Well, since I’m stuck here after work doing a server upgrade… watching a text-based progress bar advance at such an agonizingly slow pace, I figured I’d go ahead and write about our wonderful trip. Suck it up boys and girls, cuz this one’s a long one…
Around the end of last month(the 25th to be exact), I was finally able to treat my wonderful wife to her long-awaited Christmas present – 2 tickets to see Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson at the Winston-Salem stop of their 2Worlds 2Voices tour. OK – well, she got the tickets on Christmas Day, but the Concert wasn’t until January 25th.
Anyway, we – along with our friends Philip and Jen, took off that Friday morning on what turned out to be one of the best and most relaxing weekends that Amy and I have had in a very long time. We hitched a ride with Philip and Jen to Winston-Salem detouring through Cheraw so Philip’s parents could watch over Peyton, Philip and Jen’s daughter, while we were gone. While in Cheraw, we had lunch at Philip’s cousin’s restaurant – a nice country buffet with chicken and dumplin’s!!!! MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!! Afterwards, we hop back in the car and spend the rest of the trip getting more acquainted with our weekend fun co-conspirators. You see, Philip and have I worked together for a little over a year now… in fact, his cube is directly opposite mine.We are in the same department, the same group, and we share more than a few of the same projects. He is also one of my break and lunch buddies. I am very confident when I say that Philip and I get along together pretty well…. despite me being 10 years his senior(inside joke… sorry, Philip, I couldn’t resist). However, getting along at work, and spending a weekend together along with spouses outside of the work environment is a completely different dynamic altogether. You take the work environment out of the picture, and two more personalities and combine it with a fairly long drive… you can see where there is potential for things to fall apart.
Luckily, that never happened. The four of us seemed to hit it off rather well. In fact, so much so, that I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw my wife so relaxed and just… enjoying the moment. But more on that later….
Once in Winston-Salem, we got our hotel rooms, unpacked and got ready for the evening. We had a great adventure looking for a place to eat our pre-concert meal, and after lots of driving around and, “What about…[insert restaurant name here]?” we finally decided that the IHOP right beside our hotel was our best bet. The restaurant was packed! And almost everyone there was heading across the street to the concert after dinner. No matter though, the under-staffed establishment(There were only 2 waitresses) was still able to serve some great food in a surprisingly timely manner. When the food was gone, we decided to clear out and make our way through the cold to the venue in hopes of beating the lines. Once inside, we made our way to our seats. We were on row CC-floor level, basically 29 rows back from the stage. Close enough to get a good view and be on the floor level, yet far enough away not to get our ears blown out.(That’s a good thing when you reach my age… my hearing is leaving me without any extra help!).
The show started off with a comedy routine from Melissa Peterman, probably most well known for her role as the zany Barbra Jean from Reba’s self-titled sitcom on the
WB CW channel. Melissa was absolutely hilarious! She is a very talented comedian and deserves a longer opening act. It later occurred to me that if you were merely a Kelly Clarkson fan and had never watched the sitcom Reba, some of the material may just zoom over your head… but hey – this was a Reba concert after all…
The actual concert itself was… well let’s just say, color me impressed. Both singers took turns singing their hits – alternating verses in on some songs, singing backup and/or harmony on others. Both are absolute phenoms. Reba was the absolute(but very humble) Country Superstar, and Kelly was the powerful voice wrapped in such a tiny package. I’m not a big follower of American Idol, but I keep up with the eventual winners of each season and I seriously believe that Kelly, along with Carrie Underwood, is probably one of the most talented to have come out of that show. It was great to see(and hear) Reba rockin’ to some of Kelly’s up-tempo songs as well as listening to Kelly cover some of Reba’s country classics. In a nutshell, the whole production was well planned and well put together. If you are a fan of either, and the tour is playing in a city or town near you, go and see it, you will not be disappointed. In fact here are a few highlights of the show. You can listen in and decide for yourself.
The next day, we all decided to take a walk around Old Salem. Old Salem is basically part of the town that is a living testament to the lives and people of the original settlement in the late 1700′s. We spent the first part of day walking the streets, looking at shops, and visiting the Winkler Bakery. All I can say is – you need to go here. The breads, the sugar cake, the sweet rolls, the strudel, the thin cookies… simply amazing! I can definitely tell you that we purchased more than our share of baked goods there, and not one morsel was wasted. The scent of all of the wonderful breads and sweets, must’ve gotten us all hungry, so we headed a little further down the street to the Old Salem Tavern for lunch. What can I say? The experience at the tavern was wonderful. The food, the company,the atmosphere, the conversation…. everything just fit.
Unfortunately, it was getting late in the day – we still had a long drive back, and Philip(one of work’s resident “Mac Heads”) wanted to stop by the Apple store at the Southpoint mall in Durham. We had a great time perusing the mall, window shopping, and drooling over all of the different Apple products. Amy even got me the Zack and Wiki game for the Wii! Unfortunately, it was two days before the new MacBook Air was put on display. That was the one product I really wanted to try out. Anyway, we wrapped up our shopping and started making our way back to South Carolina.
The trip home was true to form as our whole adventure thus far. Plenty of conversation, this was the Saturday of the SC Democratic Caucus and the news of Obama’s win in SC sparked a lot of conversation, which led to conversation about local politics, which led to some rather funny anecdotes, which led to some extremely funny jokes…. you get the picture. Next thing you know, we were back in Conway to pick up our car from Philip and Jen’s house… said our rather lengthy good-byes – I had gotten a call from work about a problem(yeah… thanks, Jay) and needed to turn my attention on it… plus i realized just how tired our friends were… Philip had driven the whole trip and I never offered to help out…. I’m SOOOoooo ignorant when it comes to those things. Anyway… we said our good-byes and made it back home.
All in all, this was the best trip that Amy and I have had in a quite while. We were able to step away from the “real world” for a couple of days and relax and enjoy the moment. This trip was also special to me(us) because – well… my wife and I aren’t the most social couple in the world. Between work and kids, we haven’t had much time for true socializing. Hell, we have to finagle all we can just to have time for the two of us. And because of this we don’t have very many friends… well, to clarify, we don’t have many “shared” friends. I have my work friends and she has her work friends, but rarely do the twain ever meet. That weekend – well it just seemed like everything just fell into place…. and that, my friends, is a very good thing. I look forward to doing it again sometime soon…
Wow… if you made it all the way to the end of this post, you are absolutely nuts… but I thank you for letting me share our adventure with you. If you are still awake, make sure to check out the pix that Jen took of our trip.
[tags]philip, jen, reba, kelly, concert, apple, wii, politics, old salem, IHOP, winston-salem, melissa peterman, road trip, socializing, southpoint mall[/tags]