© 2019 by EMM | Rochester, New York 14607

  • Elissa May Murphy


I had woken up this morning like any other: just as Alex was heading out to go teach. Instead of hopping right out of bed, I continued to lay down while scrolling through the photos on my phone.

After thirty minutes of reminiscing over our summer vacation with the Durr clan to Charlotte, NC to visit Alex's sister (and my "mer"maid of honor), I jolted out of bed and may or may not have cursed in sudden realization that I forgot to publish this post!

And so - eighty-one days later - here we are.

I'm sad that this post is so delayed, but I'm still incredibly excited to share all that we experienced with you. It was certainly one for the books!

We laughed, we sang our hearts out, we gushed over mountainous views, we ate a ton of incredible food and tasted so many yummy drinks & desserts, we cried (surely you understand: Stranger Things Season III had just hit Netflix and - duh - we binge watched it).

As I sit in bed and look out to a dreary day, I can't help but feel energized and inspired as I continue to swoon over all we got to witness. If you've never been, I highly recommend taking time to check it out at some point in time. Here's what we scoped out to get you started...

Fun Facts:

This was the first vacation I’ve been on with Alex

Our trip to North Carolina was the first road trip taken in my MINI (and hopefully not the last)

Not only was it the first time I’ve ever stepped foot onto NC territory, but it was the first time I had ever been to West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland.

After this excursion, I have now been to 30% of the states and have made it a personal mission to visit every state before my time is up.


We hit the road around 10am to trek as great a distance as humanly possible before overnighting it in Charleston, West Virginia. We stayed in the infamous Budget Host’s “recently-converted smoking to non-smoking room” with a complimentary ash tray.

Lucky for us, we can look back on this moment and laugh. MOVING ON…


We were out of Satan’s motel at 7:30am (praise be) to go to church at St. Agnes in Charleston, WV before hitting the road again. The church was absolutely stunning and this service was one that I'll remember for the rest of my days. In all honesty, this was one of my favorite highlights of the entire trip, and we're not even to Charlotte yet!

We made it to our destination by 4pm. Alex’s sister met us at our Airbnb. We caught up on so many “this would only happen to us” moments, and she agreed to be my "mer"maid of honor!

We celebrated with cocktails and an incredible meal at beach joint Hello, Sailor.

Their watermelon al pastor was a new try for me and a great alternative to the traditional side of fries. Translation: I got to save on carbs and I got to add a new item to my list of favorite foods. A win-win!

Is it weird that I'd totally be down to have my wedding here?


Let’s talk about this Airbnb stay...

I sadly cannot find the link to the exact place we stayed, but it was a cottage about 10 minutes outside of “Uptown.” It was beautiful, quaint, and equipped with an upstairs office which compelled me to stay home for Day 1. Although I should've gone out with the fam, I'm so happy that I stayed behind because I surprisingly finished up all of the layout updates I wanted to make to my website!

While I was office-ridden, the Durr's went to South Carolina (approximately 30 minutes away from where we stayed) to check out a collectibles store.

By the time they came back, we went to an eatery called Seoul Food Meat Company.

I voluntarily ate chicken wings for the first time (trust me when I say: I am the pickiest eater on the face of this decaying planet and I'm sorry). The garlic soy wings were incredible. The potato wheel was shared with Gramma Jeanette and still left us full. We washed everything down with a grapefruit spritzer. Photographed, however, is Alex's drink of choice (something with bourbon in it, because Alex).

When on vacation, there’s no excuse but to try as many cocktails as possible; says the twenty-six turning eighty-six soul who prefers to be in bed by eight while cuddling with her cats and catching up on her reading... what of it?


Alex’s dad is a huge racing fan. Coming from someone who has never gone out of their way to watch a live or televised race, you need to visit the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

We rode in a van to get the grand tour of the entire speedway. We even drove a couple laps around both race tracks around seventy mph. This was the same race track that was shot for the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

With some nap time in between events, we were back to the speedway by nighttime to see racers in their natural habitat going bumper to bumper on the smaller of the two race tracks. The ages of the drivers ranged from ten years old to adults in their forties & fifties.

