Thanksgiving shopping in North and South Carolina

For the first time EVER, I won’t be spending Thanksgiving with my parents. Instead of going home, I’ll be driving all across down to South Carolina to spend the weekend with one of my best friends who invited me and a few other of our besties. I don’t believe my parents said yes!

While I love turkey and remembering the pilgrims, what I really love about Thanksgiving is the shopping. Things go super on sale and I know some people hate the crowds, but I think its fun to walk through a jam packed mall.

I’ve compiled a list of some of the best of the best shopping malls in North Carolina and South Carolina. Some I’ve been to and the rest come recommended by friends who live throughout these two states.

North Carolina malls:

South Carolina malls:

Obviously there are many many more, but these should keep you busy enough this Thanksgiving season.

Happy Thanksgiving Day Sale Shopping!
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Almost in Wyoming

I don’t believe that I’ve been traveling for as long as I have and had not heard of couchsurfing until last week. So first of all, Ryan finally came back from Boston and flew into Kansas City, Missouri where I was dutifully waiting to pick him up, it was late and I had made my first couchsurfing arrangements and we went and stayed at the Leehy’s—an elderly couple who keep a guest room available for travelers passing through town. I love this concept and I can’t wait to get home (wherever that may end up being) and opening up my couch for crashing. The next day we woke up really early and drove straight to Omaha where we stopped back at Tiff’s (twice in one month, Tiff—and you say I never visit…!). I told her about couchsurfing and she’s now signed up to have random travelers crash at her place.
Tomorrow we leave from here and head straight home to Pinedale, Wyoming for the Rainbow Gathering. Came across Karin Zirk’s blog which gives over important info on the hows and wheres of the Gathering this year. Apparently it’s cold at night and the cops are already on our case—but that’s not something Rainbow warriors can’t handle, right? And about the cold, before we left Kansas City, we stopped at Metro North Shopping Center and bought some extra hats, scarves, and blankets. We spend a crapload of money—but it is for family after all!
Looks as though the Gathering is just near Bridger-Teton National Forest.
I can’t wait to be home! See you there!

I feel pretty! Oh, so pretty!

Matthew (I always thought that was a sexy, solid name) and I spent like every second of every day together for the last week while I was in Miami. He even drove with me to Fort Myers Beach for 2 days so I could spend some time with Julie. I actually hadn’t even realized my luck – the family that Julie was nannying for had gone away for the week (to Amelia Island which is near my grandmother’s Jacksonville home, so I’ve been there a bunch of times, but that’s unrelated) leaving Julie (and us and like 4 other really cool people) their awesome beach front house and a kitchen stocked with food. (I wouldn’t ever ever ever want to be a nanny, but putting the day job aside, Julie’s got in made.) So Fort Myers was fun, needless to say—I felt like it was spring break all over again.

So don’t laugh at me, but I’ve been walking around in a blissful daze all week. I introduced Matthew to my grandmother immediately which is not something I EVER do. I think the last time my family knew one of my boyfriends (!) I was in like 7th grade.

The best part about this is that when I sit down to write about this, it all comes gushing out like a babbling brook, but in reality, I’ve been pretty breezy about this.

The remaining days were spent shopping at Sawgrass Mills Outlet Mall (a monster of a mall that’s shaped like a crocodile) and hanging out on Hollywood Beach. I have such a gorgeous tan and I am so ready to head back up north (I leave tomorrow morning) and move to NYC. It’s really soon! Just one more month to kill…

Matthew and I already said goodbye so I can spend the evening with Granny, and he’s still down here for one more week. Apparently he had two conferences (in physical therapy) in Miami two weeks apart from each other so decided to make a vacation of it. But then he’ll be back in NYC and we’ve already made plans to go to the Guggenheim Museum (he was shocked that I’d never been there and said we had to fix that right away).


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Back on the road (or air, this time)!

