Somehow, I’ve fallen behind on blogging my adventures. I used to write a blog a day, and the photo recaps of my trips came here and there in a sea of other material. Now, I seem to only post when I’m recapping a recent trip, and here I am six months behind on that. So, I’m going to catch up with an abbreviated recap of my summer adventures.
Holden Beach, NC – June 20-23, 2012
I don’t go on beach vacations, much to the chagrin of my friends who make week-long visits to the sand and surf an annual tradition. I usually decline invitations for these trips for a few reasons. For one, I rarely take off work five days in a row, because that just creates more stress in the long run and burns a lot of vacation time at once, and I like to stretch my days into as many little adventures as possible. Additionally, I can sit on the beach for one day, but after that, I’m bored and ready to move on to something else. I guess, for some people, everyday life is a frenzy of over-scheduling and endless obligations, and the one week per year spent sitting under a beach umbrella is the only escape, whereas I make room for relaxation at home, and go on vacation for adventure.
Even so, I surprised even myself and said yes to a beach trip this year. I drove down just for the end of the week to join Jessica and her family at Holden Beach. To mitigate my itch to “do something,” after spending one day lounging on the beach, reading, we took a day trip to Wilmington to shake things up before returning to the beach the following day. I also seized the opportunity to meet my Myrtle Beach-dwelling friend Terri for dinner, so we met in the middle for some Calabash seafood.
I didn’t take very many pictures, but Holden Beach was nice:
There was also a lovely sunset view from the back porch of the beach house:
In Wilmington, we beat the heat by ducking into Blue Post Billiards in the middle of the afternoon and lit up the jukebox and the pool table:
We headed out as the sun came up Saturday morning, so there was a lovely view on the way out of town:
Since I was driving on my own and had the whole day, I stopped in Wilmington again for breakfast and the farmer’s market downtown.
I broke up the drive and made the most of my time by also stopping in Durham to have lunch with my friend Christy at The Cheesecake Factory, and then in Graham to visit Purple Penguin and see my friends Jeremy and Tiffany. The drive home was six hours, but by making it a twelve-hour trip, it felt like I’d hardly driven at all!
Boston – August 3 – 6, 2012
I had a great trip to Boston in July 2007, and had been thinking of returning ever since. My friend Karen lives there, and while technology keeps us connected day-to-day, five years is a long time to go without seeing someone’s face! I’d said a few times that I needed to come visit, and that kind of thing can get pretty easily stalled at “someday,” so it was great when the stars aligned so nicely this year. One of my favorite artists, Josh Ritter, released some tour dates that included a weekend date in Boston, so I asked Karen if she’d like to go. She said yes, and within a matter of hours, I had tickets purchased and a flight booked.
Josh Ritter ended up adding a show to his schedule for the night before my flight to Boston. I decided it was worth only getting 3 hours of sleep to get a double dose of Josh Ritter, so I saw him in Charlottesville on my way to Richmond to stay with family before my early, early, early morning flight.
Karen picked me up at the airport Friday morning, and we were soon joined by our mutual friend, Ruff (yes, a nickname), for a day of lively chatter and historical touring:
Karen and I continued our touring in another area of Boston the next day, marveling at the architecture, which for me, always includes at least one church!
We kept strolling along through the park (with swan boats!), by the Capitol, and on to Quincy Market and the shorefront:
Saturday night was our concert, and the venue was beautifully situated right on the water, so we had great tunes with a lovely view and a nice breeze.
Josh Ritter was co-headlining with Brandi Carlile for that show, so we got two full, fantastic sets. I was familiar with Brandi Carlile before, and had even seen her perform on a previous occasion, but she was so brilliant at this show that she won me over completely and found a new fan in Karen, too.
One of the most famous places in Boston (and in baseball) is Fenway Park, and I’ve always wanted to see it, if only for the history. Karen did me one better than that, though, and got us tickets to a game on Sunday afternoon (tip of the hat to her hubby, Charlie, who secured great seats for us)!
I don’t follow pro baseball closely by any means, but sit me in front of any kind of sporting event and I get invested quickly. It was so cool to be sitting in the stands at Fenway Park on a game day, so I was plenty excited by the experience.
The Red Sox played the Minnesota Twins, and though they hadn’t had the best season, they extended me the courtesy of winning since I’d come so far to see them.
