Things to do in Charlotte part 4

Monday, June 23, 2014
I wonder if people realize how much there is to do in Charlotte.
Like for real. Every time I cross something off my list I add 5 more things.

I try to find adventures that aren't too expensive...places that are tucked away & not too touristy.

Nascar Hall of Fame? Nope.
Charlotte Motor Speedway? Nah.
Carolina Panthers Stadium? hell No.

A Grocery Store?

I know what you're thinking. What is wrong with this girl?!
The answer is everything. But on the real, Whole Foods Charlotte is a fun hangout and has delicious food.
No not just tofu and kale. They have fried chicken and mac'n'cheese for you southern soul food searchers!

We don't grocery shop here because we can't afford it but it's been one of our favorite places to come grab lunch or dinner and hang out. It's buffet style and they have every type of food you could imagine. Pizza, wings, salad bar, gelato station, coffee bar...the hipster sister of Golden Corral.

They have cool areas to relax and dine too. Even a small jungle gym for the little ones and me

And since we're in the South where the weather is nice almost year round, they of course have an open air Veranda where you can lounge on couches and enjoy an adult beverage or 8.

Never thought I would blog about a grocery store but how cool is this place? I'm not even sharing half the photos I took. There's so much more to the store. If you're ever in town and can't figure out where to grab a bite to eat...stop at Whole Foods Charlotte. Everyone who works there is laid-back and friendly, they have every food and beverage under the sun and none of it contains yucky preservatives or chemicals. WIN-WIN.

My beverage of choice is a Lenny Boy Kombucha from right here in Charlotte-Yay local business!

Oh and I work there ;-)



When you Google 'Charlotte, NC' it will list the city's top attractions under Points of Interest. This is where I got a lot of our adventure ideas from. The #1 place listed is Discovery Place Museum.
So guess what we did Saturday....

...We went and checked it out!

Definitely a kid based museum. But hey I like Science, it was cheap to get in, it was a great form of birth control and it's one of Charlotte's top attractions so off we went.

This place is fun! It's small and quaint. It's no Boston Museum of Science but $20 for full access to the museum AND a hour long Imax movie...perfect rainy day fun.

While it's a smaller scale museum it definitely doesn't lack in the interactive arena. I would say every single exhibit in there is interactive. One visit here and your kid can skip 1st-7th grade. They have a small aquarium section, outdoor rain forest, wilderness section - they cover all the bases ;-)

They even have turtles walking downstairs. How can you go wrong? This little guy's name is Herbie.
I tried to put him in my purse.

We made lots of discoveries at Discovery Place! Like that awkward moment when you realize you can comfortably fit in a rocking chair made for 3 year olds.

After this lovely break in the miniature rocking chairs, we made yet another discovery: that I'm deathly afraid of those really big, steep, dome shaped imax theaters.

The movie was cool though. The theater is huge and really makes you feel like you're in the movie. Holy motion sickness. We watched The Hubble and learned so much about the telescope and how stars and planets are head was orbiting by the end of the movie.
How hilarious am I.

The best part of the museum is their second floor 'Cool Stuff' exhibit.
This is where all the fun is had!

This room is busy and noisy. Chemical explosions going off, wooden Jenga pieces flying across the room, confetti dropping from the's fantastic, really.

After elbowing a few kids in the face we jumped right in and played!

I mastered the Jenga game...

We watched electromagnetic waves make dust dance. Yes that is all dust...insane.
And then Mitch took a casual nap on a bed of nails.

YES You can lay on a bed, then press a button, and sharp nails rise up and lift your body.

Do you see this shit.

If I wasn't in a dress I would have been all over this. No I wouldn't.
The museum was fun! We had a great time. It's always nice to learn something new.
Like the fact that I think I'll stick with cats over ever having kids.


Next up we decided to take the local's suggestion and walk a couple of blocks over to Charlotte's wild Epicentre.

The walk there was fun in itself. Live music lined every corner of downtown Charlotte. This place is very cool, calm, and collected for being a major city. I like it.

