Good wine, good food, good people.

Trip Start Jun 04, 2010
Trip End Jul 11, 2010

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Where I stayed
Brenden & Kevin Byrnes' House

Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Saturday, June 5, 2010

The trip to Charlotte from Charlottesville was relatively uneventful. There was a lot of "Oh my God, can you believe this is happening?", some "Holy sh*t! This is actually happening!", and obviously quite a few "Whaaaatttt!!!!"s exclaimed along the way. The sky was clear, the roads were open, and the speakers were thumping as we drove the nearly 300 miles down through the middle of Virginia and to the far south side of North Carolina. We were anxious to get to Charlotte, as Meredith's family friends, Brendan and Kevin Byrnes, had big plans for our time in the Queen City. We made as few pitstops as possible, though we specifically could not resist pulling over in the noteworthy town of Tightsqueeze, VA, for a quick snapshot to document the interesting (and by that I mean ridiculous) town name. Not sure what the founders were going for with that name... but I guess it's been somewhat effective, at least at drawing weirdos like us to stop.

We made it to Charlotte in great time, and we were greeted by the Byrnes brothers and their energetic puppy Declin in the front yard upon arrival. We got settled in and then headed into the city in Brendan's sweet company ride, a red Inifiniti somethingsomethingsomething. I don't know about Meredith, but I felt pretty badass. We zoomed up to the newly-built NASCAR Hall of Fame, for which, "as if by fate," Brendan had just scored a couple free tickets. Having no prior knowledge of the sport ourselves, the museum was extremely enlightening and really interesting. Apparently NASCAR is an acronym... who knew? Something about stock cars. And the sport originated in the 1930s when "runners," people who distilled and delivered their own whiskey, called moonshine, souped up their cars in order to more easily escape from the government agents who tried to catch them. It evolved (in slightly more detail than I feel like including)... and now we have NASCAR!

After the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we took a stroll around the city, which Mere and I both found to be incredibly clean and modern. Kevin pointed out the oldest building in the city, built in 1983 (...joke), and pointed out that the city, being largely a banking center, nearly shuts down during the weekends when significantly less people fill its streets.

On our way back to the Infiniti, in an effort to take a shortcut (which ended up taking 3-4 times longer than the non-shortcut), we stumbled upon the Heroes Convention as it wrapped up in the Charlotte Convention Center. We were even so lucky as to snap a photo with [who I'm told is] Bullseye, from Daredevil. The whole thing was definitely a little weird, but really... how cool? It's not every day you get to meet a super-hero!!!! At least, I don't think so? Anyway....

We headed back to the boys' house to relax and get some wine in our bodies. They had built a sweet deck in the back of the house, so we were able to take full advantage of the gorgeous summer weather. The boys' sister, Kate, and their roommate joined us, and as the rest of us sat and watched, Kevin slaved in the kitchen and cooked up a mean gourmet meal for us: Caprese salad, Mediterranean-style Porterhouse steaks, orzo with black olives and fennel, and grilled asparagus. Everything was absolutely amaaaazing.

We enjoyed the deck for a little while longer and sipped on some Cosmos (Kevin's faavorite), and then grabbed a cab to the Thomas Street Tavern to meet up with some of the boys' friends, who were able to give us a few tips for some the upcoming stops on the trip. When we got back to the house, we sat on the deck and chatted for a while longer. At some point, Kevin disappeared, only to reappear 45 minutes later with a sack full of McDonald's delicacies. "Don't think about it... just unwrap it and take a bite." Words of encouragement from Kevin. So we did... and we did.

The next morning, we got up relatively early and headed up to my cousin Lisa's house just north of the city. We visited with her, her husband, Michael, and their 10-month-old son, Matthew. We were of course captivated by the little guy, who ran and stumbled all over the backyard, all the while with a huge grin on his face. We sat down on their great shaded back porch for some lunch, and then hit the road, bound for the Peach State.
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Sounds like a helluva day in Charlotte!

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