Thursday, September 03, 2009

A Weekend-long date with Richie

I have one word for my weekend in Charlotte with Richie--awesomesauce.

That's right, I said awesomesauce. It's like awesome, but covered in barbecue sauce. Yeah, it was that good.

We left work Friday night and drove straight into Charlotte, singing along to Rolling Stone Magazine's Top 500 Songs of all time, stopping only to eat in Manning (chicken fried steak, yum!). We didn't have reservations, so we took a chance on Courtyard by Marriott and were very happy. The room was so comfortable, with lots of pillows and a nice big bathroom.

I only have one complaint, though, and it's not with the hotel. Why did it seem that every store in Charlotte except the gas stations and Wal-Mart closed at 10? Those are Georgetown hours. All we wanted was some juice and soda for the refrigerator, so unfortunately, we had to trek into a crowded Wal-Mart. I will say that was the first time I'd ever gone to Wal-Mart at 10:30 in the evening and see it so crowded.

Saturday morning, after breakfast at Starbucks (Cinnamon Dolce Latte and a Java Chip Frappucino with two ham biscuits), we drove over to Concord Mills to do some shopping. Richie was practically shaking at the steering wheel as we pulled into the Bass Pro Shops parking lot. It was the cutest thing ever. Sure, we have a Bass Pro Shops in Myrtle Beach, but the store in Concord Mills is ginormous. They were even having a saltwater fishing expo and a cookout! (The barbecue sandwich I had at the end of our shopping trip was fabulous. I'd never had North Carolina barbecue before, but I was impressed. Of course, that doesn't mean I like it better than South Carolina barbecue. Hush your mouth!) We walked over every inch of that store, even upstairs where they have archery equipment, so we could look down on the store and survey the land, so to speak. It was the most amazing thing, watching him shop, so excited to see all the new things that aren't offered in the Myrtle Beach store. He was even able to get a new GPS for his boat. Then, to return the favor, he took me shoe shopping.

SHOE SHOPPING, people. SHOE SHOPPING. He sat and watched me try on pair after pair after pair of shoes. He even suggested other pairs for me to try on. It really was the most amazing, sweet, and self-sacrificing thing ever. When I walked away from the store with that bag in my hand, I really felt more like I was floating.

We had reservations for Doubletree at Gateway Village, which is four blocks from the Bank of America stadium. Our room was ready for us before check-in time, and they had warm cookies waiting on us. I held back from tearing into mine on the elevator. I am a 32-year old woman, after all. I needed to show some restraint. Our room was so beautiful, even if we didn't have a fridge in our room. I could have spent the rest of my life in that room, and the bathroom was bigger than both my bathrooms at home. LOVED. IT.

The magic continued when we walked over to a restaurant called Presto's. It was a very casual restaurant--the wait staff was dressed in Panthers jerseys for the game--but the food was outstanding. I had the Black Angus and blue cheese burger with curly fries, and Richie had the seafood jambalaya made with an amazing spicy sauce. It certainly sustained us through the walk to the stadium and up to the 500 level to our seats.

The Panthers game was a new experience for me. Like I'd said in a previous post, I'd been to a ton of college games, but never a professional game. It's a very surreal experience, especially when you look down on the field, watching the teams warm up, and you realize that none of them make less than one million dollars a year. Once I got past that, I started looking around. Our seats weren't bad--they could have been much, much worse--and it was perfect for getting a good view of downtown Charlotte. I love the way a city looks at night, with all the building lit up, and Charlotte was no exception. With Charlotte being named "The Queen City", I was absolutely not surprised to see a building that actually looked like a crown topping it. Quite a sight.

So here's where the excitement began, before kickoff! We had several different types of people sitting around us--guys enjoying guy time together, dads with their kids, couples, and groups of couple. We were all getting along wonderfully until this crazed group of drunk college kids moved in behind us. Their language was deplorable, and they were extremely disruptive. In the second quarter, the loudest one was evicted, and after half-time another one disappeared for being reprimanded by security. It was goodness all around.

Because it was a preseason game, attendance was a little down, as was the excitement level. There was no swaying of the stadium like at every single Gamecocks game at Williams-Brice. Overall, though, it was fun, since it was my first game, and I got to see three Gamecocks on the field--Casper Brinkley, Travelle Wharton, and Captain Munnerlyn. The walk back to the stadium? Not so fun. It was hot and crowded, and I just wanted to be in the quiet and cool of that hotel room with my September issue of InStyle. I'm glad Richie remembered the way back to the hotel, because I sure didn't!

Sunday was quiet, because we were tired still, and we were driving back. Ate at a Cracker Barrell, though, and that's always good. I was happy to be home, happy to see Cathryn (who had her own adventure with Cathy and Richard at Freestyle Music Park), but Richie and I had such a wonderful time together that I was a little sad, having to pack up and ride back to Georgetown.

Looking forward to the next trip!