Greensboro Weekend

A couple of weekends ago I went on a whirlwind, three-day trip to Greensboro, NC.  I went completely solo – this was the first time I have traveled alone since before my eldest was born – more than five years!  I was so excited to have plenty of time for friends, and let’s be honest, to eat my way through Greensboro!

My first stop upon landing, after getting my rental car and phoning in a to-go order to Fishbones for their best in the world burritos, was to stop at Bestway.  Their wall of beer has only gotten more thorough and fuller.

Fishbones hasn’t changed, and the decor is still as funky.  I almost always ordered some type of their burrito – the way it is steamed and stuffed with cabbage and some delectable sauce.  Yummm.

The Fishbones burrito is on the left, along with one of my favorite brewery’s beers – Foothills Jade IPA.  Then, for dinner, I hit up my favorite Thai place – Bangkok Cafe – for the Pad Thai Jade.  After filling myself with delicious food, and an afternoon at the pool, I slept perfectly in my quiet and dark hotel room.  Actually, I woke up insanely early because my body is just accustomed to waking with the birds and my early riser son.

The next morning, I did some driving around to check out old neighborhood haunts – including our old place.  I was sad to see the dogwood tree was gone.

I had breakfast with a friend, at Scrambled, and I have to say it was so-so.  I guess I should have stayed with the tried and true, and stuck with my favorite Greensboro breakfast place – Smith Street Diner.

After breakfast, we had to walk off the full stomachs, and so we headed over to the Greensboro Arboretum.  The magnolias were stunning, and everything was in bloom.  It was a hot and lovely day for a walk – just like Greensboro summers tend to be.

After a graduation party full of former colleagues, friends, former students, and good eats, we headed to the coliseum for graduation.  I have not ever had the chance to get to graduation and see former students walk across the stage, but I have to say, it was well worth it.  Sitting with my friend and former colleague, Mary Elise, watching our former students was the biggest thrill a teacher can get.  We laughed, cried, cheered, clapped, shouted, told hilarious stories, and marveled at how grown up each and every one of them looked.  It was easily the highlight of my school year, and maybe my career so far.

I rounded out my trip with two more meals with friends and former students.  Pizza at Sticks & Stones never disappoints – the Kiss Before I Go is covered in fried eggplant!  The hot chips and Sir Charles tuna with wasabi sauce, paired with an icy IPA from Natty Greene’s is also a winner.  I have actually had dreams about this patio, food, and world-class beer.

Obligatory photo with Nathanael Greene – the Quaker who fought in the Revolutionary War.  The rich history in the south was something I absolutely loved to learn about – it seemed so much more ancient and romantic than what I already knew about the Midwest.  Revolutionary War reenactments, complete with cannons, never hurt my love of the history in Greensboro.

One last walk around the lovely neighborhoods of Greensboro was on my to-do list,  and I tried to bring her the remnants of my 6-pack of Jade.  Oops.

I hopped on a plane, after meeting some former co-workers after their school day ended, and headed home.  I know faces of people are absent from this post, but they already lead such public lives, that I thought I’d focus on places and foods.  I can add y’all, with your consent, especially since you are what I miss most about Greensboro.  Not the food, not the places, not the spaces, not the landmarks, but my own personal history.  I am so grateful for all the people I got to see, laugh with, hug, cry with, and catch up on your doings.  Thank y’all so much.

Ocracoke Summer 2015 Trip

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We spent a nice chunk of our June in North Carolina for a family vacation at the beach and visiting Greensboro.  This was the first time we had been back since moving to Iowa two years ago.  The 3,200 miles we logged in our 11 day trip was worth the memories and beautiful images that I have been revisiting.  This lovely beach is on Ocracoke Island.
hwy12We reached Ocracoke Island by driving south along the barrier islands on NC Highway 12.  This is the longer route, but it is very scenic, taking you over the Oregon Inlet bridge, through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and past numerous towns and several lighthouses, depending on how much of Highway 12 one travels.  In our younger years, Eric and I rode the entire stretch from Nags Head to Ocracoke and back to Nags Head by bicycle.  We were trying to race a nasty March storm and rode the whole 80 miles back from Ocracoke to Nags Head in one day.  I can still feel the sand blasting my face along this stretch of desolate road.

boardwalk

The kids were exhausted of the car and itching to get out and see the scenic surroundings.  We stopped at a beach access point before the ferry to Ocracoke, near Avon.  The girl is running full speed ahead to reach that ocean!IMG_5833I call this one anticipation.  It will become an artwork at some point.

wadingThe urge to be a part of the ocean was just too much – she was soaked and sandy by the time we were done.  This girl’s water-loving viking heritage will call her to the coast too.

IMG_5850After a fantastic seafood dinner (truly one of the best I have had) at the Dolphin Den, in Avon we boarded the ferry to Ocracoke.  This little guy slept for the first part, but awoke to seagulls, waves, and his excited sister.  We had enough evening light for a selfie.

ferry

I do not think it is a coincidence that ferry sounds like fairy.  There is something magical about these boats.

ocracoke12

We got off the ferry and continued our drive onto Ocracoke.  This stretch is one of my favorite roads on earth.  I even immortalized it in a painting a few years back, I will have to dig that out of storage.

beach

Once on Ocracoke, we took things slow.  We spent some time at the beach.  This is the very beach where the most recent North Carolina shark attack happened, actually in the exact spot we were swimming in the water too.  Shudder.

airport

We ditched our car and opted for our cargo bike.  The kids enjoyed watching the small planes land and take off at the airport.

hermit

On our bike ride to the Ocracoke Lighthouse, we found this little fellow crawling across the road.  I had never seen a hermit crab just out walking before.

lighthouse

The Ocracoke lighthouse is always a little shocking to me, in its stark white form.

cat

Greta was more interested in the marmalade cat that was grooming itself just out of her reach.

biking

The small winding roads, cloaked in live oaks are always a treat on sunny hot afternoons.  I feel like I have stepped back in time.

sign

I love this sign on Old Howard Road.  It truly needs a y’all in there, though.

ferry picnic

We got take out from Thai Moon and it took it to the picnic area just outside the Ocracoke Visitor Center to watch the ferries.  It was one of the nicest and breeziest spots on the island, outside of the beach.

Dajio

We enjoyed a breakfast at Dajio. This is the massive apple pancake which had thinly sliced apples, caramelized, on the bottom of the most perfect fluffy hotcake.  My sailor dressed daughter is enjoying the fruit and yogurt parfait.  I would also recommend the shrimp and crab omelet.  Heaven on a plate.

jolly roger

We enjoyed dinner at the Jolly Roger with our friends from Greensboro.  This marina and restaurant has excellent seafood and terrific hush puppies.

After three glorious nights of being at the ocean, we left by Cedar Island ferry to mainland.  I felt a little squashed up inside, not knowing when we would be back to this place I love so much.  I actually keep it as one of my locations on my weather app on my phone.  I love to see its steady 70° rainy afternoons when snow is pounding and drifting in Iowa.  The almost three hour ferry ride back was a nice slow way to say goodbye to the coast.

I may or may not get around to blogging about Greensboro.  My days since returning have been filled with my babies having birthdays, finishing up a grad class, jury duty, and germs.