Today I have stood under branches trailing Spanish moss, so can well and truly claim to be in the southern states, and can report that the crepe myrtle trees down here are still in bloom. I have heard and seen the mockingbirds. the fine, hot weather continues and we are spending two nights (with a deliberate rest day for Chris tomorrow) in New Bern, which attractive, is not the same as old Bern, although its founder, a Swiss baron, came from over there. We are almost on the Atlantic coast here, on a river estuary near the Outer Banks. These days, the town's pet name is Bear City, not only because of the coats of arms hanging everywhere which seem to be identical to the ones seen everywhere in old Bern, but because at every corner you see a bear statue as a gimmick. Behind one window downtown is a huge, stuffed grisly, although they don't have bears of that sort in Switzerland. One mock bear was grotesquely painted like a school bus; several were decorated with coats and ties. New Bern is also PepsiCo's place of origin or Birthplace.
Back to this morning, when we woke up early at the University Inn, the motel opposite the Eastgate Plaza in Chapel Hill, where I now realise I used to go shopping from Landerwood Lane. The house we rented in 1988 was not much more than a mile's walk away along leafy Ephesus Church Road, past the Elementary School. There was a sidewalk along there, although Landerwood Lane didn't have one. We found the house easily, and it didn't appear to have changed at all. The surroundings still smelled the same, a nice smell of pine needles. The big trees were full of birds and squirrels. Even at 10am, it felt very warm out there. The humidity is high this week; the grass was covered with dew all morning. When we reached the airport, driven by a lady who chatted all the way (she had lived in Michigan, California, Hawaii ...), I found the benches all covered in dew as well.
We took off on an IFR flight from KIGX to KEWN with a father and son from town watching us go, and cleared the trees with no problem, turning right to overfly the Chapel Hill stadium for the football game and thence over Raleigh which spread for miles until we finally came into flat countryside. At our altitude (5000') the haze was noticeable, so we couldn't see the coast on our descent. The views of the blue River Neuse and its interconnecting bridges made up for it. On landing, the line man at Tidewater Air Services was generosity incorporated. He waved our tie down fee for both nights, welcomed us in a really friendly manner, and not only drove us and our bags to our hotel in town, but gave us a useful tour of the main parts of town as well. We walked around it later this afternoon, after we'd eaten battered flounder / club sandwich and chips on a baking hot outdoor deck, with two guitarists and a drummer getting ready to perform through their amplifiers under a tree there all afternoon. We also sat down for icecreams at a candy store, and walked through the park by the water. The most atmospheric spot, I thought, was the large and shady episcopal churchyard (where I found the trees hung with Spanish moss) including an alternative, outdoor church with benches and an altar, perhaps only used for weddings. I looked into the Nautical Wheelers clothes store and made two purchases of something to wear. We bought 2nd hand books at a bookstore, too.
We are sleeping at the DoubleTree by Hilton at the Riverfront, overlooking a marina jam packed with large, ocean going, private boats. There's a three tier fountain in the indoor courtyard beneath our corridor. Since I asked for a quiet room, we have a king-sized bed in the building next door to the main hotel, in Room 255, which is 0xFF in hexadecimal, says Chris, the largest number that can be expressed in an unsigned char. He says everyone knows that, but I'm not so sure.