Well, area would be more accurate, but I can’t pass up an opportunity for alliteration. I’m not sure how I would feel about living in a major tourist destination!
Back in July my elder sister came for a short visit. She lives in England, and has done a lot of travel on that side of the Atlantic, but this was her first trip to the US. July is hardly the best month to come to central North Carolina – that would be May or October – but we actually got lucky, and only had one day that was a real scorcher. (This summer has been unusual – I don’t think we’ve gone over 100 one time.) Still, some things that would be high on the list in spring or fall – the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, and a walk round historic Oakwood (we drove) were firmly off the agenda.
The day we went to Old Salem however, was really quite pleasant. We walked round the historic section in the morning, and spent the hotter afternoon in the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. I’ve always enjoyed MESDA, and it seems to have expanded since the last time I was there. On the way back we stopped at Replacements Ltd, where I picked up a few much-needed salad bowls, and my sister bought a couple of cups in her favorite pattern as souvenirs. We also admired the museum section, and took the “behind the scenes” tour, which I had read about in the local paper. Hard to believe that this massive, and massively efficient, operation began as one man’s hobby.
The other “outside” day was in Durham, where we visited the Duke Lemur Center. I had done the tour before, but with the lemurs in winter quarters and I was delighted to see them again outside. I can’t imagine anyone not loving lemurs! While we were in the area we took a quick look at the Sarah P. Duke gardens for good measure.
Then we cooled off indoors at some of the local museums. The NC History Museum fitted in nicely after the historic (1840) State Capitol. (The legislators have themselves some newer and larger digs across the road.) And whatever I may think of the outside of the NC Art Museum‘s new building, I have to admit the inside does a good job of showcasing the art. UNC’s Ackland Art Museum was a welcome refuge on a hot afternoon, and I always enjoy their excellent Asian section.
Of course, I also made sure we did some local eating, starting with gourmet hamburgers at Tribeca. Then I had to take my sister to my favorite restaurant, Oakleaf, and while we were in Pittsboro we both bought jewelry at one of the stores near the historic courthouse. We picked up local tomatoes and peaches at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market, and I had intended that we would finish with NC BBQ at Allen & Son, which I think is the best around, but by then I was getting tired of driving, and settled for pretty good BBQ at the new Pit in Durham instead.
I didn’t have to drive anywhere for a few days, as we left the next morning for Washington. By train.