So I finally had a chance to get out of town this last weekend. It was much needed. Since my separation, I have spent every night at my house. Fifty percent of that time has been alone, the other fifty has been with my daughter to keep me company. Every once in a while, an out-of-town guest comes and stays for a couple of days. But I have never gotten out. So that is what I did.
I was encouraged to go and visit some friends (Heather and David) in Wilmington, NC, meet some new people, and just have a good old time. So that is what I did. I took a half day on Friday, so I could work from home and watch my daughter at the same time. When lunch time rolled around, I took my daughter to meet her mother for the weekend, ate lunch, and got a haircut. I was set. I was on the road by 3:45, which was a bit later than I wanted to leave. Took back roads to I-40. A nice little drive down 55 and 210 through Angier and Benson. Nothing worth writing home about, and nothing worth stopping for, but a nice drive none-the-less. Once on I-40, it was on… on like Donkey Kong. Traffic was moving, and that was nice. Average speed of 85; peaks over 90, but sticking with the traffic and not standing out. 2 hours, 15 minutes after I got on the road, I was in my friend’s driveway, hopping out of my car, into her brand new mini van, and off to the restaurant.
Restaurant locations changed when we found out the only table at the pizza place that could accommodate our group was taken. So on we went to another place, Sweet & Savory. I’ll just go ahead and tell you now, if you ever have the chance to eat here, do it. I was very impressed. It was here we met up with the neighbors, Chris and his wife, and another new friend Nicole. Most people ate burgers, one person ate ribs, but I ate the veal chop. Tasty. Nothing better than a baby cow served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. David and I washed it down with a pitcher of Kona Longboard Lager. After dinner, we lingered a bit at the table talking about all kinds of things, adult conversation, something much deserved. We then said our parting goodbyes, and headed “home”. On the way home, Heather dropped David and I off at a local pub, Whiskey Creek Sports Pub.
Whiskey Creek was a hoppin’ little place. An old oyster bar, converted into a local pub, serving good beer, and good pub food. David and I tossed back a few Sam Adams Octoberfest. As the night drew on, I needed a bit more food, so we ordered some fried jalapeno slices. OMG. Dipped in ranch dressing, those little suckers were awesome. Think fried okra, but fiery hot. Of course, we knew we would be paying for it in the morning, but we were living in the moment. When we were done, our chariot arrived. Another new friend, Miranda, in from Charlotte, picked us up and ushered us home, where we drank some more.
Saturday was definitely my highlight. We all woke early (hard to sleep with a 7 month old in the house). A breakfast casserole, fresh fruit, coffee and OJ was served. I felt like I was at a bed and breakfast. After breakfast, and after showering, we were off to the mall for a little shopping. Heather was heading to a Marine Corps ball, and needed a new dress that she could fit her new nursing assets it. It was a failure. Nothing fit. But I managed to find a few clothes for my daughter, and on sale. Everybody met up for lunch at the pizza place that we were not able to eat at the previous night.
Slice of Life Pizzeria and Pub is a nice little pizza place. Daily specials include two slices and a drink, which is the way I went. Heather, David, and Nicole, shared a full pizza, Miranda had a vegetable quesadilla, and I went with two slices of pepperoni and black olive. Diners beware, when you order black olives on your pizza, you get a lot of black olives. My pizza came out black. Though it was good pizza, I let many of the olives drop, and never finished my meal. Two slices is quite filling.
After lunch, I joined Nicole in her car, Heather and Miranda in the shaggin’ wagon, David and Riley in the Pilot, and we all headed down to Front Street. Or so I thought. Turns out David took Riley to a park. Heather and Miranda had to stop 4 times (something was eaten that was not allowing someone to get off the toilet) and eventually went home. It’s OK. Nicole and I went to Front Street Brewery and had a good afternoon. Nicole tried the Raspberry Wheat and I tried the Baltic Porter. Mine was very good, Nicole ended up with a Miller Lite. I eventually moved on to the Scottish Ale, and it also was good. I prefer the Scottish Ale at Aviator Brewery; I feel that there is a deeper undertone of chocolate in the Aviator version. It was also nice to have free nachos, but we had to leave when the crazy guy showed up, started counting his rosary beads, talking about nuns, and doing Tai Chi in the middle of the road.
Off we went to to visit the riverfront, and took a slow meandering walk over to Blue Post Billiards. We walked in, and guess who we saw… Crazy Tai Chi Guy. A quick turnaround, and off we went to Slainte Irish Pub. This was a cool little pub. We stayed for a long beer, and a few trips to the restroom to deposit the beers we had been renting up until this point. We had a nice conversation, no subject off limits; until guess who showed up… Crazy Tai Chi Guy. It was getting close enough to the dinner hour, so we headed out to get something to eat.
We decided on Italian food, and went to Elizabeth’s Pizza. I was not impressed with the food. I don’t think I would go back. The waiter was very entertaining though. He would be worth going back to see. Dinner done, and being in the right part of town, off we went to Nicole’s house to let the dog out to pee. She owns an Italian Greyhound named Mr. Deeds. A very cool dog, even though I am not a pet person. We had a nice conversation, but we were both getting tired, so I was back off for my weekend housing.
Sunday started with another excellent breakfast. Heather fixed a french toast casserole, cheese grits, and sausage. The french toast was amazingly good. I need to get that recipe. From what I heard, the only complicated part about the dish, is that it needs to be prepared 24-48 hours in advance; but so long as you plan. After breakfast, and cleaning up, we went to meet my friends Jill, Dawson, and their family. They had just moved in ad renovated Jill’s grandmother’s house, and it is really nice. They have put a lot of work in, and it looks amazing. But like any homeowner, there are ongoing projects, and they will never be done.
For lunch we headed out to Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn. This is a typical “build your own” burrito bar, with an excellent selection of homemade salsas, including an Avocado Wasabi, Pineapple Jalapeno, Ginger Peach, and a Green Tomatillo Salsa. I had the burrito with jerk chicken. Wow. It was huge. It was great. I had to take half of it home with me it was so big. Lunch was great, and being able to see all my friends was really nice.
After lunch though, I had to go. I had been suffering all weekend with a toothache, and I had stuff that I needed to do back at home. Two hours later, I was stopping in Benson at a CVS. The toothache had gotten so bad, I had to get some medication. I later found out I needed a root canal, which I got this morning. Though this morning was not fun, my weekend was excellent. I can’t wait to get back down to Wilmington to see all my friends again. Maybe next time I can bring a few growlers of Aviator Brewing Company beer, and introduce them to one of Central NC’s finest breweries. Until then…