I'm not a city girl by any means but downtown Charlotte I can handle. Besides for the occasional crackhead walking by screaming obscene profanities into mid air, I never feel unsafe.

We knew we made it to Epicentre when we heard loud music from a block away.

This place is party central. It's a one stop shop for food, music, and alcohol.
College girl Steph would have had a field day at this place.
Married, career driven, old and boring Steph says ehhh. I'm over it.
But if you are still into the party scene and come to Charlotte looking for the best bars:
Epicentre. Go.

Side Note: Have you ever tried Moe's cheese sauce? So good you'll want to drink it.

The Epicentre not only has restaurants and bars but a dine-in movie theater and a sweet bowling alley!

Name another bowling alley where both Michael Jordan AND Lifehouse have played. Ya can't.
This place was pricey though - $45 to rent an alley for an hour.
Thanks but no thanks.
Although it was very fancy inside and looked like a lot of fun!
But I've got student loans. So we moved on.


 8 hours in the heart of the city is 7 hours too many for me so as soon as we explored Epicentre I said alright take me back to the Palmetto State.

Home, Sweet Home.

Things to do in Charlotte (part 3)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
So I lost my voice.
I sound like the man who ruined our anniversary weekend cranking cigarettes above our balcony.
Haha. Which by the way, I'll have you know Marriott took very good care of that situation. We get our choice between a free nights stay on the resort right after it's completely renovated this Fall, or a full refund.
They always did take good care of me.

I took yesterday off work because I had a couple of doctors appointments scheduled and wanted Mitch to tag along, so he took the day off as well. (#notpregnant)

Since we were each using a full 8 hours of PTO we thought we had to squeeze at least SOME fun into our day....

So there's this really cool place that's literally 5 minutes down the road from our apartment; I'm surprised I don't smell fried dough every time I go get the mail.

It's known as the 'Thrill Capitol of the Southeast' and boy does it live up to it's name...

Yes that's right, I did what any normal, responsible adult would do right after they get a few gallons of blood taken from them.

(In case it's driving you nuts why I went to the Doc, I'm just getting my thyroid checked out. All is well)

If you ever come to the Charlotte area, throw this place on your to do list. It's about 20 minutes South of Downtown, right on the NC/SC border. AKA my backyard.

I really am surprised how quiet my apartment community is given it's proximity to this place.

With a little research on their website I found that you can buy what they call 'Twilight Tickets' - half price tickets if you go after 4PM.
Yes Please.

I don't know why anyone wouldn't do this. Pay half the price AND the park starts to clear out so less lines. AND the sun is going down so things start to cool off.

So that's exactly what we did. Although I will warn you, you have to pay mother effing $15 just to park. That sucked. However this place is jam packed with a wide variety of rides and we didn't have to wait in any lines so I guess it paid off!

Now the fun stuff.

Carowinds is very family friendly. Lots of stuff for us thrill seeking adults and a big 'snoopy themed' section for the kiddos. They frequently host different events like 5K races, dog agility shows, and most recently:


The dinosaurs might be a permanent thing...don't quote me on that though.

I think they're most known for their 98 roller coasters they have on site. Ok maybe not that many but they have a TON. I don't remember the names, they all started to blend after laying upside down on a roller coaster that goes backwards.

I shit you not.

THIS WAS INSANE. I can't even describe it. At one point you're dangling by the vest you have strapped on and you can see nets under the track ready to catch anyone who falls out.
Pretty sure I taught kids watching the coaster go by a few new curse words.

Of course there's also a big water park on site but we didn't go because those things totally and completely gross me out.  Dirty diapers, sweaty bodies. Just let that sink in.
Me and my puns lol

But I was impressed by these really cool 'full body drying machines' they offer:

I'm that person who will avoid water rides just because walking around in wet shorts takes my uncomfortable level to new heights. So I was really impressed with these machines. Still trying to figure out how you get cold in the South.

