this weekend i went on a road trip that was exactly what a road trip should be – a journey filled with music and laughter: my love, lina (lier.se), and our super friend, paige (fortheloveofwanderlust + my asheville life blogger) had tickets to see first aid kit in concert in carrboro, nc, so we booked at room at a hotel on thursday night at the last minute and got ready to embark on our first road trip together!
then we packed our bags, met up on friday morning, and headed down the mountain to the middle part of the state (north carolina, that is). we had no plans, and nothing but excitement between the 3 of us. the rubber hit the road, and we were off, prepared to stop and explore and enjoy every single minute of our little getaway.
the first unplanned stop was about 3 hours down the road. after listening to music and singing, eating pringles and sipping on coffee (part of the official roadtrip diet), we decided to take a little detour in greensboro.
i grew up in greensboro and this was paige’s first time driving through the state with a chance to see some things, so lina suggested that we be creepers and drive by the house where i grew up. as i drove down the streets i used to use every day of my life for 13 years, i was flooded with old memories, feelings, and emotions creeping up from within me. my old house. the roads i drove (read: broken the speed limit on) when i was a mere 16 years old. the shopping center which has become a legitimate mall now. neighborhoods that i used to race through with my best friend. the college from where i graduated. so. many. memories. even as i type this, i’m filled with thoughts of my old boyfriend, my church activities, late night college diner visits, how i loathed my high school, piano lessons, mcdonald’s trips with my grandmother, halloween decorations in our front yard, and so very much more… all of them giving me a sense of who i was, and who i still am. i felt a sense of grounding as i drove through the city.
i decided that our first road trip destination would be a tiny little hole-in-the-wall diner called yum yum. that’s right – yum yum. they sell hot dogs and ice cream. and that’s it. how freaking amazing american is that?! the best hot dog there is the carolina dog – a hot dog with chili, onions, mustard, and slaw. mmm… so good. however, since i’m mostly vegetarian now, i only got ice cream. sad, i know. paige did get a dog, and downed it in about 5 seconds, after she stopped freaking out about its bright pink color. hehe.
yum yum has been in business, serving hot dogs and ice cream, for over 50 years in greensboro. it’s a place that is one of my parents’ favorite places, and i remember visiting there as a kid, or my dad bringing home hot dogs for dinner. today, it is just as packed as ever. and just as simple and good as i remember. it’s so nice how some things never change…
about an hour after chowing down hot dogs and ice cream, we made it to carrboro, a little town which basically runs right into chapel hill. the university of north carolina (aka: unc, carolina, or the tarheels) is in chapel hill, so we were pretty much in a college town, but not. anyway, carrboro is the funky little alternative neighbor of chapel hill, and i hadn’t ever spent much time in the tiny, one street town ever, so it was gonna be fun to discover things together.
we arrived at our hotel about 30 minutes before official check-in time, but we assumed that 30 minutes wouldn’t be that big of a deal. wrong! they totally turned us away, so we decided to walk in the parking lot – we had heard that the concert venue was within walking distance. yep. it was. it was basically at the other end of the parking lot! and there just so happened to be a big bus in front unloading big music equipment… could it be first aid kit?!
we walked right up to the bus and the front of the venue, cat’s cradle, a popular place for alternative bands to play, and someone asked us what we wanted. before we knew it, she was sending us on our way, telling us that the way in is around back now. so, no luck hanging out with the band. instead, we curiously wandered around the back to see what it all looked like to kill some more time. hmmm… sketchy and interesting…
well, we still had time to wait, so we walked across the street and went into a dive bar called mill town. we ordered 3 pints of highland’s gaelic and sat outside in the sweltering, humid, middle of north carolina sun. lina began melting away, so we quickly moved inside. haha.
