When we left for Raleigh from Wilmington, the overnight low there had been in the upper 20’s. Sadly, it only attained low 50’s during the three days we were there, and it was usually much closer to the low 40’s most of the time.
We elected to stay at the North Carolina Fairgrounds for three days because it was super convenient to the places we would be visiting. While the place doesn’t sport very many amenities, decent speed Wi-Fi was the one standout among them. And while there were no bath houses or laundry facilities, we’ve got those bases covered in the RV. We can always run small loads in washer/dryer if need be. Importantly, it was spacious, safe, and the staff was very nice.
We started out Friday by meeting with friends at Sawmill Tap Room. This was the company’s go-to spot when I worked and lived in Raleigh. It was great seeing that the folks I worked with are all doing well after nine years of not seeing them, and it was good to see you Rich, Bhavani, Sue, Gordon, Rick, Mark, Andreas, Deanna, Mike, and Brenda. The only person I wish Alayne could have seen was that one fellow who used to toast a bottle of beer to his glass eyeball with a resounding “tink.” That was always a stitch to see. Following Sawmill, we had dinner with Mike and Brenda at McCormick & Schmick’s. The food was good as usual, and Alayne’s desert lasted for five days.
It was tough making a decision on lunch for Saturday. There are tons of good places to eat in Raleigh. But the one thing I have yet to find is salsa like that which is served at Salsa Fresh. While their fast Mexican food isn’t anything remarkable, placing third behind Moe’s and Qdoba in our book, the salsa is fantastic. I used to gorge on pints of it during the weekends.
Following lunch at Salsa Fresh, we visited our neighbors, Barb and John. It was nice being able to catch up on the neighborhood happenings and see what they’ve been up to. While some of the neighbors have changed, most are still there, and Barb and John are doing well. Guys, we’ll have to come visit you up at the lake sometime.
On Saturday, we went over to Mike and Brenda’s and cooked a pizza on their Kamado Joe. If you’ve never experienced one of these grills, I encourage it. It sold itself on me. The only downside is its weight: 188 pounds without accessories. Yikes! Nonetheless, Mike’s use of hardwood charcoal, and a trick he taught me about using paper towel infused with olive oil to light the charcoal, made the food come out great.
We decided to challenge ourselves on Sunday to see if we could remember our way around town. Alayne hadn’t been back to Raleigh since we moved to Texas nine years earlier, although I was back for a quick business trip a few years ago. I was impressed that we only had to turn around a couple of times to get to our destination, and we generally navigated it pretty well. Raleigh can be a tough place to drive around because most of the roads follow the old horse and buggy trails of yore. This is to say that they wind every which way in order to avoid lot lines or obstacles that either existed or still exist. I seem to recall one street in Raleigh that could be going north, west, east or south at any point along its trajectory. To complicate matters, the streets often change names along their path. While not as drastic a change as direction, we always chuckled about how the Durham County couldn’t decide whether the street behind our house was named Carpenter’s Pond, Carpenters’ Pond, or Carpenters Pond: It is like the sign makers couldn’t decide on the use of singular possessive, plural possessive, or plural.
Later on Sunday we cooked steaks on the Kamado Joe. Naturally, they came out excellent. But in truth, the cooking abilities of Brenda and Mike have a lot more to do with the outcome of their meals than any grill deserves credit for.
Well, that’s the report. We miss you all in Raleigh dearly, and promise to come back and visit a little more frequently than every nine years. For now, we’re back to South Carolina and on our way to see Jenni and Elle in Atlanta.