Monthly Archives: September 2011

Greenville, SC: Worthy of a Weekend Getaway

Standard

Last week, I was blessed with an all-expenses-paid trip to Greenville, SC! It was my first trip to Greenville and I absolutely hated that it was for work. I can’t complain about the free trip, but I certainly didn’t have time to explore the city like I wanted to once I arrived and realized it was an awesome town.

I instantly loved it and my initial thoughts were “this is a mix of Asheville and Charlotte.” Granted, Greenville definitely isn’t nearly as pretty as Asheville since it lacks the mountainous backdrop and Charlotte is quite a bit larger.

I stayed at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Greenville and I spent the majority of my time there. My huge complaint with Hyatt Regency is that it didn’t have free WiFi in the rooms. That’s a major downer. It put me in a poor mood because all I wanted to do after a long day was play on my iPad. I know I’m being somewhat of a snob given there are plenty of people in this world that never have access to the Internet. But guess what? I can’t help it. It’s a luxury I am used to having and when I don’t have access to it I tend to get a bit moody.

During a break, I ventured a few blocks down to Falls Park. It’s is a very pretty area given its vicinity to a large city. Greenville has done a wonderful job of making the area extremely attractive for tourists. I particularly liked the Liberty Bridge. It’s a suspension bridge with a pretty hefty curve in it and downstream a little bit is a cute little waterfall.

There were also a few local shops and restaurants near the water at Falls Park. I spotted one restaurant, High Cotton, which I was just dying to try for dinner. The décor and name of the restaurant were begging for my attention. Unfortunately, I had to have dinner with the rest of the group at Wild Wing Café. Let’s just say I barely ate since I ordered the “China Syndrome” wings — those little guys were hot, hot, hot!

I also ate at The Green Room located on Main Street downtown the next day for lunch. It is a lovely restaurant, but I’m not certain I would have loved it had I went there for dinner. The lunch, however, was super delicious. I ordered the Tuscan Chicken Melt and it had endless flavor. I intentionally didn’t take a picture of it since I didn’t want my colleagues questioning why I was taking pictures of my food!

Needless to say, I cannot wait to return to Greenville, SC for a weekend of fun with Marc. I hope to be able to dine at High Cotton and take a long run with him around the downtown area. I can’t wait to explore more of the town!

~ Lyndsi

 

Advertisements

European Car Fun For Charity in Winston-Salem, NC

Standard

Two weekends ago, Marc and I ventured to Winston-Salem, NC to enjoy a nice car show, a gala/casino night, and a relaxing Blue Ridge Parkway “Cruz” — all for a good cause. Proceeds went to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Neither Marc nor I have a reason to support Parkinson’s Research since we don’t personally know of anyone with Parkinson’s disease, but we chose to participate in the event since it would benefit a good cause while allowing us to have some fun. We can’t exactly be the epitome of philanthropists since we are young professionals, but these types of events provide us with an opportunity to do good and make a difference without breaking the bank and sacrificing a large amount of time.

On Saturday morning, we walked the streets of Old Winston-Salem to check out the car show. The cars were awesome and so was the town. Marc was particularly fond of the architecture and character of the buildings. I spotted a bakery, and upon entering, I was immediately overwhelmed by the smell of freshly baked bread. We were greeted by an older man who was kneading and pounding dough on a small wooden table in a tiny room to the right of the entrance. He treated us like we were everyday customers and in reality, he had never met us before. I love that kind of small town charm.

We spent a few hours at the car show, but once it wrapped up, we headed over to the Brookstown Inn to check in and to freshen up. The inn was fairly quaint and isn’t a place we have raved about to all of our friends. That being said, there wasn’t anything about it that we disliked, we just weren’t crazy about it. We enjoyed our stay, but we weren’t overly impressed with our room or the staff. At best, it is an average place to stay with above-average character.

We had a few hours to burn before the casino night at Flow BMW, so we made our way to Foothills Brewing, only a few miles away. Marc and I managed to snatch the last two spots available at the bar. We ordered a couple of appetizers (yes, we ordered pretzels) and we shared a beer sampler. We were just a few minutes from closing our tab when suddenly I was jumping out of my barstool trying to keep the beer shower from turning into a beer bath. Marc was borderline drenched and I was sprayed with enough beer to make my hair nappy and my shirt  fairly wet and sticky.

All of this happened because the tap decided to spray beer directly at us which, according to our bartender, “happens everyday.” Huh? Your tap sprays beer every day and you still allow your patrons to sit in front of it? Come again? I was pretty outraged, but surprisingly, I bit my tongue to the best of my ability. Needless to say, the manager took care of our tab and even offered to take care of my dry cleaning bill since I was visibly upset about a brand new shirt getting soaked in beer. No, I’m not sending my dry cleaning bill to her, even though I probably should. We learned a valuable lesson and that is to never sit near a tap again.

