Monday, August 26, 2013

More Vacation

Day 6: The Best Day Ever
We woke up early this morning to make our way to Southport, NC. We added Southport and Wilmington on our itinerary a little later in the planning process, and I am so glad we did! Southport is where they filmed the movie Safe Haven, which I love. In the movie, Southport seemed like the perfect little coastal town, and I really wanted to go see it. Let me tell you, it was everything I had hoped it would be and more. It was quaint, quiet, picture perfect, and right on the water. Actually we both fell in love with it so quickly. If we weren't so set on going to grad school we seriously would move there in a heartbeat. The people were friendly, the food was great, and the location is prime. We drove around and looked at houses though, and they are expensive. That doesn't mean we haven't kept looking though. I found the cutest old house with the best porch that was actually in our price range, so now I'm just trying to talk Brandon into it.

We walked around and saw all the sights from Safe Haven, ate at a restaurant that plays a key role in one of our favorite tv shows, and also saw the house from that same show. We only spent a few hours there, because I'm pretty sure if we would have stayed any longer we never would have left. We then had a half hour drive to Wilmington.

When we got there, we checked into our hotel and grabbed some brochures to find stuff to do. We decided to do a carriage tour and tour a mansion there, so we grabbed our stuff and rushed to get to the carriage tour. Well, we got lost. We ended up at their headquarters, not where the carriage actually leaves from. On our way to the right spot, we came across the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. We decided to stop and check out the campus, and we actually really really liked it. They don't have my program, but they have a part-time MBA program, so we grabbed some info, toured the campus for a bit, then went to do our carriage tour. The tour was an hour long and took us all around historic Wilmington. Wilmington is a beautiful area. Brandon and I decided that we could actually see ourselves living there as well. Basically I think any coastal town in North Carolina would suit us well. We didn't have time to tour the mansion after the carriage tour, so we went to Wrightsville Beach, got some pizza, and hung out on the beach for a while. When we were getting ready to leave, I said that I just wished we could see more wildlife than we had seen while parasailing. We then stood there for like thirty more seconds, not wanting to leave, and right before we turned around we saw dolphins! It was the greatest thing ever!

We left Wrightsville Beach to go to Carolina Beach, where they were supposed to have fireworks and live music. They had carnival rides and tons of tourists, but we couldn't find the live music anywhere. We were reading a banner about their summer events and some guy told us the band and the fireworks were cancelled because it had rained at 2:00 that afternoon. It was pretty lame. So we left and went back to the hotel since we were leaving early the next morning. I had a really hard time parting with that area of North Carolina. I still miss it every day, and I would move there in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

More trip stuff

Day 3: To Athens and Charleston
Our third morning we woke up early and made the drive to Athens, GA to check out the first school. It was only an hour and a half to Athens, so the drive wasn't terrible. We pulled into Athens and were pretty surprised by the town, and not in a good way. It was really small, and honestly kind of dumpy, and we were debating whether or not to take the tour of University of Georgia still. In the end, we were there, so we decided to take the tour, and I'm glad we did! Their campus is beautiful, and huge. Half of our tour was by bus so that we could see more of campus than if we were just walking. After the tour we stopped and ate some lunch, and decided quickly that Athens isn't the place for us. It would be great for undergraduate students living on or near campus, but we are looking to grow away from college life, and expand our careers, and Athens just didn't seem to offer that.

We left Athens for the four hour drive to Charleston. We made it to Charleston around 7:00, checked into our hotel, and headed downtown for a few hours. Once we parked, we walked down King Street, which is the main street through downtown Charleston. We walked through Battery Park and went to the ocean for a little bit. It was starting to get dark, and we were pretty far away from where we had parked, plus we were both starving, so we turned around and walked back down King Street to find somewhere to eat. We ate at this place called Joe Pasta and it was (surprise) delicious. But the best part of that meal was how nice people were. Brandon asked our waiter what things we should do when we were in Charleston, since we were only there for a day, and after he told us a few things he went and asked his manager what other things there were to do (because he wasn't originally from Charleston). Then later, the manager came out and talked to us for a little bit and told us how he had recently been up to Utah. The night ended on a good note!

