention » OK, so last/last weekend? Was fun! | babybloomr -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tori Taff, Lisa Strickland. Lisa Strickland said: Lol…Don't blame ya! Grove Park's really an amaZing place. So glad u got to spend time there. Love ya!RT @Babybloomr: http://bit.ly/92zo3h […]

  2. wendmark

    thanks for the recap of the hotel and your time with Russ, Bill and Gloria. It sounds truly WOW amazing! Glad you and Russ had such a great time! To run into and meet George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows, I would have a look on my face like Russ did too! (No comment on your prom comment, even though it was ROFLOL funny!)

    We haven’t been on the site in a few weeks and this was the perfect read to comeback too! Missed your humor and had to come back in and get a Tori fix!

    Blessings to you and all the Bloomrs out there!

  3. LindaB

    Well, I’m trying real hard NOT to hate you! How do you experience such a surreal awesome weekend like that, and then go back to laundry, vacuuming, and cooking at home? If that ever happened to me, I’d have a difficult time coming back down to earth! But I’m sure my kids would help me. Thanks for telling us all about it. We can only dream.

    I’d ABSOLUTE LOVE to see Gloria’s face if you’d said, “OH H*LL, YEAH!”. I might even shell out $5 to see it! LOL (I know, I’m sick.)

    A “prom” invitation, huh? ROFLOL Or, he just inherited a Starbucks located next door to his house!

  4. rodB

    That…is a cool, cool, did I say cool…place.

  5. MostlySunny

    Welcome back to earth!!!! I mean, like, you just run in to these people at dinner?

  6. Lendo

    Sounds like the perfect weekend to me! I just finished having one myself. Russ performed a concert at our church last night (Easter evening). We had such a wonderful time! Thank you for sharing him with us. What made the weekend perfect for me was that this morning, the two of us had breakfast together. For nearly two hours we talked about family, ministry, life’s ups and downs, etc. It was an incredible opportunity to get to know a humble servant of God. I have been following your blog for nearly two years. Today I had to “delurk” to tell you how much I appeciate you and babybloomr and the unforgetable ministry of Russ Taff.

  7. GRITSinNC

    Like LindaB, I’m trying real hard not to hate you. LOL I’d give anything, anything, to know Gloria Gaither personally and spend actual quality time with her. (Tori, you’re next on my female want-to-meet-and-spend-time-with list. Honest.) Then on top of being with Gloria (and being married to Russ), you get to sit and tell jokes with George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows. What a weekend! The concert was more or less an afterthought, right? For me it would have been without Michael there. :)

    LindaB, you made me LOL about paying $5 to hear Tori tell “that” to Gloria.

    Tori, do you ever feel self-conscious when you’re taking pictures of unusual things in unusual places? I do, but then I don’t get to the exotic places you do and maybe some of the things I stop to photograph do seem rather stupid to others. You’re a very good photographer and obviously have a very good camera. Thanks for sharing those great photos of things we’d definitely want to see.

    One more question, do you entertain Russ as well as you do us? Every blog you write (and even your tweets) are so entertaining.

    Lendo, you’re so fortunate to have had the Easter evening you did. I’ve never heard Russ in person and I want to SO bad, and I’d love to sit and talk to him too, and have him pray for me.

  8. mariajhmom

    Oh my goodness! You couldn’t hope for another night like that in your lifetime!!! That’s a ton of talent and a ton of Godly people at one table! Good for you!

    Oh….it was at the Grove Park Inn that we decided we wanted Kid #5. It’s a great story and involves lying about a vasectomy!!!

  9. tori

    wendmark– Great to have you back!

    LindaB– Hmm… 5 bucks, huh? I might have to consider that!

    RodB– Cool is the word, all right!

    MostlySunny– I KNOW, right?! Just sitting there minding our own business…

    Lendo– Well BLESS YOUR HEART for de-lurking! Russ said, and I quote: “I just fell in love with that guy!” Thank you for being so sweet to him, and I sincerely hope he made one of those sappy faces during breakfast like he did in that last photo… Please come back often!

    GRITSinNC– It truly WAS a wonderful time. And yes, I do sometimes get a little self conscious taking photos (like that night!) but I do my best to be very inconspicuous– and I knew that if I didn’t, I would truly regret it. In fact, going back and looking at them, I honestly wish I would have taken more! (You’ll have to ask Russ about the ‘entertaining’ part… He does still laugh though, after all these years!)

  10. tori

    mariajhmom– OK, THAT is a story I wanna hear!

  11. bettyrwoodward

    An other envious one here to. I also would have loved to meet Bev and Cliff(as well as the rest of you of course). Back in 1966 and again a few years later I worked as a volunteer in the Billy Graham office in London and Cliff was in charge of the volunteers. It is 2.30 a.m here in the UK and I’m just off to the airport for a trip to Marrakech! Only for 3 nights with a girl friend, should be fun.

  12. tori

    Dang, bettyrwoodward!

    Asheville, Schmashville- Marrakech is the most exotic, exciting-sounding weekend getaway EVER!!!

  13. kidpyramid

    I am still trying to catch my breath after laughing (for 5 minutes) at the “big-headed pig-kid” remark. And the dreamy-eyed “prom” picture just about sent me back over the edge.

    Thank you for your expressive writing.

  14. kidpyramid

    And I’d like to know who bought the half bottle of tonic.

  15. jonny

    Well, I’ll add another five to LB’s! Thanks so much for sharing your priceless treasure of a weekend with us!! = )

    Oh, and I miss IHOP, or beng able to go out some place late at night and have a breakfast plate!!

