Anyway, the rest of the holiday weekend was so full that it was probably a good thing that we rested on Friday. Sharif and I drove down to Raleigh in a bit over 5 hours on Saturday, stopping for chicken 'n dumplings on the way. Learned that I do like fried okra now, which is good to know. (We think that it would be even better with a spicy dipping sauce.) After checking into the hotel, stretching our legs by walking to the nearby mall, and taking a shower, we met up with some of my relatives (parents, 4 aunts, 3 uncles, grandma) for the free cocktail hour in the lobby. Also in the lobby, a large and colorful parrot named Raleigh, who fascinated Sharif through our whole stay. The Boy likes birds.
There was a party at Lois & John's place that night. People, lots of food, plenty of alcohol, a wide selection of snakes in tanks, a kitty, a friendly dog. I got to see the wedding dress and the jewelry and just how happy Lois was. Sharif got to show off with the piano in the living room. We had a good time. And afterwards, back at the hotel, I got to take a bath!
We started Sunday at the free breakfast in the hotel lobby, where they have a cook-to-order omelette bar. Crazy. Clearly, I should stay at hotels outside my price range all the time. Since the wedding festivities didn't start until 5:30, we went exploring. We ended up in a pretty natural preserve area with some walking trails, saw some spiders and a frog and a lot of trees, and got very hot. After we got back to the room and started getting ready, the clouds rolled in and it started POURING. This is a big deal when you're preparing for an outdoor wedding. I'm sure there was a lot of hand-wringing and concerned phonecalling, but all I could really do was make sure that I had a change of clothes in the car.
Luckily, the sky cleared long enough for the ceremony. We had dry seats facing a gazebo in a secluded garden. Two musicians played violins. Lois looked beautiful and so happy. The wedding party was made up of their children (my cousin Julia and John's two sons). Everything went smoothly. It was a short ceremony- aside from the statement of intent and the exchange of vows, each of the three attendants read a poem. The rain stayed away until the reception had started, and by that time we were safely inside the restaurant. Speaking of the reception, that place had a ridiculously good buffet. Sharif was in salmon heaven, and I could have eaten my weight in the spinach alfredo pasta. Oh! And! There was a birthday cupcake for me!
Amazingly, we managed to get to breakfast yesterday as well. Said goodbye to the family-type folks, then checked out of the hotel. We had been counting on some real Carolina barbeque for lunch, so we had to stick around the area for awhile. We ended up just wandering a basically closed and deserted downtown Raleigh- not much open on Labor Day. In fact, the place where we'd been planning to eat lunch ended up being closed for the holiday. Very disappointing, since we'd seen the place on the Food Network and were so tickled with the idea of going there. Plus it was only 7 miles from the hotel, so it had seemed like fate. We ended up just getting in the car and driving in the direction we'd be going anyway. Along the way, we kept our eyes open for a likely prospect on the side of the road. So when we passed a sign for "Barbeque Lodge", we pulled right over. We had unreasonably large plates of pork barbeque, accompanied by the most delicious hush puppies of all time and a pitcher of sweet tea. Satisfied, we headed home.
I admit that I fell asleep in the car while Sharif was dealing with the post-holiday traffic around DC. Luckily, I don't think it was too terrible. We made it home before dinnertime, and spent the rest of the evening in a daze, too sleepy to do much beyond watch the Scrubs marathon.
And now I'm back at work. My four-day weekend went so fast that it certainly didn't feel that long. But it was a needed step AWAY. Now I guess I'll start counting down to our camping weekend at the end of this month. Sweet!