Monday, April 30, 2012

oh hey, nice to see you again!

Wow March and April just f l e w by! MW and I have been busy every single weekend. In fact, this is the first weekend we've been able to just chill out. That said, I've hardly had time to update you on all the happenings, since I last posted about grad school. It's even been so long, that Blogger has been updated and I feel all sorts of lost trying to figure it out again. 

In short, we spent several weekends away visiting Charlotte, Pinehurst, Asheville and even making it to Blacksburg Virginia for a conference that MW had. I like to tag along because it's a free hotel room and I love hotel beds. Most recently, however, we took a quick trip to Atlanta for another MW nerd medical physics conference. 

Last Friday, we left around 6am and drove straight to Atlanta, making it just in time for MW to get to the conference. Meanwhile, I got settled in our room and then felt the grumbling of my tummy. It was a rushed morning and we hadn't eaten. I was in the Miller Danger Zone. 
Not good news. 

To settle my hangry stomach (hungry+angry), I pulled out my trusty iPhone and found a bakery/cafe/deli thing close by and set out to quench my hunger. I took my camera along for the ride. With the conference comes an evening out, this particular evening being a night at the Georgia Aquarium. So obviously I had to prepare my cami. I've never taken pictures at an aquarium before, but I imagined it would be hard, so I put on my learning cap and turned to the internet to guide me. 

As a little background for you, my wonderful dad has been my primary teacher of taking photos with a D-SLR. Since he prefers to shoot in aperture mode, that's what I've always shot in. However, since lighting gets extra tricky in aquariums, I felt I needed to learn a bit about manual shooting. Not to brag, but it definitely paid off!

After playing paparazzi in the cafe for a good hour, I gobbled up my sandwich and soup and ran back to the hotel to get scrubbed up and dressed for our night out. I know, I know, get to the photos! 

The Aquarium was closed for our private group, and we were allotted an hour and a half to explore the exhibits before dinner. 

The Georgia Aquarium is right beside the World of Coca-Cola 

The first exhibit we walked through had jellies! They were so photogenic!

I loved both of these. 
No, I do not know these men. 
But I appreciate their willingness to be in photos unknowingly. 

How can they be so painful but so pretty?

This one's a little darker than I wanted, but I was still working out the kinks. 

(that is MW)

(me, taken by MW on my iPhone)

Beluga whales- one was preggers


MW loved these little guys

This sea otter swam over and hopped onto land to check me out


If you've noticed that there are few pictures, that's because my camera battery was dying at this point.
Why, you ask? Because I'm the dummy that didn't charge it up before the trip and then continued to drain it for an hour during lunch practicing my "skills."

MW's favorite animal is a penguin. 
Here he had the chance to crawl into tubes under the water to check them out. 
Unfortunately, it was late and they were too sleepy to swim. 

Although we continued to walk around the remaining exhibits, there aren't many pictures. My apologies. Besides, it was time for my stomach to start rumbling again and my mind was on dinner, catered by Wolfgang Puck's catering company. Yes, please!

If you can see it, this is where we had dinner served. Behind me (as I don't pay attention to the photo), is a tank with... 

DOLPHINS! Dolphins as our dinner pals. Can you believe it? Just swimming around!
I have to admit, despite my awe part of me was sad that all they could do was swim around and around and around. 

Speaking of dinner, here's the menu:
Mixed field greens, sundried georgia peaches, tear drop tomatoes, toasted pecan vinaigrette
Fried Green Tomatoes topped with Carolina Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Slow Roasted Bourbon and Peach Glazed Pork Loin
Beef Short Ribs with Vidalia Onion Marmalade
Coastal Georgia Baby Shrimp with Apple Wood Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Cheese Grits
Sweet Potato Souffle
Black Pepper Biscuits with Honey Butter

Southern Pecan Pie with fresh Whipped Cream
Traditional Strawberry Shortcake
Banana Cream Pie
Teas and Coffees

Everything was absolutely, incredibly delicious! 
There was also an open bar. We may have hit that up on repeat...

