Spring in the Middle of Winter

The municipality of Cary, which is where E and N actually live, is very spread out and “busy.” It covers a lot of ground, and most of it is businesses and services that the population depends on. There are a lot of high-density housing options like condos and townhouses. I found out today that there actually is a “downtown” Cary, and in this somewhat village-like area, there is a park called “Downtown Park.” (How appropriate!) Since the weather was gorgeous, we decided to spend part of the afternoon at this park.

Flowering Tree.jpg

I am amazed that spring comes so early here!

In the park, it was such a nice day that I could not resist the urge to busker. I sat on a bench and played my guitar (and even did some singing) and enjoyed entertaining folks as they strolled by. It was an amazing way to spend a springlike Sunday afternoon.


After our time at the park we went to E and N’s house and spent some time with the grandkids. I had been wanting to do some projects with the older two, and I had some nice little wooden “Build and Grow” kits that I had picked up at Lowes. I had a coin bank kit and a small birdhouse kit. I guided K in building the coin bank:

Kendall Building.jpg

I guided C in building the small birdhouse:

Caiden Building.jpg


No Shoes?

One of the main things we like to do when we travel is expose ourselves to the local music “scene.” If you read this blog regularly, you know that our taste in music trends toward Bluegrass, Old Time, and Gospel. We like to find music wherever we go, but it has to be down-to-earth, traditional stuff. North Carolina is, and has been for centuries, a hotbed for this sort of music. One of our very favorite bands, whom I discovered nearly 10 years ago, is a band called The Barefoot Movement. They are pretty young, which means that they must have been mere children when I first started following them.

In planning for this trip I scoured the websites of many of our favorite bands to find out where they would be when. I uncovered a few possibilities of places we could go to see some of our favorites. Unfortunately most of them were too far from Raleigh to really be practical. However, tonight Barefoot Movement was going to be playing in Chapel Hill, which is less than a half hour from where we’re staying. We had to go see them!

Since this is pretty close to their home turf, they were doing a benefit concert for a local church in Chapel Hill. That meant it was going to be a fairly small and intimate venue, and people would actually be paying attention to the music. (Instead of gabbing and being loud at a club.) Perfect!

Waiting for Barefoot.jpg
Waiting for Barefoot Movement

Noah, Tommy, Katie, and Alex did not disappoint. Their shows are always high-energy, passionate, and musically superb. They are all excellent musicians and entertaining performers. A lot of their stuff is original.


Sorry Alex

After the performance I got a chance to meet Noah’s mom and thank her for encouraging and supporting Noah’s musical career.

Grown-up Toys

The weather was supposed to be amazing today (sunny and 80 degrees), so we decided that a 2-hour drive to the beach near Wilmington, NC was worth doing. The only down side of the weather forecast was that it was going to be a windy day, with a strong wind from the Southwest. Still … 80 degrees?? Gotta go.


The two-hour drive was uneventful. When we got to Wrightsville Beach we had an “interesting” time finding a place to park. Lots of other people had the same idea we had, so there was a bit of competition for parking. We found a spot that was vacant, but it really wasn’t clear that it was a public parking space. There was an odd sort of numbered post by it, and it almost looked like it was reserved for the condo that was right there. I didn’t feel confident about taking it, so I moved on. (As soon as I did this, someone else swooped in and grabbed it. Oh well.) I did find a spot that wasn’t too much of a walk, but there was a big sign stating that it was pay parking and that violators would be towed. At this point I didn’t mind paying, but … there was no system set up to enable any sort of payment. No meters, no pay stations, no nothing. I asked a couple other beachgoers about it, and they didn’t have a clue either. So we parked.

Wrightsville Beach.jpg

The first thing we noticed on the beach was a massive construction project that involved three huge bulldozers and a gigantic pipe. The pipe was spewing seawater in a big geyser-like spray. A fellow told me that they were moving sand from one location to another to undo the damage from a hurricane. It was an amazing project to watch. I felt like the guys doing this work were like little kids – only their “toys” were grown-up toys. I can imagine them going home at the end of the day and telling their wives or husbands that they spent the day playing in the sand. It would be true!

