Another year. Another holiday tour of the south. 7 days. 1,369 miles. 21 hours on the road. 4 states. 3 houses. 2 extended families. And one packed-to-the-brim car. We woke up on Christmas morning in our own home the previous two years so when we discussed holiday plans in the fall, the idea of coordinating multiple schedules and enduring holiday travel headaches didn’t seem too daunting. However, now that we’re on the other side of this adventure, I’m not going to lie – it was exhausting. We did manage to have some fun along the way though.
On our way to Charlotte, we stopped for lunch at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham. Clay and I both enjoyed craft beers and the kids had fresh-squeezed lemonade on tap. We played Clue and ate a pork carnitas taco (me), a Carolina hot dog (Clay), and the ‘picky eater’ hot dogs (kids). Fullsteam’s mission is to “craft distinctly Southern beer that celebrates the farm and food traditions of the American South.” We enjoyed the rustic and industrial vibe and appreciated the knowledgeable bartender on the various beers offered.
We spent a couple of days in Charlotte with Clay’s sister and her family. While there, we ate at Pinky’s Westside Grill. Their homemade potato chips may just be the best thing I ate this trip – they were delicious! The burgers were really good too.
While at my parents in Gainesville, Georgia, we caravanned up the mountains. We hiked around Anna Ruby Falls and Unicoi State Park. Afterwards we walked around Helen – a once thriving-logging town that decided to transform into a Bavarian alpine town in the late 1960s. We drank hefeweizen and bock and ate bratwursts and jagerschnitzel. The kids particularly loved the Hansel & Gretel Candy Kitchen.
After saying goodbye to my family, we stopped at our alma mater, Clemson University, before making our way to North Carolina coast. We walked around the empty campus and pointed out special little spots to our kids. We tried to take them into our favorite building on campus but soon realized that it was sealed for asbestos abatement. After picking up more Clemson gear at various shops downtown, we attempted to eat lunch at one of our preferred bars but they were all closed for the winter break – womp, womp.
We celebrated a second Christmas with Clay’s family in coastal North Carolina. Before the celebration, we took Clay’s parents up on their offer to watch the children while we went into downtown Wilmington for the afternoon. We went to Front Street Brewery with Clay’s sister and our brother-in-law and went down to the river in the fog and rain.
The following day, we put on our best Clemson gear and went over to Ocean Isle Beach to watch the Cotton Bowl. But first, we walked the beach. We were a sea of orange (six graduates in one family!) and many people stopped us to wish us luck on our game (as if we had anything to do with the outcome – ha!).
We left the next day to drive back home. We stopped in Richmond for a late lunch at Beauvine Burger Concept. It was as hipster and delicious we thought it’d be – definitely worth checking out if you every find yourself in the river city.
We’re back home now. I am writing this post on our couch while wrapped in my favorite blanket. It will be just the four of us on this rainy New Years Eve with no plans other than to stay up until midnight. While our trip was a lot of fun, it wasn’t particularly relaxing so we are going to spend the next few days reflecting on the past year and gearing up for what 2019 has in store for us. To everyone who has taken time out of their day to read this blog – thank you. And to everyone who left a comment on Facebook, Instagram, or via email – thank you, thank you, thank you.
Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns
Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne.