Monday, July 18, 2011

Exciting Weekend Adventures

For the first time in quite a while, I have an exciting weekend to report on! Four of my close friends from college came to Charlotte for a visit (two of us already live in the area, plus my husband), and a good time was had by all. We started the weekend with dinner at Killington's (a Huntersville favorite of mine & Ross's), hung out for a short while, and then went to bed early-ish.

The next day was spent at the U.S. National Whitewater Center! So much fun. I hate that I haven't taken advantage of it before now, considering it's only about 20 minutes away from where I live. We definitely got the most out of our time there - whitewater rafting, flat water kayaking, mountain biking, and climbing. It's pretty expensive for the all-inclusive pass ($49 per person), but otherwise I think it's free to get in if you just want to walk around. You can also pay individually for some of the activities, i.e. $15 for kayaking. Something else I enjoyed was the atmosphere, minus all the screaming kids running around everywhere. In the main area (where the rafting, climbing and zip lining is), you are almost always within walking distance of a bar with a decent beer selection, and you can tell a lot of people come out just to watch everyone else and enjoy a day outside. It turns out they even have a weekly Whitewater River Jam featuring different bands each week, admission is free, and of course this involves good beer and sitting out by the "river" (where the rafting takes place).

Speaking of the rafting, it was a lot of fun, but not as exciting as I had hoped. But really, you can only expect so much excitement when it's all man-made. Everyone goes around the same loop, so the guides have to tweak things in order to make the "difficulty" level higher. In other words, there's not a lot you CAN do to make the difficulty level higher. We chose the middle level. The highest level involves a smaller raft and a swim test since you spend more time in the water, so we opted not to do that.

Now, on to my little mountain biking adventure. I'll admit, I have not exercised on a regular basis in probably two+ years. Making the decision to mountain bike 3.5 miles was not one of the smarter things I've ever done. Their website describes the green trail (the one we took) as "beginner/easy, mostly flat trails." Either we got lost and ended up on a different trail, or my understanding of the words "beginner" and "flat" is way off. I thought I was going to die, but I survived. As we got towards the end, I had to walk the bike on the level ground as well as on inclines. I have to admit though, it felt nice to have pushed myself that hard for the first time in a while.

Sidenote: And now, I really want to buy a bike - something I had actually thought a lot about before my experience at USNWC. There's a Trek store about ten minutes from my apartment, but we're talking a price range that starts at around $600. I guess I have a lot of saving to do. I want a hybrid bike of some sort, one that can be used on the road around town but also on trails. Maybe the perfect one will pop up on craigslist or ebay. *crosses fingers*

After all that physical/outdoor activity, we ended the day at The Melting Pot! Charlotte Restaurant Week is here, so it was the perfect, and cheapest, time to go. :) Our original plan was to go to Chima (Brazilian steakhouse) but calling one week in advance wasn't enough to secure a Saturday night reservation. Maybe next year. Sunday was spent recovering. I wish I had pictures of all this, but unfortunately, I do not. Either way, it was a fantastic weekend, and I especially give the Whitewater Center two thumbs up!