North Carolina Spring 2021, Part Four
June 3 – 14, 2021
I forgot to note in the previous post that we had one more random encounter that Sunday with folks we know, reinforcing what we like about Charlotte, in that during our stop at Optimist Hall, we encountered Judith and Eric who were hosting a birthday celebration for one of their two lovely daughters. Yet another example of how a large city can seem so small at times.
We had an open morning on Monday not having to meet Sarah and Hans until lunch time, so we enjoyed the down time after a busy weekend. At the appointed hour we easily drove the 17-mile distance to Tailrace Marina in Mount Holly to meet them for lunch at the marina’s restaurant before heading out on the boat. We pulled in the parking lot a little early and waited, observing at a distance a couple looking at their phones.
We soon got out of the car and as we approached them it turned out it was Sarah and Hans with the news that due to staff shortages, the marina’s restaurant was closed, but that they knew of another option in the nearby town of Belmont (where they now live). We took off following them in their new Yukon (they need it to tow their boat), a surprising change from their former Subaru Outback, to Sammy’s Neighborhood Pub.
One of the more pleasant surprises for us during this trip was encountering lower prices on most food items and that would be the case here, my BLT with a side of slaw just $9.99 and Joanna’s special of the day, a pulled pork panini about the same. A cold beer and good conversation made for an enjoyable time in a local pub that we’d likely frequent if we lived in the area.
Back at the marina we readied the boat, a Moomba, for the water and soon took off for a sail down the Catawba River and some wakesurfing, which involves a person trailing behind a motorboat on a short surfboard that’s about five feet long and literally surfing through the boat’s wake without being attached to the boat.
Wakesurfing boats are specifically weighted to maximize wake; these weights can be made of heavy lead or fat sacs, water-filled ballast bags, and they’re used to tilt the boat to one side. At times, a wakesurfing boat may have so much extra ballast, it looks as if it may tip over, but these are actually ideal conditions for producing a good wake. A boat captain may even ask his passengers to shift to the same side to add extra ballast to that area.
After sailing down river for about thirty minutes, Sarah and Hans readied the boat for the surfing session, filling the ballast tanks with the right amount of water and soon Hans was in the water and with a burst of acceleration, the boat pulled him up and indeed he was surfing an almost perfect wave behind us. We continued down river in this fashion until we reached the Allen Plant Steam Station, a coal fired relic scheduled to be closed in a couple of years with extensive pollution mitigation to follow, when we decided it was time for Joanna to give it a go.
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, she just about had the hang of it when we finally took notice of dark storm clouds building in the western sky and a quick check of the radar weather app informed us that we’d better make haste back to the dock as thunder, lighting and heavy rain was on its way. We anxiously sailed north and finally pulled into the covered slip just as the heavens opened, one of those torrential downpours we recall from our days in Charlotte, rain so heavy that were you to stand in it for less than a minute you’d be completely and thoroughly soaked. It took us about 30 minutes to get the boat battened down as the rain poured steadily down on the roof above us and when we finished another look at the radar app informed us that we’d have a brief pause in the downpour for our escape.
When it arrived, we made a mad dash for the cars, arriving just as the rain resumed; we bade Sarah and Hans a hasty farewell and drove back to the condo in the driving rain, visibility severely impaired, running the emergency lights on the car to alert others to our location on the road. We parked just outside the door to the condo and of course, got completely soaked getting inside, but all was good as we could dry off and relax after an exciting day on the river.
Our first stay (we’d be back the next weekend to fly home) in Charlotte in over year had come to a happy conclusion, having touched based with so many of the good friends we’d left behind with our move back to Los Angeles. Although we’d not been able to eat at any of our favorite more upscale restaurants (300 East, Bonterra, and Café Monte to name a few) our stops at breweries and casual dining spots had filled that need. We’d move on to Greensboro the next day with Raleigh/Durham on the agenda later in the week. We’ll take you there next.
Sammy’s Neighborhood Pub: https://sammyspub.com/
Allen Plant Steam Station: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._G._Allen_Steam_Station