We abruptly left  Foothills Brewing and returned to Brookstown Inn to get ready for casino night. It was a pretty good time; though Marc and I were the youngest couple there. We have this ongoing joke that we always tend to be the youngest in the crowd at all the events we go to. I am not certain how this happens, but I really wish younger people enjoyed the same stuff we do! Neither one of us are gamblers, so we were amongst the first to leave that evening. In hindsight, it’s pretty hysterical that we were the first to leave since we were the youngest. I’m sure some of the older people stayed until the very end!

The next day was pretty fun. We went on the Blue Ridge Parkway “Cruz,” which really ended up being a drive on a whole bunch of backroads and a little bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Our final destination was Chateau Morrisette in Virginia. I thoroughly enjoyed the wine tasting and winery tour. The winery is absolutely beautiful and has a great history, but I don’t feel like rambling about a winery.

The drive home was a long one, but at the end of the day, we supported a good cause while having fun, so making the trip was well worth our time!

~ Lyndsi

 

Our Five Favorite Fall Drives in North Carolina

Standard

Fall is wonderful for five things: football, running, pumpkin spice lattes, killer boots, and beautiful North Carolina mountain drives. Some of our favorite drives are below … hopefully our readers love drives, if not, I’m so sorry this post is going to bore you. I hate that we don’t know much about our readers, but I can only hope you guys like our content! 

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway – This drive is by no means off the beaten path, unless of course you’re comparing it with the streets of Downtown Manhattan. Blue Ridge Parkway draws 15+ million visitors each year, making it the National Park Service’s most admired attraction. Even though millions of visitors take a journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway each year, when we drive it, we feel we’re among the few that are actually enjoying it. There’s no congested traffic, but we do occasionally get stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle. That’s not terrible, since we drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy the views of the beautiful vistas. Marc has never driven the M3 like it is meant to be driven while on the Blue Ridge Parkway. At least not with me as his passenger. It’s an absolutely beautiful drive and I highly recommend all leaf-lookers take a journey on this road. After all, traveling should be about the journey, not the destination. Note: take time to stop at the overlooks. Each one offers a very unique stunning view.
  2. Tail of the Dragon (TOD) – I don’t even know where to begin. This road is absolutely ridiculous as a passenger in a vehicle. At least as the passenger in a M3 with Marc behind the wheel. Located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, TOD is America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road with 318 curves in just 11 miles. If you go mid-day, you’ll barely move faster than an old lady in a walker due to traffic, but if you arrive early in the morning, you can get a clean run (ladies: a “run” means a clean drive without having to tap your breaks because some leaf-looker is in front of you, just in case you don’t already know; it took me a few times to catch onto the lingo). Despite my instincts routinely telling me I am a complete moron for riding in the passenger’s seat, I thoroughly love drives on the TOD. It’s an adrenaline rush and I am an adrenaline junky. Although, it’s not about how fast you go (and I recommend not going fast), it is simply how well you handle the curves. Notes: TOD is a dangerous road. Do not cross over the double yellow lines and be extremely cautious. There are tons of bikers on road, so keep your eyes peeled for them, as well.  An air lift out of the place cost one driver $19,000, so that’s just another reason to play it safe.

  3. Cherohalah Skyway – Located near the TOD (making a glorious loop), I love Cherohalah Skyway for its 60 miles of remote, scenic mountain views. It’s an amazing road with swift, wide turns. In some aspects, I enjoy it more than the Blue Ridge Parkway since you can drive faster while still looking at the gorgeous scenery. Being the passenger on this road makes me want to kick Marc out of the driver’s seat, so I can know what it feels like to drive a sports car on this skyway! Maybe this fall, Marc? Note: this road can also be dangerous. There was a tragic fatality on it this month, September 2011. While you can drive faster on it than the first two drives I mentioned, take it easy, as the road can be tricky.  The turns can sneak up on you. There are more car fatalities on the Cherohala than TOD. 
  4. Whitewater Way – I’d be lying if I said I’ve actually driven this, but it’s one I will experience this fall. If I’m not mistaken, Marc has driven at least some of this road with his car friends. I can’t wait to experience the vivid fall color amidst a stunning backdrop of numerous waterfalls. I’ve heard it’s the most striking and lively scenery in North Carolina. Notes: bring your camera! I’ve seen incredible pictures from friends who have been on this drive.
  5. Nantahala Byway – Forty-three miles of road make up the Nantahala Scenic Byway within the Nantahala National Forest. Areas of interest include the Nantahala Gorge, Cherokee Indian Reservation, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and Fontana Lake. If whitewater rafting, kayaking, or canoeing is your niche, then the Nantahala River will sure please you. Notes: wear active clothing and make this trip memorable by doing outdoor activities! As with my other notes, please drive safely!

