Archive for September 12, 2010

Day 105: I missed the water

September 12, 2010 6 comments

Location: Newport News, VA

Miles Driven: 334

Total Miles: 25,006


I left Cary after 10AM and began to head east towards the North Carolinian coast.  I was headed towards the Outer Banks area (a place I had visited for the first time back in June), but I was going to a northern section of the Outer Banks to a city called Duck.

good weather heading out to the coast

It was after 4PM when I met up with friends Frances and Gary at their beach house.  From their deck were some outstanding views of the ocean:

It was hard to not just lounge on the deck for the next several hours and listen to/watch the ocean.  The cool breeze from the water made the air much more comfortable than I had found back in Raleigh.

A little after 5PM, we all went to dinner at a local cafe.  More outstanding food.

Crab bisque soup. Never had crab bisque soup before. Sooo good

My entree: southern scallops. very tasty

After dinner, we headed to the other side of the land to go walk by Albemarle Sound.  There was a boardwalk right above the water and our timing worked out well…sunset was slowly approaching.

Great views by the Sound.

Relaxing by the water

We returned to the house along the beach, and I was able to snap a few more pictures of the water before I got back on the road.

kids dwarfed by the Atlantic Ocean

Some real nice homes by the water

Thanks again to my friends in the Outer Banks for a nice break in the driving (and for the delicious dinner).  I was very glad to be back by some water again.  The last time I was near any major bodies of water was back in Alaska.

I got back in the car and headed north toward Newport News, revisiting my buddy Chris I saw here back in early June.  Chris and I hung out in his backyard for several hours, sitting by a fire.  Chris was suprised it was my first legit “campfire” for this whole trip.

No worries, this fire was under control

Chris by the fire

Great to hang out with a good friend once more.  This is probably the last time I’ll get to hang out with Chris before heading overseas in January, so I’m lucky to have this chance again.  Big excitement for Chris coming up…he has a baby on the way this coming December.  At the very least, I should be able to see some pictures before I head out.

Come Sunday, I’ll head north to Maryland where I’ll spend a stretch of a few days visiting with some friends one last time in the area I used to live.  Most of the drives from this point forward should be fairly quick (in the neighborhood of three hours or less).  No, I’m not sick of driving, but a few less hours in the car would probably do my legs and lower back a favor.


P.S. In other news, you’ll notice above I just barely surpassed the 25,000 mile mark with today’s driving.  Before I set out on the trip, that was a higher estimate of the ground I’d cover (good call, Melissa).  Crazy

Days 101-104: A baby, food, and some stars

September 12, 2010 1 comment

Location: Raleigh/Cary, NC

I was, indeed, a bum for the better part of this past week, but I managed to do a few things while I was in the Raleigh/Cary area.  Thanks to Saba and Aaron for hosting me in their house…I had a great time.  The whole time I was there I had a great weather, but it was indeed strange to see some leaves start to change color while it was 90 degrees out.

Speaking of the heat, I think I burned the bottoms of my feet walking out in the grass.  Sam apparently had things right – his last day there, the two of us went outside to get some exercise (we threw my medicine ball around).  As he put on his shoes to go out, I told him, “You don’t need shoes, Sam, we’re just going out on the grass.”  He replied, “Yea, I’m not a hippie, though.”  Burn.  But we were fine in Saba’s backyard in the thick green grass.  My issue came later in the week when I walked to the park behind the house, where the grass was not regularly watered and was brown, dry, and dying.  Running/walking on that grass apparently was a bit too much for the bottom of my feet (right below the toes).  When I returned to the house, I had a hard time walking.  Very peculiar.  Turns out that North Carolina heat and dry grass do not mix well for bare feet.  Lesson learned.

But that was barely a blip on my radar of bad luck for this trip.  No problems, and I continued to enjoy my stay in the fine state of North Carolina.

Bibi (Arabic for "Grandma") and Eli

One last shot of cute little Eli

On one afternoon, I took a drive to the Jordan Lake area, which was about 45 minutes away.  They had a few hiking trails through the forest that seemed worth checking out, and it was not disappointing.  Walking in the woods was especially nice given how hot it had been, as the canopy of trees made the air much cooler than it really was.

island of trees on Jordan Lake

there was plenty of wind for sailing

I hiked for about three miles in the woods.  I could have gone longer, but I seemed to have an uncanny knack that day for running into spider webs with my face (fairly unpleasant), plus I was able to get out of there shortly before it started  to rain.

I hung out with Jen for my last few days in the area, and we had a good time checking out some local eateries (by the way, if you are in the Raleigh area, “Vivace” is a great restaurant) and relaxing.  One of the nights Jen cooked up a great Tuna steak dinner.  Absolutely delicious.

On Friday night, the two of us drove out to Chapel Hill where we were going to catch a couple shows at the Morehead Planetarium on the campus of UNC.  I haven’t been to a planetarium in what seemed like ages, and Jen hadn’t since grade school, so it was perfect timing.

Morehead Planetarium with a giant sundial in the foreground

Another view of the sundial

The sundial had a couple sayings written on the outer edge of the circle, one of which I particularly enjoyed: “It is always morning somewhere in the world.”  I suppose it’s a good saying to remember on those neverending days that seem a bit dismal.

I mentioned Jen and I were there to catch a couple planetarium shows.  The first one was a movie presentation called “Black Holes: Journey to the Unknown.”  Great show.  It explained the history of our understanding of black holes, as well as demonstrating with cool effects how black holes work.  I especially liked how the film demonstrated the gravitational lensing effect of black holes (e.g. a black hole’s gravitational pull is so strong that it would bend the background light if one passed in our line of sight, like a lens).  Here’s a picture from to demonstrate:

The next planetarium show we caught was called “Carolina Skies.”  That show explained the various constellations and stars one would see looking up at the summer sky from the Chapel Hill area, and was not a movie, but rather presented live by someone from the planetarium (I imagine she was an astronomy student…what a cool perk of studying at UNC).  It was great to get a refresher on the night sky and re-learn some of the constellations (my memory has gotten hazy over the years).  Another good show.

Friday was my last full day in the area, as the plan for Saturday would be to get to Newport News, VA before the end of the day.  Thanks to Saba, Aaron (and little Eli), and Jen for such a great time.