On Friday morning I set off from The Porches for Raleigh, North Carolina, by way of Appomattox Court House. I got away just after 11 AM, but seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time driving sort of west down strange little back roads (some of them gravel) and over a few one-lane bridges before I finally puked out onto US 29. Appomattox is almost due south of The Porches but I use the Waze app for my navigational needs and I guess it wanted me to be on main roads. An hour later I arrived in the Appomattox area, but since I was hungry and it was lunchtime I stopped at a diner-y place and had a BLT with a side of collards and some peach cobbler to finish up. The BLT and the cobbler were nothing special but the collards…mmm! Thus fortified, I drove on to the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, where General Robert E. Lee, of the Confederacy surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant of the Federal army, thus effectively ending the War Between the States.
It’s a pretty place, Appomattox, and I had a beautiful day in which to enjoy it and not too many people around to crowd things up. The largest single group was comprised of tourists from the UK, and it was kind of sweet watching them try to sort out our coinage with the help of friendly clerks and other Park employees.
I didn’t spend a lot of time inside the restored buildings – to be honest, restored historical building don’t generally do much for me – but I did like wandering around the grounds and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. I was basically killing time since I was going to be meeting my sister Margaret when she got off work at Duke University, and even with a three-hour drive ahead of me, I’d be early if I left much before 2:30. So until then, I just loitered and read all the historical markers and pretty much had myself a nice time.
I got back in the car, set Waze for my sister’s workplace and continued southeast. The trip was relatively uneventful UNTIL I was about 15 minutes out from the exit for Duke and my phone died. I had always known Waze was a major battery eater but I figured since I had the phone plugged into a recharging deck, I’d be okay. Well, no. So there I was coming into Durham and environs and the only thing I knew was the exit number, and not even the right direction to go once I was off the freeway. Well, I figured, I can read signs. Once upon a time we all navigated without GPS. No problem.
Well…yes, problem. I got off at the correct exit and there were NO signs saying THIS WAY TO THE COLLEGE, Y’ALL. There were signs pointing left to the Duke Medical Center and/or Trauma Unit but I turned right because there were Signs in Stone that said DUKE but it turned out they were for some development named Duke Gardens or Duke Park or Fair Duke Lakes or something like that. About then I had enough of a charge in the phone to activate Waze again and before it shut down I was able to scribble out the directions, which turned out to lead me right back to the freeway just before the same damned exit. So I got off at the exit AGAIN and this time I turned left and after a mile or so it suddenly started to look like a college campus and I drove around looking for Margaret’s building, which I knew was called Gross Hall. I remembered the street names from her directions and found myself by sheer dumb luck on one of the streets, and then stumbled onto the cross street, but I could not find Gross Hall. I pulled into a parking lot and got enough of a charge to call Margaret, and then I drove around a bit more trying to find the right parking lot for Gross Hall and finally FOUND Gross Hall but not the parking lot and ended up back in the first parking lot and LO AND BEHOLD there was Margaret’s car. I’d been staring at it when I called her the first time and didn’t even realize it.
Margaret actually needed to stay late after all so all’s well that ends well. We ended up at Lucky 32 for a delicious dinner and then went back to her house and played with Margaret’s dog Kali and her cat Tippi, and then went to bed because in the morning we were going to meet up with some of Margaret’s friends and go to a Beer Festival, because it was Margaret’s birthday and she likes her beer.
We had a leisurely morning and then put on our comfy shoes and clothes and went off to meet Jennifer and Diane at Jennifer’s house. They were busy making pretzel necklaces which are apparently de rigueur apparel for beer tasting – sort of like water crackers for wine tasting but with plenty of handy holes for Stringing Purposes. I made a modest 12-pretzel strand and then we piled into Jen’s car and took off for Beericana. We got there just as things were getting into full swing (and someone wanted to know immediately where we’d gotten our pretzel necklaces, giving the other ladies the idea of selling them at next year’s festival). Diane, Jennifer and Margaret are serious about their beer and were making notes in some kind of beer app, plus there was an app for the festival, too. I’m not much of a beer drinker so I generally just had a sip or two of my 2 oz. samples and tossed the rest on the numerous fire ant hills that dotted the festival site (someone had kindly spray painted white rings around the colonies to alert the unwary). There were a number of interesting food trucks providing lunches, and Diane treated Margaret to a sausage-stuffed baguette as a birthday treat. Then we tasted some more, and finally went back to Jen’s for a little chat before calling it a day.
Margaret wanted Mexican food for her birthday dinner so we went out to Dos Taquitos, which was kitschy and fun and the food surprisingly good. And then we went home to bed.
We had another leisurely morning which was capped by a delicious brunch at the Busy Bee Cafe (if it sounds like all we did was go out to eat during my visit, you wouldn’t be far off). Then we went home to nap it off because Margaret had a hockey game that evening. She plays goal for a loosely-organized women’s league, so about 5:30 we piled all her stuff in the car (goalies have a LOT of gear) and went off to the game. I was glad Margaret had loaned me a fleece because I had forgotten how COLD ice hockey rinks are. I could have stayed in the snack bar where it was warm, but I wanted to be by the action; i.e. by Margaret and her goal. I stayed warm by filming the action and jiggling from foot to foot and occasionally yelling “YEAH MARGARET!”
Margaret stayed pretty busy throughout the game and had some rather spectacular saves. Her team won, 4-3, and Margaret was named the MVP and given the game puck, which I don’t think was just because it was her birthday weekend and her big sister was watching. Here’s some footage of Margaret in action:
The next morning Margaret went off to work again and I headed due east, headed for the third and final phase of The Pause That Refreshes: Hatteras Island.