soon, check-in was all complete and we figured we should eat something substantial before the night’s activities began. after changing clothes and getting ready for the night, we wandered down main street until we found the spotted dog, a fun place nestled on a strip of land between 2 streets
after some yummy food and beer, it was time for the concert!!! first aid kit is a swedish band made up of two sisters from stockholm, sweden – so we totally thought we had every right to become their best friends. their music is folk-y, indie, country, rock. it’s just completely unique and beautiful. and their voices… oh so amazing. paige has seen them before in concert, but this would be our first! so exciting!
we stood in line outside, at that sketchy, warehouse-like place for just a little bit, got our hands stamped, and went in to find some seats. or not. it was a standing venue. however, we walked around to the right side of the stage, and there we found 3 stools and a long, skinny counter in front of them. sure, there would be people standing between us and the stage, but we had cushioned stools, a little counter to put our beer on, and a great view of the stage! the only thing we had to do was make sure that we kept our legs crossed with our feet sticking out, so no one would come stand directly infront of us. did it work? why, yes it did. our stools were perfect. 🙂
the concert was amazing – new songs, old songs, acapella songs. moving, intimate, & fun! everything a concert should be.
exhausted and happy, we went to grab one more drink and then headed to our room for some sleep. day one of our road trip was complete – and it was so much freaking fun.
we slept in on saturday, just being lazy. so lazy, in fact, that we rushed around like crazy girls trying to get ready in 30 minutes to make it down for breakfast. hair wet and a bit sleepy-eyed, we made it just in time to grab eggs, coffee, juice, and muffins. then, we checked out and headed over to chapel hill to explore the university campus.
unc chapel hill is a gorgeous campus with lots of southern charm. big trees, old buildings (from the 1700s even – old for the states!), and lots of history. we wandered, took photos, and just soaked up the late morning atmosphere… all of us reminiscing and remembering our own college days, whether they were 6 months ago, 4 years ago, or 18 years ago (yep. i’m old.)
because i am a big college basketball fan – and so is lina now! – and since i really dislike unc’s basketball team (like loathe them) and love duke’s, lina suggested that we go 8 miles down the road to durham, north carolina, where duke university is. she’d never been there, and of course, paige had never been there. so, we decided that i’d show them duke chapel – the place where my granddad went to school and where he and my grandmother were married.
now, i’ve never been a student at duke university myself, but i’ve come close a few times in life. and, as i said, my granddad was. but, it is also a university founded by the methodist church, and so much of the school has been connected to me in one way or another. so, it feels like home to me, though i never lived or attended – yet. look out, PhD!
it was an amazing time there, and lina and paige loved the campus. the chapel was as gorgeous as always. luckily we made it just in time, it closed 10 minutes after we arrived. whew.
again, i felt my past and present, and even my future, connecting as i paused to soak up the atmosphere. i thought of my granddad, of my own study of theology and following in his footsteps, of my present happiness and joy, of the possibilities of the future. i felt my history – and the generations of ancestors who are part of my life. i felt that cloud of witnesses that surrounds each of us, the living and the dead. i felt a spirit – moving around me and within me. for a moment, it was just me and this place. it was a moment of solitude and connection – and it was if time in a linear fashion ceased to exist. instead, time was circular and happening all at once. simply put, it was just a beautiful moment of grounding. and i have to admit… i think i felt god. i connected with that deep, inner, divine part of me that lives in each of us.
and then, suddenly, we were headed west on the open road again, rounding a curve on the interstate, where the mountains we call home appeared before us. it had been an amazing road trip. full of laughter. fun. explorations. adventure. silliness. love. music. food & beer. tears. quiet moments. boisterous moments. it had been two days of living life to the fullest and soaking up everything good. and, what a gift it was to share all of the moments with my amazing love and our dear friend, paige.
i think i’ll leave you with a song from first aid kit’s new album, stay gold. this song, to me, sounds like a road trip in itself, with it’s call to “keep on keeping on” and to search for the “silver lining”. listen, and let yourself be swept away – feeling the wind in your hair and knowing that the road always leads you to exactly where you are supposed to be.
peace and love. xx