Let’s Go to the Beach, Beach…

Last week (during my blog hiatus) I vacationed to Sunset Beach, NC with my family. Kyle and I, my mom and dad, and my little brother Fred and his wife Christina all stayed in a 4 bedroom beachfront house along the east coast.

It was kind of odd to be back in a house with my parents and brother- especially with the addition of our spouses. We all have different personalities and habits, but I think the week went really well.

K and I were almost always the first ones awake. We also made almost all the homemade meals. We were I was also the planner of the days/excursions.

Fred and Christina were much more laid back. They went on walks when they wanted to, woke up naturally and slowly, and often went with whatever flow I suggested. (Our older sibling/younger sibling personalities come out in full force when we’re together…)

My parents are familiar with Fred’s and my differing personalities so they just mediated and provided some form of structure. There were no outburst last week, though, so my parents had a pretty easy job.

Like most beach vacations we had a nice mix of shore time, restaurant dining, mini-golfing, and adventuring. We wandered up to Wilmington, NC one day to tour the USS North Carolina and grab some lunch. Another day was spent down in North Myrtle Beach at the outlet malls.

Funny enough, K’s family was vacationing in MB the same week we were down there. We spent the 4th of July having dinner at their beach house and visiting with relatives that we only see once a year. (They had 15 people living in their house… 😳)

As I mentioned on Tuesday, my parents’ 14 year old shepherd-lab mix passed away from old age while we were gone. We all hated that we weren’t with Heidi for those last few days. She was a loyal, sweet, stubborn, protective, loving soul. My parents’ dog-sitter Jen was devastated to find that Heidi had died in her sleep- we all felt terrible for her. Obviously it wasn’t Jennifer’s fault and she had nothing to do with Heidi’s passing, but what a crappy thing to discover…

The heartwarming thing was that a handful of my parents’ friends called or texted to offer their condolences and some even offered to drive out to my parents’ house and bury her. My grandma had saved a steak bone from their supper for Heidi the night before and was heartbroken to hear she’d died. I honestly can’t explain how good it feels to be a part of a community that loves our family- including all our dogs.

So overall, even with the loss of Heidi, our vacation was a nice one. K and I are super happy to be home with our fur babes and it’s nice to be back in the midst of our company (running a company from the road is stressful but necessary). That said, the week-long break was 100% necessary.

This was my first time at Sunset Beach! It was much quieter and less commercialized than Myrtle. I’d recommend the island to anyone. Specifically, if you’re in the area, check these out!

Crabby Oddwaters (restaurant in Sunset Beach, NC)
Sooooo good. The staff was super friendly, the atmosphere was beachy and slightly bayou-y, and we had an amazing meal! We also saw an alligator (…crocodile?) in the water outside the window!


USS North Carolina (navy boat and museum in Wilmington, NC)
Last year when K and I went to Myrtle we almost wandered up the coast to tour this ship, but we decided not to. I’m so glad we went this time around! I love history and walking through the cabins and rooms of a once-active warship gave me goosebumps. It was hotter than Hell but I loved experiencing this piece of history!


Bummz Beach Cafe (restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC)
We had the steamed shrimp as an appetizer and it was so. dang. good. I swear I’ve thought about that shrimp at least once a day since we left Bummz. I think you’d definitely drive right past this place if you were cruising N. Ocean Boulevard for some dinner, but I’m telling you right now you need to pull over and give this place a shot! (Also, it kind of cracked me up that my grandma sent us to this restaurant… I mean, it’s named after butts… hahaha!)

Have you been to Sunset Beach, NC? Where is your summer vacation spot this year?

Bopping Around Charlotte, NC

Every Fall the travel bug bites me and I get the crazy notion that K and I need to spice things up with a trip (much to his chagrin). One year we went to Jamaica, one year I took a girls’ trip to the beach. This October my parents gave us their hotel points and we headed to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We left home Wednesday night after work & got back on Sunday.

Typically we follow the same path south through the mountains multiple times a year, whether we’re going to the east coast or Florida (that’s a hellish drive) or the NASCAR races in Bristol. We’re usually in a car full of people and/or adhering to a strict schedule. Since this trip was just K and I, we decided we wanted to veer off our usually path, add about 45 minutes (which turned into two hours thank to traffic), and spend some time in Charlotte, NC.

