Friday, March 22, 2013

Reunion in Raleigh

Preface: We ate. We drank. We ate some more. We laughed. And we farted.

I have a group of friends from my hometown that will remain life long friends of mine no matter where I am on the map. You know those people that you've shared some of your most memorable and most traumatic life experiences with, yet no matter the situation, each of those experiences brought you just a little closer? Well I'd like you to meet those people: Couple One [The Gibney's: Tom and Elsie] drove from Pennsylvania. Couple Two [The Brence's: Thomas and Lauren + Spencer the Dog] were nice enough to host and let us crash their beds. And Couple Three [The Bores: Mr. and Mrs. B] flew in from the West. 

Collectively, we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like, so to fix that we planned a weekend reunion in Raleigh, North Carolina. It rained close to 96% of the weekend, but we didn't let that ruin our fun. 

Our first of many stops was Chapel Hill where we ate lunch at a local brewery called Top of the Hill. The beer was mediocre, but the food was good. To make up for the beer, we walked 30 steps from the restaurant to the most delicious sweet shop called Sugarland. Cupcakes of all kinds lined the glass cases, while rows of vintage soda bottles chilled below. Their claim to fame: over-sized homemade oatmeal pies. Really, the size and taste put Little Debbie to shame. Leave it to my husband to skip the pies and go straight for the alcohol - frozen “dessert” martinis.

Meet the Brence's
Meet the Gibney's
Guess who?
Meet Spencer

Feeling high on sugar, we parted ways. The ladies window shopped while the men warmed bar stools. In the short time we were separated, the boys were introduced to the Untappd App– translated as facebook for alcoholics. When we finally knocked them off their stools, we played tourist at the UNC football field and watched Tom run the field with a Go-Pro strapped to his chest. He ran faster than an ostrich being chased by a cheetah, then somersaulted into the end zone. He claims it's tradition, but I am convinced he wanted an excuse to leave with blue field-chalk all over his pants. #alwaysakid

UNC Football Field Sprint
NC Tourists

By late afternoon, the ladies were shopping again - playing with baby toys, taking photos with fake cows, trying on hats, wearing masks, and finding the world’s largest mustache (magnet), while the boys were wandering around the city, probably looking for more booze. 

Our dinner, Spanish Tappas, was the main event of the day. We ordered fish for the holy ones, meat for the sinners, wine for the ladies, beer for the men, and bone marrow for all (YUCK!).  I think at one point we had 15 plates of food on our table and there wasn't a crumb left when we were done. Even our waitress was impressed. The food was nothing short of amazing, but the experience of watching men eat real bone marrow was enough to make us skip dessert. This is unusual, since we act like "fat-kids" 99% of the time when we are together. I lied, Thomas and I act like fat-kids. And we are proud of it.  

Food sometimes makes you feel silly.

On Saturday, we woke to the sound of rain (again), but we didn't let that slow us down. We grabbed umbrellas and headed to Beasley’s - my favorite part of the trip. Have you ever had a biscuit topped with a piece of fried chicken, a green tomato and drizzled in honey? Seriously, Colonel Sanders should be ashamed of himself. I basically licked my plate and then wanted more honey. 

So Lauren decided to be nice (for once) and take Elsie and I to the NC State Farmer’s Market to meet the honey-man, himself. Little did I know I would be walking into THEE best farmers market I have ever been too. Man, it’s days like that, when I wish I would have convinced Mr. B to move South instead of West. I had visions of riding my bicycle and overflowing my basket with a colorful selection of fruits, veggies and spring flowers.  It was awesome and so was the honey-man - freckles and all.

North Carolina State Farmers Market

After leaving the market with jars of honey, fresh greens, and home-made soaps we met the gentlemen at the natural science museum for a walk through history. We were given boarding passes (of real passengers) and stepped aboard the Titanic (exhibit). We explored re-creations of the ship's interior, looked at artifacts recovered from the ship wreck, and even touched a life size iceberg. At the end of the exhibit, we were able to look up our "passenger" name to see who survived and who didn't. Two of us did, the rest did not. #sorryaboutyourluck #iwasMollyBrown

"I am flying Jack, I'm flying"

Our adventurous afternoon worked up an appetite [again], so we ended up at the Flying Saucer -- home of the most amazing soft pretzels and cheese. Seriously, the first two orders weren't enough, we had to order another. And really, I should have ordered another to go. Instead, we ran into a man named Tubo. Yes that rhymed. He went to high school with Mr. B, but now lives in the Raleigh area. Thankfully, social media informed him that we were in town and he showed up to say hello and catch up on years past. What a small world.

The B's and soon to be Tubo's

And since the pretzels only lasted so long, the NC-wanna-be-natives convinced us that we couldn't leave the "South" without having some good ole southern bbq. Next stop was The Pit. Just like the previous night, the table was full of food -- corn on the cob, baked beans, cheese burgers, ribs, brisket and sweet potato fries. The entire weekend, to this point, literally put us in a food coma.

But we refused to skip dessert two nights in a row. So off to the Cupcake Shop we went. While some of us were discussing "flavors of the day", others were clearing out the bathroom stalls. Too much info? Not for this group. We grabbed our cupcakes to go, and snagged this photo before anyone noticed. If you are going to a bear, be a grizzly, right?

Farewell Photo

I Imagine the drive home for the men was longer than the women, but we ended up back at the Brence's stuffing our faces with those said cupcakes and a rather competitive game of Scategories. Lauren yelled more than a few times, Elsie acted innocent throughout the game, Thomas called the shots, Gibney tried to convince us that "Itchy a$$hole cream" should count, I may or may not have cleared the table, and Mr. B will NEVER live down the fact that he thought a Kit-Kat was a Kick-Kack. We laughed into the early hours of the morning and went to bed feeling blessed about our weekend with such an amazing group of people.

Although a tearful goodbye followed the next morning, we agreed this will become an annual tradition. We just need Mr. Gibney to commit, without coming up with an excuse. And no, the baby doesn't count. 

The time with them was worth every pound gained. From our scales to yours, drink more juice. Never mind, we don't own a scale, so eat more cupcakes! Lots of love from the West. xoxo.

Extra: It was a new city, which meant the Terrible Towels, came along. We had visions of getting our photo with a great big Oak Tree, since Raleigh is the city of Oaks, but we may or may not have forgotten our towels as we toured around. So we made the Brence's stop in route to the airport just so we could capture our Challenge Photo with the RDU sign. Yes, we got dirty looks from drivers passing by, but that's okay -- add it to the book!

Towel-waver Challenge Photo

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