Throughout my career, I have been on many staff retreats. I even had the pleasure of planning some of them. Many were onsite and some were offsite. There is one thing for sure; they were all great opportunities to escape the day-to-day hustle and bustle of my work, and well spent time bonding with my co-workers. This year I had the pleasure of visiting Lake Norman with my team, whom I proudly call my second family.
Before we departed on our big trip I enjoyed spending time with my work-sister, Deneah. For some odd reason, I began to crave chicken after a month of going mostly raw and eating fish, so it was time for me to load up on some chicken. We ate lunch at Tupelo Honey located in the community of Cameron Village in Raleigh North Carolina. It is within walking distance and we only had an hour before we had to get on the road.
We entered through the Bar entrance and although we saw several workers we were not greeted, we seated ourselves and began to talk about how excited we were to go on the trip. After 15 minutes, I stood up and looked at a waitress that had made eye contact with me several times. I said, “Excuse me.” She walked over and asked did we want to remain in the seats or would we like to seat in another section. Hoping to get better service by moving, we opted to move about 15 feet away.
She leads us to a booth where I sat down while the entire bench moved. The waitress smiled and told me to “Be careful. “We have to get that fixed.” After placing the seat more securely I set down. She informed us that our waitress would be there soon. After about ten minutes of waiting, the waitress came and took our orders. I ordered Honey Chipotle Wings with blue cheese dressing, a side of all natural French fries, and fresh glass of water with lemon slices. Deneah ordered Honey Chipotle Wings with blue cheese dressing as well and a side of baked Mac-N-Cheese with a glass of water with lemon slices also.
While waiting for the food, I walked over to a display to look at the jars of honey. Whenever I see honey I think of my husband because he loves honey. I also love to add honey to tea when I think I might be coming down with something. I had the pleasure of meeting an older couple who were celebrating their 47th anniversary. Whey stated they buy the honey monthly and its great, I was prompted to purchase a couple of jars of honey for my honey.
When I returned to my seat, Deneah and I started talking about the atmosphere and how pleasant it was. After about 20 minutes we asked about our food. We only had 20 minutes at this point to eat. We asked the waitress if we could take the food to go. She told us that our food was ready and we told her that she could bring it to us. She placed a plate with two biscuits on the table. She returned within a minute with the all-natural French fries and Mac-N-Cheese. We started on those as we waited for our chicken, which she brought to our table in about 5 more minutes. I must admit the chicken and all natural fries were GREAT! Not so much for the customer service.
After a late lunch, we walked back to the office and loaded up the rental car that we were driving down in as a group. Of course, I called shotgun, Deneah and our co-worker/brother Alex took a back seat, and our other coworker/sister, Shay was the driver. Around 30 minutes outside of Raleigh Shay and I started craving a Shake from Cookout, the burger place. I looked on the map and found it was five minutes away. However, GPS didn’t include where the exit was and the fact that we were on the express way. It took about 15 minutes to get to and from this location but I enjoyed the extra time traveling and of course, my mint chocolate chip shake with a side of onion rings. It’s very hard for me to go to the Cookout without order onion rings. We ordered our shakes to-go and headed back on the road. We realized that loading the car and making a ‘shake run,’ put us an hour behind schedule for this 2 ½ hour trip. Shay was determined to make up the time because we had a dinner reservation and wanted to get to the lake house before we headed to dinner.
She did a great job. We were able to shave at least 30 minutes of driving. About 30 minutes from the lake house our co-worker/sister, Rhonda called us from the restaurant. Therefore, we decided to go straight to the restaurant. We re-programed the GPS with our new destination, Eddie’s on Lake Norman. When we pulled into the parking lot we were all so excited about the weather. There was a great breeze coming in from the lake and the humidity was a world of a difference lower there. We met Rhonda outside and entered the restaurant all together. Once at our table, which were seated immediately. We called our other co-worker/sister, LaToya but she didn’t answer. We then texted her and informed her that we were at the restaurant.
As you know, the chicken craving has been front and center so I was determined to try chicken at Eddie’s. I asked a few friends who had visited Eddie’s and they raved about the chicken. I order the Chicken Wings which included nine crispy, lightly breaded wings served with celery and a choice of Hot, Mild or Parmesan Garlic with blue cheese or ranch dressing. I ordered mine naked because I just wanted to taste the chicken. I also added a side of French fries. These wings were tender and juicy. It was the prefect bite as my teeth broke into the crispiest of the chicken exterior entering the water-like juiciness of the white meat inside. Every bite was delicious. The fries were crispy as well and I enjoyed them as much as I could.
