I need a salad.
We just got home from a quick trip to the South for the wedding of John’s sister. I think it’s safe to say that North Carolina is just about as different from Utah as you can get. Humidity in the air, thick green foliage, the drawl of the Southern accent. There’s not a mountain in sight. And let’s not forget the food!
The trip from Park City started before daylight and lasted all day. There was a LOT of this:
Within an hour of getting off the plane in Raleigh, the sky opened up into a booming thunderstorm. We sought shelter from the downpour, sliding our teeny Ford Fiesta rental car down the highway toward a restaurant recommended to us by Southern friends. We had one thing on our minds: Carolina pulled pork.
With a list of side dishes like that, we knew we couldn’t go wrong.
Being in a state that pours real drinks, I asked the bartender for a recommendation. He presented me with a muddled concoction of cucumber, simple syrup, and moonshine.
When I think of moonshine, I hear dueling banjos and images of backwoods ramshackle sheds come to mind, men in overalls stirring a vat of something illicit and harsh. In truth, moonshine comes in all qualities, price ranges, and flavors, like any other liquor. They take it seriously in the South, and my beverage was dangerously tasty.
The pulled pork sammies were the real deal. I ordered mine with a side of cheesy bacon grits for the full effect. As the storm raged on outside, we got full and happy. (Consumption was too quick for the camera!) The horrible weather and rush hour worked together to make the drive to the hotel twice as long as expected. After a 4:45am start to the day, we settled in for the evening quickly. But not before it was confirmed that when it came to lodging, we chose well.
Anyone who’s tasted a hot Krispy Kreme donut knows that they are magical. I’d had them in other places, but was unaware that the South is kind of the Motherland. I myself prefer the classic glazed, but I’ll take what I can get.
The rain had cleared by morning. The day was full of porch time with family, catching up and chatting about the next day’s big event. The whole wedding weekend was to be casual, comfortable, and homey. The boys from the north brought the Yankee sport of lacrosse along with them.
If John and I thought we’d had good Southern BBQ the day before, we were in for a treat. A family friend spent the entire day tending to the hog-cooker, a contraption I’d never seen but was aptly named.
A couple of beer can chickens and some Southern-style side dishes completed a true down-home feast. A giant bonfire and a stunning sunset ended a fun day.
On Saturday, we had some time to kill before the wedding festivities began. A handful of family piled into a couple of cars and headed to something called the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in nearby Fayetteville. The area is has a big military population, and it was Armed Forces Day, so it seemed like a great plan. I didn’t really know what to expect, but what we experienced was impressive- and awesome!
The museum was filled with military artifacts of all sizes from multiple battles/wars- artillery, uniforms, vehicles, photographs, propaganda posters from the eras, even tanks and helicopters. Each one of us was enthralled, wandering through the maze, in awe of this portion of our nation’s military history. I made friends along the way.
We enjoyed lunch together, and before heading off for wedding day duties, we had one last stop to make with John’s dad and two nephews. You guessed it:
I had forgotten the build-up of emotion that happens as the “I do” moment gets closer and closer. It was special for me to be a part of the pre-wedding preparation with John’s sister, feeling excited for my own big day later this year. The ceremony was simple and meaningful, just the way it should be. Afterward, family and close friends enjoyed a delicious steak and baked potato meal, enough food to feed twice as many people. We sipped champagne from plastic flutes and laughed into the evening. We sliced up the cake, and a few toasts were given to two families becoming one.
John and I had a nightcap (or three) with his cousin and aunt, visiting with each other deep into the night. Realizing we had another epic travel day ahead of us, we reluctantly pulled ourselves away. It just felt like not enough time with family members rarely seen, and neither one of us wanted the weekend to end just yet.
This morning came quickly, and it hurt. We were checked out of the hotel by 6am and on a plane by 8:30am.
Between naps, I had plenty of time to think back over the weekend’s perfect moments. John and his brother trying to beat his nephews at lacrosse, the boys cheering with glee when they scored on the ‘old men.’ John’s dad laughing with his late wife’s sister, remembering years of stories together. John’s sister and her new husband holding hands, surrounded by friends. Glaze from donuts stuck to John’s nephews’ cheeks. I feel so comfortable with his family, and treasure the times we all spend together. It’s a shame it’s not more often, but we have another wedding to celebrate in October that will bring everyone together. This time, I’ll be the new “Mrs.” of the group. That thought makes me smile.
But for now, I’m going to go find some vegetables.