Speaking of which, it was very hot & humid yesterday as per usual so we were dripping sweat before we even got out of the parking lot.

Carowinds to the rescue!

They have this amazing....geez I don't even know what to call it....a vine shelter? A green shade tunnel? Who knows, but it looks pretty & felt great! Nice relief from the heat.

The decor of the park is all dedicated to the South. They have a Nascar section, an old fashion diner, a section dedicated to the Carolina Coast....definitely perfect for anyone coming in from out of town.

And of  course a Southern theme park wouldn't be complete without THIS:

I don't know why this chicken shack cracked me up. Omg. Cracked...eggs...chicken.
My puns are out of this world.
I need a life.

So as we were dangling upside down, slowly inching closer and closer to the top of the highest point of one of the 90 rollar coasters we went on, not only did I notice I could see downtown Charlotte's sky line, but a nice storm in the distance was barreling our way. Big, dark, fluffy clouds, and a few lightening strikes here and there. A thunderstorm + not knowing when the rollar coaster was going to dip...pretty sure my heart skipped 11 beats. I couldn't help but think; well if I die, this is the perfect way to go. Laying upside down at the top of a rollar coaster struck by lightening. #YOLO

But of course, what would a fun trip be for me and Mitch without a little bit of THIS:

Yes it rained and the rides temporarily shut down. Ugh. I have a love/hate relationship with the weather. But I couldn't be too upset because everyone decided to leave and by the time this storm left our area, we had the park completely to ourselves.

The ride attendants were letting the handful of people remaining just stay on the rides and go as many times as they want. It was awesome!

But the park was slowly closing down so after Mitch turned pale green we decided to grab some classic carnival food then head home.

If you need me I'll be at the gym.

Lowcountry Love

Thursday, June 5, 2014
I think part of being a Free Spirit is being able to recover from trying times fairly quickly. Not letting a lot of things get you down. Definitely an optimist.

With that said, this anniversary weekend was one to remember; both in a good and bad way. We had a blast exploring but we were thrown a lot of curve balls.

Let's Begin.

Friday morning we woke up early and anxious! We packed our bags (procrastinators unite!) stopped for coffee, and hit the highway...headed to the Coast. I am a full blown beach lover and if you throw spanish moss trees in the mix, my heart goes in overdrive. I was SO excited for what was to come!

We arrived in Charleston around noon and immediately went to the first place on our weekend itinerary; Boone Hall Plantation.

Famous for it's Avenue of Oaks and of course, where THIS was filmed. Yes that is the gate Ryan Gosling ran his truck into. This was Allie's Summer home in The Notebook.

The Avenue of Oaks is absolutely breathtaking. Honestly, it's giving the Biltmore Rose Garden a big run for their money when it comes to being my favorite place in the world. 

Yup, I think this is my new favorite place. We took literally hundreds of photos of this Avenue and I can't wait to return and take 100 more. No photo can do this view justice, you absolutely have to go.
There was a wedding reception setting up towards the end of the day and when they started playing music and lit the tiki still my heart.

When we first got there the weather was perfect. I had my camera out, pretty dress on, ready to go! Then to make my excitement levels rise even more, we started to hear thunder rumbling in the distance....


Look at that face.

So lightening started to strike, the thunder started to become ear piercing, normal people ran for shelter, and what do you think I did?

Poor Mitch, such a sweetheart risking his life to capture me in my element. At least he had a giant oak tree to hide under.
Silly me on my 'thunderstorm high' completely spaced what else comes with storms....

Rain. For hours...and hours...and another hour after that.
I thought for sure it was just going to be a passing storm.
Luckily we made due with the soggy hand we were dealt and took a tour of the inside of the house, hung out in the local cafe, and went on a covered car tour of the entire plantation.

The inside of the house is really cool! The Notebook was not filmed inside because someone actually lives there. They live upstairs but the entire downstairs floor is the same as it was in the early 1900's.

