As I mentioned in last week’s Thursday Rundown, Sidney and I had a long anticipated Saturday night getaway to Charlotte planned for this past weekend. Well, we made it back to Myrtle Beach in one piece at around 5 p.m. yesterday evening. It was just what we needed!
We said goodbye to Sloan at 11 a.m. on Saturday and hit the road. The 3.5 drive through the rainy weather didn’t seem short or long; it just seemed right. We spent our 22 hours in Charlotte in the city’s SouthPark district, a place without crazy traffic and congestion but with plenty of attractions characteristic of a big metropolis.
Our first stop was the SouthPark Mall, a shopping center filled with “upscale” stores in a vibrant setting. As we walked through the enormous mall, Sid kept saying “we got to go in here” as she grabbed my hand and pulled me into places I never heard of before. Although oblivious to the significance of many of the stores, it was nice to just walk around without a care in the world. We got Sid’s HeidiJHale ring resized, purchased Sloan a dress, and picked up a couple other items. The highlight for me was probably the M&M cookie I got at the Nestle Toll House Café.
After we finished our mall excursion, we checked in at our hotel. We stayed at the Charlotte Marriott SouthPark, a truly beautiful property. We rested in our “chic” (I love putting quotation marks around these hoity toity words) hotel room for a bit before we went off to the main event of our trip.
We had looked forward to our Cheesecake Factory date for a loooong time. So, when the hostess told us it would be a two hour wait, we didn’t think about going anywhere else. We also didn’t question the employee’s estimation. The restaurant was a complete madhouse with the large lobby area packed with hungry people standing around with pagers.
By some act of divine intervention, two seats at the bar opened up. Despite the layers of people standing behind the bar stools just waiting to pounce on the available spots, we managed to slip in. We watched the Olympics while enjoying a couple drinks and an appetizer. We slowly sipped our refreshments so we could transition right from the bar to our table. Every now and then I would walk up to the hostess and check on our status. I put our name on the list at 6:28 p.m. and at exactly 8:28 p.m. our pager went off. They weren’t kidding about the 120 minute wait.
We got seated at our table and had a delightful server. Although the restaurant was out of the menu item I ordered and although Sid’s chicken was a bit dry (she always orders the Louisiana Chicken Pasta), we still had a nice time sharing a special meal…and of course the cheesecake didn’t disappoint.
Our actual dinner took well over 60 minutes, meaning we had spent over three hours inside the Cheesecake Factory walls (there are worst places to spend that amount of time). With it late and with us full to the brim, we decided to pass on our scheduled plans to see a movie. We returned to our hotel and relaxed while watching the Olympics.
I can’t tell you how heavenly it was to enjoy uninterrupted sleep without constantly gazing over at a baby monitor.
That morning I woke up and attended mass at St. Gabriel Parish, a newer age Catholic church in the SouthPark area. Sidney and I ate breakfast at the hotel and took full advantage of the noon checkout time.
After leaving the hotel, we returned to the Cheesecake Factory. We bought a couple of cheesecake slices for our in-laws who took such good care of Sloan. We then visited the Container Store, a place that made Sid reach excitement levels I had never seen out of her before. Supposedly the place is a haven for teachers.
As we perused the Container Store, I softly reminded Sid that we should probably begin our trip home. On the way out of town, we stopped at Panda Express for lunch. Although one just opened up in North Myrtle Beach, our best chance to dine at one happened to be at that moment. We enjoyed our orange chicken and then got in the car and headed home.
When we picked up Sloan, she greeted us by smiling and wildly clapping her hands together. It was so sweet. We took her back to our house and started to prepare for the week ahead.
But before we went to bed, we enjoyed one final taste of our Charlotte trip. When we went back to the Cheesecake Factory to pick up cheesecake for my in-laws, we also bought a slice for the two of us to enjoy later that night. With it almost 10 p.m., Sid and I went bite-for-bite as we enjoyed a piece of cookie dough cheesecake. As we savored it, I remarked to Sidney, “Sharing a dessert like this is one of the best parts of marriage.”
Who cares if it was short? Who cares if pretty much all we did was eat? I had a fabulous weekend with my best friend and that is all that matters. Don’t Blink.