Day 4: Charleston
The next morning we got up bright and early to make our way back to Charleston (we stayed in North Charleston) to take a carriage tour. My grandma suggested that we take one and I am so glad we did! The tour was an hour long, but we got to see so many sites and learn so much about the history of Charleston. The houses there are beautiful, and I seriously cannot stress that enough. I have a serious weakness for houses with big porches, so basically all of Charleston was like Kryptonite to me (we have been watching too much Big Bang Theory, sorry for the nerd reference). But seriously the tour was so great. After the tour we hung out at the city market for a while and walked through a bunch of little shops on the same street. A few hours later we went to the Maritime Center and boarded a ship for a harbor cruise. The cruise took us out past Fort Sumter and out near Mount Pleasant, a little island off of Charleston. Mount Pleasant looked really nice from the boat, so we went over there after our tour and ate some lunch, then went down to the beach for a few hours. The beach was nowhere near as full of tourists as Charleston, so we stayed over there for a few hours, then went to Fort Moultrie and drove around looking at all the pretty beach houses.

That evening we went back into Charleston to meet Jennica and Rusty for dessert. Rusty had an internship with Boeing there, so they were in Charleston for the summer We hadn't seen them for quite a few months, and it was so much fun to not only see them again, but see them in a completely new place. It's so funny when we get together, because we pretty much just pair off and talk the entire time. Jennica and I talk while Rusty and Brandon talk, and our conversations rarely cross, which I think is a good thing. It's funny how similar Rusty and Brandon are, and Jennica and I will always just be us, and I love that. We hung out with them for a few hours, and after seeing a few palmetto bugs (ew) and basically running from the pineapple fountain to the market to get away from the bugs, we called it a night because Rusty had to work early in the morning, and we wanted to leave early in the morning. Our hotel was right down the street from their apartment though, so we still go to see them on the freeway until we had to go separate ways at the light.

Day 5: Myrtle Beach
The next morning we got up and drove to Myrtle Beach. We took the highway that goes right up the coast, but with all the trees we hardly got to see the water. The country we got to see on the drive was beautiful though. We really got down to our roots with the countryside and our country music on the radio. We took our time with the drive, stopping to look at the beach houses and pulling over to take pictures of all the crazy things we saw. Rather than heading right to the beach though, we were making our way to my Aunt Dar's houseboat in North Myrtle beach. We got to go to lunch with her and her long-time boyfriend, and ate at a little place they love right on the water. Dar has been living in South Carolina for quite a few years, so I haven't been able to see her all that often. Luckily she was able to make it to our wedding, and had already met Brandon. It was a fun little reunion, but we only got to see them for about two hours because we had reservations for parasailing that afternoon.

 I called the parasailing company when we were leaving lunch and asked if we could push the reservation back an hour and they said that was no problem, but that it was supposed to storm that afternoon so we needed to get there as soon as possible.  We finally got to the beach, but then couldn't find a place to park. Parking is way difficult in big, touristy areas; we learned that really quick on this trip. After we found a  place to park, then we got lost. Once we finally got to the right spot, they got us out on the water really quick. They used a jet ski to pull us out on a big banana boat raft to the boat. The water was pretty choppy because of the storm that was coming in, and the driver of the jet ski was going really fast, and I thought I was going to have to let Brandon go up and parasail by himself. I am terrified of open water like that, but it was my decision to have us go parasailing, so I couldn't back out. We went out to the boat with two other girls and let them go up first. Halfway through the sail, the driver of the boat let them drop in the water for a second, then pulled them back up. When it was our turn, I asked if we could skip the part in the water, and he said that was fine. So we got up in the air, and it was pretty cool! We couldn't see much because the water was so murky from the storm, but it was neat to just be that high up over the water. We even saw a small shark! They started to slow down so I thought they were going to pull us back onto the boat, but we just kept going lower and lower and weren't getting any closer to the boat. Well, they forgot my request and dropped us in the water anyways. Luckily it wasn't for too long, but I was panicking. Once we got back up in the air, I got over it pretty quick (ya know, since I didn't die and all) and then we saw a sea turtle!! I am definitely glad we ended up going parasailing.

