The year after my La Quinta experiences, I went the other direction--North Carolina--to coach writers at a paper out there. I wrote about it for that other blog, but I thought you might enjoy the posts. They're short (how unlike me) and I still love the firefighter statue. Read on:
I appear to be in North Carolina. I started the day in St. Paul, in my own bed, which I had to vacate way too early--4:30 a.m.--in order to get to the airport by 6. The dogs blinked sleepily at me. Doug got up to see me off.
My flight to Charlotte was supposed to leave at 7, but for some reason it left at 8--no good reason, really, just people kind of lollygaggling about and not getting going, as far as I could tell. This made my connection to Raleigh a bit tight, but it went ok.
It's warmish here, and the grass is green. The road in from the airport is lined with tall skinny pine trees with soft-looking needles. I think they're called loblolly pines. Very pretty.
This is quite possibly the most boring post I've made so far. My excuse: I'm tired! But my room service BLT has just arrived, and it should revive me.
I have to be at the News & Observer at 2:30 and then all day tomorrow. Even in my sleepy stupor, I can tell that Raleigh is a lot more promising-looking than that town in Washington. For those of you who remember last year's adventure....
Scenes of Raleigh
My hotel is only a few blocks from the News & Observer, and as I walked over there this afternoon I noticed a little park right across the street from the newspaper office. And then I noticed daffodils. It was thrilling to see them in bloom!
I stopped right in the middle of the path and had to think what month it was; I have never seen blooming daffodils in January before.
The park also has a kind of weird and gruesome sculpture to honor firemen, but it's a little distressing because one of them is apparently being crushed by a fallen beam.
It's even more distressing at night, when they turn on the red floodlights. Then it looks like the guy is being crushed and burned.
You gotta love a town that has signs everywhere commemorating great editors
Dinner by phone
I'd planned on having dinner one night with my old friend Marjorie, a writer and author I met when I was at duke 15 years ago. I saw her again about 12 years ago at a writing workshop, but not since then. Tuesday was the only night I had available, and after traveling since 4:30 a.m. and then working until after 6, I was pretty wiped out by the time I got to my hotel. I was secretly wondering how I could beg off, much as I wanted to see her.
Turns out she was pretty wiped out, too, from working all day. Plus, even though she lives in the "Raleigh area," she would have had to drive an hour to get to where I was staying. So we had dinner by phone: I ordered room service and she called me up and we talked for over an hour.
I didn't get to see her actual face (so here it is, above) but it was great to hear her voice again.
Morning Walk, Last Day
I went out this morning into the chilly sunshine to look for a bagel. It didn't take me very long to get lost (and Raleigh isn't very big). I have no sense of direction; I'm probably the only person who has ever gotten lost in Weatherford, Oklahoma, for instance. (It took an hour and help from some kids at the local swimming pool to help me find Arlington Avenue again.)
Anyway, I was purposefully striding down the sidewalk when I decided to ask a stranger where Fayetteville Street was, and he started laughing because I was going in completely the wrong direction. So I turned around and started purposefully striding back the way I had come.
On my journey, I saw:
--A cop on a Segway
--Cannons on the courthouse lawn
--A guy selling his art on a park bench. "any picture, $5."
And these! Blooming outside a Baptist church.