Oh dear. Considering the fact that our trip to Wilmington was over a week ago, I believe I am now officially a front-runner for “Worst Blogger of the Year Award.” It’s all good though, I own it.
I blog for me. I keep this baby running so I can reflect on things and share stories with family/friends who are far away. The telephone only goes so far when it comes to catching people up, and I think pictures speak a thousand words. (And yes, I realize there is facebook and that new google+ thing that I still do not understand despite signing myself up…but all of those things do not allow me to capture and share anecdotes and stories in the way I’d like to). Anywho, I guess what I am trying to say is… if you are reading these words, thank you.
I truly appreciate you stopping by, and I hope that you find yourself entertained when you read my stories. I know my updates are sporadic, but it’s only because I blog when I feel inspired.
I mean, let’s be honest. I know y’all don’t really want to read about the crazy busy week I had at work…or the group module I moderated for my online class last week. And that huge epidemiology exam coming up tomorrow? Yeah, I know that’s only a mountain in my eyes. And I know y’all could care less about my yearly physical (and how much I adore–adoreeee!– my new doctor). I must say, though, I feel so blessed to have a clean bill of health with all the things going on in the blogworld. However, the dermatologist appointment I have coming up in a few days has got me shaking in my boots. But for now, I’ll keep my worries to myself. No need to dwell on speculation, right? Especially when there are more important things to reflect on… like last weeks trip to the coast!
I present to you, Our trip to Wilmington: (WARNING: Find yourself a comfy seat, as you’re in for some picture overload).
For the 4th of July weekend, our little famjam hightailed it to Wilmington, North Carolina, home of the set for Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. Too bad I’ve never really watched a full episode of either of those shows… (Kind of funny when we’d run into locals and they’d proudly blabber on about said shows and wait patiently for an excited response, and I’d only return a blank stare. Oh well.)
It was only about a four-hour ride, and a pleasant one at that. Anything under 6 hours to me is a piece of cake. (To put things in perspective, Ryan and I take 12-hour long road-trips every winter to Florida to visit my parents in South Florida. So 4 hours is like a warm-up. A stroll around the block, if you will. Err, I mean… the coast.)
Being the angel of a traveler she is, Happy was zonked out for half of the trip. I keep telling myself that my future kids are going to be absolute hellions because my first dog is such a sweetheart.
And it’s not this guy…
After a chillaxful drive, we finally reached the historic downtown of Wilmington. Oh my goodness y’all. This city is so charming. It reminded me a little bit of Charleston and Asheville, all at the same time. And the fact that it’s on a river, has tons of marshland, and a BEACH nearby? Uhhhh. Let’s just say this place was like a slice of heaven to me. You all (should) know how much I adore the water.
Other things I love?
And old historic buildings.
Ryan and I stayed at a Marriott that was equal distance to the beach and to the historic downtown. In a word, it was perfect. Every morning we’d get up for the (free!) breakfast, fill our bellies and head out to “the loop” before the heat of the day set in. This loop was like my dream come true. It was pretty much like a park, but I’d equate it to an adults playground. There were soccer fields galore, and Ryan would play soccer and kick the ball around with Happy while I’d run circles around him. That sounds weird. Let me paint a better picture. I wasn’t circling him like a shark while I ran my circles…I gave him his space and did my own thing on the 2.5 mile trail that looped around the park, the marshes and the beach. So I guess you could say I ran big circles around him. Like an orbit? Whatever. You get my point — it. was. amazing.
View from the Loop…
This loop was glorious, y’all. The running-route was just so peaceful. I am seriously missing it. You know that doctor’s appt I had last week? Yep, in addition to my physical, the Doc diagnosed me with “beach-withdrawal.” We all know what the Rx for that is. (You listening, Ry? We need to go back. Doctor’s orders. I hear it’s deadly if not treated right away.)
Our first night there we dined at the Oceanic, a waterfront restaurant with the most amazing views.
Everything about this place was amazing.
Check out the view from our table…
Instead of bread, they brought out hushpuppies (although, I kinda wished they brought out bread, too…). They also had this BALLIN’ seafood gumbo that melted my heart on the spot.
After dinner, we had our hearts set on some froyo. Ever heard of Fuzzy Peach? Yeah, we hadn’t either. But now you have. And you should know that it is defreakinglicious.
In fact, that joint was so amazing that Ryan and I may or may not have hit that place up every single night we were in Wilmington (emphasis on the may have… don’t judge us).
Words do not do this place justice. It was very eclectic and reminded me of my favorite district in Sydney, Australia—The Rocks. Oh, and there was a Fuzzy Peach right across the street… so you know that upped it’s “awesome-factor” tenfold.
The inside was kind of “maze like” – a maze of shops, if you will. I loved it.
They even had a store dedicated to Happy!
We found these fun-looking signs that I thought could be approriate for certain family members…
After the Cotton Exchange, we took a stroll along the Riverwalk.
Another picture of the Battleship…
(because you can never have too many!)
Not having an agenda was so relaxing. I love vacations where you can just do anything, and everything, you want. And that’s just what we did.
I must move here…
Because of the flexible nature of our “no-plan plan,” we were able to hop on a little boat cruise that took a tour of the river! That made me one happy girl, as you know I love my boat-time
I’m on a boat!
