So, the first part of Team WestEnders’ historic exodus…to Raleigh…came off without a hitch. I mean, how difficult can it possibly be to chuck a few items into a bag--for a journey of 30 miles, that’s going to last approximately 24 hours? (Keep this thought in mind, however, as it will come back to bite us in the patootie later in the story. Yep, that’s foreshadowing, y’all…are you proud of me for utilizing a literary device? Or have I just been spending too much time discussing homework with my Middle and High School sons? Yeeeaaaah, that sounds about right…)
I have to admit it was a little bit weird…and somewhat disorienting…to stay in a hotel this close to home. For example, we were within shouting distance of PNC Arena, where the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team plays, so the lobby was decorated in club colors, and displayed framed jerseys and other related memorabilia. Initially we were like, "Hey, we recognize that stuff!" Which was quickly followed by a sheepish, "Oh, right...never mind..." It made me more aware of the fact that typically when we travel, I’m paying attention to my physical surroundings, as well as the other vacationers, looking for anything interesting or unusual or otherwise noteworthy. But this time it was like we never left…literally!
Anyway, when we arrived after our arduous 35-minute trek (ha!), the first order of business was obviously SHOWERS. Everyone luxuriated in the free-flowing water, the incomparable feeling of being squeaky clean, and the joy of donning fresh clothing. Thus rejuvenated, we had the energy to face down our (by-now-familiar) dilemma of the evening: where to dine. It was the unavoidable debate—how to feed both a pack of carnivores…and one gluten-free vegan…in the same venue.
A little bit of searching on the Internet yielded a couple of promising options in the city…for ME, anyway…but they sounded just a bit too…hmm, how would Derek put this…”hippie fried tofu” for the guys. So I went with the most mainstream path, a Mexican-themed café whose menu had at least one thing I could eat. However, it turned out to be a muy popular Saturday night destination, as we found out when we showed up, crammed ourselves into the packed lobby, and were told it would be a 45-minute wait for a table. Um, no…gracias. Adios…
The backup plan involved one of those crunchy-granola joints I previously alluded to…but I was hoping that everyone was hungry enough by now to just go with it and not give me any guff. I think it helped that the Remedy Diner was located in the heart of downtown Raleigh, so we got to drive right by the capital building on our way, which was super-cool. And...how to describe the place itself? Quirky…funky…cute all sprang to mind as we walked in the front door. Or, as they are fond of saying on HGTV, "It was full of charm and character"--with features like eclectic artwork all over the walls, a handful of red vinyl booths, a wooden bar taking up the rest of the space, and a small pass-through window where the food appeared for delivery.
But the absolute best part as far as I was concerned was that, for ONCE, there was a small section of the menu devoted to sandwiches made from meat, and the REST of the offerings were vegetarian or vegan. Plus they made gluten-free bread available, for no additional cost. Nirvana, I tell ya! It was a novel concept for me to actually be able to make a choice among several delicious-sounding selections—I ended up going with the Reuben, made with tempeh in place of corned beef…since I used to order these All. The.Time. before going veg, and hadn’t had one since then (that would be “2008” for anyone who’s curious)! Happily, everyone was pleased with their meal, so it was an unqualified success, I’d have to say.
We then returned to our slightly-out-of-town HQ to rest up, as the next day we planned to do some touristy things in Raleigh before heading back to Chapel Hill...by which time we hoped the H2O issues would have been resolved. Some of our ideas included walking around the campus of NC State (not that Derek’s expressed interest in this particular university, but it’s here…and so are we…so it seems silly not to at least give it a quick stroll), taking in a museum, and/or meandering the area around the State House.
The next morning dawned overcast and damp, as if it had rained overnight—but the clouds quickly dispersed, giving way to a bright, sunny, mild day. In short, it looked picture-perfect for sightseeing. I made my way to the lobby to check out the coffee situation, and quickly discovered—not unexpectedly—that the breakfast buffet contained nothing that was friendly to my dietary constraints. And since we’d flown the coop so suddenly, I had forgotten to grab anything from my stash; therefore I went out in search of a store before anyone else was stirring in our room.
When I returned (triumphantly waving Kind breakfast bars) I found that the Male Posse had emerged for sustenance. While Derek and Riley were industriously tucking away eggs and bacon, however, Husband sat in front of a plate of barely-nibbled toast…and wore a decidedly greenish countenance. Aaaannnd, speaking of vacating the premises without one’s supplies: he had a migraine…and had left his meds in the pantry (where they obviously were...less-than-effective...siiiiighhh...)
Oh well, so much for the day’s fabulous agenda. Of course, we can go back to Raleigh any time we darn well please, since it’s practically right around the corner--so it’s not a major deal…just a minor bummer. On the plus side, though, shortly thereafter we received a notification that the water had been deemed safe, the restrictions had been lifted, and it was permissible to resume normal consumption. So we turned around and headed back to Casa WestEnders, where upon arrival the very first thing Riley announced was that he had to pee…and he was going to flush the toilet… just because he could. Another reminder that it’s the little things that matter most, yeah? I’ll drink to that…(perhaps a nice, tall glass of agua--ha!)