Big Ed’s

Big Ed’s restaurant is a somewhat famous eatery in downtown Raleigh, in a part of the city known as the City Market area. Perfect place for a breakfast when you’re on an extended visit such as we are on.

Big Ed’s turned out to be a one-of-a-kind eatery. The decor was  – hard to describe. I guess it was a blend of antique, Americana, and “whatever.” Tons of things were just hanging from the ceiling. One of the more interesting of these was a small “tin man,” complete with a drawn-on heart, made entirely from tin cans. A tin-can Tin-man, so to speak.


Big Ed's Entry.jpg

Big Eds Decor.jpg

Tin Can Tin Man.jpg

We are on a very “relaxed” schedule, so we didn’t arrive for breakfast until 9:30 or so. It was eye-opening to see the diversity of people at Big Ed’s at this time of day. There were more than a couple tables of busy business-people, actively making deals and doing what business-people do at a restaurant at 9:30 AM. Another table was occupied by a fellow who told the waitress that he was on his way home after doing a night shift. It was really fun to be a part of the “scene” that is cosmopolitan Raleigh today. Ed’s is in an area known as the City Market area, because across the street is an interesting building that used to house a … (wait for it)… city market. It was a lot of old cobbled streets and interesting old architecture.

First Bluegrass Jam in Raleigh

The first thing we heard in the morning was that my grandson, C,  was sick, and that he was being tested to see if he had the flu. The test was positive. Which was a bit discouraging because I spent quite a bit of time with him last night. Ah well. Prayer-power is needed.


Two things were to be the highlights for this day: a pro-bono inservice presentation I was giving at the Grace Christian School and an evening bluegrass jam in downtown Raleigh. Most of the early part of the day I spent putting last-minute touches on the presentation.


The presentation and discussion of problem-focused math teaching went well. The teachers seemed eager to receive these ideas. It felt good to be giving back while I’m still trying to figure out what retirement means.


The bluegrass jam was a monthly event that takes place at a place called Imurj in downtown Raleigh. The place is interesting. It is a members-only arts space with a bar. The membership dues are $1 per year, so it clearly isn’t an exclusive club. I didn’t have to pay the membership fee to get in to the jam, because the club opens its doors to people who want to come and participate in this event each month. Normally the event is the last Monday of the month, but for some reason it was switched to the second Monday this time. It was scheduled to run from 8:00 to 11:00. I never expected to stay more than 2 hours, but it was a really enjoyable experience, and it was 10:30 or so by the time I decided to leave. Since this was only about 15 minutes from our apartment, it really wasn’t a big deal to stay so late.

Soaring Architecture; Magnificent Pipes

Today I discovered that there was to be a free organ recital at the chapel at Duke University. This chapel is a place I have been interested in visiting. We tried to see it one other time when we were here, but we couldn’t find convenient parking. This time I scoured the website to learn how and where to park. So we went!

It was a lovely time of enjoying the architecture of the building and the powerful sound of one of the pipe organs.

Duke Chapel Exterior.jpg


Duke Chapel Front.jpg


Duke Chapel Back.jpg

Why Not?

The weather forecast for today was the best we’ve seen (high of 60-ish, little wind, sunshine) so we decided to use the day for a day-trip to the coast. Our first destination was New Bern, which is where Pepsi was first invented and where there is a little store to commemorate it. We did a bit of walking and sightseeing in New Bern. There was a nice little river walk, and the weather was just about perfect. Very nice. Then we headed further on to get down to the coast. Our destination was Atlantic Beach. It isn’t that we necessarily wanted to sunbathe or do “beachy” things like swimming. But when you’re within reach of the ocean, you should go there. Right?


We had a lovely time watching the waves, walking in the sand, and looking at beach shells. Since it wasn’t too long of a wait until sunset, we stayed and enjoyed it.

Atlantic Beach.jpg


Atlantic Beach Sunset.jpg