What are you favorite fall drives in the United States? Or in the world? Marc and I would die to drive on the Autobahn (and will someday, Marc claims, when he does a European delivery of a new BMW).

~ Lyndsi

Pretzels, Truffles, and Uh-Ohs in Downtown Asheville, NC

Standard

A man dressed in drag. A dog that looked possessed of the devil. A “nun” on a unicycle. A dusting of gothics. A man in a belly shirt. A group of really freaky freaks. A few dozen hippies. Really, the only weird thing missing in the crowd was crazy Lady Gaga in her bizarre egg costume. Yes, I just called her a “thing.”

The only thought in my mind at the moment I saw the street crawling with the above unique individuals was “Uh-Oh, what are we getting ourselves into?” Marc and I unexpectdly stublembed upon this scene when we visited Asheville last weekend. We quickly learned that all of those crazies were out on the streets for the 10th annual Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF). This festival definitely defies cultural norms and festival organizers boast that it attracts individuals from all walks of life. No false advertising there — it is definitely a diverse crowd!

I felt a bit uncomfortable as a yuppy in a crowd of so many crazies. They were all trying super hard to look different in order to draw attention to themselves and there I was grabbing the attention of the crowd by dressing in my yuppy conservative manner that typically makes me blend into crowds.

Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly feel up to wandering the streets amongst a bunch of really different people. I’m sure I missed out on some fun art and great culture, but the festival was the epitome of weird and I just couldn’t get into it. Marc and I quickly made Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB) our haven. We ordered a beer sampler as I waited for my friend Danielle, who lives in Asheville, to arrive. I was so glad she was joining us since I felt like I needed a local by my side in order to feel a bit more comfortable.

As we waited on her to arrive, we enjoyed some fabulous old world pretzels. If you read our post about Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte, NC then you already know that we expect top-notch pretzels. These were uber-pretzels with a perfect, toasty taste. Plump, crispy, and delicious. If we could delight in those pretzels at OMB, I’m pretty sure we’d be weekly visitors.

As if I hadn’t indulged enough, Danielle insisted we go out for a little dessert at French Broad Chocolate Lounge (aka: heaven). We waited in line for 15 minutes and loved inhaling the chocolaty aroma that filled the lounge. I ordered the Flourless Chocolate Truffle Torte and if indulging in that is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Regrettably, I didn’t snap a picture because I went into devour mode the second it landed in front of me. I also thoroughly enjoyed the Chai ice cream Danielle let me sample from her plate. Marc quoted No Strings Attached and proclaimed, “You eat like a baby dinosaur. You don’t even chew.” Not that that’s something to brag about, but it certainly made me laugh because it was true in that moment. I was eating like a baby dinosaur, but at least I limited myself to a slice of cake and didn’t eat a hand full of truffles with it.

I indulged a little too much over the weekend, but the following quote makes me feel better.

“I am not a glutton — I am an explorer of food.” — Erma Bombeck

Where’s your favorite place to get dessert in the Carolinas? I’m always on the lookout for new places to visit. I especially love places that are individually owned and operated!

~ Lyndsi

Chimney Rock, NC: Good For Breaking a Sweat and Making a Sexy M3 Filthy

Standard

Hiking up the stairs to Chimney Rock was a lot like my experience during Race to the Top (49 stories; 1,194 steps; but who’s counting?) at the Duke Energy Tower experience back in March in Charlotte. Albeit, this time I had prettier views, better air circulation, and cleaner air. There were also a zillion less stairs to climb but, even so, it was a similar experience.

Marc was absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to park his pristine car in a gravel/dirt parking lot (please sense the sarcasm). We had a similar experience to this when we visited Westglow Resort in Blowing Rock, NC and drove down a super steep gravel drive to get to our cabin. That wasn’t a pretty moment and neither was this. We got out of his car and it had a coating of dirt on it. Not the best way to start the weekend, but I reminded him that it’s just a car. I’m sure Marc’s not the only one in the world that keeps his car spotless, so hopefully someone out there can empathize with him. If that person is you, leave the nice car at home if you plan to visit Chimney Rock.

Anyway, Marc and I decided to skip the trails since we were in sandals. We rode up to the top via a shuttle bus and I felt pretty guilty about not hiking the trails since I try to lead an active lifestyle. We had to ride the pretty white shuttle bus since Marc was too good to get on the big yellow school bus. We witnessed a complete moron passing us on the left hand side of the road. He almost collided head-on with a shuttle bus full of people coming down the hill. This guy was completely ignorant and showed no concern for other people’s precious lives. Thankfully, everyone was okay and the idiot driver received oodles of nasty looks.

