Every year Chip and I hit the road on Saturday morning and head for Wilmington, NC. Chip’s company Christmas party is in that area, so we make a day of it, knocking around from Pelham to Wilmington. We stop at anything that looks interesting and enjoying each other’s company on the ride down. We seem to stay so busy these days, that being in the truck is the best time to have a great conversation.
I really wanted to take the truck camper and boondock somewhere, but he wasn’t too excited about it. For years we have driven down and back the same day, but age has snuck up on us and we just can’t seem to “hang these days.” It seems that drive home has gotten a lot longer. We were fortunate that the company reserved rooms for those with long drives, so we planned to stay the night.
Usually, we stop in Durham at the Habitat Restore, which is one of my favorite stops. Chip said he wasn’t going anywhere that had hand grenades in their store. I was confused about what he was talking about and thought I had misunderstood, because we had never seen anything like that in the store, so I was trying to think if I had misunderstood. He then shared with me he had seen on the news a story about an employee finding a hand grenade in a dresser in the store and how the bomb squad had come in and such. I found it to be a very interesting story, and of course, it was no longer an issue, but by then we had already passed the exit and I decided to not make a big deal about going as I hope to be able to go on my next appointment to see my rheumatologist at Duke. If you haven’t been into a Habitat Restore, you don’t know what you are missing. My favorite one is in Durham and in Chatham County NC.
We stopped in Garner to grab a bite to eat. I love sweet potatoes and order a plain one to go from a cracker barrel. Trying to eat healthily is challenging when you are eating on the run, but if there is a cracker barrel around, give me a sweet potato and I am a happy girl. Today was a prime example that a life with arthritis is usually full of frustrations. Chip had gone into Wendy’s to get him a hamburger and I was going to eat my sweet potato. That was until I could not get into the container. I pulled, tugged and even tried to open it with my teeth, to no avail. I was getting very frustrated with myself and my weak hands, and I was determined to get that container open on my own. I wish the container makers would come up with something that wasn’t so difficult to open. It is like childproof medicine bottles, as they are arthritis proof as well. Thank God pharmacies offer an alternative bottle. After a lot of frustration, I was able to get it open and was eating by the time Chip returned.


Other than a few “pit stops” along the way, we didn’t stop again until we arrived at our hotel. I was in awe with our room. It was huge and had more amenities than we would need. If we stay in a hotel out of town, we typically are going to be in the cheapest thing we can find, within reason. One time we made an impromptu trip to Wilmington and we could not find anywhere to stay. We ended up in the blue light district, at least that was what it felt like to me, in a hotel with one room left. We had been on the water all day and we were tired, so we felt desperate to take the room. Oh, by the way, the door didn’t lock, they shared with us. Reluctantly we unloaded the car, and all piled in, it was 2 families, in 1 room and trust me I am pretty sure the kids were the only ones who slept that night. I would never do that again and will sleep in my car. So, this room was like a mansion to me. We could have had several families piled in there for sure. If you are ever in need of a room, the Staybridge is incredible.


We then headed out for a tradition, visiting Redix. Redix’s is a store that has everything from snacks, to fishing rods, to high-end clothing. Last year we lucked up and got a summer beach chair at an incredible deal, but usually, we walk around and dream.
I told Chip I was going to walk through the toy aisle, and he said he was going to look at toys too, big boy toys. I walked upon him as he was looking at some Over Under clothing and he asked why I was in his section and I told him to make sure he didn’t see any toys that he wanted, as I knew we couldn’t afford anything he might want. He said he wishes he could win a 500.00 gift card to the store.
Shortly thereafter I was in the ladies’ section looking at the sales rack. He walked up and said he was there to make sure I didn’t see anything I might want. I told him I found a dress he could buy me, that it was marked down. “OK” I will buy you that dress if you will buy me a coat. I said, don’t be so quick to agree as the dress on sale was still around a hundred dollars. I, of course, hung it back on the rack. We then went to look at his “dream coat” which was beautiful and looked great on him. When he told me how much it cost, I told him to be careful as he took it off and hung it back on the hanger. It was only 369.00. We quickly realized a 500.00 gift card wouldn’t go far at all in the store. We will continue to go there every year and daydream, and maybe every now and then we will find something on sale that we can afford.

