Kings and Queens...
Trip Start Sep 27, 2010
34Trip End Mar 23, 2011
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Our next stop is in Charlotte NC, to catch up with our good friend Larry – you may remember his name coming up in previous blogs as he has from time to time been our virtual 'tour guide'. He actually became a friend a couple of years ago directly as a result of this blog, having found and subsequently followed it, he invited us to visit when he saw that we were in his area. This led to us travelling alongside him in his motor home as we explored the Smoky Mts together in 2009. So as you see we have been here before, but it’s so nice to retrace our steps and to renew friendships.
Charlotte is known as the Queen city; it was named after Queen Charlotte in the 1700’s, it grew up originally at the crossroads of two Native American Indian trading paths – Trade and Tryon streets. It quickly became the south’s railway hub and for most of its life the textile industry was its backbone. That is until banking became more important in the 1970-80’s.
Today it exudes youth and optimism. Much of the centre of town seems sparkling and new, high rise glass towers reach for the sky as if to tell its inhabitants to do the same. We have been here before about 2 years ago, but did not take the opportunity to explore the city as we have done this time. We are staying with Larry, who lives just to the south, actually just in South Carolina - the hospitality of strangers who have become friends in this nation never ceases to amaze us – Thanks again to you all. We are biding our time here before making the journey north to NH, which as I write this is once again buried in snow, whilst it is in the 70’s here today. Sorry Doug & Trish!
Anyhow this afternoon, we took the light rail into Charlotte on Larry’s advice because parking is difficult and expensive he says. Parking at the station is free and the one way ticket for the 9 mile journey is about £1 the same for all journeys. The train takes you right to the Convention Centre – literally it’s the only light rail system in the country that runs right through a convention centre! Incidentally, there are strict rules about riding the service, the trains are spotless, but the armed ticket collector (one of three on our train) was a bit unnerving. Makes for keeping the rules though.
From there it’s an easy walk to explore many of the cities highlights, disappointing to find that the visitor information centre closes at 3 on a Saturday – not expecting any visitors then? But we did find some maps in the convention centre so we were OK.
We admired the newly completed Nascar Hall of Fame from the outside – I realise it’s a bit of a sin in the US but we’ve never quite warmed to Nascar; sorry all you fans. We craned our necks to scan the skyline which is impressive from every new angle. . The Green which is just across from the C.Centre is a quirky little oasis, where incidentally the battery on the camera ran out and we discovered that we hadn’t charged our spare grrrr! But don’t worry we are planning to go back before we leave to get all those shots that we saw but couldn’t capture – wouldn’t want to disappoint any of our fans...
We also spent a couple of hours (not quite sure why) wandering around the RV show that was in town – chose a new one but will have to wait for the lottery win to buy it at $350,000. It wasn’t the most expensive either! Sunday we spent the day lounging in temperatures of nearly 80, but the humidity warned of impending storms.
We sat out a pretty strong thunderstorm on Monday evening– that actually wasn’t as bad as we were expecting. But when you get ’severe weather warnings’ on the TV it does make you a little anxious, especially when the advice is to switch off computers that don’t have surge protection and to stay inside!!
But it cleared the air and once again we found that we had been pretty lucky as there was a lot of damage from the storm front that had been about 20 miles wide in places and had born tornadoes in several areas west of us.
The sun is shining again now and there are trees bursting into bloom all over, the pear and magnolia trees are beautiful. Spring is definitely on its way, here at any rate. Our friends in the NE are still under a freeze and we can but hope that it will begin to thaw soon as we have to make our way up there within the next week or so.
We did indeed go back into the Queen City on a beautiful sunny spring day, this time we drove as we had found out that on street parking is free at the week ends. Bonus! It’s a great city to explore on foot as it’s fairly compact, so we spent 4 hours on foot just ‘looking’ which we really enjoy.
We strolled down to the Bank of America Stadium, with its very impressive Panthers standing guard outside; they made quite a contrast against the sharp clean lines of the cityscape behind them.
We eventually found ourselves back at the Green where they were installing some new pieces of art which was interesting to watch. The pieces are very similar to the ‘Firebird’ which rises outside the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art across the street.
The following day we took a ride to King’s Mt with Larry to find out more about the battle that took place here in 1780, during the Revolutionary War.
For those of you out there that are really into battles you might like to find out more here. Wikipedia has a good article too. The actual museum was particularly well set out and the accompanying film was very informative. As we walked the area of the battle through very difficult terrain, we tried to imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers. Malc might want to expand a little …
(is Betsy referring to my waistline there?) What actually surprised me was the relatively small area that the battle was fought over. The main hill – Kings Mountain – is steep and heavily wooded, probably more so at the time of the battle, this made just covering ground difficult. Add to that, gunfire and smoke coupled with the hot sticky conditions would have made it a far different place than the very pleasant walk up a paved path that we had today. If you ever get to come here make sure you visit the interpretive centre/museum first and watch the film depicting the battle, then when you get out here on the actual site it makes that imagining process easy.
Of course on the way home we had to stop for a bite to eat – so how about the aptly named Highway 11 Restaurant (can you guess where it is?) Just a small salad for Betsy and only one burger for me – check ‘em out… I think I did expand a little :).