On Saturday, May 3rd, I woke up early to head off on an adventure to North Carolina to participate in the Mike to Mike Half Marathon and explore the town of Fayetteville. My journey started as I left Portland towards the East Coast. My flight to Atlanta went very smoothly, and I was aboard one of the new Delta Airlines planes which had TV’s in the back of each headrest. That made the 5 hour flight more bearable! After a 3 hour layover that seemed like it would never end, I boarded a tiny plane to Fayetteville and was finally on my home stretch.
I landed at 9pm EST and was greeted by Ms. Foote with the City of Fayetteville. I had heard of Fayetterville before, but was a little surprised at how small the airport was. The luggage conveyor belts and rental car pickup area was all in one relatively small room. I managed to fit all of my belongings with me in my carry-on, so we headed straight for the rental car check in. Picking up my car was very simple and all cars were in the same lot right outside of the airport doors. Once I got my rental car keys from the counter I was in the car and on the road within 5 minutes.
It was dark by the time I left, so Ms. Foote led me to the Comfort Inn Cross Creek. Check-in was very easy, which was appreciated because as soon as I was given my room keysI sauntered to my room and , in a state of jet lagged exhaustion, immediately crashed on the bed. As I started to fall asleep my not-so-wonderful neighbors decided that 11pm was the perfect time to get in a screaming fight. What seemed like a couple of hours later, after I had learned way too much about this couple, they finally made up and quieted down and I finally went to sleep. They must have been out of towners, as everyone in Fayetteville was amazingly nice my whole stay!
In the morning, I woke up and began preparing for my half marathon. I opened up my race bag and found a plethora of goodies!I really enjoyed the race shirt they gave me so I ditched the clothing I originally planned for the race and wore the race shirt instead. The race started at Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville and although the streets were closed, I found the start of the race fairly easily. The race ran from Festival Park to Fort Bragg, and stayed at Fort Bragg to enjoy the after party festivities. Read my race recap here for more information about this really amazing race.
After I left the race I had a couple of hours to spare before I was meeting up with Ms. Foote again for dinner. Since I was so close to Veterans Park, I decided to go check out what was there. This park was free to enter and was a very unique memorial to the American soldiers. There were very cool art sculptures made mostly out of reclaimed military equipment that honored and represented those who have served our country. Every art sculpture was unique and was touching in different ways. I didn’t realize it at the time but there also is a 3,500 square foot visitor center at the park which sounded very cool; I wished I would have made it inside to see what was in there.
Across from Veterans Park is the Airborne and Special Operations Museum. This 59,000 square foot museum, houses one of the Iron Mike statues that we ran by during the race. Although I didn’t get a chance to visit this museum this time, it is on my list of places I must visit if I make it back here again.
After I left Veterans Park, I ventured to Paraclete Sky Venture for some indoor skydiving. I had no idea the process of indoor skydiving, so when I called to make my reservation I ordered the smallest package. That package came with 2 minutes of fly time which, according to many of the Google reviews, was a lot of fly time. I got there, signed a waiver, and headed up to the fly area. The fly area consisted of a big vertical wind tunnel with benches all around so people can observe while they wait for their turn.
The people I observed seemed to be pros and they were doing some choreographed moves which made me think this would be pretty easy. I was wrong. When it was my turn, I was given a fly lesson, and brought back to the fly area. I went with another group and we rotated turns. To enter the wind tunnel you just literally fall belly first as you enter the door to the tunnel and the wind picks you up. The tricky part is staying level. I kept going up and then getting nervous and then shooting down only to hit my belly on the net. Apparently, how you fly depends on how you move your body, how it’s arched, and how your arms and legs are bent. I like to say that I have two left feet in life, and this instance was no different. I kept bumping into the walls and just couldn’t figure out the perfect body position to stay level. The instructor gave me a couple extra fly times which I appreciated. At the end he held on to my sky suit and flew me to the top of the wind tunnel, 30 or 40 feet from the ground. That was terrifying, yet fun. The only thing I would do differently next time is purchase the package which gave you photos of your flying experience.
