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Illustraed Vacation Post - Last Installment

On Friday I was up reasonably early for someone who had been up past 2 am taking the heads off several pounds of shrimp. I was determined to get at least a little beach time in. So I drove out through Morehead City and across the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge down to the Causeway of Atlantic Beach. Then out to the regional beach access near the Oceanic and Iron Steamer piers. I dropped the remains of the shrimp heads in one of the public trash cans. Since my folks wouldn't be home for a week to do their trash. Then I made my way down through the sea oats and dune fences to the water.

The beach was pretty deserted owing to the fact it was past Labor Day so no kids and very few vacationers save the fishermen on the piers, the occasional lingering sun worshiper and the elderly couples walking down the beach looking for shells. Just my time of the year. Pelicans were fishing in the surf and there was an occasional boater trolling just beyond the breakers. The sky was a deep Carolina blue and the water was glassy and clear.

I didn't have time for an extended swim, nor had I brought my shorts so I rolled up the cuffs of my jeans and waded out to my knees. Of course that never works and your jeans fall down and get wet and the cuffs get heavy with sand. But I didn't care. This Pisces was back in his waters again. And they were warm waters on that September day. I love the feeling of foamy water washing over my feet and sand rushing back out between my toes so I just stood there in the surf for about half an hour looking at the water washing over my feet.

I took a little walk up the beach, looking down at the deritus washed up by the tides. I found some interesting things. Colorful crab shells and comical blobs of sea clay.

Then a shapely surfer girl grabbed my attention. I tried not to look too obvious as I watched her stretch and put on her wetsuit before taking up her board and heading out to the waves.

I've always been in awe of surfers both while living in California and on the East Coast as well. The harmony between the person and the wave. I can surf, just not well. I've always preferred body surfing to board surfing as far as actually being in the water. Though it's not nearly so glamorous to watch as board surfing. But for me anyway, it feels more like being part of the water. also being part of the sand when a wave pounds your face into the ocean bottom.

This surfer was a bit comical. The board was probably a little too big for her and often smacked her in the head when she was walking out into the surf. But she was determined to get out there.

She went out past waves that I would have gladly body surfed, looking for just the right one.

Finally she found one, catching it just as it was beginning to crest. and managed to stand up and ride for a bit. But sadly it petered out before she could really get going. She caught another one soon after that carried her most of the way in plopping her on her butt in the wash where she struggled with the board to rise again. But she finally made it up and headed back out again.

I left her to her surfing then and headed back to my car. Stopping along the way to notice the paths left by small critters overnight.

I went back to the house and showered and changed into jeans and t-shirt. Packed the car and dropped the spare key off with the neighbor then headed back up Highway 24 to I-40. I left at just after noon thirty with a wedding in High Point to attend. 235 miles away at 6 pm. Making a speed trip up the road, I departed the Interstate at NC 55 near Dunn and Newton Grove then headed across country. I really need to remember to find a way around Sanford because it gets bottle necked with commuters going from Fayetteville up to Raleigh and back again. But after sanford is the real gem of that trip. 40 miles of winding backroads with nary a cop and not too many other souls. You can open it up and fly low to your hearts content. I can remember one in the early 90's racing a Mustang up those roads until a state cop got behind me and turned on his lights. Adrenalin was with us and intelligence had been left on the side of the road. Almost on cue we broke right and left, the Mustang taking one backroad and me another and left the cop befuddled and continuing straight. I have no idea where the Mustang driver went or whether she knew the country any better than I did. I found an abandoned barn just off the road and hid out there for awhile until I knew I was not being pursued. Like so many roads in that area, the road eventually came back to the main highway and I cautiously continued on, not seeing cop or Mustang again that day.

Eventually my trip brought me to the tiny hamlet of Coleridge which used to be a booming industrial center but is now simply a ghost town with stalwart brick factory buildings still standing all around. I pulled into what used to be the Enterprise General store to stretch my legs. Adjacent to the store is what is left of the Citizens Loan and Trust. Normally there is not another soul in sight but on that day, the place was crawling with feral cats, including a mama and all her kittens.

The cats were all over inside as well with one white and orange one who seemed to be ther Queen of the Ball.

I was exploring inside when one little demon cat decided my leg would be a good thing to climb. Just look at those claws!

The old vault is still intact with no way to get in and see what lies on the other side. But through the rust and decay you can still make out the lettering on the vault. Back outside sat an old Coke cooler rusting away. Each trip I stop here, I find something new that has been drug out of the store.