In one heat, a twelve-year-old girl won against a sea of boys and was interviewed on the big screen. Her piece of advice when racing against boys on the track – and in life – “Just don’t look at them and keep going.” Well-said!

We ended the night watching an impressive firework show in celebration of the upcoming holiday.


We stayed in for the majority of the morning but found ourselves in the early afternoon at Charlotte’s local shopping mall to visit their aquarium. Afterwards, we rested at the Airbnb for a bit before heading to Alex’s sisters place for a swim before checking out yet another incredible eatery to end the night: Cabo Fish Taco.

You guys. You guys.

The honey soy glazed salmon taco was out of this world. Good and good for you, I tapped out my carb count with a pomegranate margarita in addition to stealing a few sips of Alex’s “el cheapo” margarita. He seriously purchased this because my late grandmother used to use that phrase every time we went to the grocery store. It looked like mini fish bowl from Cantina (Hail to the Bears). Between all of this and the seemingly-endless supply of chips & salsa, we left the restaurant uncomfortably full.

Worth it.


Most – if not all – breakfasts were held at the Airbnb which luckily gave us time to sleep in and just enjoy this cute cottage! These relaxing mornings had us energized and it felt great to not feel any sort of need to rush to the next location.

Thursday was Independence Day. Therefore, it was only necessary to check out the brewers at 4001 Yancey. The location reminded me of Rochester’s Neighborhood of the Arts. The food was the bomb dot com, but the drinks… oh, the drinks…

I feel like I’m giving off the impression that I'm becoming an alcoholic and that I drink all the time, but rest assured this is absolutely not the case! Haha. Vacation time for me meant packing a few extra short-active insulin pens so I could enjoy - and certainly not shy away from - all of the food & beverage joints we could try.

My beverage of choice at 4001 Yancey: The Fizzy Bizzness IPA.

This ruby red-colored Indian Pale Ale was fruity, yet hoppy and I absolutely recommend it to anyone, especially if you’re not an IPA fan (like me). Although this post is now published in the autumn season, this was certainly a must-sport for summer. After drinks & lunch, we hit up their merchandise station to pick up shirts for the family and a custom six-pack to bring that taste of Charlotte back to Rochester.

As if that weren’t enough food & beverage, we immediately drove to the cutest ice cream parlor: Jeni’s. After giving our stomach’s a break at the Airbnb for a siesta, we found ourselves poolside again.

Then, as expected, we found ourselves at another restaurant: Tupelo & Honey.

Drink of choice Cherry Lime Frosé.

They brought out so many complimentary appetizers; grits, biscuits & jam, fried okra, and fried green tomatoes.

I couldn’t have finished my dinner entrée if I tried. We caught many glimpses of fireworks around Uptown on our drive back to our Airbnb.


Carolina Panthers Stadium Day!

Though we be Bills fans, the Panthers stadium was absolutely beautiful and a unique sight to visit. We learned so much about the stadium. They even have a room devoted entirely to one drum! It was incredible to hear a lot of the rich history the Panthers have and sit in those comfortable box seats.

Since it was my five-year anniversary of saying “okay” to Alex, we figured we should take an afternoon to just drive and explore more of Charlotte for ourselves.

We stumbled upon a coffee shop called Amelie’s: their macaroons and café fouetté were to die for, but word around Uptown is that they are sadly closing. If & when I find myself back in Charlotte, I hope to hear that they changed their minds or that they have merely decided to relocate. This was a coffee experience I will never forget (and you should all know by now how much I love coffee).

Here’s some more photos from our adventure!

Liv purchased tickets for the whole family to catch an evening Knights baseball game. The ballpark food was delish, but the home team didn’t even get through their first inning before a torrential downpour struck. We ran through the rain to get back to the car and enjoyed the rest of our stay back at the Airbnb playing Catch Phrase.


So long, Charlotte…

Alex & I hit the road on the earlier side to drive up to Frederick, Maryland. I've actually created a separate post for this less-than-24-hour experience that is now published eighty days after intending to do so...


Rise & Shine!

We got up just in time to take one last stroll around downtown Frederick before heading back to Rochester. Calvin & Jet surprisingly greeted us with open hearts. Swoon.

Until next time…

As always, thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy the new outlook & platform merge.