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We started talking about a side trip a few days before we left, but we didn’t decided to go for it until we were on the road. (I am a Type-A anal-retentive planner/traveler, but I summoned all my strength to plan nothing [save the hotels and such] and just go with the flow.) We’d both never spent any time in Charlotte- home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame/admin. offices- so it was a unanimous decision to stop and explore.

Originally we planned to leave Thursday, but K and I said ‘goodbye’ to the dogs and packed up the car on Wednesday night. We drove about two hours south to meet my brother & his wife in Circleville, OH. If you’ve never been, there’s really not much except the Annual Circleville Pumpkin Show. K isn’t one for festivals or fairs, but I was annoyingly persistent- plus my baby brother was begging to hang out with us. Around 7 or 8 pm we arrived in town, spent 20 minutes trying to park, and finally left my car in the sketchy backyard of a town resident (for like $10 bucks). Despite a Cleveland Indian’s win that he’d listened to the whole way down, K’s mood was not stellar. Still, he plastered a smile on his face and walked around the crowded streets with us while I stuffed my face with french fries and pumpkin spice pulled pork (oh my gosh- SO good) and apple cider.

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We said goodbye to Fred & Xtina around 10pm and drove an hour to our hotel in Lancaster. We arrived just in time because an insane storm blew in just as we got settled in our room. I have never heard rain and thunder so clearly while staying in a hotel. The flashes of lightning through our drawn curtains were so intense. Of course K slept through the whole thing.

The next morning we packed up our car again and started south. It was a mostly uneventful drive. Traffic getting into Charlotte was a pain, but once we were in the city it was actually pleasant. Brace yourself… here come all the pictures…

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The building was architecturally incredible. The museum was intricate and modern, too. We purchased standard tickets (as in didn’t include a simulation ride or food) and they handed us two access cards. When we registered the cards outside the small informational theater we were able to enter our name, pick out a helmet design, and choose our race car driver tour guide. Obviously I picked Kasey Kahne. K chose Jimmie Johnson.

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This was the waiting area where you registered your card & wait for the 12-minute film.

Upon exiting the theater there was an entire exhibit dedicated to Tony Stewart or “Smoke.” He’s retiring after the 2016 year ends so some of his cars, fire suits, trophies, etc. are on display in the hall. From there you walk up a long, winding ramp that follows the progression of racing and the stock cars involved. It has winning cars from various years as well as details on each NASCAR track- both in-use and retired.

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Cars/Pixar fans might recognize the ‘Hudson Hornet’- which was a real race car!

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Our race track :)
Our race track 🙂

We practically had the entire museum to ourselves, which was glorious. I regret that I took so many pictures & didn’t read more of the information. That said, we were finishing up just as the museum was closing so if I’d have read all the things I wanted to we’d have never made it through in time. We’ll go back someday soon.

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There’s a circular room with all the HOF inductees. Each person has a pole like this that includes their image, information, and a video about their involvement in the sport.

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The museum has a Hall of Fame Room, a pit crew challenge (K beat me… stupid tire was so heavy!), a race simulator, and a top floor dedicated to the history of the sport. Kyle Busch was the champion last year and they had his car and the trophy on display at the museum.

The race simulator was awesome. Our package didn’t include it so we were prepared to pay $5 but the staff member just let us slide through since it was the end of the day. (Honestly, the customer service at NASCAR was ridiculous. Everyone was friendly and helpful and attentive. It was a really great experience for us!) K ran second for most of the race, but he was wrecked right at the end and finished 6th. I got 4th place after blowing my engine at the beginning. Oops…

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We didn’t want to eat at the museum’s BW3 because we have one in our town, so we wandered down the street and found Carolina Ale House. Blogger-fail on my part because I didn’t take any food pictures, but trust me when I say it was delicious! Our pulled pork nachos were incredible. We also has a window seat so I could watch downtown Charlotte and over-analyze everyone. #MyFavorite

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We both wished we’d had more time Charlotte (a.k.a. we later decided we should’ve just vacationed to Charlotte), but it was only meant to be a short stop on our way to our destination. After dinner we hopped in the car and started on the 3 hour drive to the beach.

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