At the top, there is an option to take an elevator or stairs to the actual rock, except the elevator was closed this weekend due to construction. I was glad it was closed since I’m not exactly in favor of having the elevator available for people to use. However, I realize some individuals who may have a handicap or medical conditions may need it to get to the top. I’m glad it’s there to serve those individuals, but I wish healthy individuals would choose to take stair in lieu of elevators.

We actually enjoyed working up a sweat and realized we could probably benefit from a hike like that every weekend. However, we won’t be hiking those stairs every weekend since it’s one of those trips where you say “been there, done that, glad we did it, but there’s no reason to do it again.” Chimney Rock is a beautiful and peaceful place and being on top of the rock is something to experience, but it’s just not something we would ever want to do again, especially not for the steep $12 per person fee. Forking over that kind of money more than once to see a view of mountains and Lake Lure seems somewhat preposterous to me. Perhaps I’m being a snob right now since I’ve seen much prettier views than that at Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina, and in various places in Colorado and California. I guess all I’m saying is that there are a million places in the United States where you can experience breathtaking mountain views for free.

I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Marc at Chimney Rock. It was nice not having access to TVs, iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks for a couple of hours. When we’re at home, my iPad is out, the TV is on, we’re looking at our iPhones, or Marc’s on his Mac. It’s just our reality. We’re trying to get better about spending more quality time together at home, but the temptation to play with our gadgets will always be there.

 Tip: Bring a water bottle. Even if you’re super fit, it’s wise to stay well hydrated!

~ Lyndsi

Charleston, SC: Fit For Two Yuppies (Part 3)

Standard

One Saturday morning back in March, Marc said, “Let’s go to the beach today.” A bit spontaneous, I thought, but that’s why I love Marc. He’s an excellent planner, but he also has a streak of spontaneity in him. I suggested Folly Beach and so we booked a room at Tides.

Here’s the problem with spontaneity: it sometimes comes back to bite you in the butt. Just five miles from Tides on Folly Beach, Marc and I started to get antsy. We couldn’t wait to soak up the sun and enjoy a refreshing beverage. Right when we said “almost there,” things got real tense. We came to a screeching halt and after seconds of looking at the neighboring cooler-packed vehicles, we realized we were amongst a sea of college spring-breakers.

How are we in our mid-twenties and already forgetting when spring break is? Time flies (unless, of course, you’re sitting in hours of traffic just a few miles from your hotel). Marc and I were pretty agitated for a while, but ultimately decided not to let the traffic ruin our weekend getaway. I told him we should just join in on the fun and party like we’re in college again.

When we finally reached the beach a couple of long hours later, teens were playing volleyball, redneck golf, dizzy bat, bocce, etc. I was impressed that they were keeping things fairly classy.

Instead of crashing all the college fun, Marc and I decided to go for a long run along the beach. The teens entertained me as did the half dozen weddings I saw taking place on the beach. I was in awe over all the gorgeous brides and their beautiful bridesmaids. I felt a little bad for the brides since they were mostly surrounded by loud drunk spring-breakers, but surely they expected that when they booked a wedding on a public beach during spring break.

After our nice run, Marc and I got ready to go to the oceanfront bar and lounge to enjoy a drink. We kept it classy and opted not to party like we were in college again (granted, I never really partied in college … oh, how I wish I could go back). I asked my bartender to mix me a NorCal Margarita. It’s a drink favored by fitness gurus and in March I was all about being super fit.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 shots (4 oz) of clear alcohol (I prefer tequila)
  • Juice from one lime (I use two limes)
  • Club soda (I use equal parts tequila/Club soda)
  • Ice

Shake it all up and you have a delicious margarita! Thanks to Robb Wolf, author of “The Paleo Solution,” for introducing this drink to the world.

The next day ,we had a tasty lunch at Taco Boy. Marc and I love this place because of the fun and lively atmosphere. The food is delicious, especially the salty chips, but it is fairly expensive for what you get. I was pretty disappointed with the fountain drinks since my Coke was tasteless, watered down, and essentially carbonation-free. Next time I’ll order a water or some tasty mixed drink. Marc enjoyed a glass bottle of Mexican Coke (couldn’t resist).

Tides is a wonderful hotel for what it is and if you’re used to staying in massive chain hotels, I’m sure you’ll like it just fine. The renovated interior of the hotel is more pleasing to the eye than the exterior, so wait until you see your room prior to judging the place. The biggest downfall to Tides is the scrawny pool. I always enjoy the option of lying by the pool instead of the beach in case I don’t wish to get all sandy again, but I wouldn’t even consider lying by this pool.

Folly Beach is a place fit for yuppies in training, really. It is a little more relaxed, fun, and causal compared to most places Marc and I stay, but it still has a little bit of a preppy feel. It’s pretty much a place where the surfer and yuppie types mesh.

That wraps up my series on Charleston! Next time we visit, I’d like to do more touristy stuff like visit some plantations and Rainbow Row.

~ Lyndsi