We then had to stop at the boat landing, where we have made many memories throughout the years, usually in the summer, when there are more boats wanting to park than there are parking places. That is a chapter by itself. It was a gorgeous day, a little cool, but we saw several boats enjoying the day.
It was time to connect with some co-workers/friends and head to the Christmas dinner. We arrived back to the room a little early, and Chip had picked up some “beach” reading papers and sat down on the couch to read. I never sit on a chair or couch in a hotel room. I can look at the beds and make sure they don’t have bedbugs, but upholstered chairs, that would be impossible. He looked comfortable, so I didn’t want to worry him about the possibility of bed bugs, so I just crossed my fingers and sat down beside him. And just in case you are wondering, even fancy hotels do occasionally have someone stay that brings in bedbugs. It is common in other countries, so they don’t freak out as I do. I will share a bed bug story some other time.
The Christmas dinner was fun, as usual. The food was delicious, as was the company. I spent most of the evening sitting in a rocking chair by the woodstove. I was in my happy place.
We stayed up late, visiting with friends at the hotel and didn’t get back to our room until after midnight. Disclaimer, we are usually asleep by 9, so this was late for us.
I was more than ready for the bed by the time we got to the room. I was in the room and in the bed in a matter of minutes. I know better than to go to bed without washing my face (causes more wrinkles) but tonight, I didn’t care, I was tired. I was in my usual spot in the bed, the left-hand edge if you are facing the bed. I have no clue why, but I like to sleep on the edge, usually on my stomach, with my feet over the foot of the bed and with my arm hanging over the side. I heard Chip wiggling around on his side, saying, where are you, as he continued to scoot toward my side. He was laughing the entire time because the bed, which was a king, was huge and he had a long way to go to find me. We slept in a double bed for most of our marriage and upgraded to a queen, which is plenty big enough for us. We tried to figure out why anyone would want such a big bed? I am sure there are many of you reading this, with king beds.
While Chip got his shower, I was like a little kid, hiding things before I got caught. The room had a kitchen, a big nice kitchen and an adorable little bottle of dishwashing detergent. When I spotted it last night, he had already told me that I did not need it when I told him I was going to take it. Well, how does he know what I need or not. I can use it camping or donate it to the homeless shelter with the other hotel items I always take, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. I always take those items and have been able to donate them to flood victims two years ago, to a Honduras trip last year and to a homeless shelter this year. The hotel gives you the items to use, and if I don’t need them, I feel that it is okay to take them since they came with paying for the room. Please don’t burst my bubble and tell me that it is not, because I may then feel guilty. I always do good things with them either way.
I ate things I should not have eaten at the dinner and unfortunately did wake up with a few aches in my joints. It is so hard to follow a healthy lifestyle this time of year. There was plenty of food I could eat, but I could not pass up the desserts, and the cheesecake was my downfall.
The hotel breakfast was beyond amazing. I was like a kid in a candy store. One of the staff even asked me if I needed anything and I told her no, that I was just in awe with the breakfast. Unfortunately, I could only eat oatmeal and fresh fruit, but Chip was a happy fella. I would have loved to have splurged on some of the other food, but my hands reminded me that I had my freebie for the weekend, and I had to stick to my healthy lifestyle today.


When we got home, I was hoping Chip would leave his bag on the bed and I could sneak out my stash while he wasn’t looking. But he started unpacking and then I heard it, “what is all of this?” I walked up, smiled, and started getting my goodies, and told him “sorry I didn’t have room in my bag.”

img_0544-1He handed me the dish detergent and said “why?” and my response was “because it is so cute.” It doesn’t take much to amuse me. He just shook his head as I walked away. He knows he loves me.

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