After looking over the dessert menu, I wanted to save room for the Chocolate Lava Cake which was eagerly awaited because of the warm, chocolate filling with a delicate chocolate coating, vanilla ice cream to accompany, and whipped cream to top it off. The waitress was the best. I asked if I could add strawberries and she politely assured me that it would be no problem. Not only were there fresh strawberries, but it was also decorated with chocolate and strawberry glaze on the plate. I have had my share of Chocolate Lava Cake. Whenever I see it on a menu, I helplessly order it. I have tasted, I would say, nearly 100 Chocolate Lava Cakes from different locations over the years and that one is by far the BEST!!!
The chill and texture of the fresh strawberries, tucked against the warmed, softness and moistness of the Chocolate Lave Cake paired to the cold vanilla ice cream with a bit of whipped cream made every bite feel like a taste of Heaven. After six years and nearly 200 restaurants through-out North Carolina, Eddies is on the top of my list for world class service and delicious food. I would take the 2 ½ hour drive again just to enjoy this establishment every day if I had the time. We shared with the waitress that we were on a staff retreat so she suggested we come back the next day which would be Friday and enjoy live music.
We were all thoroughly satisfied with our food choices and raved about them on our way to the lake house. Although she didn’t make it to dinner, when we pulled up to the lake house LaToya was unloading her crossover. We pulled up next to her and unloaded our SUV. Once we placed all the bags inside, we began to look around the house to claim rooms. Since Deneah and I were newbies, we would take what was left from the senior co-workers picks.
Our lake house had four bedrooms, three baths, two living rooms, a breakfast nook, dining room, and kitchen. There was a master suit with a king-sized bed and bath. Two rooms had full beds, and one room had two bunkbeds. I opted to enjoy one of the spacious living rooms while Shay, LaToya, and Alex enjoyed the privacy of their own rooms. Rhonda and Deneah agreed to share the room with the bunks.
After we settled down in our rooms, we decided to enjoy some board games. We played Buzz Word which my team didn’t win at, but still enjoyed the excitement of the game. I didn’t turn in until nearly two in the morning, which was not good because I have a standing prayer date with my husband at 4:30 in the morning every morning. I had set my alarm and didn’t miss this one. After a quick nap, my alarm went off and I enjoyed my phone date with my husband. I slept for another hour and woke up to enjoy the sunrise. After walking onto the dock and swinging in the nice summer breeze, it was time for the group to cook breakfast. After cooking together, we enjoyed the spread.
For breakfast I made green tea, prepped fruit, boiled eggs, and baked turkey bacon and turkey sausages. I put together a large bowl of apples, oranges and bananas. I also made a platter with grapes and strawberries. We also had kiwi and blueberries. Alex cooked regular pork sausage and bacon. Deneah cooked cheesy eggs. Shay cooked grits and made coffee, while LaToya brought it all together with specialty pancakes. She made me cinnamon pancakes and I topped it off with bananas, strawberries, and maple syrup. I also added two boiled eggs, turkey bacon and sausage, a bowl of grits, and green tea.
After Breakfast our other co-worker/sister, Jessie joined us there for team bonding. We had our lunch catered however because it was a huge disappointed I will not mention the establishment. After lunch we did more team building then went out to dinner. Dinner was satisfactory, but not my favorite cuisine so I will not mention the establishment. After dinner, we remembered the waitress at Eddie’s suggestion of live music. After saying good bye to Jessie, we headed to Eddie’s for Live music and this place was packed so there was a 45-minute wait. We regretted not making reservations because it looked like a good time.
We decided to make the best out of our night and enjoyed more games. We played Uno and then Taboo. After not winning again, it was nearly midnight and we decided to do a movie night. I chose a movie on Netflix and we enjoyed it. Once again, I found myself with a little over two hours to sleep before my phone date with my hubby. After the quick nap and phone date, I slept for another hour and a half, then I enjoyed another walk on the dock.
When I returned to the lake house, I was happy to see we all were up early and after enjoying a boiled egg, green tea and a banana I was also happy to see LaToya was awake and ready to make pancakes before we hit the road back to Raleigh. Once again, she made me cinnamon pancakes and I topped them with bananas and maple syrup. She also made me some for the road. After taking a group photo, we headed back to Raleigh. Although it was exhausting, I really enjoyed bonding with my second family.
I really missed my first family and I couldn’t wait to get home. As I unloaded the bags from the car, I stood in the parking lot to order an Uber. When I made it home our dog, Zeus was so excited to see me that he tried to squeeze in between a hug with my hubby. After a quick hug and kiss with the girls, we headed to Steak and Shake for lunch. Once I returned home from lunch with my husband and girls, I slept until 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning just in time for prayer with my husband.
Do you enjoy time with co-workers? What did you do on your last staff retreat. Do you enjoy visiting lakes? Please share in the comments below. I really would love to know.
Until next time, shine amongst the stars!
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