After parasailing we went and laid on the beach for a little bit, but it was kind of raining and it was windy and the sun wasn't out, so we only stayed there for like 45 minutes. At this point though, it was already almost 5:00, so we went to our hotel and got kind of dressed up, then went back down to the beach to hang out on the boardwalk and get some dinner. We ate at Moe Moon's, and each had a tasty burger/sandwich and a pina colada IN A PINEAPPLE. Holy moly it was the most delicious drink I have ever had in my entire life. Brandon promised me endless umbrella drinks on the beach during vacation, and this was my only one and it was amazing. I still can't stop thinking about it. I even bought some V8 juice that is pineapple coconut because that's how much I loved it.

After dinner we walked around the boardwalk for a while, then went and rode the Skywheel. It's a giant Ferris wheel right on the water. When you went over the top and started going toward the ocean it looked like we were going to roll right into it! After that we went in some shops and people-watched. Brandon was going to take me dancing, but we couldn't find a place to go, and by the time we had somewhat figured it out we were both too tired to even worry about it.

I will blog about the next few days tomorrow. Again, you can look at all our pictures here even if you do not have Facebook!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I guess it's about time.

We have been back from vacation for two weeks now, and I guess it's finally time that I come to terms with it. I don't want to though. I'm longing for the warm days on the beach, eating seafood on the water in Southport, and endless days of dreaming what life will be like when we (someday) move over to that side of the country. We're quickly sliding back to school though, and before we know it our days will be filled with the monotony of work, school, and homework. Throw in grad school applications and it sounds like a winning semester to me! We are more than thrilled to be about done with school. In 16.5 weeks we will be officially done with our bachelor's degrees and done with Utah State. Praise all that is holy!

This semester is actually going to be pretty easy for me. I am doing an internship this semester at the high school Brandon went to, and that requires 20 hours a week. I will be in the counseling office! Besides that and working 25 hours a week, I have one class for 2.5 hours once a week, and another class that is all online, but only requires me to attend "artsy" events such as plays, concerts, the ballet, etc., and write an essay on each event. So this semester is going to be pretty easy for me. Brandon is taking five classes, but one of them doesn't start until October. The first 8 weeks of the semester will be pretty kind to him, and then the class that starts later is taught by the professor he is working for and has taken a class from before, and shouldn't be too challenging. We are just ready to be done!

Alright onto the trip. I will try and keep this concise, because I know my posts can get a little wordy (for example, see the two paragraphs above).

Flight to Atlanta:
Our flight departed at 3:05, and we got to Atlanta at about 8:00 their time. We had no layovers, and our flight ended up arriving early, so that was nice! And we just took carry-ons, so we didn't even have to wait for our luggage! We picked up our rental car, a cute little Chevy Spark that is similar in size to a golf cart. It was perfect though! Quite roomy for the two of us, and plenty of room for our luggage.

The hotel we stayed at in Georgia was actually about thirty minutes north of Atlanta in a town called Alpharetta. We drove from the airport, past Atlanta, towards Alpharetta without stopping in the city. I think Brandon and I decided not to tell anyone this, but I am going to tell you anyways. We did not even think about the fact that toll roads exist. Not even once. So there we are, driving along the freeway, and we reach a toll booth. And guess what? We didn't have any change. I think I had like two pennies. The nice lady said she would have paid for us, but she didn't have any change either. Not sure why they don't just catch up with the times and take cards, but whatever. They said they were going to send a bill for $25, but we have yet to receive that bill, and mostly I just think it's funny that they charge so much for not having two quarters.

Anyway, we got to hotel and checked in, and it was super nice. I am still very proud of myself for finding a nice hotel at a good price. Then we left the hotel and went to find some dinner. We ate at a place called Burger-Fi and it was delicious! We actually ate a ton of good food on our trip, but this was a great start.

Day 1 in Atlanta:
We made it a point to sleep in at least some mornings on our trip, and Atlanta was the place we slept in the most. We finally left the hotel at like 10:30 or 11:00, and first things first, went to a bank and got some change for the toll roads. Then we made our way downtown, found a parking garage near all the things we wanted to do, and guess what, they didn't take cards either, and the only cash we had on us was the $5 in quarters we got for the toll roads. The nice man let us in still, and told us just to come back with some cash at some point in the day. We decided that, since we had a lot of time in Atlanta, we would just walk to the nearest Wells Fargo and pull out cash for parking and such. The nearest Wells was about half a mile away, which isn't a terrible distance, but the GPS put us through some sketchy backroad to get there. When we left the bank though, we realized that there was a not-so-sketchy main road right in front of the bank. So we took that road back to the parking garage, and were so close to getting there when we witnessed a minor car accident. The driver of the car that got hit got out of her car so fast and started throwing swear words at the old lady that hit her, and I was scared. Old ladies aren't scary, but they are scary in Atlanta when they are swearing and the hooligans from the sketchy road you walked down previously come out to see what is going on. Luckily, everyone that was there (with the exception of the crazy swearing lady) was really kind and made sure everyone was okay. Brandon was the first person to call 911 so we waited around to make sure they didn't need us for anything.

