Last week was the Making Things Happen Intensive in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I am going to devote a whole blog post to the MTH experience later. Right now I’m totally smitten over NC. Steve and I packed up the car and drove South for the intensive and an extended vacation. We split the drive up and stayed the first night in Charleston, WV. The drive was absolutely beautiful. We traveled through the mountains, they are so lush and a little scary. You are so high up and everything is sooo far below you. The highway is basically right on the edge of a cliff. Thankfully we didn’t hit any rainstorms on the way there, however we can’t say the same for the drive back. It was pouring so hard we couldn’t see the road. Luckily Steve is awesome and was driving instead of me. I would have been panicking.
After a night in Charleston, we headed to Chapel Hill for three nights. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I loved it there. The weather was beautiful, the city itself was amazing and the people are so nice. Everyone starts their conversations with “Hey Y’all.” I don’t know what it is about the phrase “hey y’all,” but have been saying it constantly for the last week in my fake southern accent. I’m considering making my own sign to hang up in our office. While in Chapel Hill we visited the campus of UNC. Holy cow, my college campus did not look anything like this, unfortunately. It’s gigantic and hilly and has huge old brick buildings surrounded with what have to be a million year old trees. It is such a beautiful place.
Mid-week we packed up the car again and headed to Wilmington, the Southern coast of NC. Gorgeous. The beaches, the landscape, the downtown. My heart is aching to go back already. They have huge trees covering the roads that have the perfect Southern Spanish moss hanging off of the branches. I don’t know what it is about moss on trees, but I am all about it. Wilmington was so much fun.
We went to Wrightsville beach and saw about a thousand Cannonball jellyfish in the ocean from atop Johnnie Mercer’s pier. I was scared to go in the water, luckily I didn’t see any where we were swimming. Steve did see one though while we was out there. So glad he didn’t get jellied!
While I was jumping into the waves, uninhibited, I saw something flying from out over the water right for me. It looked like a bat, which I thought was completely bizarre. This thing was coming straight for my face, so I ducked and screamed a little (which is nothing compared to what happens when there is a bee within 10 feet of me). Well, it wasn’t a bat. It turned out to be the most beautiful butterfly. I don’t know where it was coming from and I don’t know where it was headed, but that is an image I am never going to forget. It was so beautiful and serene (minus the part where I was running away from it like a little girl).
We spent four hours lounging in the sun and that was as much as we could take. We both came home with sunburns – my dermatologist won’t agree but it was completely worth it. A white girl coming out of a Michigan winter, no amount of sunscreen was going to save me. The next day we took our sunburns down to Kure Beach, about as far south you can travel on the coast before you leave NC, to go to the Aquarium. This was the most interactive aquarium we’ve ever been to. There were quail running around freely and frogs hopping where ever they felt like. They even had an albino crocodile, thank goodness he didn’t have free range like the quail and frogs.
One of the highlights of our trip was going to the downtown Wilmington docks. It’s on the Cape Fear River that runs out into the ocean. The boardwalk goes for almost ever and is lined with restaurants, shops and places to sit and look out over the water. We ate lunch at one place called The George (which I kept calling The Gordon for some reason – Steve thinks I’m ridiculous). It was so nice to sit out in the shade overlooking the water. We both ordered the soft shell crab po-boy sandwich. YUM! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Naturally, after eating it, Steve thought he was having an allergic reaction to shellfish and kept clearing his throat. It turned out to be fine, he just scratched his throat a little. After he realized he was fine, Steve reenacted this scene from the movie Hitch, when Will Smith’s character has an allergic reaction to shellfish. It was so funny.
Driving was so much fun. We were both a little nervous about the car breaking down or getting lost, but we didn’t have a single issue. Well, if you aren’t counting not being able to find the hotel in Chapel Hill because someone used the wrong address when printing out the directions. The maps app on my phone failed me too. We must have circled the same highway about 10 times before we found it. We also had a little hazard light mishap. Not sure how that one happened either. Ah well, it’s all part of the fun. The roads in the South are amazing compared to Michigan roads. There are no pot holes and barely any construction whatsoever. It figures that the only construction we did hit was in Michigan, leaving and coming back. Hi I’m Michigan, please take this detour through another construction zone. Pure Michigan.
We soaked up as much of North Carolina was we possibly could while we were there. On our drive back we passed through Chapel Hill again and my eyes watered up. I was so incredibly sad to leave, I’d go back in a heartbeat. However, leaving meant we got to go home and see our sweet Westie, Linus and kitty, Lilly. It took Lilly almost a day to warm back up to us. She was not happy that we had been gone for so long. Not Linus though. He was jumping with joy before we even got into the house. So sweet.