Pretty river front
After the rivercruise we took a stroll along the historic streets of the downtown. It was approaching dinnertime, so Ryan suggested we stop and eat dinner before we embarked on the surprise he had planned. We chose to eat at Café Phoenix, and ohhhh my was that the best decision ever.
We were seated at the grandma hour (read: 5:45) and had the whole place to ourselves. I loved the individual attention of the waitstaff. And the food? Ohhhmylord, don’t even get me started. Y’all know this is not a foodblog by any means but I cannot NOT talk about this meal. It was to die for. And the ambiance of the restaurant was pretty staller, as well.
It all started with a loaf of bread (x2 because, uhh, we ❤ carbs) olive oil, and vinegar
Then came the appetizer…a pickled plate of fresh, local veggies. (And by local, I mean from the chef’s very own backyard.)
Then came my cup-o-soup
And to top it all off? The best entrees ever. I’m talkin Lick-yo-plate-clean delicious.
After such a spectacular meal, we had to commemorate the experience with a picture.
Then it was time for the surprise that Ryan had planned for us…
Yes, you read that right. Ryan and I spent a wonderful night listening to the North Carolina Symphony! We were probably the youngest ones in the audience by ohhh, about… 30 years, but it was such a great experience! In fact, it reminded me of home. My mom and stepdad have a tradition of going to the symphony for the Cincinnati Pops 4th of July Concert every year, and when I was a youngin’, they’d bring me along. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that to Ryan, so the fact that he picked the 4th of July as the time of year to take me to see a symphony brought out the warm fuzzies.
As always, I had to hold back (major) tears when they played the traditional military marches to honor all of the serviceman. The Veterans in the audience stood up when the march for their branch was played – it seriously gets me every time. (Lot’s of my family has served in the military, so I always picture them standing up during their songs – Navy and Air Force, predominantly). I’m pretty sure I shed a few tears. All of the old men were just SO proud. I told Ryan after the show that it’s a good thing they don’t plant recruitment officers outside the doors, because I’d probably sign up on the spot. Sidenote: Is anyone else like this? Oh, and you know those military recruitment commercials? Yeah, well they solicit the same response in me. Every time I see one of those military spots on TV and see people jumping outta helicopters, I take one look at myself sitting on the couch and think “Yesss, bring it!” I mean heck, I’ve already jumped out of a plane…and loved it. What a rush. Annnnd then I realize bootcamp would probably crush my soul. On day one. I guess my year in AmeriCorps can count as serving my country, right? (On a more serious note, I realize the military is something to take seriously, and nothing like a simple skydiving excursion on a study abroad trip… so no need to lecture me. I know serving our country is a one of the hardest jobs out there, and something I doubt I’d be cut out for. So thank you for those of you who serve and protect, or who have family members who are in the service).
Annnnyway… after my emotional rollercoaster of patriotic pride, we found ourselves at Fuzzy Peach.
Sunday morning was very similar to Saturday — spending time at the loop and enjoying the beachy scenary. By lunchtime, we found ourselves back in historic downtown Wilmington. We were on a hunt for a trolley ride.
Ohhh, what’s that over there? Horses?!
We actually stumbled upon a horse-drawn carriage tour, and decided it’d be the perfect way to see more of the city and learn about the history. So, off we went!
The tour was very well done and the guide was super knowledgable. And the best part?!? The horses that drove the tour were rescues!
This pink house actually reminds me of the house I grew up in. Ohhh yes. The house I lived in for 18 years in Ohio was pastel pink with white trimming and dark green shutters. We had a palm tree in our dining room, and a pool in the backyard. Now do you see why my mom lives in South Florida for half the year?
After the tour, Ryan and I headed to the Riverwalk where we stumbled upon a sidewalk craftshow. I spotted a necklace and couldn’t walk away without it. I fell in love with it on the spot. In fact, I’ve already worn it 3 times in the past week.
Once we got back from our afternoon excursion, we decided to take the pupsqueak to the local dogpark.
This dogparks kicks Charlotte’s dog park’s ass. By a landslide. Not only did it have huge sand dunes for the pups to climb on, but it had tunnels for them to run through. Annnnd it was 3x as big.
Considering the fact that I had blown off my studies for the majority of the weekend already, I decided to be a good student and bring along some work. Especially since I was moderating the assignment for the week. You know… no big deal.
After the dogpark, we headed back to the riverfront for an amazing dinner overlooking the water. This time, we dined at Elijah’s.
Aaaaand this was our view…
The picture below of the barge? oilrig? bigboat? does not do it justice. This thing was HUGE!
After a nice stroll around the downtown area…Fuzzy Peach happened.
The next morning was the 4th of July! We woke up, ate brekkie and headed out one last time to “the loop” and took in the beach. After lunch, we hit the road and headed home back to Charlotte
It’s safe to say that all three of us greatly enjoyed this trip. Something about Wilmington is just so special. It’s not too big, not too touristy and overall it is a very charming town. I know I loved it… I mean heck, it’s a week later and I’m still relishing in the post-vacation glow!
And if you thought you saw the stick making an appearance… you were right.
Once home, our little pupsqueak got a bath to wash away any critters that coulda been tagging along.
And then of course… fireworks happened. In between a few storms. (This is Charlotte in the summer time, afterall!).
Do you have any 4th of July traditions? Do you have any family in the military? Do those army commercials make your adrenalin rush? Have you ever fallen in love with a vacation spot and “missed” it like whoa upon return?