Saturday, November 26, 2016

"Opt Outside" Field Trip

While the Male Posse revels in their inevitable food-and-football coma with the parents/grandparents, I have begun my own tradition of taking a solo sojourn to a new locale during their absence. I choose someplace far enough away that I have to stay overnight--so it feels like a mini-vacation--then I pack my camera (and...a bunch of other stuff--let's face it, I'm not what you'd call a "roughing it" kind of girl) and go. This year I set my sights on Brattonsville, a plantation and battlefield (It was like a two-for-one deal...on Black Friday! How could I possibly go wrong?), several hours southwest of the Triangle, just over the border of the other Carolina.

I must have remembered to put in my request for spectacular weather, because what I got was a breezy, sunny 75-degree day--in short: absolutely perfect road trip conditions. When I arrived (and shed my fleece jacket...because I dressed like it was the day after Thanksgiving, NOT...Native American Summer. What? I'm trying to be culturally sensitive, here, people...) I found a pleasing array of buildings to wander in and out of, wooded grounds to explore, and lots of interesting history to absorb. Here's the Cliffs Notes version: in July of 1780, the homestead and surrounding forest were the site of a skirmish between British forces led by Captain Christian Huck and a group of American patriots headed by Captain John McClure and Colonel William Bratton. Although the fighting reportedly lasted only 10 minutes, Huck was killed during the action, and the rebels prevailed.

This explains why the conflict came to be known as "The Battle of Huck's Defeat". It supposedly served to bolster morale of the American army at a time when the British had been racking up victory after victory and seemed close to winning the entire war. Evidently it encouraged more recruits to sign up, reviving the flagging militia, and also set up larger successes in the coming months, culminating in the British surrender at Yorktown, just over a year later.

So, I had already experienced a very satisfying dose of education on a gorgeous afternoon...and still had some daylight left to burn. I was bunking for the night in Charlotte--because I figured there would be nothing in good old...McConnell, SC. (And whoo boy, was I right! Gas stations and low-quality fast food, yes. Places to sleep? Not so much...) Fortunately, I had thought ahead, and researched a couple of promising Fun Things to Do in the city, planning to squeeze in one last tourist outing before heading home the next day. So I went ahead and picked one, powered up the GPS, and headed back (slightly) north. The only thing to note about the return to civilization was that, after my ever-so-brief excursion into another state, the very polite Navigation Lady startled me by announcing, "Welcome to North Carolina!"

(Yeah, I must have been suffering a low-blood-sugar moment--very likely, as you'll recall I mentioned there wasn't anything appetizing for a gluten-free vegan in the immediate vicinity of my destination. Anyway, it cracked me up...probably more than it should have--but either that's a new feature, or we've never crossed state boundaries while using Maps before, because I'd never heard her say anything like that. Okay, back on topic...)

Next I ended up at UNC...Charlotte, a lovely campus filled with red brick structures, lots of green space...and a Botanical Garden nestled right smack dab in the middle of it. I swear, it was like a woodland oasis, with an impressive variety of trees; quaint, inviting bridges scattered throughout, encouraging you to meander to and fro; and delightful surprises every which way you turned. Oriental pagoda...lily pond...mosaic sculpture...and so much more. And with the foliage having reached the utmost height of its Fall glory, it was altogether pretty darn breathtaking.

When the light was failing and sunset approached, I wrapped up my sightseeing and set out to find my evening's HQ...aka "Hyatt Place". Speaking of which, I'm finding a theme developing--last year I snagged a super-nice hotel room for approximately HALF what they normally charge. Having achieved the same thing once again, I have to conclude that they're just not very busy during this holiday weekend. Well--it works for me!, I don't know if they pay him extra to be sweet, or if he's just a natural charmer...but when I checked in, the first thing the clerk said to me was, "What a beautiful speaking voice you have! Do you sing? I can tell!" He could totally have been making s...tuff up, but it made my night, I tell ya.

But then...the first room he put me in had a teensy plumbing problem. (The pipe under the sink in the kitchen nook just...wasn't attached. We call that a "flood waiting to happen", am I right?) No worries--he moved me immediately, with abject a room where the TV refused to work. Sigh..."you know, I hate to be a bother, but..." Not to be outdone, he stopped by, himself, to set things right. (How he managed to get the device to behave is a mystery to me...but its attitude seems to have been straightened out...)

And then, just to make sure I was completely content, he offered, "Can I bring you a cookie?" Why YES, yes you may, my friend. He showed up a few minutes later with a bottle of water...and a cookie that was approximately the size of my HEAD and oozing chocolate because he'd warmed it up for me. Proving irrefutably the old adage: all's well that ends well...and now I'm going to watch TV....and succumb to my sugar crash, thankyouverymuch!

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