Monday, September 05, 2011

A Weekend With Friends

We've only lived in North Carolina for a month and change, but this weekend we had the pleasure of entertaining our very first visitors.

Allie is one of my oldest friends - we have literally known each other half of our lives. She and I (and her boyfriend Tony) went to high school together and even though we've had half a country between us for most of the last decade, we've stayed in touch and remain as close as ever.

Allie and Tony made the twelve hour drive from Long Island on Friday and got to Wilmington at around 11pm. We stayed up until three drinking wine on the porch and talking. The next morning, we got up bright and early (and paid for it later...). There was coffee, breakfast, the dog park and then we decided to treat our guests to a real Wilmington weekend, full of tourist attractions and historical sites. Since we moved here we've done very little sightseeing, figuring we'd have a chance when we had out-of-town visitors. We were right.

The Battleship!

Our first stop was the USS North Carolina Battleship. "When the keel of NORTH CAROLINA was laid in October of 1937, she was the first battleship to be constructed in sixteen years. She became the first of ten fast battleships to join [the] American fleet in World War II." We spent about two hours walking through the ship on a self-guided tour, which was actually pretty fascinating. The signage was through and interesting, and I learned more than I will probably ever need to know about life on a battleship in the 1940's.

A desk and four beds. This was the police station on board.

The showers were not very luxurious.

Narrow halls, which made me a little claustrophobic.

This is where the captain steered the ship and looked out for pirates!

Hello, Sailors! :)

After we had exhausted our bodies and minds with the tour, we headed back downtown and made our way to Coastal Cupcakes. They are a no-frills cupcake shop, specializing in - you guessed it - cupcakes. On the weekends, they offer two varieties of vegan deliciousness. Below is the chocolate orange version, which was as delicious as it looks.

In the evening, we went to an MFA party at which I failed to take any photos. Which is a shame because the theme of the party was Stoplight, and attendees were instructed to wear red, yellow or green. Red meant you were in a relationship, yellow meant that it was complicated, and green said "Hello, I am single and ready to mingle!" I was obviously in the red camp. It was a really fun party and a clever way to figure out who in the program was available. From the sea of red I saw, not that many!

We didn't stay at the party very late (the previous night's 3am bed time + a full day of Battleship touring and cupcake eating took it's toll) but we had a great time while we were there. AND I actually slept past 8am the next morning, which is a welcomed change from my usual habit of rising at 6:30 no matter what.

Sunday was a little lazier than Saturday. We slept in, had tons of coffee and then Nathan and I took the dogs to the park while our guests enjoyed some alone time. I like giving guests a little space while they visit, even if it's only 30 minutes. When we returned from the park, we played a little (okay, a lot) of Mario Kart on the Wii and once I had come in first place enough times, we decided to walk around downtown and duck into as many shops and stores that looked interesting. I may or may not have eaten another vegan cupcake.

It was a warm day so after we were exhausted once more we headed home to clean up, play some more Mario Kart and get ready for dinner at the Mellow Mushroom. The Mellow Mushroom is a chain that mostly serves pizza and beer in a psychedelic, 60's era setting. The main reason I like this place so much is that they have vegan cheese on the menu as well as tofu and tempeh toppings. After living in East Texas so long, these kinds of options are a revelation. My pizza was delicious as usual, and when we were done we had just enough time to head back downtown for the Haunted Ghost Walk.

Our guide is the one in the hat. Here, we are standing under a tree which was once used to hang guilty prisoners.

I didn't know what to expect from the Ghost Walk, having never been on one before, and I have to say - I was pleasantly surprised! For just $12 you joined a group led by a guide and set out on foot through historic districts and dark alleys, pausing at certain places along the way while the guide told a ghost story - usually featuring murder, hangings, love gone wrong and creepy instances of people seeing apparitions and spirits in the very places where we were standing. I don't put much stock in ghosts, but I do believe places are infused with a sort of energy, good and bad, and when you're standing in a dark alleyway, listening to a talented tour guide act out a gristly death in detail - well, it's hard to keep that chill from running down your spine.

Allie and Tony standing in the doorway where a woman was shot and killed by her angry lover.

A spooky looking house along our walk.

Our friends left this morning for the drive back to Long Island, and I hope they had a good time. I know I did. Not only did we get to test drive our guest room but we also got to see a side of Wilmington we wouldn't normally check out. All in all a short, sweet and very fun weekend.

Today I am finishing this blog post and then devoting the rest of the day to school work - I have many pages to read, three stories to critique for a workshop, teaching materials to prep and, if I'm lucky, I might even have some time to work on my own writing! As for half marathon training and exercise in general, it's been a nice little break and I'll be back on track tomorrow. I hope you're all having a great weekend and a fine morning. Happy Labor Day!