As we left, MW snapped this goody of downtown ATL

The next morning, MW was up and off to his conference early. Since I can no longer sleep in (thanks grown-up job) I crawled out of bed and meandered down to the fitness room. I admit, I love hotel gyms. Why? Because they're always clean and there's never anyone there. I can look like an idiot and play my music loudly and I won't feel embarrassed. Oh, until the hotel staff come in to check the towels or something. But the embarrassment is fleeting. 

Check out was noon and MW finished his conference just in time. We checked out and headed home!
I told you it was a quick trip. 
Since I have transportation narcolepsy (probably a real thing), I slept a large portion of the ride home. Poor MW. Then when I was conscious, I was trying to read a book. It wasn't until we got onto I-26 West that I thought that something fishy was up. 

"West?" I thought to myself. "Atlanta is... west of Winston-Salem. Why would we go further west?"
Not wanting to hurt his pride, I didn't question MW or his GPS guidance and returned to reading my book, certain that I was in good hands. And of course I was. 

We pulled into Downtown Inn and Suites in Asheville just after 4pm. I was so delighted and surprised! A whole night in Asheville that I hadn't even known about. We checked in to our hotel and then ran out to get food at one of our favorite lunch spots: Clingman Cafe. We both got The Odyssey this time (I had it last time we went and MW was jealous). 

"Oh, hey! I think Aziz was here last night doing stand up." I said
"Er," I said checking my phone, "he's actually here tonight!! Maybe we could get tickets on a whim?"
"Yeah, we can think about it."

Since MW is so smart, we got it to go and took it over to Wedge Brewing Co. I have to admit that MW finally got me drinking IPA's after having their Iron Rail IPA. It's glorious and hoppy. 

(Wedge- taken over St. Patty's day weekend, which was also spent in Asheville)

The Wedge is just a small brew pub with a big yard that everyone hangs out in. Lots of locals come by for some brew and to play corn hole or enjoy the weather. This day it was a little breezy and overcast, but that was fine by me. Because I had a sandwich, an IPA and my boyfriend who was full of surprises. 
"Well, tickets are $30 and that's more than I'm willing to spend on a whim right now." I said (cheaply)
"Since you won't let it go, here. It wasn't more than I was willing to spend" MW said as he TOSSED AZIZ ANSARI TICKETS TO ME!

I know, you're jealous now, right? 
(PS sorry for all the words and not a lot of pictures in this part)
Another surprise: our friend J was in town for the show as well! So we met up with him and his friends at Wedge and spent an hour relaxing before making our way to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. 

Aziz was hilarious. If you are an admirer of his work, you definitely need to see him in action. 
He, also, is an admirer of food, and I admire that. 

We ended the night at Asheville Brewing Co, wolfing down some delicious made-to-order pizza slices before collapsing into bed. If you're reading this and thinking "wow that must have been kind of an early night for a Saturday" you are not wrong in that opinion. I, however, am of the opinion that anything later than 10pm is a late night. 

The next morning we leisurely got prepared for the day and packed. MW planned to go to Sunny Point Cafe, which I've posted about before, but I can't say enough about. Although the wait is always long on a Sunday morning, it's so worth it I can't even convey how worth it it is. I made sure to have a small morning snack, since it would be a while until lunch. 
Our wait was about an hour and a half. We spent part of it sitting in the chill morning/early afternoon air before MW ran to get the car (parked far away) and moved it closer to a newly free spot in the small lot at Sunny Point. Now in the car, we cozied up and watched most of a Game of Thrones episode. And before we knew it, we were seated at a table and food was in front of us!

chipotle cheese grits, eggs perfectly over medium, local pork sausage, biscuit with sugar on top
yes, yes, please!
BTW this is probably the best sausage I've ever had. Go, now.

He's a happy clam with his breakfast, complete with mimosa's!

So, I have to admit I'm one lucky girl. What a nice surprise trip to give us a mini vacation! We've been bustling about so much that it was great to have a weekend away with just us. 

PS- since we last talked, Henry has passed on. Goodbye Henry, you will always be my first.

In memoriam.