East Coast Fall 2021 – Durham, NC, Part Two

October 24-28

As mentioned in the prior post, later that day we ventured downtown to eat and drink at the Durham Food Hall, which opened in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic and yet survives to this day.  We grabbed a couple of seats at the large bar and after ordering a round of drinks, a Crystal Coast Oktoberfest for me and a Tobacco Wood stout for Joanna, we placed an order for Burnt Ends Mac-N-Cheese at the Lula & Sadie’s stall. 

While waiting for the food an additional drink appeared, one we thought had got lost when ordering, an Ode to Eliza, comprised of Bedlam Vodka, Berry Bramble, Mint, and Citrus, a light and refreshing concoction that left us glad for the mix up in ordering.  Soon enough the Mac-N-Cheese arrived, and we dug in, enjoying the 12-hour cooked Angus Beef Brisket served with scallions on a tangy white cheddar cheese-based pasta. 

Burnt Ends Mac N Cheese

We finished up our meal and after perusing the other stalls, walked down the block to take in Nicole’s Wednesday night pursuit, drumming with the Batala Durham group.  Organized in 2015, the Durham group is one of the newest branches of Batalá, an international samba reggae music project founded in Paris in 1997 by Giba Gonçalves, a Bahian percussionist. 

The Drum Line

The group, which practices and plays at Durham’s downtown park, found itself at the center of a dispute starting in 2017 when neighbors in the newly constructed Liberty Warehouse apartment complex complained about noise generated by the drumming.  The complex, a former tobacco warehouse sits in the middle of an older downtown the city hopes to revitalize, and the park is intended to be “a lively public space that would serve as a catalyst to rejuvenate the surrounding former tobacco warehouse district,” City Attorney Patrick Baker said. “It was always anticipated that [Durham Central Park] would provide a place for community gatherings”. Aas an aside, we came here in 2015 with Nicole and Becky to enjoy the Durham Blues and Brews Festival – https://wordpress.com/post/3jmann.com/2440).

Durham Central Park

As a result, The Durham City Council amended its noise ordinance to allow unamplified musical performances at the park from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.  And so, the drumming continues.  It was great to see Nicole engaged in this simple and yet complex act, with this combination of drums:

Surdo 1 (beats 1 & 3), Surdo 2 (beats 2 & 4)

Surdo 1 and 2

Dobra (off beat and other syncopated rhythms), Repique (high pitched metallic tone and that calls to the other drums), and

Dobra and Repique

Caixa (The engine of the band, similar to a snare that can be found in a rock band)

Caixa

creating a unique and compelling sound and beat. 

We stood on the sidelines and watched the drumming through two full sets, picking up on the different rhythm patterns of each and noting that even though there is no real melody here, the different beats create a tune of their own.  Fast forward to the typing of this post and we’ve learned that Nicole and her group will be playing at halftime of the Duke-Georgia Tech Basketball game January 4th (Duke won)  at their home court, the Cameron Indoor Stadium. 

Nicole and Her Drum

We walked back to our parked car; a Chrysler Voyager Van we had rented earlier in the week given the uncertain status of the Highlander.  We opted for the van as we could transport our bikes and gear in it having from time to time thought about purchasing one for ourselves in the future, as it might be a better hauler for all of our stuff on our longer trips.  Then again, being a macho kind of guy, I’m not sure I could live with the stigma of being seen a soccer mom kind of vehicle. 

Chrysler Voyager

Our ensuing 10-days with the beast was eye opening as we did come to appreciate how versatile these wagons are and indeed, we easily stored both of our bikes (we did have to take off the front wheels) and could have, with some strategic arranging, got all of the other gear that we’d brought along inside.  If we were to seriously consider one of these SUV alternatives, our pick would be the Toyota Sienna version for a number of compelling reasons. 

Large Interior

First would be our experience with the brand and its overall quality as we prize reliability.  Next up would be that the newly updated model now features a hybrid system that achieves around 35 miles per gallon.  Given this is a 30 horse loss in power from prior models, but perhaps the torque provided by the electrical engines might make up for what might be considered a diminished power output.  Finally, one can opt for an all-wheel drive model and this year, a new trim level, Woodland, also offers higher ground clearance than the other trims. 

Toyota Sienna Woodland

So, who knows what the future might bring?  In the meantime, we’d need to get the Highlander home, get it repaired and move forward from there.  More will follow as we travel that road.  The last morning of this stint in Durham I took advantage of some open time with Joanna being fully involved with moving logistics to stop for breakfast at Brigs, the chain I visited with Carolyn (https://3jmann.com/2021/08/15/north-carolina-spring-2021-part-six/) back in June. 

The Garden Omelet at Brigs

I ordered, as I did then, the Garden Omelet (Fresh broccoli, caramelized onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers and Swiss Cheese) along with fruit and whole wheat toast.  Faithful readers know this is my go-to breakfast, affording me protein and vegetables, a welcome addition in a traveler’s diet that so often forgoes anything green.  The food arrived and like my first visit, it was as good as this kind of meal can get, satisfying in a way that nicely prepared simple food can be.  We’d finish up this stay in Durham, planning to return the following week to hopefully take care of what needs to be done for Joanna’s Mom and for now, we’ll just finish that omelet. 

Inside the Omelet

Links

Durham Food Hall: https://durhamfoodhall.com/

Lula & Sadie’s: https://www.facebook.com/lulaandsadies/

Batala Durham: https://www.bataladurham.com/

Brigs: https://www.brigs.com/locations/durham

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