The tour of the entire plantation was really informative and fun. We learned that Army wives (I don't watch TV so I have no idea what this is) is filmed in their big backyard field. They have cotton fields, cantaloupe fields, strawberry, blueberry, corn fields... you name it. They even have thousands of pecan trees! I got hungry real fast.  So I went and ate homemade butter pecan ice cream from their on site cafe.
Yeah, it was heavenly.

And of course I screamed with joy when the barn cats started to come out and play!

After a couple thousand photos and begging Mitch to take them all home, he pried me away and we went to take some photos around the plantation while we had the sun on our side.

Pretty sure a bunch of bugs fell off the moss and into my hair. Pretty sure they're still in there today.

 A lot of people cleared out once they realized the rain was here to stay. I'm so glad we waited out the storm because in the afternoon we practically had the place to ourselves.

The staff there is awesome. They were all so friendly and always smiling. Plus they didn't give a rats ass that I was running around barefoot and dancing.

I didn't want to leave at all. I was tempted to try and fit in at the wedding, dirty feet, ripped dress and all, so that I could stay all night and party it up amongst the moss trees.

But, we were tired from a long day of driving and had to get up early again to head to our next and final destination....


Morning came, we got up early and headed to Starbucks to get our usual coffee, ran into some famous wrestler named Ric Flair (again, no idea who this is, but Mitch was pretty excited) then headed South to the beautiful, world famous:

 Side story: On our way down we were passing through Wadmalaw Island where the famous 'home with the blue shutters' from The Notebook is located.  Ya know, the home Ryan Gosling revamps for Allie.
Turns out a family lives there and it's private property. They actually put up a wooden fence that I'm assuming is to prevent creepers like me from taking pictures. Well, we still went and got a glimpse of it. It lies at the very end of a long dirt/sand road and boy is it heaven on earth. Surrounded by a big yard, large trees and the river, it looks exactly like the home in the movie. Minus the pretty blue shutters.
It will forever pop into my mind when I envision my dream home. Although I could have taken a photo to share with ya'll, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I value my privacy so much and I certainly wouldn't want someone plastering my home all over the internet. So, sorry friends. But there are some people who have taken photos so just Google it if you're curious. Don't say I sent ya. ;)

We arrived to Hilton Head Island a little before noon and I liked what I saw. People biking everywhere, spanish moss trees galore, and THE OCEAN!!!

It was a bit on the crowded side but that's expected since it's the beginning of Summer.
Someone remind me again why I got married in June

After checking into our hotel we rushed down to the pool to play with our new toy: underwater camera!

I can't wait to use this thing in the Caribbean.

So after a little more casual exploring of the island and having lunch at the famous Salty Dog Cafe (thank you Pinterest - this place is delicious and so fun, by the way.) we went back to our resort to lounge around and enjoy our ocean view balcony we paid so much extra for...

Ok let me tell ya somethin'. I am so not one to bitch about really anything, but the guests above us were constantly outside on their balcony cranking butts. Cigarette after cigarette. I don't even know if they came up for air. Knowing we were on the ocean, the wind blew it straight into our room. Into our faces, into our luggage, into our bedding. GROSS. Long story short we spent our first night there on the phone with the front desk until about midnight and nothing got resolved. The next morning, our anniversary day, we woke up optimistic, opened our balcony door to enjoy the sunrise, and BAM.
Smoke all up in yo face.
This guy.....

So Mitch marched down to the front desk and took care of things. We got a new room on a top floor and $100 credit towards anything on the resort. Thanks for the anniversary dinner, Marriott. I also wrote them a complaint once we got home because that situation really stunk. All pun intended.
" Dear Marriott: I'll have you know I am typing this with my middle fingers...."


Happy 1 Year Anniversary to us! June 1st, 2014.
I feel like it was just yesterday I was wrapping up our Starfish cake toppers in a dirty paper towel and writing on it: Do not open until 6-1-14. I remember looking at the year thinking, whoa, 2014. So far away....

I was so excited for everything planned on this day. So moving all of our smoke infested luggage to a new room didn't bother me too much.

