Sunday, June 23, 2013

About That Getaway . . .

In my last post, I listed "say 'yes' to something spontaneous and slightly crazy" as a way to pamper myself in my continuing quest to both enjoy life more and avoid burnout.  I said I'd go into more detail about that in this post.  Well, my idea of "spontaneous and slightly crazy" was put into motion by the incomparable FryDaddy, whose talent for knowing my moods and indulging my whims is nigh-uncanny.  He'd made a few plans and we'd tweaked them a bit, due to a prior commitment I had at school (New Student Orientation and Sushi Buffet Fish Fry Open House) and off we went for a whirlwind getaway to Durham, which was the only town in North Carolina to possess a theatre showing Joss Whedon's adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing. (Turns out we were wrong about that, but by the time we knew that, we were already having fun in Durham, so there it is.)

When I say "whirlwind," I mean it.  We got to Duke Tower around 7 pm on Thursday and left by 8 am Saturday (remember the Sushi Buffet Fish Fry Open House?), so it was a short getaway, but all hands agree - it was a successful, much-needed one.

Highlights include:

  • Duke Tower itself.  This hotel/condo establishment was created from an old cotton mill - they kept one of the smokestacks and the old fire tower is now the site of a breakfast cafe.  (We slept in and missed it, but maybe next time.  And we hope there's a next time!)  The Tower caters to long-term guests - corporate execs, folks participating in various programs at Duke University Hospital, that sort of thing.  For the cost of a room, you get an apartment - good-sized living room, full kitchen and bath, and a nice-sized bedroom with plenty of closet space.  It's an older property and the shower head was low enough that I had to buckle my knees a bit and poor FryDaddy whacked his nose pretty well at least once.  All rooms overlook the central courtyard, which features a pool (very romantic on a warm summer's night), plenty of shaded sitting areas with comfy chairs, an oversized chess set (the pieces were about knee-high on an adult), shuffleboard, and even a nine-hole miniature golf course! FryDaddy had carefully packed provisions and equipment and we had a lovely flank steak dinner cooked "at home" that first night.
  • Much Ado about Nothing.  I'm an unashamed Whedon fan and I was stoked for this movie!  Full review details are found here, but suffice it to say it was worth a three-hour drive.  If you think Shakespeare is not for you, I beseech you - give this one a try.  The language sounds natural and the comedy is full and rich.  Give yourself a break from the boomboomblowemup and try this screwball comedy.
  • Seeing old friends - we got together with a dear friend who we don't get to see that often for dinner and the movie and (mostly) I managed to not talk about work.  Gotta continue to work on that.
  • Dinner with said old friend.  The hotel recommended Pop's, an Italian-style trattoria close to both the hotel and the theatre (more on that in a moment).  It turned out to be an excellent suggestion!  Pop's is the sort of restaurant that is upscale-scrumptious without being snooty-snobbish.  They pride themselves on local ingredients and the difference is obvious.  It was so delicious that FryDaddy and I returned for dessert after the show, where we managed to convince the amused wait staff to let us talk with the chef/owner Chris Stinnett.  Our goal was not only to compliment the food and service (which richly deserved the "attaboy"), but also to ask if we could buy a couple of the heavy diner-style coffee mugs.  Duke Tower is great, but the coffee cups are smallish and we are full members of the Caffeinated Tribe.  Chef Chris was taken aback, but graciously acquiesced to our wackadoodle request.  Seriously.  Pop's.  Go there.
  • The Carolina Theatre.  Much Ado was playing in a small screening room and it was marvelous to watch this movie with an audience of like-minded folk (who also understood that YOU TURN OFF YOUR PHONE DURING A MOVIE.  Sorry.  Pet peeve).  The Carolina is a theatre for movie fans.  They also have live shows, but just check out their movie offerings - and don't overlook their "special screenings."  Great stuff, picked by people who know their films.

Sure, I wish the trip had been longer - but boy-howdy! - am I glad we took what we could!

Thanks, FryDaddy.  I continue to maintain that you're the best decision I ever made.

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