OK, so I like New Jersey, but not THAT much. There’s only so much sitting around and watching TV and only so much Monmouth Mall I can take. Moving to NYC soonish so don’t really feel the need to hang out there now. So, I spoke to Granny a few days ago and she said I should come back down to Florida to hang out with her, but this time to her Miami condo (Granny did very well for herself as a young woman, as she likes to remind her grandchildren often). I found an amazing ticket on JetBlue and I’m off tomorrow! Knowing Granny, I’m sure it’ll be more malls and aquariums, but I’d say hands down that Palm Beach or South Beach beat the Great Egg Harbor River any day, sentiment included (ha, I won’t go into that…).

Meanwhile I have a friend nannying for a month at Fort Myers Beach, so I’ve already gotten permission to take Granny’s car and road trip across the peninsula to stay with her for a few days.

OK, just have to head to Monmouth Mall one more time for a new pair of flip-flops. Will update you on my travel whereabouts in a few days!

Musings and Travels

Greetings from the open road! We finished up last week in West Virginia, chilling in the countryside with some beautiful people. Sometimes all you need is to be around the right people in the right place and things just seem to fall into place. Not that things were bad before, but somehow I feel like the air around me has cleared. Like I breathed in some special aura that decluttered my thoughts and realigned my chi and completely centered myself. I can breathe easier—and isn’t that why I headed out on this trip? City anxieties were just getting me down, weighing me down.

Earlier this week we were in Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore which was beautiful. We camped out 4 nights in a row, 3 in the park and once at a campground we found along the highway on our drive up to Indiana.

We’re actually in Chicago now (I know I keep complaining about big city life, and yet, I can’t pull myself away!). We’re really just here to refuel and restock (not that I’m defensive or anything…). We already went to The Plaza Shopping Center in Evergreen b/c I needed a new watch and Ryan needed new pants (haha—I’m laughing thinking about it. When we went white water rafting, he jumped out screaming “watch this corkscrew” but all I heard was “watch this – ” b/c then he splashed so hard into the water and when he popped up, his pants must’ve gotten stuck on a rock and ripped all the way down his leg. He’s been wearing them for the last week with a makeshift sewing job (done by me!) and he looks ridiculous.).

Tomorrow we’re going to the Museum of Contemporary Art and then we’re gonna get back on the road for a loooong time and go to Lake Maria State Park where we’re finally going to see Aly, Tess, and Greenie (more Rainbow friends)! They don’t have internet and since we’ll be staying with them for a week or so, you may not hear from me for a while…

Wait I was about to sign off, but I just want to say that things with Ryan are going so so well. Not that I was worried at all, but I know that other people were, saying things like, “Once you travel with someone you learn all about their dark side” or something like that, so either Ryan just doesn’t have a dark side or he’s doing a damn good job at hiding it from me. Obviously he’s got one, but it’s nothing I can’t handle!


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I’m Baaack!

Bro, don’t read this: I ended up hitching a ride from Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and then all the way to Albuquerque. I was at Guadalupe Canyon (in the NP) which is by far the most magnificent and I ran into this old man who actually I’d run into already at Big Bend National Park a few days earlier…turns out he’s doing a similar trekking route as the one I’ve got (sort of) planned, so he gave me a ride ‘cross the border to our next stop in Carlsbad (it was just under an hour, still in the Guadalupe Mountains, so I probably could’ve ridden my bike—had I not been so damn trusting and left it unlocked by my hostel a few stops back. First my laptop, then this. Grrr.). But then Old Man gave me a ride to Albuquerque which is where he lives and while I probably could’ve biked that over the course of a few days, it was nice getting a free 6 hour ride.

The companionship was certainly nice while I’ve got it. I’ve met a ton of people down here, but most of these “friendships” last for the duration of a hike and then dissolve as quickly as they picked up. Though now I have random people imprinted upon the peaks of the mountains I’ve scaled in the Southwest.

