Wednesday, January 22, 2014

4 days in....

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” 

Well, hard to believe I've already been on the road for 4, starting on 5 days.  Took me a little longer than expected to get out of VA.  By Fri afternoon I figured I would be happy to just be on the road and Amherst looked like a good in between spot to stop for first night so-called ups square dancing friend but she was also going to a dance that night so that's how I ended up at one last local dance which was great.  But, even the process of getting ready to leave/leave was so much calmer and easier than I expected.  Being the emotional person I am, I fully expected that saying goodbye to my friends and animals would be a little rough, but it wasn't.  I felt very well loved by the end of it all.  Last Wed, after my last day of work, we all went out for dinner and drinks at the Mexican restaurant.  We all had an amazing time, and the fact that everyone took time out of their day, and made every effort to be there, really meant a lot to me.  Then, I spent the next 2 days packing, before leaving on Friday.  During the week before I left, there were a couple of little other things that made me feel loved as well.  Walking out onto the porch one night and seeing the moon rising above the trees while the mist came up off the ground across the pastures.  And I had wanted to see snow stick to the ground one last time before heading south, and we got a nice dusting one night.  And then, my last morning, I heard the neighbors' hunting dogs going nuts nearby (aka on our property), and stepped out onto the porch, and watched a bobcat run across the pasture!  Didn't even know we had those in VA!  Unfortunately, by the time I realized what it was, it was too late to grab the camera, but sometimes it's nice just to enjoy the view.

Radio is always fun when traveling cross country.  You never know what you're going to find to listen to.  I ran into a comedian on NPR, and he was making fun of the whole Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" a few years ago.  He said, "People wonder, what am I supposed to tell my children?"  "See that woman with her breast sticking out?  Don't go anywhere with her brother!!!!"  :-)

My first day on the road was spent traveling down to Asheboro, NC and visiting the zoo there, which I was told was a good one.  Honestly, the part I liked best about it were the wall murals, which "moved" as you passed.  They were really well done.  It did have a great play area for kids, and the exhibits were nice, but when you're comparing zoos, and you've been to, say, the Portland Zoo, and then you're comparing this one, it doesn't compare.  I'm hitting zoos and aquariums a lot on this trip, because I bought a season pass from the zoo in Texas, Cameron Park Zoo, for $35, which lasts a year, of course, and it provides free or reduced admission to a lot of other zoos/aquariums across the US.  The next couple of days were spent traveling across to and then down the NC coast, and along the way, I visited all 3 of the NC Aquariums (Pine Knoll Shores, Manteo, and Ft. Fisher).  These were all small aquariums, but since it was free, they provided a great diversion, and some fun interactive activities that kids (and certain adults, not naming any  names) would enjoy.

The NC coast/OBX (Outer Banks, for those of you not used to this area) was also neat, but I'm apparently more of a west coast girl at heart.  East coast, you've got great sandy/sand dune beaches, but you can only see snatches of it between all the rentals/condos/motels/apartments.  Where the West coast, you can just drive right along the ocean, and there is plenty of places to stop and park and see the actual ocean/beach.  And, I like the mountainous/rocky beaches more, but can definitely appreciate the beauty of the East coast beaches as well.  Sunday morning, I headed out to the Outer Banks first thing in the morning to watch the sunrise over the ocean.  Chilly, but beautiful.  I, as usual, was in sandals that I took off as soon as I got out of the car to walk to the beach.  Not that it was above freezing, or anything, but since when has that ever mattered?  Wandered from there to the first aquarium, then to Jockey Shores (see previous post), then church, then down the coast.  The plan was to go to Ocracoke, and either camp there, or go ahead and hop the ferry back to the mainland.  Well, after hopping the ferry to Ocracoke, and realizing that I did not find it as interesting/appealing as most people, apparently, the ferries that headed out the other end of the island stopped running after 4:30.  Which means, you can't just head back on the same ferry to Hatteras (the one my battery died on, btw, which was somewhat embarassing) and then hop a bridge or another ferry back to the mainland, it involves driving ALL the way back up the OBX to Manteo, and then going from there.  Which I did, since all the hotels on Ocracoke were run down/overpriced, and all the campgrounds were closed for the season.  Stopped for the night just outside of Manteo for the second night in a row, and headed out the next morning.  Took a long, leisurely drive down 17, which I highly recommend.  It's a beautiful drive, with swamps all around.  Lots of birds and herons, and I'm sure doing any other season besides winter, you would see all kinds of other creatures as well.  Wandered down through one of the birding areas, and besides the lake of gulls and herons, also saw some ibis, quail (first time I've seen one in the wild), and what appeared to be a young bald eagle.  When I camped that night in southern NC, I heard (but did not see) an owl outside the tent, and was very excited to find Diet Wild Cherry Dr. Pepper for 99 cents/2L.  It's good to be in the south again!  Yesterday, visited the last aquarium, and hopped another ferry (on which I took the picture above through my rearview mirror), and then drove down to Hilton Head, SC for a square dance with one of my favorite callers, Tim Marriner.  And, it just so happens, the SC State Square Dance Convention is this weekend, so think I'll stick around the area for a few more days, before heading to FL.

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