Monday, July 5 - Thursday, July 8, 2010
We spent the next few days in Charlotte, with my Kirkpatrick cousin Angie and her lovely family, husband Pete, the boys Mason and Jared, and big sister Claire. They've put me up for the past several years on my annual trips back to NC. It's so nice of them to invite me into their home and their family life for a few days. I really treasure my time with them.
Our first day in Charlotte, though, we went by my old friend Murray's house for a visit. We picked him up and drove out to Ellerbe, NC, to the home of our old friend Greg. This was a reunion of sorts, of a group of old high school buddies. When we got out to Greg's place we found another old high school friend waiting for us there, Danny. We visited for a while, drank a few beers, and after awhile Danny brought out his Water Bottle Rocket Launch apparatus. He said he'd gotten the instructions on how to make it from YouTube. It consisted of a two liter soda bottle, some lengths and joints of PVC pipe, a couple of fittings, and a hand bicycle pump. It turned out to be much more fun than we imagined. Here's the video I made of a couple of the launches:
After the excitement of the bottle rocket launches wore off, we said our good byes and Murray, Ok Hwa, and I headed back to Charlotte. We visited with Murray for a bit back at his place, then headed over to cousin Angie's.
We had a fun filled three days with Angie's family there at their lovely home in Charlotte. I get such a kick out of the kids. They are all so intelligent and energetic, it's a refreshing change from my day to day norm. We had brought them some gifts from our trip to Korea back in April, and they seemed really pleased to have them. One of the gifts was the board game Go. We spent hours playing this game. The kids are all very competitive, and we all really got into it. Another of our favorite things to do is to shop at this one particular antique store in Matthews, Antique Alley. A great store filled with wonderful stuff at reasonable prices. We also hit another antique store in Matthews on another day.
On Tuesday Angie, the kids, and Ok Hwa and I met up with her sister, my cousin, Sonya for lunch. Claire had her friend Allie with her. Allie was staying over for a couple of days, also. Sonya had her daughter Ashlyn with her. It was great to see the both of them. Angie, Sonya, and their sister Lisa practically grew up with my sisters and me. I got these pictures of the ladies before we all scattered again.
Later that afternoon Ok Hwa and I went into downtown Charlotte for a little alone time. We spent the afternoon prowling around in my old stomping ground. I spent a lot of time in downtown Charlotte as a young man. I was living with my dad back then and we both worked at the Charlotte Observer, the morning daily paper. Their building was downtown, so we were there almost every day. A few years later, dad and I also both worked at Heritage Printers, also located downtown. So, I wanted to see how they'd upgraded the old cityscape. Even while I was living in Charlotte all those many years ago, the powers that be were into urban revitalization, and were well under way with downtown redevelopment, encouraging mixed use, and residential space. I'm happy to report that they've done a great job of it. This is a very livable, workable, walkable urban setting. We saw residential high-rises, condos, townhouses, and old residential hotels which had been remodeled. There was lots of street life, with cafes, boutiques, museums, and night clubs. I could live there... if it was in Texas! These few pictures we made in downtown that day are about the only pictures I made during our time in Charlotte this year.
On Wednesday afternoon Ok Hwa and I drove over to Monroe, NC in the neighboring county, to visit my father's grave. Dad had met a woman who lived there in the late '70s, and ended up marrying her and moving there. He lived there in Monroe for the rest of his life. He built a very successful photography business there, and remained self employed right up 'til the end. He loved photography, and the photography business. He never retired, and he never bought a digital camera. He used Rolleiflex cameras on location, and Mamiya RB67s in the studio. He was a master of light and shadow.
On Thursday Morning we said our good byes to Angie and Pete, Mason, Jared and Claire, and headed back west. We were going to spend a couple more days in the mountains before heading back to Texas.