Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Living like a Tourist is Pretty Cool...

Okay, where were we? Right: Saturday. After everyone finished their various activities...athletic and spiritual and what have you...we reconvened at Casa WestEnders to discuss that most relevant and important of topics. That's right, folks, I'm talking about DINNER. Now, there's a veritable plethora of eateries in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro environs--some of which we've tried and approved, and a whole bunch of which we haven't gotten to yet. So it never fails to raise the philosophical debate in my family: go to an already-scouted restaurant, one that we are certain will pass muster? Or check out someplace new, fresh, and exciting?

Then there's the other factor we must keep firmly in mind...weekend...during the semester...equals town(s) overrun by students. Since we're not big on the whole "standing in a long line" or (heaven forbid) "waiting for a table", we have to choose carefully when deciding on a dinner venue. (Fortunately, around here the vegetarian/carnivore conundrum isn't an issue, as most of the establishments cater equally to both. Whew! One thing checked off the list!)

So we got in the car to drive the two short miles into Carrboro and park, theoretically giving us the perfect vantage point from which to then walk up and down the main drag and select something appealing. However....our little 'burb was HOPPIN' for some reason, and parking options were noticeably scarce-to-non-existent. We did a mini-tour of all the free lots and garages I know offhand, only to find them all jam-packed. (Whaaat? Who are all these people, and why are they making my life difficult? Harrumph!) It looked like a totally festive, fun atmosphere--if only we could get out of the dang vehicle and join in the revelry...

Besides, no one had cooperated in giving me a firm idea of what they were in the mood for, so we were kind of flying blind, here. Finally, when I had just about reached my Driving Frustration Tolerance, Husband pointed out an empty space along the edge of a side street...that appeared...at least semi-legal-ish...so we pulled over and seized the day--um "spot". From there, we headed over to Carrburritos--a famous local joint, one that we'd been hearing about since we moved here, but hadn't yet gotten around to visiting. It's gotten awards, good press, blah blah blah--at this point we were just famished, and wanted to be fed.

As we should have expected from the evening's other prominent clues, however, the queue of diners standing around waiting to place their order was...substantial. I was THIS CLOSE to turning around and heading back out into the fray, but the tribe was more inclined to just stay put and be patient, so we toughed it out. Happily, the staff seemed experienced and efficient in handling the ravenous hordes, as the line moved briskly and we had our food in a reasonably short time. And I'm delighted to report that it lived up to the advance hype--yummy and completely satisfying. As it turns out, we were luckier than we knew, arriving when we did; as we were leaving I noticed a hand-written sign someone had placed on the entrance door that proclaimed they were "Out of Cheese"! Well, then...I have no idea if this is a regular occurrence for them, but nevertheless, Memo to Us: in case of burrito craving, show up on the early side on a Saturday night!

Okay, on to the next order of business: Girl Time with Mother Nature. When my friend was planning her trip to NC, she mentioned that someone else had told her the Duke Gardens were worth an excursion. My response was an unqualified, "You betcha, sister!" I'd only ever been once, in the Fall, and even then the displays were absolutely spectacular. It was actually on my To Do List to scope it out at this time of year anyway, to see how it differs in what they've planted from one season to the next. So Amiga and I braved the chilly morning--fortified by our first stop at Looking Glass Cafe, one of my favorite coffeehouses--to do a walking meditation through the substantial array of flora.

And as anticipated, it was an enormously impressive and varied collection of flowers, bushes, and trees....but you'll have to pardon me if my distinct lack of specificity doesn't do it justice. It's just that, without the helpful signs posted everywhere, I have no idea what anything actually IS. (Hold on--tulips! Roses! And daffodils! I know I recognized those...yeeeaaah, after that, I'm out...) It's all quite a peaceful and rewarding show for the senses--with rainbow hues enticing the eyes, sweet aromas tickling the nose, and splashing streams beckoning the ears. Now, all of this stimulation--along with the 6,000+ steps we recorded while soaking it all in, of course--contributed to thoughts of...lunch.

I had the brilliant idea of going to another of my favorite spots to pick up a quick and easy meal: Weaver Street Market, a co-op grocery store with a built-in cafe. We discovered an unexpected bonus when we perused the neighborhood--a small town fair, of sorts, with the road blocked off to automobiles, booths lining several blocks, and pedestrians...dogs...and bikers...meandering up and down, taking in the sights. Let's see, there was a demonstration of how to make pizza dough, with a whole crowd of interested bystanders each tossing their own circular piece into the air with what appeared to be barely-controlled enthusiasm. A martial arts school inviting small children to learn how to break boards with their hands. A Zumba dance-along for anyone having the urge to shake it in public on a Sunday afternoon. A climbing wall for intrepid adventurers to scale the heights...of Carrboro. (And a whole bunch of other amusing stuff...)

As we strolled along on a dazzlingly sunny, mild April afternoon, glancing around at the laughing children, frolicking pooches, and relaxed families, Amiga turned to me and asked, in a tone of part wonder, part disbelief, "Is this....Pleasantville?" Hahahahahaha! I mean, "Why yes, yes it is...minus the 50s frocks, perhaps." I must say, it was a fitting end to a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining weekend. And now, all I need is a NAP, and I'll be ready for the next volunteer who wants to come down and take the Grand Tour. Step right up, the Guest Bedroom is vacant!

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