Back in March my Dad took two business trips in quick succession. The Man had a week’s training in Fort Polk, Louisiana at the same time. Since we were both spouse-less my Mom graciously volunteered to come down and help out with the child juggling. My very tired pregnant self could not say “yes” fast enough. Before the Man left we were even able to get away for two nights while my Mom watched the grandbabies.
This was our first real getaway together since bringing the twins home two and a half years ago. We did attempt one last Spring – my mother-in-law kindly flew down and we headed off to lovely Savannah, GA – but the Army started off our first morning there with a flurry of texts and calls about a work emergency and my poor husband spent literally half the day on the phone. By the end of the day the Army had cancelled our leave and ordered us home. Not exactly the idyllic time of relaxing and reconnecting we’d imagined! Thankfully things went much more smoothly this time around.
We headed to Durham, NC because we’d spent half a day there a few years ago during a camping trip and wanted to go back for further exploration. Normally, our trips and special events are pretty frugal; our anniversary tradition is heading out for a hike followed by tacos from a trailer in a nearby town and I’m not sure we even exchanged any gifts for our birthdays this year thanks to adoption/newborn chaos. This time, though, we decided to spoil ourselves on the food front with fancy dinners out and multi-course meals. Special extended time together and leisurely meals are a rare treat with this many small children! We kicked off our trip with dinner at the unbelievably delicious Lantern in Chapel Hill, NC. It was the highlight of the trip, and some of the best food we’ve had in years. That’s not surprising; Gourmet rated it one of the top 50 restaurants in America! We’ve been home for three weeks and I can still taste those fantastic flavors.
We stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn close to Duke University and can’t recommend it highly enough. It was new, clean, and pleasant with warm and helpful staff. The next day we grabbed breakfast at a nearby bakery and cafe while playing card games, hiked all morning at cold-but-beautiful Eno River State Park, enjoyed lunch at Parker & Otis in Durham, and spent a lazy afternoon napping, reading, and wandering around Duke University’s architecture, botanical gardens, and mostly-closed-for-renovations art museum. That evening we hit the also-fabulous Spanish tapas restaurant Bar Mateo for dinner. I even *gasp* ordered a room service hot fudge brownie sundae when we got back to our hotel. On our last morning we enjoyed a final breakfast at the same bakery/cafe and returned home to my Mom and the kids. Annie, especially, was a bit upset by our absence, but the great thing about toddlers is that they’re easily distracted. All it took was pulling out a cookie from the bakery for each of them. If only frosted bunnies and basketballs worked that well for all of life’s ills.