Sunday, October 23, 2011

Visiting basketball country

Oct. 18-22, Raleigh, North Carolina

We found a state park in Durham (Falls Lake) situated midway between Raleigh and Chapel Hill. They even gave us the resident senior discount of 25% reducing our nightly cost at the park to $21.  The park was huge with several different areas for tent camping or RV use.  There were very few other campers around, making it feel quite isolated.  There was a large lake and dock for fishing (another time I wished I had a fishing gear) and the dogs were able to run in the open as there was no one to complain.

Our first day we toured around the Duke campus with the specific goal of finding the Hall of Fame.  There was a coaching camp going on in the stadium, but we were able to go in and experience the intimate size of this famous court. Vic really seemed to enjoy conjuring up his memories of championship games played here and the many famous players whose legacies began here.

Hair color challenge!  Vic said he had never seen me with such gray hair before—a strong hint that I needed professional help. (I am just not yet ready to let it go; in fact, my leanings are toward the opposite--maybe go cherry! Although I would love to save money in coloring my hair myself, the idea of doing this in such small quarters seems less than desirable.  I used my internet skills and found a salon in Raleigh that had outstanding reviews.  My colorist, Maximo, was quite a colorful guy (pun intended) and the results were fantastic.  He was able to just look at my multi-colored hair of blonde, auburn, and walnut and create his own blend to complement this mix of colors.  He also put a toner on the blonde which has become quite bleached out to make it less startling.  Maximo was a find!

Visiting Chapel Hill—another college basketball legacy.  Vic was happy to visit the Dean Smith center.  We also enjoyed seeing a display of athletes earning letters which included Michael Jordan and several others who Vic remembered as players who later become NBA legends.  The display was sponsored by endowments from Vince Carter, another well-known alumnus of U of NC.

Chapel Hills is another town I had fond memories of from a visit in 1977 to hang out with a college friend, Chip Enslin.  I have no idea what became of him, but he also carried the title Enslin III so I am imagining him as a liberal lawyer somewhere on the East Coast.  I remember liking the university atmosphere then and still found myself enchanted by the mixture of hip atmosphere and southern charm. 

Chapel Hill highlight for me: discovering the legendary Crooks Corner restaurant: a James Beard winner for authentic Southern fare.  We drove past it twice as it looks like a remodeled gas station covered in southern vegetation.  I had heard about shrimp and grits a few years ago, and this was the time to try it as it is the most well-known entrĂ©e on the menu.  It was amazing—local shrimp, tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, garlic, and cheesy grits—how can you mess up?  Vic went for the Carolina barbecue which was also amazing except he discovered he has no palate for collard greens.
Crooks Corner signpost
Another important sidelight: I realized we were going to be in the Triangle cities (Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh) over a weekend and that sent me to the internet to locate our previous minister from Unity Church of Corvallis who had returned to North Carolina. I found him in Raleigh as minister of his Unity Church of the Triangle in Raleigh and convinced Vic that we should go to a Sunday service at his church. I even made sure he was giving the sermon and not some guest minister—I was excited to experience church for the first time in ten years!  Attending the church did not disappoint:  Unity Church of the Triangle, Neusom Holmes’ church, was an architecturally stunning church in the heart of Raleigh. It was exhilarating to walk in and hear phenomenal music (especially the lead guitarist) creating such joyful music—you couldn’t help but feel open and uplifted.  Having attended Unity churches for many years, it was also comforting to know the rituals and even some of the songs.  Not only was Neusom a special person in my own spiritual path, he was the minister who married Vic and me in 1999 which included couples counseling before we exchanged vows.  Neusom’s sermon was about the power of prayer by connecting with the spiritual dimension of life through meditation.  As I had so fondly recalled, Neusom included several humorous moments in the sermon by referring to his own idiosyncrasies and weaknesses as a human being. To sum up, his example of prayer was to help him “forgive everything .”  In thinking about how much I suffer (in my mind) about my own shortcomings, I imagined taking on such a request; as a result, a rather large tear formed in my eye and fell down my face: could I both forgive every little thing I have done and those things that I have held as perpetrations against me?  Powerful stuff and somehow it seemed part of destiny for us to be at this service on this day.  Last comment: the congregation was overwhelmingly welcoming. I could imagine myself as a part of this group of people doing good, sharing connections and talents in so many ways.  Perhaps the greatest connection that made this experience so special to me was that my mother introduced to me to Unity and I could feel her spirit hovering over us with delight. . . .

Unity Church of Raleigh, a very special place to visit

Had to take this photo of a charming little restaurant right
across the street from the chuch in downtown Raleigh

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