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A herd of deer grazed in my neighbor’s yard this afternoon. I wouldn’t have been so surprised if there had been only one or two, but I counted four, the five, then seven. Maybe eight. It was enchanting and sad all at the same time.

There is a designated historic estate nearby, so I hope they find some refuge there.


Edenton in April

Edenton, N.C., waterfrontEdenton, N.C., waterfrontEdenton, N.C., waterfrontEdenton, N.C., waterfrontFriendly fowlEdenton, N.C., waterfront

Edenton in April, a set on Flickr.

My family and I enjoyed a nearly perfect spring evening in historic Edenton, N.C., where we dined on fresh seafood at Waterman’s and listened to live music at Boogie on Broad, an event sponsored by Destination Downtown Edenton, a non-profit revitalization organization. The Embers, North Carolina’s legendary beach music band, drew a packed street, and the party was still going strong when we left well after 9.

Edenton isn’t known for its nightlife so much as it is for its beautiful historic district. Established in 1712, the waterfront village has preserved its colonial- and plantation-era architecture, earning it a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and more recently, spot on Forbes’ list of America’s Prettiest Towns.

I’m only sorry I didn’t have more sunlight to take more pictures of this sweet town.

Where in the world:

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Room to grow in the nation’s capital

20110323-073313.jpgA nice thing about having house guests is they help you rediscover your immediate world, sometimes by mistake. A recent excursion to the National Zoo was a bust, so our guests suggested a trip to the U.S. Botanic Garden, one of my favorite area attractions that I hadn’t thought of mentioning. It was a beautiful day and lots of people had journeyed to the District to make the most of the not-winter weather, so I expected to battle crowds similar to those we had encountered trying to get to the zoo. As it happened, everyone was either at the zoo — or on the National Mall — so lucky us.

The garden, though filled with people, wasn’t packed, and we enjoyed a leisurely visit that proved far more enjoyable than an afternoon spent crowded around a smelly cage hoping for a glimpse of a bear that sleeps 20 hours a day. No, the specimens we saw that Saturday were very much alive and thriving, and the garden’s many exhibits provided something for everyone. For me, the orchids were the stars of the show, far more striking than my phone’s camera shots can show here.

If you’re in Washington and find yourself with a free afternoon to spend far from the maddening crowds, try enjoying a quiet bit of Eden at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

20110323-073546.jpgWhere in the world: 100 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20001

On Google Maps: Here

Where on the Web: USBG.gov

Admission: Free

Phone: 202.225.8333

Conservatory hours: 10 a.m – 5 p.m.,
including weekends and holidays
National Garden hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Bartholdi Park hours: Dawn to dusk,
including weekends and holidays

Visitor’s advisory: Eat before you go or pack a lunch. There are no dining options at the gardens.

On Yelp: Here

On Gowalla: Here

On foursquare: Here



Beer does a body good: Outer Banks Brewing Station

Continuing this blog’s inadvertent-but-grand tradition of reporting on mostly fried food and beer, my next recommendation comes just in time for the 5th Annual Outer Banks Marathon.By J. Barrineau I have several friends running in the 2010 race – friends who are far superior athletes than I – and although I wish I could be there, and I certainly wish them well, I don’t envy them.

After my friends run 26.2 miles, they should head to the Outer Banks Brewing Station at MP 8.5 in Kill Devil Hills. What better way to recover than throwing back a pint or three of expertly handcrafted beer at the nation’s first wind-powered brewpub?

Vintner-turned-brew master Scott Meyers, formerly of Berkeley, Calif., delivers some truly exquisite brews. My personal favorites are the Olsch and the Lemongrass Wheat Ale, which certainly speaks to the beers’ wonderfully complex flavors because I tend to favor darker beers. However, when we visit the Outer Banks Brewing Station, it’s usually after a hot day out and about, so it makes sense to quench a thirst with these food-friendly brews.

And although the beers are the stars of the show, the food cannot be missed. The menu is much more sophisticated than the usual bar fare: I’ve had the petite filet, which was tender, flavorful and cooked perfectly. The Veggie Chipotle Burger – a black bean burger – is much better than most veggie burgers, and according to my husband, the Cuban sandwich is a must-taste. If you’re just looking for a beer and something fried to take your mind off your aching feet, calves, thighs and hips, try the onion rings or fried okra. Or check out the new Jalapeño Bottle Caps, which I’ve never had, but I’d bet they’re nearly perfect. (Editor’s note: In my book, the only fried food more perfect than a fried dill pickle is a fried jalapeño.)

So if you’re in KDH the weekend of Nov. 13-14 – or ever – be sure to stop by to one of the coolest dining establishments on the Banks. In addition to the beer and fine foods, the OBB Station also has a full entertainment calendar featuring such acts as The Influence, which will be performing Nov. 19-20.

Where: MP 8.5, 600 South Croatan Highway
Kill Devil Hills, NC

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m., seven days a week

Phone: 252.449.2739 (BREW)

On Google Maps:

Outer Banks Brewing Station on Facebook: Here

On Yelp: Here

On foursquare: Here

On Gowalla: Here

Wood Chicks: A pit stop in Chesapeake

A couple of years ago while vacationing down at the Outer Banks, my husband and I ended up stuck in Chesapeake, Va., for an entire day.Wood Chicks BBQ in Chesapeake, Virginia We would say the day was a waste, but we stumbled on Wood Chicks BBQ and are mighty glad we did.

I’m not one for breezy, breathy descriptions of food, so I’ll just say that Wood Chicks served us some of the best pork barbecue I’ve ever had and ever will have.  Lee Ann Whippen — who is featured on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters — cooks up a meat that is juicy, tender, flavorful, and although the sauces are delightful, you don’t need them because the pork is so well-seasoned with the signature dry rub, which you can buy here.

My favorite on the menu: the pulled-pork sandwich and fries.

Where: 1025 N. Battlefield Blvd
Chesapeake, VA 23320

Phone: 757.549.9290

Best Laid Plans

For months, I’ve been planning a road trip down South to see my girlfriends, some of whom I haven’t seen in 15 years. We’re all women now. We have careers, families. We’re interesting. We’re funny. We keep up on Facebook, but I want to learn more about their rich, sweet lives.

Now, on the eve of my departure, the forecast calls for more snow. Bloody, wretched snow. I would postpone a day, but the plans of six people — six families — would be disrupted.

The snow has upended life for a month now: Commuting is more difficult, even as the melt begins. I can’t remember the last time I ran. The dog misses chasing after the Frisbee each afternoon; maybe just as much as I do. I can’t remember what my once-beautiful yard looked like. We lost a forgotten cedar in the corner of the front yard. Our magnolia’s branches are scattered about, much like broken doll arms. I worry the courtyard’s plants will not find salvation.

Such is Madame Winter’s wrath.

If I leave after deadline I can beat some of the snow, maybe all of it. I should be able to reach the state line before dawn. So I’ll travel in the dead of night, down I-95, in search of better weather and friends I need to know again.