Charlotte, Days 1 and 2

Wednesday

After running the 19 errands we saved for the day of our departure, Clayton and I (sans Mr. Bryson) left for Charlotte Wednesday afternoon. We made the difficult decision to pass on picking up poop for 20% of our vacation. We both agreed that, for some reason, the drive there and the drive home were the longest five and a half hours ever. Trips to Florida have felt shorter. Weird. But the view was fantastic the whole way, with bright pops of fall color itching to burst into a full fiery blaze.

After checking into our hotel, we changed and headed to the North Davidson district, or NoDa if you are in the know. We aren’t. It’s a funky arts district with lots of male skinny jeans and Converse. Sure, I wanted to see some dudes in jeans tighter than mine, but the real ulterior motive was Amelie’s, a 24-hour French bakery and café. I woofed down pizza like an appetizer and cleansed my palate with beer at our dinner restaurant.

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For the first time in our entire marriage, Clayton made a better culinary decision than I did. While my coffee something-something was delish, his chocolate blah-blah-blah with chocolate mousse and chocolate cake topped with chocolate was superb.

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Good thing he’s a dessert lightweight and I saved my spoon after finishing my piece in 11 seconds. And then we fell into a sugar coma and barely made it back to the hotel.

Thursday

My initial vision for this seasonal jaunt to Charlotte–admittedly not a huge tourist destination–was to see how many different types of Oktoberfest it would take to outgrow my pants. The activities I trained for were lifting, gulping, repeating. And maybe shopping for new pants.

Our first full day in Charlotte completely turned that plan on its head and set a whole new adventure-themed tone for the trip. I only agreed because the new agenda included naps. Lots and lots of naps. After not grabbing a $9 cup of oatmeal at our hotel (“we serve breakfast” and “we offer complimentary breakfast” are two very different things), we picked up some fuel and headed to Crowder’s Mountain, a little over 30 miles outside the city. I was starting to feel a cold coming on, so I actually made one serious immunity-boosting decision this trip.

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The woman stationed at the visitor center had it much worse than I did. I think she was hung over, had the flu and had just broken up with her boyfriend and he was claiming custody of the pick-up truck. Girlfriend was rough. So because she was a little short with us, my husband decided to turn on the charm and make her earn her $5.75 an hour. He asked useless question after question that I could have answered with one glance at the informational pamphlet. Clayton doesn’t really believe in senseless tasks on vacation, like reading signs or spending money. It’s okay, though, because I don’t believe in showering.

After his badgering and the woman’s quitting her job in tears, we set out on our two-mile hike along the Pinnacle Trail, marked with a cute orange circle. This will be important later. The brochure estimated that this hike would take about 40 minutes. If you stop to take 328 pictures, I’d suggest allowing a bit more time.

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Unsurprisingly, my husband blew right past the “Trail Ends Here, Death Ahead” sign and scurried up the boulders probably meant to discourage scurrying. Verdict? Good call, husband. The view on top of those rocks was stunning, and I could have stood there until it was time to go home on Sunday. The weather was cool and breezy and crystal clear atop acres of fall-ready foliage.  

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It sounds so hokey to talk about being rejuvenated by nature. But my goodness nature is so rejuvenating. Standing on top of a mountain drinking in fall air is near medicinal in its heartwarming healing of the mind and soul.

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We finally decided to scramble on down to normal life. On our hike back, Clayton and I started discussing some pretty intense topics. Like The Future. The Noa’s horizon is both charged with excitement and steeped with stress. There are lots of question marks looming over a lot of areas of our life. All that to say, I finally looked up from my focused, fast walking to notice the marker on the tree in front of us was a white triangle. We did not want the white triangle. We are hard core orange circle people. So around we turned to find our precious orange circle, bucking that 40 minute timeframe again and ensuring that no, I would not be able to hold my pee until making it back to the visitor center. There was a squatting behind a tree situation because I have a bladder the size of a honey roasted peanut. That is one way to lighten the mood of any heavy conversation, trust me.    

We made a pit stop on the way back at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. It was early, so the place was empty, which we sort of like in our crotchety old age. Plus, we were in mountain hikin’ clothes with quite the accompanying stench. We enjoyed our samplers and, shock of the century, I went with their Oktoberfest. It was a nice cool down from the strenuous hiking, serious convo’ing and public peeing.

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Then we went back to the hotel and slept for two hours. We should write a how-to book for partying this hard.

In our half-asleep stupor, we ended up at a restaurant for dinner that was terrible and whose fish tacos made me dry heave by smell alone. It’s such a shame considering the three million great eateries in Charlotte, but whaddayagonnado? With no froyo shops open at 11, sleep some more, that’s what.

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