No one could have predicted where this day would end up. Maybe Tim Burton.
We had to redeem ourselves on the food front, so we began the day with breakfast at Terrace Café. THANK YOU, LESLEY. I had banana pancakes. Swear. But you’ll never know for sure.
They also have a heavenly creation called red velvet waffles, which I am certain would be worth the 11-hour round trip to try.
We were fat and happy heading to uptown Charlotte. Yes, they are too cool to call it Downtown. By the end of the trip, I had finally stopped sputtering, “Let’s go downt—er, upt—dow—UPTOWN!” It was classier than most downtowns I’ve seen, with clean streets and a less-than-average number of vagabonds, so Uptown it is. I love me a long stroll through big city streets. It is the exact opposite of tackling a trail in the woods to the top of a mountain overlook, but no less invigorating for me. I feel alive with energy and motion and purpose. Even though our only purpose was to burn off a few hundred calories from breakfast and remember where we parked.
Beyond that, the day was wide open. For serious, my agenda read “Explore?” So we did. We explored the lobby of Discovery Place to contemplate an Imax movie. When I was in tears just reading about the real-life Lion King-esque flick, we opted out. We explored the front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame building, and then we explored ourselves away from it after seeing it would cut out a big chunk of my Oktoberfest fund. We explored Smoothie King, only to spend $10 to realize they did not have a public bathroom. We explored the Epicenter, which is a little like stumbling on a sorority sister on an early Sunday morning trying to get back to her sorority house, stilettos in hand, eyeliner smudged, morals abandoned. I’m sure she looks a lot better in the moonlight, when construction crews aren’t set up in the center and store managers are not screaming for security guards to escort the panhandler out of the area.
Then it was on to bigger and better and smellier fun. Mocking my pumpkin patch suggestion, Clayton went a different direction and scouted out the Lazy 5 Ranch. I don’t even know how to describe the nuttiness and squeals that ensued, so just take a look.
You pay for buckets of food at the front and drive through the ranch feeding the animals. Well, my husband feeds the animals and I shriek and duck and point and hyperventilate.
The birds. The damn angry birds. They were the very first animals that we spotted, they were outrageously ballsy with their deathly sharp beaks all up in my car, completely selfish with the food bucket and thoroughly ruined me for the rest of the drive.
You weren’t supposed to feed anything with horns. Apparently, the Horned Ones didn’t get the FYI.
The llamas f’ing RAN NEXT TO YOUR CAR chomping out of the bucket.
And Clayton fed the zebra. Yes, the same mammal prowling around the African Serengeti, with ancestors who have survived attacks from lions and tigers and water buffalo, the virtual horse on exceptional steroids with a much better stylist. That zebra. The one the pamphlet (I am a stickler for pamphlets) said Do. Not. Feed. Or. You. Will. Be. Mauled. And. We. Will. Still. Close. At. 5PM. And. Leave. You. To. Your. Fate.
Boy, was this exciting. And longer than expected. Just when you thought you were heading toward the entrance, the road would loop back around toward some other food-crazed herd of something or other. My bladder was not up for such an afternoon on the brink of death or serious injury to the hands and forearms, especially not squeezed into skinny jeans whilst carbo loading. This story is going to take an awkward turn here. We could not floor it to the end of the tour because some SUV with 13 kids who didn’t even have food buckets were taking their sweet time meandering along the course. That’s when things got real. That’s the moment my husband will visualize any time he sees a farm or llama or bucket of feed pellets. Because our empty bucket turned into a portable bathroom in the backseat of my car smack dab in the middle of the Lazy 5 Ranch. With God and all manner of farm animals watching. Heaven help my husband, I don’t know if there’s a way to get back from that moment.
He will tell you no, there is absolutely no way. I think he’s being a bit dramatic.
Not that you’re interested or still reading or still my friend or claiming me as a family member by this point, but we also embarrassed ourselves on a hay slide and washed our hands a bunch of times after the drive-through petting fiasco was over.
We stopped for dinner when we got back to Charlotte, and Clayton weirdly chose to sit across from me rather than his normal spot next to me. He said it had something to do with cleansing his chi. Should I be worried?