Monday, May 28, 2012

Blue Ridge Mountains & Coca-Cola 600

Saturday we headed north to Moravian Falls to visit friends, Scott (he was one of Ray's partners at LAPD) and Mary Ann. They took us through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the city of Blowing Rock for dinner. No we didn't see the blowing rock so I have no pictures of it, but I understand you have to lean over a hole to feel the wind blow through the hole. I don't like heights so I'm ok to not experience it. We had a very nice dinner in an outside patio under the trees; very nice.
Scott stopped a couple of times for the view and I took pictures. I won't bore you explaining why they're blue, but isn't it pretty how the mountains just seem to fade away.

I forget the name of this lake, but Scott & Mary Ann love to play here.
They even stay out late at night just playing cards with friends on their boat.

Sunday = Race Day!

We kept hearing that we need to leave early because of traffic and parking. Well, we're from Southern California where there are lots of people and lots of traffic. With the gates opening at 12:30 and the fun stuff starting around 4:00 we decided to leave at noon and make the 45 minute drive figuring even if it took us 3 hours we'd have time to get settled before things started happening.

We drove right there and parked right away - in the free lot. As we were walking to the racetrack we saw these guys from Tennessee and had to stop and talk to them. They were fine with me taking their picture of what they called a "red-neck hot tub". Yes, that hose (hooked up at the dump station) is filling the tarp lined bed of their truck.
There were several times during the very hot day I wished I could have hopped in there.


We continued walking toward the race track through the campground on the property. (Note: the little bit you can see in the background is where we sat.)
We found this camp site decked out for the Memorial weekend. The guy here to the left of the site, Harry, is the Mayor of this campground. The other people, mostly veterans, are signing a banner that is going to a veteran for his 50th birthday. Harry had Ray sign it too.
Another fun person. Gotta love it!

I was telling the tall guy under the awning that this race is such a deal:
-the ticket was cheap
-with the ticket, on Friday we went to a cook out and a walk on the track
-a Darius Rucker concert before the race
-parking is free
-and you can take in your own food and drink
What a deal! All this would cost so much in Los Angeles.

He said, "Welcome to the south."

So we were here hours early. We walked across the street to the vendors area to look for some deals. Here we met, this kid, Hunter Stewart. (The man is his dad.) He started an organization called Racing2Cure after his mom got cancer; he's even been on the Ellen Show. For more info check out:  I got the tank top behind his head.

After checking out all the deals under the vendor tents, yes we bought more stuff, we went back to the race track. This band was playing patriotic songs. No this is not our seats; we couldn't see this area from our seats.

Here's our seats, right in the sun.
We tried to sit there and had to run for shade.
Plenty of time for it to cool down before the race.

Once Darius Rucker started singing we were in our seats.
Yeah, we couldn't see him,except on the big screen, but we could hear him.

There was lots of patriotic pre-race stuff.
Medal of honor winners, local soldiers, fly-bys, etc.

This flag was being towed by a plane.
I love how this cloud looks like a monkey checking out the flag.

The race begins!
See the cars on the track and the big screen.

The clouds put on a show too.

Dale Jr in the white car.
Most of my pictures of the cars are blurry; my running man setting is slower than the cars.

The sun sets and it cools down.

The sun goes down and the track lights up.

For a while Jr was in third place, but he finished at 6th.

Kasey Kane won the race! We left the track expecting a huge traffic jam. Within 20 minutes of getting in the truck we were on the road. Gotta love the south!

It was so exciting - the roar of the engines and the smell of hot tires - and it seems so much faster in person than on TV. Our cheap seats were great; we could follow the cars around the entire track. The only thing I missed was the announcer. There was one, but he was really hard to hear, especially when the cars were on our end of the track. There were several cautions, but we didn't really know what they were except when we saw a truck drive out and pick something up off the track. And it's kinda hard to believe that there were no crashes.

We got back late and had to get up early to get the trailer in the shop to have the roof sealed. Yes, we had a leak during the last storm and we don't want a repeat this week. Well it's taking longer than they originally said so tonight we're in a motel.

Tomorrow we head toward Raleigh to help with Annie's wedding.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Walking the Charlotte Motor Speedway

Yesterday we went to the Coca-Cola Track Walk & Summer Cookout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was a bonus to our tickets to Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 race. It was also the first day at 90 degrees - wow just for us.

We entered the raceway at top and got this great view.

Yes, Coke put on this event.

Ray at the start/finish line.

Look at that bank. Notice everyone walked the level part.

Our seats are in the third section in, near the top. Yes, right in the sun.
Oh well, a positive attitude, a hat and SPF 100 will go a long way.
Plus, it doesn't matter where you are, you're gonna sweat. 

Here we are on Pit Row. We actually ate lunch here.

The Coke drivers.

Check out this Coke bike; there's a large coke bottle on the other side.

A coke car.

The lunch was typical grill stuff - chicken, hot dogs, hamurgers, etc. Plus Coke drinks. The most impressive thing we found out when we talked to one of the servers is that all the people cooking and serving were local volunteers. And there were lots of people working there. It was a very hot day and even hotter there on the track. What a great thing to do! We appreciated getting a chance to see the track close up and check out where we're sitting and to see the drivers. However, it was very hot so we didn't stay more than a couple hours, but we did find the air conditioned gift shop and then walked the outside section that has the drivers trucks with stuff to buy. It was nice to get those things before the race and not have to worry about carrying them around on race day.