We started off our morning with a couples massage, champagne, and chocolate covered strawberries that were gone in under 38 seconds. (thank you mom, you spoil us completely rotten.)

Then, we decided to join the rest of the islanders and rent bikes!

We rode miles and miles, it was a blast. and a great way to burn off the half dozen chocolate covered strawberries I inhaled for breakfast.

But I was really excited for 4:00PM. We had a dolphin, nature, 'vanishing island' cruise booked for months that I was ecstatic to go on. I had all these photos planned. Anyone who knows me knows that I scream and cry when I see dolphins. If you read my wedding post from a month or so ago, you know our honeymoon got completely rained out and our big dolphin tour was cancelled.

Well, guess what.

Around 2:00PM I get a call from the company we booked the cruise with to inform me our tour had to be cancelled due to high wind.


This is not a staged photo. After I got off the phone I yelled the F word 80 times got very angry, then very sad, then sat here on this dock and got quiet. So not like me.
But come on.
What are the odds that this happens TWO damn years in a row?

In this moment I was saying things in my head like 'this only happens to us'
But the truth is, it's so not. And I quickly reminded myself that I am alive, healthy, have two arms and two legs, and I have the health and money to even GO on a dolphin cruise. I should be thankful. And I am.

I told Mitch to take photos of me mid breakdown because I wanted to share it with you. I always focus on the happy and the positive of my life so I feel some people may forget that everyone 'has their shit' and no one's life is perfect and happy all the time. Especially not mine.  I just choose to keep my struggles off social media and handle them through different outlets. #Moonshine


So with a little research and a few more chocolate covered strawberries I found a really cool, quiet, private beach to go check out.  Turns out, it's an absolute gem.

It's called Calibogue Sound Beach.

After an evening here, I'm glad our dolphin expedition got cancelled. We saw dolphins, sharks come right up to the shore, giant horseshoe crabs, and even live conchs! Not to mention it's the perfect location for the sunset....

Check this place out:

Here's a shot to show you how close the dolphins came to shore. Could have easily walked out there and rubbed their lil' bellies.

They were everywhere! Chowing down on some fish, smacking their tales on the water (Anyone know why they do that? Guess I'll have to Google it)
It was fantastic.

And then we found rocks to climb and explore while the dolphins swam around us.
Is this real life?

Have you ever seen a horseshoe crab this big!? The answer is No, no you haven't.
Did my hands smell like a nasty rotten carcass after I put this down? The answer is Yes, yes they did.

Besides for being full of wildlife and short on humans, this place also has probably the best view of the sunset on the entire island.

Absolute wonderful way to end our first anniversary.


We both woke up with the sunrise the next morning and decided to enjoy our last day of vaca to the fullest. What better way than to start your day off strolling along the beach on a bike with no one around...

It was one of my favorite parts of the trip, hands down.

So we said our 'See ya Laters' to lovely Hilton Head and drove an hour out of our way on the way home to stop at this place I've wanted to explore for a while called Cypress Gardens. We get 5 miles away and find out a bridge recently collapsed and the detour to get there would be nearly another hour. What else can you do at this point besides throw your hands up and laugh, I mean shit lol so we hopped on the highway and went home.

While this trip had it's ups and downs it was still one for the books. I wish I got more photos of Mitch and I together but hey, what can ya do. Guess I'll have to invest in a tripod and YouTube how to use my self timer.


Coming back home to a mailbox full of Happy Anniversary cards made the transition back to 'reality' a lot easier. Thank you all who sent us a card, we love and appreciate it <3


I can't even.


THANK YOU GUYS for taking time out of your busy lives to check up on mine.
I can't believe how much support and love I've been getting on my photography and this silly blog.
It means the world to me.
Just ask Mitch who watches me jump up and down clapping my hands, yelling 'DID YOU SEE THAT!?'  whenever someone compliments one of my photos  ;)

May your weekend be filled with adventures, my friends
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