Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ode to Charlotte

Revenge has become one of my all-time favorite shows.
Following a trail of deceit, betrayal and intrigue, this show centers around the wickedly fashionable socialites of the Hamptons.
Charlotte Grayson is the lucky daughter of the Hampton's most prestigious family, the Graysons.
Some of the best parts of the show are the stunning visuals that inevitably result from the absurdly extravagant parties, and the fashion of those that attend them.
Enter, Charlotte:

So if you haven't already, get acquainted with Charlotte and tune in to Revenge, and get ready for an explosive second season.

Speaking of Charlotte, we went to Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend!

Some couple-friends of ours generously invited us to accompany them to stay at her family's place in Charlotte. We had such a blast. It felt like a true vacation, with a gorgeous guest room and a new city to explore.

Jon and Emilie were anxious to show us around Charlotte, and we were extremely excited to see it.
Our first night, we went downtown for a late dinner at The Capital Grille. We had the best of absolutely everything!

We were so spoiled.
Food was constantly being passed our way, and we were stuffed to the brim with buttery deliciousness on every corner.
I had probably the best French Onion Soup of my life, and most definitely the best Lobster Macaroni and Cheese of my life.
I'm also becoming an addict of blue cheese wedges.

 All these pictures are from my phone, but you get the gist. Deliciousness.
That creme brulee made me miss home!

We sat and enjoyed our leisurely dinner, topped off with lip-smacking desserts and coffee. Afterwards, we walked around downtown Charlotte to get a feel for the city life.

Things took a turn for the even-better when we were able to sleep in a gorgeous guest room that night, complete with a jacuzzi tub, sun-roofed shower, and of course, the large and comfy bed that we collapsed into after our long night out and about Charlotte.

The next morning, we were able to sleep in and head into town for a late-morning Saturday breakfast.

We pretty much demanded that Jon and Emilie just take us wherever they wanted to take us.
For breakfast, they recommended the Dutch Baby at the Original Pancake House.

I followed their advice, and smothered the thick pancake in butter, strawberries, powdered sugar, and strawberry syrup.

It was so good!

Dusty got a Chorizo Omelette, which is what the waiter suggested. It was also really good!
(One last nail in the coffin for east coast "salsa" -- the omelette was served with chunky pasta sauce, instead of real salsa.)
But, it was still delicious, and we were very full and happy by the end!

 The rest of our day was really, really fun.
We went to the "Discovery Place", and were able to be kids again for a few hours.
Especially the boys.

The whole plan was to go to their incredible dome theater, to see one of their nature movies. 
Since we had some time to kill before the show started, we decided to play :)

This is the baby/kid area...but the boys were easily entertained.

There were so many stations to choose from.
This next one was just a place where you could make creations out of foil, tape, and other oddities.

Someone's foil creation.
 There was also a large collection of display shelves for random shoe creations.

We spent a lot of time at the "stop-motion" area, because we were able to make our own videos!
Both Dusty and I spent a lot of time on ours, because we both had very specific messages to convey.
This is Dusty's masterpiece:

This was mine:

I hope these videos touch and inspire you the way they did us.
Sometimes, you've gotta fight for what you want. And sometimes, life will go down a path you never thought it would...and God may choose to rescue you in a way you never thought possible.

Moving on throughout Discovery Place, we found a lot of other fun places to explore. We watched a Science-man do crazy tricks for a while, and Dusty and I played a wicked game of "Jenga"-like madness with a bunch of wooden blocks.
Dusty ended up just fiercely destroying it, when he realized that I was winning.

They also had a lot of animals to look at!
We found these bright and fun frogs hopping around a rain forest display, along with a turtle and lots of birds.

We spent a lot of time looking at the fish section. The sea horses and jelly fish are our favorites. So intricate and peculiar.

Once the time came, we made our way to the dome theatre.
We were there to see "To The Arctic", which is narrated by Meryl Streep! I LOVE HER!

Dusty and I were totally floored when we walked into the theater. We even got a bit dizzy walking up to our seats! The screen was all around us. We took a video, because it was awesome.

The best part of this movie was realizing that Paul McCartney was the source of all of the music.
Hearing "Because" by the Beatles echo across the arctic was chilling.
Hearing Walruses growl to "Mr. Bellamy" and little baby polar bears play to "Calico Skies" was the highlight of my day.

We spent some time at the mall nearby, frolicking around the super-fancy stores that Emilie and I imagine spending a lot more time in, once the hubbys are rich and rolling in the dough. Right? Won't that happen?

We then headed over to Maggiano's, which neither Dusty or I had ever been to before.
This "Little Italy" is a family style Italian restaurant, where you are able to order an appetizer, entree, and dessert, and they're BOTTOMLESS.
Suddenly, life would never be the same.
Before we knew it, we were cheating on any and all the other restaurants we've ever loved.
Promising to never forsake this intimacy, we greedily took more and more stuffed mushrooms, ravioli, and peach pomegranate tea.
Or maybe that was just me.

