Recap: Wanderlust 108 – Charlotte 2016

Wanderlust 2016 - Charlotte

Where it began

Run. Yoga. Mediate.

The trifecta of health and balance for one’s mind, body, and spirit. Back in April, I had the opportunity to engage in these trio activities with two incredible friends. We hopped on the Amtrak in Durham after work on a Friday, heading to the Queen City (Charlotte).

Sheila, Michelle and I outside the Charlotte Amtrak station

A group of 3? Talk about synergy!

Wanderlust, known for its enormous yoga festivals, often in exotic locations, created day-long spin-offs dubbed Wanderlust 108.  Under “what to expect” the site notes:

lots of high fives, a little sweat, and a deep chill.

Wanderlust 108: Ready to start the 5k

The chill factor was in full effect – brr!

If I could offer some additional “what to expect” thoughts, I would include: an incredibly array of multicolored yoga pants; patchouli; and


Kombucha, of course.

As this Saturday neared, we kept a close eye on the weather. North Carolina had plunged into a cold snap, and Saturday’s temperatures were not looking ideal for outdoor recreation. It was windy – several yoga mats attempted flight. And it was cold – at least at the start. Fortunately, the sun provided respite and made the experience much more bearable.

Wanderlust 108 - Charlotte

Queen City Yoga

The day began with a 5k run followed by a group dance party with MC Yogi (I kid you not), a Vinyasa flow, and a guided mediation (more on the last part below).

Wanderlust 108 - Charlotte

Michelle is in to win

Wanderlust 108 - Charlotte

Sheila gives peace and… brackets?

Wanderlust 108 - Charlotte

Look ma! I’m sitting on a slackline.

A mindfulness triathalon. How zen. How challenging.

Never before had I meditated. I certainly had read my fair share of articles on the importance of mediation and centering and breathing exercises…blah blah blah. Yes, I shut those out because – let’s be real: we’ve got to get physical.

This is where the reader (that’s you) should leap from your chair and say:



Ugh. I’m a bit ashamed I included such an image in this blog post. But, back to the subject at hand: my pursuits of strength have resided solely in the physical. I’m all about doing. I make to-do lists. I complete projects. I’ve got a plan. I’m constantly moving and moving and moving.

Not only does this lead to energy depletion, but it denies me from living fully. I don’t allow myself the space to turn inward and be still. For too long, I viewed that as a weakness. Diving headfirst by mediating in an open field among hundreds of strangers allowed me the first taste of meditation’s power.

I wish I could report that since attending Wanderlust 108, I’ve walked down a more enlightened path, prioritizing a time for quiet reflection each day. For the first two days after Charlotte, I tried to establish a morning routine. And then…oh, you know. Life happened.

Still, I had the opportunity of knowing what could be and now I can practice the intentional time-out.

As soon as I finish that run…

One of the other best takeaways from the 24 hour Charlotte adventure:

Vegan pimento cheese

Yes, that is VEGAN pimento cheese!

Do you meditate or engage in intentional mindfulness? If so, how did you end up making the practice part of your life?

Planning 101: Foraging Fare While Traveling


Three weeks done. One more to go. I’m halfway through “Team of Rivals” on CD and have logged more than 2,500 miles on my Corolla (check engine light still shines brightly one year later). I’ve driven by the Nantahala River, over the bridge connecting the Outer Banks to Manteo, through Pisgah National Forest, and near the infamous battleship in Wilmington. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the most daunting task for me this year wasn’t necessarily the hours behind the wheel or ensuring my transmission didn’t give out winding up Highway 276 in extreme fog. I was more concerned about: what am I going to eat? (Perhaps less of a surprise since I love to think about food)

Fortunately, this here thing called the Internet makes lessens any dietary concerns thanks to sites like Yelp and other vegan resources (shout-out to Vegan Carolina!) giving the 101 on places that accommodate the plant-based lifestyle.

The photo above comes from Flaming Amy’s Bowl in Wilmington [note: she does apparently have a Burrito Barn in Wilmington as well!]. Back in Phoenix, we had a similar Mongolian-style “build your own bowl” restaurant called Wok Wok that sadly closed in just a couple of years. I was ecstatic to find this gem in New Hanover County. It offered tons of vegetables, plant-proteins (tofu, black beans), and vegan sauce options. If you go, go hungry: all-you-can-eat deliciousness.


The following day, I ended up at the Tidal Creek Co-Op to mooch free WiFi in between presentations. Above, please meet my lunch: sweet and sour tofu with roasted vegetables over brown rice and a banging salad. While you are seeing the only three hot bar options, they were: 1) incredibly tasty; and 2) all vegan. I could have eaten my weight in that tofu.

Although I lack photos of several delectable meals, I did spend a great deal of time at Earth Fare cafes in Charlotte and Huntersville. Again, free WiFi drew me in, and the $16 salads I built (alright: slight exaggeration but I’m sure I could build a salad that large quite easily) absolutely satisfied. While the Huntersville one was larger, I do have a to give a thumbs down to its layout (not conducive to organized plate filling from hot/salad bar) and no ingredients list for the items, so I had to be extra mindful of what I grabbed.


Please ignore that pathetic thumb nail. I found this gem at the Tidal Creek Co-Op and HOLY SMOKES DO I WANT MORE! I shall find a recipe soon. Does someone out there have one to share?

Other saving graces on this trip:

  • Green Safe Cafe in Asheville (I almost refuse to eat anywhere else in the #AVL when visiting – the citrus kale salad bowl is, by far, my go to item).IMG_20140318_115816
  • Cabo Fish Taco in Charlotte: now, I doubt my beer battered tofu tacos were vegan but THEY WERE INCREDIBLE (it was beyond noisy in the restaurant and I was stationed as far away from our server as possible); many other options available for the non-fish eating crowd (apologies for the blur of a photo)IMAG1500Just ONE more overnight left next week (Boone!) and you better believe I already know where I’ll be dining. I’ve also made great use out of my cooler bag by carting my own fare to and fro: lots of veggies and hummus, apples, cuties, bananas, and Lara bars.

Are you as anal retentive in planning where you will eat meals on for work/vacations/a random Thursday night?