Into the universe.

It’s funny. Sometimes when you put your ideas, hopes and dreams into the universe, they come back to you.

I first learned that a few years ago. Just for fun, I wrote a list of all the places I wanted to travel, starting with the ones I’d always thought about, and adding as I saw, read or heard about new destinations. One entry on the list was “Germany and Bavaria.” No sooner had I written it down than my dad called. My stepmother and her business partners were going to a trade show in Frankfurt. Wouldn’t it be fun to meet in Munich, drive down to Salzburg and take the scenic Alpenstrasse back through Bavaria? So we did.

In July, I started officially compiling, and publishing here, my Adventures list. It’s what many people might consider a bucket list of things I’d like to accomplish before I kick it. Mine is so lengthy that I had to divide it into a general adventures list of things to do and see (incorporating my trusty old travels list), a local list of places I want to visit right in my own backyard and my culinary bucket list of foods I can’t wait to eat.

I’m proud to report that in the few short months since publicly declaring these items, I’ve completed several already. Some were intentionally undertaken. Others completely fell in my lap. But that’s the way it happens.

1: “Visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Elizabeth Creamery and Olde Mecklenburg Brewery” (from the Playing Tourist list)

There are few things more satisfying to me than crossing something off a list. So imagine my glee at accomplishing three items at once. In October, I took Dad on a long-promised trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, with a stop-off at the highly recommended Elizabeth Creamery, and we closed out the day at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. You can read all about it here.

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Start your engines.

I’ve had a few weeks off of work and I’ve been trying to whittle through my adventures list. As I realized earlier this summer, I almost never take the time to play tourist in my own hometown. So I seized this opportunity to make good on a daughterly birthday or Father’s Day IOU: taking my dad to see the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Dad is an avid NASCAR fan. Sure, he grew up and has lived near at least three of the major raceways. But he also understands and is thrilled by all the physics of racing. Where I see a bunch of adrenaline-fueled, cocky young bucks driving cars around in a circle, Dad sees stuff like “drafting” and driving skills and properly maintained car parts.

I started to understand the NASCAR fascination a bit more when I went to my first race at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway a couple of years ago. Sure, there were the requisite shirtless, beer-swilling, mullet-sporting fans who’d camped there for three days. But sitting in the stands, only feet from the track — where several cars wrecked right in front of us — I could feel the energy and the danger. It’s so loud you hear nothing but the roar of engines and the zing! of cars speeding by. You smell burning rubber and feel the reverberations of the cars on the track. It’s sort of thrilling, even when we had no idea who was who or what was going on. Dad was watching on TV at home so he narrated the race for us by text message.

The raceway at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

At the race in 2010. I was excited; Ann not so much.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame and museum opened a couple of years ago in uptown Charlotte, and it’s housed in a sleek, architecturally interesting building that I used to drive by every day. There’s been plenty of news and controversy about it, and many friends have already been, so my interest was piqued. On a sunny day in early September, we set off. Continue reading