Then, when we thought we were full, the waiter brought out our first plate of lemon cookies.
I say first, because I think we went through three of these bad boys.
The truth is, the moment I took a bite, I was ruined for all other cookies.
I immediately became nicknamed "the cookie monster" because I inhaled the first plate, and then hastily grabbed at the next one. Dusty had to arm wrestle me to allow our friends to have some.
I have no regrets.

Come back to me, oh buttery lemon mistress.
I'm gonna move on quickly, because I'm genuinely sad that I can't have these every day.

We had a chill evening, and ended up in the living room later that night watching a movie. While I fell asleep in the first 15 minutes, it seemed like a thriller, and I think Bruce Willis kissed another guy. Several people also got shot. It was called The Jackal. You can probably skip it.

Sunday dawned nice and sunny.
If I haven't mentioned it already, the weather was drop dead gorgeous for our entire trip. It was cool and breezy, with just enough sunshine to keep us happy.

We went to Emilie's church, and decided to go out to a Mexican food restaurant for lunch.
While this is always a tricky decision for us snobbish west-coasters, we had a lovely time, and the food was great. We sat on their outside balcony, with the view of a lake beside us.

Zapata's. See the second-floor umbrellas on the balcony to the right? That's where we sat. :)

This next piece of business definitely wins the "weirdest" award for the weekend.
While we were eating lunch, we noticed some interesting costumes walking by. We quickly deduced that there was some kind of conference nearby...a Star-Trek/Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter/Weirdo's festival. 
So we decided to go and try to find it!
Why not?

This was parked outside the front doors:

The Ghostbusters car!
Pretty awesome, if you ask me. But I'm about 5/8 Nerd.

Inside, we found many booths. Some of them were definitely selling things, while others seemed eager to buy...our souls? Still unsure on that.

It felt like my childhood Renaissance Festival, except it was much darker, with a lot more heavy breathing and narrowed eyes.
We should have disguised ourselves. They definitely knew we were outsiders. We didn't even have wristbands. And we immediately pointed out that the sign that said there were leeches in the lake was totally false.

Back at the house, we packed up our things and prepared to say goodbye to Charlotte.
Not gonna lie, we were both pretty sad to leave! It's so nice knowing that there are so many amazing and unique places within a few hours of us. We hope to go back soon.
I can't help but show off a few pictures of Emilie's parent's property, because the trees alone are breathtaking!
This is also where Emilie and Jon got married, and we can definitely see why.

Main driveway. The house is to the left.

Emilie's family was so hospitable and sweet to us. Their house is gorgeous!
It's fun being able to see where our friends have grown up, and to be able to share a little bit in their favorite places. Walking around the property, they were able to point out where certain details from their wedding took place. I loved it!
The darling couple:

On our way home, we stopped in Greensboro, North Carolina.
We pulled in to O. Henry Hotel, which is actually where Jon and Emilie got engaged!
We were basically traveling around their love story.

We arrived just in time for their afternoon tea.
Are you kidding me? I love being a grownup.

We chose a seat that looked out on the back garden patio.
We were immediately approached by a lovely young girl, who we found out later was only a senior in High School. We had thought she meant senior in college! It's always refreshing to see a professional, well-dressed, polite young lady.
Am I 87?

We ordered our tea, and were pretty much in heaven.
We got delicious scones and sandwiches and desserts, and a whole pot of tea to ourselves.
I got the Dragon Pearl Jasmine, which I'm convinced is the absolute best tea on the planet.
It's like being reunited with an old friend. It's like sitting on top of a mountain in Beijing, with a flock of butterflies singing you a song. Better yet, it's like a dragon stringing a necklace of pearls, just for you.

After we finished our afternoon tea, we went out on the patio where Jon proposed to Emilie.

So pretty.

All in all, it was a beautiful, relaxing, delightful weekend. We hope to go back soon!
And we're so excited to have another couple that we get along so well with. We think they like us too, so we're crossing our fingers that they'll wanna keep hanging out!

Time is flying by at an alarming rate, and I can't believe it's already June. It's Arizona month!
Our desire to get back to the heat is stronger than ever before. We can't wait to board that plane!
When we get to Phoenix, it will have been 23 weeks and 3 days since we've been on Arizona soil.
That's so hard to believe.
Dusty and I often talk about how it seems like time is going quickly here, but it doesn't seem like time is turning at all everywhere else. We feel like we've been transported to another dimension. Everything outside of this little place seems so far away and unreal.
When we see new pictures of our niece, and she's walking or growing things like hair and teeth, we are seriously shocked. It just doesn't seem fair that life should go on without us!
All that being said, we can't wait to come home to make sure that everything is still right with the world.
It'll be good to be back :)

In love,

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