Well, luckily, this trip was nothing like that! :)
We were thrilled to be going back to North Carolina for the state fair -- and not only we were going back, but we were going back with friends who went every year! NC natives!
This was exciting on many levels, but mostly because they knew where all the best fair food was. And fair food is the reason for fairs.
But let's back up a little bit -- our day actually started downtown.
We were leaving around lunchtime for the fair, so we had some time to kill -- and some other friends of ours, Jon and Emilie, had asked if we wanted to meet at White Hart that morning for some coffee and a trip across the street to the farmer's market. We happily agreed.
Little did we know it was all one big clever ruse to get us to White Hart.
As you know, our friends Allison and Greg had moved back to Illinois after graduating law school...
We walked into the coffee shop, and around the corner I saw Emilie and Jon at a table.
As we rounded the corner I spotted another friend from church, so I went over and gave her hug and started chatting - out of the corner of my eye I saw Dusty go over to Jon and Emilie's table, and I felt eyes on me.
That's when I saw Greg and Allison next to them!
It took me a really, really long time to compute what exactly was happening. I don't even think I said goodbye or "excuse me" before walking away from the girl I was talking to, mid-sentence. It was a very strange experience. But...but..you're in Illinois! But you're gone! What is happening!
They had moved back. Without telling us, without telling anyone really!
Greg had taken a job about an hour outside of Lynchburg, and they were officially back in our lives!
(As I'm writing this, they're currently back in Illinois -- they were here for almost exactly 3 months before deciding they needed to be back home, for good. But more on that later!)
After such a crazy and exciting shock, we were off to North Carolina! We promised to help them unpack and move in during the week, and left downtown in very high spirits.
We carpooled to NC with Colin and Victoria, and headed over to the fair!
We got there right as the sun was setting, and prepared ourselves for a perfect evening of lights, sights, and all-you-can-eat goodies.
Just a little bit of a life lesson, though -- don't drink too much liquid, and go to the bathroom before you get into the fair. State Fair port-a-potties are the devil.
It was such a fun night!
Hot french fries with vinegar, bloomin' onions, mini donuts covered in cinnamon and sugar, corn on the cob, chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick, fried cookie dough, more hot french fries with vinegar (they were my favorite), games, fireworks.
Just so you know, I didn't eat all that food. It was a group activity.
We also got to meet Victoria's sister Shelby, who joined us, and it was so much fun!
We walked around, toured the various exhibits, and Colin and Victoria held up their tradition of getting a button made with their photo on it. Victoria and her family have been doing it for years! To get the buttons made you go into this weird little button-clad gypsy shack, and we were a little worried they'd be taken by the gypsy inside. We told them to yell if they were stolen, or turned into chickens.
Dusty and I went a little ways away and were able to get a photoshoot in, and we went on our merry way! (The gypsy made them a button, but nothing more).
Eventually the boys got sucked into the tricky games that bleed you dry of all your cash. Specifically the fishing pole/bottle game, if you know what I'm talking about. Most fair-goers do.
You hold a fishing-type pole with a ring on the end, and your goal is to drop the ring around the neck of the glass bottle and pull it precariously upwards. If you're able to get it standing up, you win!
We didn't win.
But, who cares?
(hint: the boys did).
Still, it was a perfect night. We enjoyed being childish with our skipping and singing and smiling from ear to ear.
The night ended with a fireworks show, and we wearily said farewell to the fair and all its glorious haunts. We waved goodbye to the gypsy, shuffled our feet into the night. It had been such a cool evening, a little drizzly at times, but sweet and autumnish.
Once out in the parking lot, we realized that the fair's many pleasures end pretty abruptly once you're out of there. Suddenly you become afraid of being mugged or killed in the dark alleyways, where you're forced to park because of the immense crowds.
Luckily we had been able to park fairly close, so we gave Shelby a ride to her car - which was a wise choice, because it was the sketchiest little backyard parking spot ever, and I'm pretty sure I saw evil eyes in the bushes. Or it was the bloomin' onion talking.
We headed out and went to our shared hotel room at the Red Roof Inn.
Once we got ready for bed, Dusty looked at me, holding the souvenir cup we had bought with that look in his eyes. Dusty has a weakness for souvenir cups. I'm not really sure why, but he has to keep them. It's a compulsion, a weird kind of collection. I finally said no, no, no, we do NOT need that because we have 500 Dickie's cups that you also have to keep (even though I keep secretly throwing the old ones out.)
Dusty acquiesced, then turned to Colin and Victoria and asked if they'd want to keep it.
Colin said "Noooo," right as Victoria meekly said, "Yes!"
It was then, after a lot of laughter, that we started to realize that Dusty and Victoria are the same person, and Colin and I are the same person.
We chatted a little longer and drifted off to sleep, looking forward to the next morning when we'd be touring Colin and Victoria's college campus!
Chapel Hill is kind of magical.
We started out the morning by grabbing breakfast at a cute little waffle shop on their main street. It's a really big, lush, active campus with a great line of shops and restaurants. It was actually a really chilly day, so it felt great to slide into a booth and order some waffles and hot coffee.
All the leaves were mid-change, and the sun was shining. It was a beautiful fall day.
We ended up getting more coffee down the street at Caribou Coffee before continuing our luxurious tour of Colin and Victoria's yesteryear.
I'm not sure you could get any more different than our college campus experience. The brick, the hundreds of giant trees, the green.
We walked along and they told us tales of their years there, roommate stories and the perilous experiences of waking up late to class and managing to somehow sprint there in one minute flat.
College is such a magical time. What's weird about making friends here/as an adult is that often you miss some of the most bonding experiences that you're used to having together. Things like high school, college, or weddings -- most of our friends from home we've either known our whole lives, or met in college. We've been in/at their weddings.
Because most our friends here are already married and (obviously) out of college, this was an extra-special experience to be able to have a glimpse of what their lives were like when they were just dating, going to college and making all these memories.
(It turns out we're really, really awful at trying to time jumping).
Once we had finished our tour, we hit the road to head back home.
We stopped by Southern Season and shopped around a bit, because it's a pretty fun specialty department store. We sampled some cheeses and I filled a candy bag with gummy frogs, because they're my favorite and I can never find them anywhere. I think I finished the entire bag by the time we made it back.
Needless to say, it was the beginning of many more fun trips with Colin and Victoria. Or, Colinoria.
It was a great North Carolinian weekend.