We rolled back into Durham a few hours ago from our mini-vacation down in Clemmons, North Carolina.
Our primary reason for going was to attend the 8th Annual NC Wine Festival held in Tanglewood Park. This was the 4th time we've gone, and, I think we've finally got "the routine" down. More on that later.
This time, we also decided to stay an extra day and play golf at one of Tanglewood's 3 golf courses.
So, several months ago, I made an RSVP at The Manor House B&B, which is a fairly large B&B right in Tanglewood Park. We've stayed there every time we've gone to the festival and, given how much wine is consumed throughout the day, I can tell you it makes good sane sense to stay at a place one can walk from the festival grounds to after the drinking is over. Although like I said, we did things a bit differently this time around (and it worked out great).
Here's a link to The Manor House B&B.
We stayed in #324 this time (because it had a king-sized bed). We usually stay in #322, and, even though the bed in that room is smaller, I think I prefer that room over the one we were in this time; probably because the bed, although king-sized, was not very comfortable and the pillows were AWFUL (I forgot to bring two things on this trip; my Birkies and my pillow; I guess that is technically 3). I felt like my head was on a chopping block all night long and finally gave up (both nights) and opted for NO pillow (even though Mr. B gave me the "softest" one of the three).
Ok, here are some of our adventures!
We left the house on time Saturday, dropped Lucy off at Uncle Chuck's (she LOVES going there, it's never an issue although we ran into three other dogs in the parking lot who were not quite as excited to be there as our Goose) and were on the road to Clemmons by 8:15 am.
The first of (a very few minor) snags occurred when we realized that the Bob Evans we usually stop at for breakfast (important to have a hearty breakfast of sausage gravy and biscuits before a wine festival) was closed! So, on we continued on 40 West hoping to find another; alas, we never did. After an almost 30 minute tour of the Hanes Mall exit (where there was absolutely NO places (other than fast-food) to eat breakfast but plenty of lunch and dinner spots), we proceeded to one exit prior to the exit for the festival and found a Cracker Barrel.
I have to say, NOT my most favorite place in the world, but, by this time were were both starving. Mr. B said he'd never eaten at a Cracker Barrel; I don't think he was overly impressed. Frankly, it's just TOO loud in there and there is too much crap around for one to buy ("country kitchen" type junk). But, the food was cheap enough and we got our biscuits and gravy (definitely NOT as good as either Bob's or Mr. B's, though).
Ok, on our way to the B&B to check in and then get over to the festival (that started at 12).
Our 2nd snag was that the lady at the reception desk wouldn't let us check in early. Now, this was the 4th time we'd been there and we've never had a problem checking in early. It was apparent that she was NOT going to make an exception, either. "Check in time is at 2:00!" Period. We were none too pleased and I'm sure she could tell by the expression on MY face, but, whatever.
Oh well, it could be worse, right? At least we had all of our perishables (for dinner that night) on ice in the cooler.
So, we drove down the one mile or so to the festival and got an excellent parking spot right up front (there is usually a silver lining in every cloud, right?) We could have parked the car in the manor's parking lot and walked down (which is what we've done in year's past) EXCEPT Mr. B decided he didn't feel like hauling however many cases of wine we ending up buying the mile back up the road to the manor after being out in the sun drinking wine all day. Wise of him, since, last year, he put the cases of wine on a luggage cart and started hauling away. The road was gravel and bumpy, so, one of the wine boxes fell off the cart. Luckily, nothing broke, but, I found the whole situation hilarious and got the giggles and stood there laughing at him while he attempted to get the box that had fallen off back on the cart (it took him a few tries).
Yeah, this year, we had the plan down. Buy the wine, have it shipped to the front of the park where they had a tent set up, drive the 1/2 mile to the tent, turn around and drive the 1 1/2 mile back to the manor (all within the park with a speed limit of about 10).
After we parked the car, we walked up to the gate, took out the camp chairs, and sat down to wait, along with hundreds of our closest friends, for the officials to let us in. We had to about 40 minutes out there in the hot sun; that was definitely the worst part about the day (ask Mr. B about the Cracker woman who was insistent that he moved his chair so she could put hers where his was at). But, since we got there so early, we were one of the first ones in through the gate at noon when they let us in!
We marched quickly through the first part of the festival and over the bridge to where the entertainment, food, and majority of the wineries were. We snagged a great shady spot, set up our chairs, spread out the blanket, and, went off to taste us some vino!
Like I said earlier, this year, we were much more methodical about when, where and how we tasted, and, it was, by far, the most successful process yet.
More on that next time!