Seeing the Blues in Charlotte

So I attended the International Champions Cup (read: hyped-up friendly) between Chelsea and PSG. It was a nice getaway, and the atmosphere was about what I had expected. But for the most part, the scene was dominated by Chelsea supporters. The occasional Manc, Liverpudlian, or Gooner (as well as our opposition for the weekend) showed up to correctly be heckled, and for the most part, it was good-natured fun. The actual Chelsea pub, called Courtyard Hooligans, was a nice hole-in-the-wall place. But obviously all of us revelers couldn’t fit, so that means we took over the whole alley. We sang lots of songs, had plenty of drink, and got photos with Chelsea legends. And that was only the night before the match! Matchday itself was a wicked party! The game itself was entertaining. I think the excitement could be summarized in the final penalty taken in the shootout…

Of course, I had to take in some of the nightlife afterwards, and I think Rooftop 210 in Charlotte’s famed EpiCentre has become my favorite place to dance. The mix of music was just right, and of course there were still plenty of revelers supporting each club. But even then I knew I couldn’t go until closing, because I still had a drive ahead of me. My hotel was directly adjacent to all this frivolity, so I wasn’t going to pass it up. But even then I retired before closing, as I still had quite a bit of driving to do Sunday.

I’m very thankful that I used a couple extra days to drive down and back. I got to explore Parkersburg, West Virginia, on Thursday, and it’s a quintessential example of what I like about Ohio River communities. The views from Fort Boreman need to be seen to be believed. It was a great halfway point to complete the drive to Charlotte given its proximity to I-77.

A panoramic view of the Parkersburg area from the site of Fort Boreman,
A panoramic view of the Parkersburg area from the site of Fort Boreman.

Friday I drove down with a brief stop in Charleston to check out the West Virginia capitol, but the name of the game was to get there fast. I wanted to stop at the Joe Gibbs Racing shop in Huntersville with time to look on the shop and I did, with plenty of time. Since I wanted to arrive Uptown after 5, that left me with plenty of time to clinch I-485 and check out Concord Mills Mall. I arrived at the parking structure when I wanted, got checked in, and made my way to the frivolities mentioned earlier.

Sunday was a more relaxed trip back, so I mainly stayed off the Interstates (but not before clinching I-277 on my way out of town) and eventually wound my way through the mountains of North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, western Virginia and

The Campbell House. Interested persons may like to know that the horse statue is anatomically correct.
The Campbell House. Interested persons may like to know that the horse statue is anatomically correct.

southeastern Kentucky before settling into my hotel in Lexington. The Campbell House is quite a swanky place, and it was far enough away from downtown that I didn’t walk, but since the liver was given a rest, driving worked just fine. I was hungry for a pizza, and Pies & Pints fit the bill nicely. I only briefly walked around Lexington between parking my car and finding the restaurant, but it certainly is a place I would like to visit in more detail.

As I was about to leave, there was a pretty good downpour, which I have taken as a sign that an awesome roadtrip has neared its end. Fortunately it had cleared up by the time I got to Frankfort, and I might have only had a sprinkle or two the rest of the way. I made certain to cross at Markland Dam, as I’ve pretty much done every crossing between Louisville and Cincinnati. I finally caught the new bypass around Kokomo and got back in plenty of time for my Team Trivia game. All in all it was an awesome trip with awesome people, and hopefully I’ll get to do something like it again.

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