    Oh (again), and were the pancakes any healthier than the breakfast ceeals?? = /

  16. kidpyramid

    Strike that last one. Duh!

  17. delightedabroad

    I’m so glad you have had such a… WOW weekend! Thanks for sharing in your typical entertaining Tori-style of writing. It’s great! Btw you and Gloria look like mother and daughter on this picture… :-)

    jonny, how are you? Could you please explain to me “IHOP”? (My brain’s not working properly due to a migraine lasting several days)

  18. jonny

    International House of Pancakes = IHOP

    I seem to FINALLY be on the mend again. Thanks for asking, delighted.

  19. rachelbaker

    Sounds and looks like a wonderful weekend in a beautiful place. That is a lovely photo of you and Gloria. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Alas, I am not going with my Mum and her friend for an adventure in Marrakech, believe me Tori, those two will come home with some stories!

    Also, people watching is one of my favourite things, especially in airports – and I loved being kept up to date with your tweets! Sadly for the time being I don’t get much time to watch, I am usually the one being watched – the poor harassed mother trying to keep 3 children in order!

  20. VA-Cathy

    I LOVE reading your blog!!! Thank you, thank you, for sharing with us. I’ve been watching for Russ to do a solo concert near us, even emailed the suggestion to one church that has a lot of artists to come. He was in our area in the 80’s or early 90’s. I mentioned it to him at Family Fest one year and he told me the exact year. I couldn’t believe it. It’s not like we’re in a memorable place, like where you’ve just been!! Hopefully he’ll be around here soon. Either way, see you in Gatlinburg!!!

  21. LindaB

    Sorry, Tori! I’m taking back my $5 offer. I’m givin’ it to mariajhmom for her “story”!

  22. jonny

    Don’t worry Tori, you still have my 5. I’ll even make it 5€!! Although, if throwing in another 5 for mariajhmom’s story helps that one go bloomr public, I guess I could fast a day or two…

  23. Meredith

    I’ll match LB’s $5 and RAISE you $5!!! Oh, wait, this isn’t a poker game! Am I in the right place? :):):)

  24. jonny

    Didn’t LB confess she had a man-sized desire to be a poker player a few months back??

  25. ibclcisme

    You make me laugh so hard I can barely stand it.

    Seriously girl, can we be best friends? Anyone who wanted to (or did, even if in their head) yell “OH h$L! yeah” to the Gaither secretary and then caption a pic of their husband the way you did about Russ and the prom….WHEW!! Serious snorting laughter here!!

    I think if you get a boy headed pig tattoo, I want a matching one. But I want mine to have the tagline as well. “Makes children and adults as fat as pigs.” Who on earth wouldn’t wanna buy that?


    ibclcisme! you sound like you fit right in here!

  27. jonny

    Speaking of playing poker, I just heard about this tonight…


    It’s a fund raiser to help support money for The Four Diamonds Funds, helping families with children who have cancer. I also found out that in America alone, at least 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer every day. If I understood correctly.


  28. bettyrwoodward

    It was an amazing few days away thanks Tori. A totally different culture. Food great, weather great, lots of walking, site seeing and people watching. Now would I rather have been with you? It would be a close shave but probably!

  29. Barbara M. Lloyd

    What a wonderful weekend!….and you didn’t even mention the food. Bless his heart, Russ was spellbound….actually, I suspect everyone was a little bit when those two wonderful fellas happened by. I probably would have just wanted to keep hugging them…and then I’d get arrested because everyone would get the wrong idea. I’m so glad you went to Ashville, sweetie pie.

  30. NC4me

    I am coming out of the closet…..the lurker closet. I’ve been reading this blog and laughing for a long time but have never commented. Glad you had a great time in NC..my home state. And the Grove Park Inn!!! The best!! Get Russ to take you back during December sometime. You would not believe the Christmas decorations. Hope you took the time to rock on the beautiful porch. Could you smell the apple blossoms???? My husband and I spent an anniversary weekend there about this time of year and I remember the apple blossoms……mmmm.

    Hope someone told you the story of the elevator. :-)

  31. jonny

    Hey NC4me!! I think I may have felt your lurking-like presence for some time now! Or, I’m just naturally a little paranoid = / Anyway, for what it’s worth coming me, tians so much for finally coming out of the ‘closet’!! = ) Definitely appreciate your ‘Saying it!’ presence over the lurking in the shadows one = )


  32. LindaB

    NC4me, WELCOME to the funniest and nicest little blog in the blogosphere! We’re so glad you “delurked”! Tell us a little about yourself……unless you’re in the witness protection program! We already know your home state is N.C., you’re married, and love apple blossoms! Jump right in and comment whenever the feeling hits ya! We do!

  33. jonny

    OK, just re-read my last Say it! & noticed one word came out a little funky for some reason. Basically it should’ve read, “Thanks for coming out of the closet.”



  34. delightedabroad

    You poor guys are great in putting up with me and my training! Please do it just a little bit longer:-/…
    Next Thursday the French test is scheduled which will decide on wether I am allowed to do the final exam in French too – or not. So I’d be extremely grateful if you could be so kind and continue praying. This whole chapter is going to be closed in summer; I’m sure that relieves all of you…:-)

  35. Leisa Hammett

    Oh, yeah…Hi there, Tori! Linky love (via i am bossy) sent me here. Hi! You are so fun! One of the most memorable Christmases I ever had was about 20 years ago when my family went to brunch at the Grove Park Inn. My hometown is 45 min. from there. And, btw, Cliff Barrows was a member of my church. So, I grew up with his family, or the three that were still around from through the 1970s. (Big family. Lots of older kids, a few straggler-younger ones.

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