Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Operationalizing Phase 2, Part 2-Salisbury, Spencer, Star, and Charlotte, North Carolina

Monday, May 17, 2010

Operationalizing Phase 2, Part 2-Salisbury, Spencer, Star, and Charlotte, North Carolina

Bill thought the title of this post strange so I looked up operationalize in  Two results popped up: 1) to define a concept or variable so that it can be measured or expressed quantitatively and 2) to put into operation, start working.  It is this second meaning that I intended for this title.

After getting renewed, Chillaxin’ in Advance for three weeks, we went to the Bass Lake Resort in Salisbury, NC with the full intent of running around  Charlotte, Salisbury, Spencer, Star, and other nearby towns with very little time to relax.  What we found were not only great places and plenty to do but also many new and good friends!

Salisbury is a good place to be.  The city does a good job of promoting the town.  Every Friday, from 5-9 PM, there is a Spring Night Out. Shops and restaurants do something unique for the towns people and tourists: face painting for kids, roses for moms, free apple pie bites for everyone, free water and candy for all, free balloons and free band music and dancing in the streets. 

Bill and I had our fill of excitement…and more.  While combing the establishments, we found a wine cellar at the basement of an old building.  Bill had a great time there but what thrilled me was something else.  Before you reach the basement I got lost in a whole ground floor of antique and collectibles consignment booths.   And there, tucked among old quaint stuff was my treasure! 

I found my ornament tree, a golden three feet tall tree with hooks for thirty-two ornaments, for only $11!  I told Bill I could have died a happy girl then.  Little did I know that soon a strange feeling of emptiness would set in and replace the glee, realizing that I had no more treasures to hunt.   But, soon I had a new list…a quaint magazine rack, unique tray tables, and the best dinosaur toy for my grandson!

But, besides finding my treasure, I also found many great opportunities for photos of people selling their craft.  You see, I would like to join the ‘I am an Entrepreneur’ Photography Competition of Seven Fund. I took pictures of a face painter, a potter, and street dancers.  But it was in the Webb Flea Market the previous weekend where I found more…a cedar wood artist, ax handle craftsmen, fragrant oils retailer, a plant lady, an elephant ear cook, and a motorcycle airbrush specialist. 

Every second Saturday, Salisbury also has a Studio Crawl, a walking tour of art galleries and artists’ studios.  We went to the studios of a painter (Robert Crum), a glass fusion artist (Syed Ayamm), a sculptor, and some art galleries. We found out that the city has a thriving art community, an overflow from Charlotte where the cost of living is much higher. As a matter of fact, around the town’s streets are about two dozen pieces of fine public art.   A digital camera is definitely a good thing to have!

Art degrees via accredited online schools are available for people to earn who love art. People who are fascinated by sculpture, glass fusion, and more, are often interested in taking art courses.

Salisbury also has some historical places to boast of.  Andrew Jackson studied law there. Daniel Boone’s family trekked there.  Many union soldiers were buried in trenches near the Confederate Prison and National Cemetery there.  And now, the Colborns have left their mark there.  Back at the resort, they met three other couples and a bachelor. We all took turns making dinner for everyone to share. One of the wives is a Filipina, the first and only Asian I have ever encountered in the RV world.  

But that is not the end of the Salisbury Tales.  From the distinguished shelves of a retail outlet of the famed Goodwill Chain we discovered a Wowee RoboReptile dinosaur that was for auction the following Tuesday.  And, of course, my dashing knight in shining armor won for his queen the prize!  I became the happiest grandma in the whole wide world!  

Spencer, NC, just next to Salisbury is where the state’s famous Transportation Museum is located.  Spencer was a thriving railroad depot in the early 1900s until diesel replaced the steam engines and the depot died and the town whittled down, not being able to retrofit their shops fast enough.  But there we saw the relics of the steam engine era, including the luxury train, named Doris, of the Duke family after whom Duke University is named.

We were surprised to discover that Charlotte, NC is the second largest financial center in the USA (second to NY). It is home to almost 700,000 people, the largest city in the state.  On May 11, the day before we visited, the city had just inaugurated the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Charlotte is also the home of the National Whitewater Center, an Olympics training site, and the Billy Graham Library.  In the Fourth Ward at the end of the free trolley rides is the site of historically restored Victorian era homes and establishments.  

On the way to Sea Grove community of potters in Star, NC we chanced upon a large group of colorful tents. I thought it was a flea market but it turned out to be remote control car racing!  Some of the small hobby  cars had thousands of dollars put into them. It was very interesting to meet so many so engrossed in this sport.  Bill told me that the South, having vast spaces of land, is fonder of auto racing as a sport than the north!

And, finally, Sea Grove is an unbelievable community of about a hundred potters clustered around four roads of Star, NC.  There we found various techniques of glazing pottery…the crystalline way, the 15th century Chinese way, etc.  Some pots cost $2,500 (reputedly, it costs 4x more in Atlanta).  But in the Great White Oak Gallery one red Asian inspired pot stood out from the rest.  Bill and I thought that it would fit beautifully in someone’s Zen-inspired home and bought it!

Next Stops: Lenoir and Asheville, NC