I also ate a Fenway Frank (best hot dog of my entire life), drank lemonade from a souvenir cup, and sang Sweet Caroline with the Boston faithful.
Right down to hopping back on the T amidst mobs of Red Sox fans, it was a gloriously authentic Boston experience and I loved every second of it.
Alas, I had to go home on Monday, but I was booked on a late flight, so we still had time to enjoy the day. So, we got our beach gear together and rode up to Crane Beach for the day. The weather was absolutely perfect. I had never been to a beach in the northeast before, so I enjoyed wiggling my toes in the sand and dipping my feet into the waters in a new territory.
Karen had warned me that we’d have to move our chairs to another spot as the tide came in, and said it would sneak up behind us. She moved her chair in advance and went to pick up some lunch, and by the time she came back, there I was, sitting in a chair on a little island in the middle of the water. I picked up my things and waded through the water behind me to dry land.
I got a kick out of watching these two kids who stayed on “the island” until the last bit of sand was covered, at which point they screamed and laughed and ran through the water back to the beach.
It was a wonderful trip. I certainly won’t let five years pass by before I go again. And since one of the most important “attractions” I wanted to visit in Boston was Karen, the trip had a perfect balance of adventure and relaxing as we chattered away.
Wilmington – September 21 – 23rd
Florence and the Machine had been at the top of my “shows I need to see” list since I heard the album, Lungs. I never got a chance to go to a show on that tour, and had all but given up on the Ceremonials tour, too. The closest show was in Raleigh, and by the time I knew I could go, all but the crappy seats were sold out, so I was disappointed, but I figured it wasn’t meant to be. About the time I had given up entirely, my friend Jessa called to ask me if I was interested in going, because she wanted to go, too, and we could make a weekend of it. I said that if we did, we’d have to resort to Stubhub for tickets. She was game for that, and she’d told me a few times that she wanted to go with me to Wilmington sometime. It seemed like a pretty good two-for-one special to me, so we bought concert tickets and booked hotel rooms.
She met me at work that Friday and I left a little early so we could get down to Raleigh in time for the show. Kelli was also at the show, so I got to visit with her briefly, and I found out on the day of the show that Ryan and Julie were driving down as well, so I got to see them in Raleigh when I hardly ever get to see them at home. The outdoor venue was lovely.
The concert was great. Jessa and I had a great time singing and dancing along. I also had a concert-long romance with the adorable (and presumably gay) man who sat in the seat next to me. Sadly, we lost each other in the rush to the stage at the end of the show, and I forgot to check “Missed Connections” on Craigslist for his declaration of love.
Jessa and I had booked a room just outside of Raleigh for the night, so we didn’t have too far to drive before we could get some sleep. Then, we just got up and headed for Wilmington early Saturday morning.
Our hotel had a continental breakfast, so we’d had a little something to tide us over until we made it to Wilmington (and therefore, The Dixie Grill), but we made it to Wilmington before our appetites did, so we detoured and made Airlie Gardens our first stop.
We were able to check in as soon as we got to the hotel, so we left our bags and went to a late breakfast at Dixie Grill (where else?) before spending the afternoon walking around downtown Wilmington.
Dogs are plentiful in Wilmington, and I couldn’t resist stopping to find out about these two Bernese Mountain Dog cousins:
We ducked into Blue Post Billiards and racked up high scores on the skee ball (aka “Beer Ball”) game inside. I emerged victorious at that, but Jessa showed this game who was boss:
We (of course) had dinner at Front Street Brewery, which was amazing as always, and then took in the sunset from the Riverwalk.
We had booked an evening cruise down the river, and when we arrived to find the neon lights shining, we nicknamed it “the party boat.”
After we docked back into downtown, Jessa was ready for bed, so she went back to the hotel, and I went up the The Calico Room to see my friend Ali, who recently moved to Wilmington. I hung out there for a while, and got the musician who was playing there that night to sing a Ryan Adams cover for me, and then I made my way back to the hotel as well.
Sunday morning, we got up at dark-thirty to drive out to Fort Fisher for sunrise. I hate getting up early, but I’ve done it quite a few times to watch the sunrise from my favorite beach. Once again, it did not disappoint. It was the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen, and the water was still warm enough to play in.
We returned to Dixie Grill for breakfast before going back to pack up the room and check out. We made our last stop at the USS North Carolina battleship and did some touring around before hitting the road for home.
Will I ever get tired of Wilmington? It doesn’t seem likely.