George ended up being a great tour guide through the Carlsbad Caverns National Park — there’s this incredible network of underground caves that date back about 500,000 years. George knew the ins and outs and brought me to some very cool rock formations within some hidden caves. Apparently he had been bringing his kids and grandkids for years but this year they were “busy” (I think it’s more complicated than that) so he was happy to have the company of a young person, I think.

When we got to Albuquerque, he let me shower at his house and then he dropped me off at Cottonwood Mall and now George is just another bleep on my radar. Never to be seen again, but probably never forgotten. If I were to be writing a play or a screenplay, George would be the apocalyptal Old Man…the seer who comes to this world to watch over the orphan child and lead him in the direction of the gods….

I had no idea how welcome the cool walkways of a huge indoor mall would be. I’m not generally Mr. Mall, but, what an alternate universe: People who are CLEAN and SOCIALIZING WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY… almost foreign concepts to me by now. I got a twang of…something. Would I say homesickness? Maybe. I went to the food court and got something delicious and greasy and then…Tim is really reverting back to his old ways… saw a movie. Saw 10,000 BC which was both fun and crap—one of my alltime favorite genres…

I found a hostel (which is where I am now, finally online connected with the world) and I think I’m going to lay low for a few days and explore this city. My body physically needs a break from climbing.

BTW, is my movie taste that bad?
Haha—I just saw that Rotten Tomatoes gave 10,000 BC a 9% rating. That’s probably the lowest rated movie I’ve ever seen…and yet, I enjoyed it. What does that say about me?

Next stop? Hmmm… You’ll just have to wait and find out!

Trying to stay sane

I am in the worst mood ever, and sometimes the only thing that makes me feel better is to drive to Short Pump Mall. Besides the fact that it reminds me that Richmond doesn’t suck as bad as it used to, there also happens to be a Barnes & Noble right next door where I can go and mope over a cup of coffee and a self-help book.

I’m at home in Richmond visiting my parents (I’m in boarding school in North Carolina for my last year of highschool…b/c I WANT to, not b/c I’m a bad kid…) and every time I come home my parents get on my case about this guy who I’m seeing that they don’t really like so much. It just really stresses me out because I respect my parents’ opinion so much and they usually respect my decisions, so then I just start to doubt how I feel about Ricky and then I get all anxious and insecure and ARGH!!!

Anyways, that’s not why I’m writing here. I just found this site and like the idea of sharing nice travel experiences, so I thought it would be a good idea for me to focus on something fun my family did and then I got carried away with my rant so now I’m going to try and back up a bit.

Out of all my 17 years on Earth (all of which were spent in Richmond), my family has never once gone to Virginia Beach. I’d gone only once or twice with friends, but never as a family (i.e. never staying overnight in a nice hotel). So we went earlier this week, stayed in a Holiday Inn (that’s nice compared to the dumps I’ve crashed at) and actually had a good time. We spent a lot of time on the beach and on the shops that line the coast. Got some chotchkas and some food that’s probably really bad for you (and yet so good). When we needed a break from the sun we hid out in Lynnhaven Mall for a few hours. There’s a Barnes & Noble there, so we were all happy (we’re all big readers). I even begged my parents (who gave in!) to take me to the Build-A-Bear Workshop which was SO MUCH fun! (Yes, you read that right, I’m 17 and begged my parents for a stuffed animal…and got it, hee hee.) We actually went back the next day for a movie. Saw Shine a Light which was pretty good, but apparently I’m “too young” to get all the references. The Rolling Stones are pretty retro these days and since retro means kinda cool, I kinda know a thing or two about them (or at least that’s how I had to spell it out to my parents who for some reason thought my interest in 70s music meant I was snorting cocaine). Sometimes I feel like my parents are immigrants, though my family’s been in this country pretty much since it started.

At some point in there we also went to the Virginia Aquarium Marine Science Center for my fish-enthusiast dad.

Ok, I actually do feel a little better. See, self-help books do help! (I had read in one of the books in my stack to write about sometime good to take the focus off the bad.)