So, what’s up next for our intrepid travelers? Our return home went smoothly, slipping easily into a new routine that would carry us forward until our departure for the west coast in mid-December. For Joanna this means volunteering at the Horse Protection Society of North Carolina Inc., a horse rescue operation in China Grove once a week, doing yoga on Tuesdays with her regular group at the Reedy Creek Nature Center, and riding bikes or hiking with me. I spent a goodly amount of time getting the blog caught up and doing the types of chores we all accomplish to get ready for the holidays.
The weekend after our return I flew to Denver to meet up with Jerry Bickham, Rendy Richards, and Evan Temkin to celebrate Doug Hoggatt’s 60th birthday, an annual gathering we’ve maintained since Evan, Doug and JB helped me drive my two cars across the states for our move to Charlotte in 2008. Doug surprised us all by providing a limousine to fetch us from the airport and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours in it cruising down to Parker, where he lives, making stops at retail outlets specializing in various and sundry intoxicants.
It was the first time we’d all gathered since JB and Evan had experienced serious medical events earlier in the year and there was a definite sense of thankfulness on the part of all gathered, that we’d survived another year, one full of challenge and change.
Returning to Charlotte we settled into a daily cycle of working on the blog and performing chores around the house in the morning, waiting for the day to warm up so that we could venture out and either ride or bikes or take a hike. On Friday the 14th we ventured into downtown Charlotte (known as Uptown around here) for an evening at one of our favorite concert venues, the McGlohon Theater, to see Dave Mason perform as part of his Traffic Jam tour. If you like this artist, try to catch this show. He’ll be touring into the new year.
It’s only about 20 minutes there from our house, down Sugar Creek to Graham, then head downtown. A turn or two takes you to Church Street and if lucky, we can grab a metered parking spot near the corner of 7th, which we did. A one block walk takes you to Tryon and into Rock Bottom Brewery on the corner, where we sat at the bar, ordered a couple of beers and split a serving of very good fish and chips. Come concert time we walked across Tryon and entered the McGlohon, grabbed a drink from the bar (the best deal in town, $10 for a double), found our seats and settled in for a night of well crafted rock and roll from this veteran of the group Traffic and a distinguished solo career.
Thanksgiving came along shortly thereafter and we enjoyed dinner at home with family and friends, a bike ride on Friday and then joined Arlene and Wayne Fisher, friends of ours from the Piedmont Adventure Club, for a day trip to the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site near Hendersonville, not quite two hours from Charlotte. This was our second visit to this fascinating place, a living museum of the Sandburg family’s time there.
When Carl died at age 83 on June 22, 1967, his wife Lilian determined that his legacy and the home should be preserved forever. Designated as a National Historic Site on October 17, 1968, the property and all of its contents and cultural resources were donated to the park service, officially opening in 1974. The house was left exactly as it was when he died; magazines from the time period still in place on top of coffee tables, dishes out on the dining room table, other personal items scattered here and there.
After a visit out to the goat barn (Lilian was a world class breeder of milking goats) we took in a couple of the holiday demonstrations, stopped to get a copy of My Connemara by Sandburg’s Granddaughter Paula Steichen, who was there that day signing the book.
We took our leave of the property and made our way into nearby Flat Rock for lunch at a restaurant recommended by one of the park staffers, the Flat Rock Village Bakery. Known for their wood fired pizzas; Joanna and I instead split a bowl of hearty potato cheddar soup and a delicious Chicken Salad Sandwich (mixed with celery, red onion, walnuts, dried cranberries and fresh dill). It was quite crowded inside and although a bit cool, the four of us sat at an outside table enjoying a crisp and cool fall afternoon.
We drove the long way home, stopping at an apple cider stand near Bat Cave, engaging in a long conversation with the proprietor about the cave, then past Chimney Rock State Park, through Lake Lure and on down to Rutherfordton and home. It had been a nice long day out, made better for me as Wayne did all of the driving, a rare treat after compiling nearly 10,000 miles in our six months in Europe.
This brought us to the first of December, with planning for our west coast trip well in process. The only real uncertainty was whether the Highlander would make it home in time for us to drive it west. Our agent with Schumacher informed us it could be as long as the 26th of December before it arrived and cleared customs. So we planned on taking our faithful 1998 Ford Expedition, all 192,000 miles into its old age. A trip to the Ford Dealer and $600 later we were confident it would make the trip safely, and began to tentatively set up our stops on the road west.
Then came the news that the Highlander would arrive December 5th. Could it get offloaded and clear customs in time for us to bring it west instead of the Expedition? We’ll find out in the next post.
Horse Protection Society of North Carolina Inc.: http://www.horseprotection.org/
Reedy Creek Nature Center: http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/ParkandRec/StewardshipServices/NaturePreserves/Pages/Reedy.aspx
McGlohon Theater: http://www.blumenthalarts.org/visiting/spirit-square/mcglohon-theater
Rock Bottom: http://www.rockbottom.com/locations/charlotte
Dave Mason: http://www.davemasonmusic.com/
Piedmont Adventure Club: http://piedmontadventureclub.org/
Carl Sandburg Home: http://www.nps.gov/carl/index.htm
My Connemara: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1088827.My_Connemara_
Flat Rock Village Bakery: http://flatrockwoodfired.com/bakery/index.html