After all the fiascoes that morning, we finally got to Coke World, our first real destination. We bought a CityPass for Atlanta, which cost about $80 a person, but got us into Coke World, the Aquarium, the Zoo, the CNN Studios, and a few museums. Coke World was neat! We got to learn the history of Coca Cola, see the bottling process, and try different sodas from all over the world. FYI: all the other sodas are gross. After Coke World we got some lunch then went next door to the aquarium. It was Saturday afternoon, and it was so dang busy. Our CityPasses came with a free ticket to the dolphin show, but by the time we got there all the tickets were sold out, so we couldn't redeem ours. The aquarium took about 3 hours to go through, and it was cool too, but there were so many people that it was almost hard to enjoy ourselves. We then walked through Centennial Olympic Park, which was big, but not as cool as I was hoping.

When we got back to our parking garage, a guy in a nice truck three spots down from us had had his truck broken into. Someone broke the window and stole something out of his car. Needless to say, this on top of all the other things so far in Atlanta had put kind of a bad taste in our mouths, so we decided to get out of downtown and go to a park. We found a really nice park about 15 minutes away with some botanical gardens and a lake, so we hung out there for about an hour, then decided we were hungry. We didn't want to drive back into downtown Atlanta for dinner, so we started to make our way back towards Alpharetta when Brandon realized that he didn't pack any swim trunks. So while we were hunting for a place to eat, we also stopped at every Ross, Marshall's, and T.J. Maxx's we could find. We didn't find any that night, but we did find a delicious Mexican restaurant with live (good) music!

Day 2 in Atlanta:
We both woke up feeling a little unsure about Atlanta because of our experience the day before. Because of this, we decided to take our time getting to our destinations. We stopped at a few places to look for trunks for Brandon, and finally found some at Target. Then we went to the zoo! The zoo was just a normal zoo, but it was still fun! It was in historic downtown Atlanta, so it was neat to see all the old houses and such. After the zoo we headed back downtown to take a tour of the CNN studios. The CNN building is huge. Our tour didn't start for a while after we got there, so we had fun just walking on the ground floor and going into the touristy shops. The tour was pretty cool. We took the world's largest free standing escalator up into a huge globe where our tour began. We go to see the different studios they broadcast from, and also the newsrooms where they piece the stories together.

After our tour we walked around the outside of the CNN building, and just behind the building is the Georgia Dome where the NFL Falcons play! Adrian loves the Falcons, so it was fun for me to have a little part of him there with us. There was a drumline competition going on inside, but it was a little pricey, so we just spent a few hours walking around outside, and also seeing the outside of the basketball arena where the Hawks (I think) play.

We had tickets for a Braves baseball game that night, but still had a few hours until the game started. Brandon wanted to go eat at a place called The Varsity, which is apparently super popular, but I was surprised at just how popular it was. We showed up, and I'm pretty sure every other person that was going to the Braves game that night was there too. We waited in line for 45 minutes, and they had probably about 20 registers open, I'm not even kidding. The food was good, but by the time we actually got our food, we had to hurry to make it to the game, so we basically just inhaled it. The roads to the game were busy, but luckily we had prepaid for parking, and had a perfect spot. We only paid $12 dollars a piece for our tickets, and were pretty sure that our seats weren't going to be very good, but they were perfect for the price! And no one even sat on either side of us. It was so much fun! We have grown to love baseball lately, and it was way fun to get to watch a professional team. We stayed up through the seventh inning, then decided to leave so we wouldn't have to deal with traffic getting out of there.

I'm about off work, so I will blog about the next few days tomorrow. You can look at all our pictures here even if you do not have Facebook!