Afterwards, I met up with Ms. Foote for dinner at Luigi’s Restaurant for dinner. The food , atmosphere, and company were great. However, my next stop was not so great. I was starting to feel crummy (NOT because of the food), so I decided to check myself into Urgent Care to get some antibiotics. My body felt as if I may have come down with pneumonia. Nothing says reassuring like Cape Fear Valley ExpressCare. After a long wait, I was finally seen by the doctors and then transferred to the Emergency Room because they wanted to do further tests. They put me in a hospital gown in a wheelchair, and I ended up being left in the waiting room for hours – as is unfortunately the case with many Emergency Rooms all across the country. It was truly a bummer and I ended up leaving the hospital and refusing treatment. Let’s just say I am glad that I came into town for a race and not because I needed medical care. My review would be a lot different if that were the case.
I didn’t end up leaving the hospital until after 5am and I had scheduled ziplining at ZipQuest at 10:30am. I ended up going, even though I became tired just thinking about my current lack of sleep and exhaustion after the half marathon and a long night in the ER. ZipQuest was very friendly and allowed me to push back my scheduled time by 2 hours so I could get some rest. Phew!
After I caught some shut-eye,I met with David from the City of Fayetteville at ZipQuest to show me the ropes – literally. We were given a demonstration of the proper way to zipline and then were led out to a test course to practice our newly learned skills. The first couple ziplines were shorter in distance and meant to ease you into the experience. The course had 8 amazing zip lines that went through the forest. Many of the ziplines were so far apart you couldn’t see the finish platform until you were halfway there. Between some of the platforms were very long skybridges. One of the skybridges took us over a beautiful waterfall.
At the end of each line were very unique platforms built into the trees. Some had spiral staircases meant to bring you higher in the trees. As I stood on the platforms, I could feel the trees slightly sway in the wind so I made absolutely sure to always keep one hand on the tree. As a result, I earned the nickname of “treehugger”. I found this to be very Portland-y- so I accepted it with honor. We had two awesomely crazy guides with us that were very humorous and made the experience very fun. I really enjoyed my experience at Zipquest and would recommend this place to anyone.
After leaving, I ventured over to Cape Fear Botanical Garden. I had no idea what to expect as I had never been to a Botanical Garden before. You entered in through the gift shop and were given a map of the property and a brief explanation of what items are in bloom and which areas aren’t yet. I purchased a glass of wine and walked around the garden. When I first stepped outside, I was overtaken by the beauty of this garden. The sounds of birds chirping, water trickling, and just the absolute solitude was very peaceful. I wandered the garden, taking my time, and took in the experience of every unique area. I wish I had more time at this garden, but I unfortunately came only an hour before closing.
I decided to check out downtown Fayetteville after leaving. I arrived at around 5:30pm but sadly found that all the shops were closed. I walked up the beautiful tree-lined streets between the Market House and a breathtakingly beautiful church. As I walked up this street I thought how different the East Coast is from the West Coast. We don’t have old historic sites and such amazing classic architecture like they do here. I met Ms. Foote again for dinner that evening at the Mash House. This place was very upscale and the food was amazing. I had the crab mac and cheese – it was to die for!
The next morning I woke up early and decided to visit one of the nearby beaches. Ms. Foote told me one of her favorite parts about living in Fayetteville was its close proximity to both the mountains and the beach (kind of like Portland). She gave me suggestions on the best beaches to go to and I ended up driving 2 hours to Wrightsville Beach. Now this wasn’t your typical Oregon Coast beach. It was 90 degrees and people were walking around in bathing suits and lying in the sun. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that sight in Oregon. The sand was covered in seashells (literally thousands upon thousands for as far as the eye could see. I stayed at the beach for a couple of hours, visited some of the local beach shops, and then drove back to Fayetteville ending my Run-cation and exploration of Fayetteville.
If you are looking for a Run-cation of your own, Run Oregon gives this high marks. Many thanks to the City of Fayetteville for their hospitality! I can never thank you enough!