Having rested it was back on the road for the final 20 mile push up to Asheboro and another 20 to Lexington. I was running a little bit behind. It was just past 5. I had just enough time to change and get to Castle McCulloch in High Point if I could find somewhere to change into my suit. I was hopingto catch eitehr Brent or Roxy at their house so I could change in a relatively clean environment. But alas, it was not to be and I had to go up to the pet store which they run, just off Highway 64. They let me change in a back room with various lizards and snakes staring at me and an evil smell coming from a salt water fish tank nearby. But I was changed in a matter of minutes, telling them I would return after the wedding. I sped up I-85 much faster than the 75 mph speed limit and made it to the Castle parking lot around 5:45. I strolled in and placed my gift on the gift table and found a seat. Other than the groom and the minister whom I'd met once, I didn't know a soul. But I found some kindred geeky spirits at a table just to the side of the altar.

As I've said before it was a lovely wedding and bride and groom both seemed thrilled with it. I hung around until around 9:45 and then bade the happy coupl my goodbyes and headed back to Lexington. Brent and I sat up a few hours and talked about things going well and not so well in his life. Wish I could have spent some more time with him as he seemed like he needed a friend just at that point in his life. So I was determined to spend as much time with im as I could the next day.

Evereyone was up by 8 the next morning and someone was coming over to help Brent put together some new bird cages they had designed. So not wanting to be in the way, I took my camera and wanderd down to the ancient saw mill behind Brent's house. The place is now covered in wild grape and kudzu but I can remember in the early 90's when it was still a going concern. How do I know? I worked her for almost a year, running the enormaous debarking machine. I'd come home every night covered in used motor oil with my nostrils full of black dust from the shredded bark. I loved that job.

These were the levers I constantly kept moving to control the huge logs as they travelled down mechanized rollers into the heads of the debarker and then on to the sawyers position to be cut into lumber. The dry smell of the pine and the sweet slippery smell of the poplar and the aromatic cedar. I can remember the smells just talking about them. The sawdust was piled high under the sawyer's cage. I can remember day upon day when I'd catch up to the sawyer with my debarked logs and have to bide my time scooping the waste sawdust back onto the conveyor to be carried out to a waiting truck sold to a paper mill in the mountains. Not my favorite part of the job. It was kind of sad to see all the machinery lying dormant and covered in cobwebs. Another bit of busy work was having to step out on the debarking carriage and pouring gallons of used motor oil on the chains of the debarker to keep it from gumming up with bark dust. The smell of used oil still brings back that memory.

After the mill tour, I took Brent to work and I headed back into Lexington to visit the Lexington Candy Factory for some souvenirs for the folks back home. I also got an eyeful of 26 pigs that decorate the downtown area in honor of Lexington's thriving pork barbeque industry. Best in the state of NC by my reckoning.

After lunch with Brent and Roxy, I headed up to Lenoir to see Whitehawk and found her not at all well. So I stayed much longer than I should to see what I could do for her. It was dark before I left her place and was determined to at least make it to Tennessee that night. I made it as far as Knoxville before the need to sleep and a driving rain overtook me, making driving miserable. So I pulled into a cheap motel for the night.

I had thought to visit other friends the next day but the heavy rains and flooding in the morning put a damper on my mood. So I just drove straight through it. Fianlly outside of Indianapolis the rain let up and the sun began to show through the clouds, lightening my mood substantially.

Three hours further and I was home again. Not really wanting it to have ended but refreshed enough to come back to work and finish up the project I had before me. Little was I to know after one blissful day at work, the reality that would come crashing down. But that did not diminish the fact it was a wonderful 9 days and 3,000 miles, through 9 states spent with awesome people who make me feel more alive each time I spend time with them.




( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2006 05:41 pm (UTC)
I want a vacation like yours! lol
Oct. 10th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
Looks like I left some html out. I'll have to edit later. You can go on a vacation with me sometime if you want. We may be neighbors soon if the job search works out.

Oct. 10th, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC)
Um...that pig is wearing a bikini. That frightens me.
Oct. 10th, 2006 07:19 pm (UTC)
Deb said the cheeseburger one was just wrong too.

Oct. 10th, 2006 10:40 pm (UTC)
Cheeseburgers come from cows!
Oct. 10th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
I know. You should see the one dressed up as a hunter. Bob Timberlake sponsored that one.

Oct. 11th, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
Note to self: stay away from Lexington pigs.
Oct. 10th, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC)
Poor mama cat and her kittens. I wonder where she gets her food. And that poor old cat sitting in the window of that awful ruined house or whatever it was.

I liked the bank vault. Did you notice all the decorative frame work. I believe that is Iconic, not Victorian.

As for that old red Coke cooler, I haven't seen one of those since I was a kid.

I was hoping your haunted mansion photos would be in this post.
Oct. 10th, 2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
Nope the mansion was in Illinois this last weekend. I've not even edited them yet. There were over 30 cats inthat old bank building. Someone as feeding them though as ther was also mounds of cat food scattered about.

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


Wander aka StoneBear
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