Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Please, throw in a tornado

As the snow and earthquakes are out of the way, it seems only fair that we get a tornado in the mix…

We accompanied Roberts on his work trip up to North Carolina, and so on Friday morning found ourselves checking out of the hotel room and heading for the NC Botanical Garden to while away a few hours until it came time to pick up the husband and head for the shore. There was some rain in the forecast, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to drive out and take a quick look around. If the rain started coming down, we could just check out the Visitor Center or worst-case scenario, head back to the hotel. The Garden is a part of the University of North Carolina, and with over 2 miles of trails and a dozen different habitats and gardens is a favorite destination for locals.

In the children's wonder garden

After ducking into the education center to pick up a map, we ventured to the “children’s wonder garden” which was close to shelter in case the skies opened up. The space is currently being developed, with an excellent bird blind and system of trails already in place. A digging area was the logical first stop, and the “wooden blocks” (cross sections of different sized trees/branches) also received some attention. The favorite by a long shot was the giant white oak trunk, which was small enough for both boys to clamber onto, but big enough to provide a serious vantage point once they had reached the top.

It was at this point that a drizzle started, and so we headed to the education center to see what we could see. An environmentally friendly building, the visitor center/offices have solar photo-voltaic panels and are heated/cooled with a geothermal system. We were looking at some of the educational exhibits when the University of NC alert sirens went off…

From the safety of a windowless storage room, some eight to ten of us employees and visitors waited out the worst of the storm, checking in on the tornado watch and severe thunderstorm warnings while tracking the bright red radar across the map. Similar to the snowstorms a week ago, the storm system stretched hundreds of miles long, with severe weather all the way to DC. The Upstate fared no better, with tornado warnings (no confirmed touchdowns) and power outages resulting from the extreme winds.

Our tornado shelter...

Once the all-clear had been sounded we returned to our exploration of the exhibits before eventually venturing outside. The porches provided shelter from the rain with a beautiful view of a portion of the gardens. I wish things had cleared up in time for a longer hike out to the aquatic and carnivorous plants garden, but with no end in sight to the drizzle we finally called it a day and headed out in search for lunch.

Guglhupf Bakery

The Guglhupf Bakery in Durham is a bakery, pâtisserie and café with a German twist. Featuring plates like bratwurst with sauerkraut and a schnitzel option on their lunch menu, there is more standard fare available as well; grilled panini sandwiches, salads and a typical club. Or you can opt for a roasted beet sandwich, a frittata, or a käseplatte-cheese assortment.  I chose to try the smoked salmon, served with a  bread basket, hard-boiled egg, cornichons, capers and red onions. My mocha was delicious, the salmon was great, but the two boys who wouldn’t eat their grilled cheese sandwich and threatened to wreak havoc in the beautiful dining room changed what would have been an excellent dining experience into fast food. It’s too bad we are not in the Durham area more often, as I would like to try Guglhupf for dinner, or sample the various fresh breads, pastries, cakes and tarts that were on display.

Guglhupf Bakery on Urbanspoon

Luckily dad was finished with the business portion of his trip and was able to join us soon after to embark on the second portion of our trip. Just in time, may I add, for my tornado-watching, toddler tested, frazzled nerves.

* Thanks to the kind people at the NC Botanical Gardens who found room for us in the inner rooms during the tornado scare; it was as pleasant a 30 minutes as it could have been!

1 comment:

  1. Well, this has been a month for weather events, hasn't it? Glad to hear it was just a tornado watch. I believe there was at least 1 tornado that touched down in Maryland, east of DC.

    That is a gorgeous restaurant! Plus, I love Germany food. :) Sorry you could not adequately enjoy it.


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