Then we went to the North Carolina Racing Hall of Fame. It's a small local operation in Mooresville that survives on donations and entrance fees. It has lots of odd things for sale to help them make money inside and in the parking lot. Ray bought a piece of a finder from a car that won the Daytona 500 in 2010. It will be part of his fence art in the backyard - his souvenirs.

Lots of donated cars in here.
Check out this cardboard stand-up of Dale senior.
It gave me a double take when I turned a corner.

Remember their history is in running moonshine.

It was getting late but we decided to check out JR Motorsports - Dale Jr's operation - a few miles away. Guess who was there? Yes, Dale and Danica too; they were doing interviews.

Talking about Sunday's race.

Guess who? No, it's just a wax Dale. Yeah, it's kinda creepy close up.

Racing is really big in this area. Downtown they've closed off streets for days with a street fair called "Speed Street". We decided not to fight those crowds.

After this we still had a little daylight and I spied a nail salon. So Ray occupied himself while I had a mani-pedi. Thanks Ray, I needed that!
Today we're heading north to visit with Ray's friend; they're gonna show us around their area.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Old Salem

Yesterday we had some extra time so we decided to check out Winston-Salem and see what might be interesting there. We got such a late start and played a bit on the way that we ended up in town in the late afternoon. We noticed a sign that said "Old Salem" so we decided to check it out. It was interesting and it gave us a walk that we really needed.
There are lots of old buildings from this Moravian community from the 1700s & 1800s. Some are part of the Old Salem Historical walk and some are private residents.

This is the gunsmith.

An old building.

It is beautiful here.

The inside of another old building.

After we walked through Old Salem we crossed over to take this trail back.

This small creek was nearby.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nascar: A Little History

We've been in town a few days now and have learned a few things about NASCAR or the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing.

Nascar has it's roots in prohitibion. Yes, back in those days moonshiners were driving their stuff through the Appalachian mountains and the police were trying to stop them. To keep from getting caught they modified their cars so they could go faster than the police cars. Even after prohibition the revenuers would try to catch them so they could collect taxes.

Well those guys with the fast cars started racing each other. And then they got together in Daytona Beach to see who had the fastest car and the best driver. Then they got organized and they're still trying to have the fastest car and the best driver.

I found this early Daytona picture - he's flying.

We're looking forward to going to the race this weekend. We usually DVR races and watch them a little quicker than real time so it will be a long day/night. I googled 'how long is the Coca-Cola 600?' and found out it's between 4 and 5 hours. Since it starts after 6pm it looks like us old folks will be out late. The weather man says it will be 89 on Sunday so it's a good thing it starts closer to dusk. But we're going much earlier to check out all the stuff in the parking lot and across the street. So we got SPF100 sunblock for the day.

We are looking forward to the race and because it's Memorial Weekend it will be very patriotic. We even bought shirts with American flags to wear. We also found out you can take in food and drink, so we're trying to decide what we might want to carry in or if we just want to wait in line for everything (and pay whatever they charge). Maybe water, oranges and granola bars like we do for hikes. Our tickets are in the no smoking/no drinking area so the air should be fresh (except all those sweaty bodies) and the spectators should behave (hopefully).

Today's activities: we're not sure yet. We slept in and are getting a late start.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

North Carolina, Nascar, Etc.

We left Myrtle Beach yesterday and came to Charlotte North Carolina planning to hang out in the area for about a week. There are several things we want to see or do while here so we found a KOA and settled in .        

This is a wheat field on the road to Charlotte.

When I was five years old we lived in Mooresville, it's north of Charlotte. My dad was the preacher at this church. Ray and I stopped by to check it out. I have a few memories of life there and it is interesting to see how it changed. We were walking around taking pictures and the current pastor came our and gave us a tour inside. The place has been remodeled and it is beautiful.

I think we lived in this house that is down the street from the church.
My brothers are older so they will have to verify this.
It looks like it hasn't changed much in 50+ years.

On the way in town I checked out the Charlotte Motor Speedway website and found out that the Coca-Cola 600 is this coming Sunday. Well, we had to see if we could get tickets. And we did!

The whole town is ready for the race.

The tickets!

With tickets to Sunday's race we also get to go, on Friday, to a cook-out, live music, a chance to walk around the track, plus see some drivers and cars. Bonus!

After getting the race tickets we checked out where we should park. A local told us about a good place down the road because it can take hours to get out of there. She said they were not all out of the parking lots last week until 4am. We are preparing for a long, long day/night.

Then we went downtown to the Nascar Hall of Fame. It's interactive and fun. I even learned a few things. Now I'll know what they mean when they say the car is 'tight' or 'loose' - it has to do with the shock tension balance on the wheels.

Check out the crosswalk.


Gotta go, a storm is rolling in.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Myrtle Beach

We've had a fun time hanging around in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina today. Some walking on the beach, around town and later on a boardwalk at the beach. A little shopping too. The Bike Week ended today and there were lots of great deals at the booth set up to sell to the bikers. We both got a great deal on a leather vest, plus a few shirts too. Then to a couple of those huge tacky souvenir shops for a few things to take home. We even went to a driving range and hit a few golf balls. I hadn't done that for years and I didn't do to bad. We're thinking we need to do that more often.
We met up with friends, Lori & Pete and Doris & Sal for some fun at a place called Broadway at the Beach. It's kinda like The City with a lake in the middle.

Myrtle Beach

Not exactly like the Pacific Ocean

The pier here cost $1 to go out on it.

Feet in the sand.

Cute little police vehicle; almost like a golf cart.

Check out the geese crossing the street; they held up traffic.

Another fun day!
Tomorrow we head to Charlotte, North Carolina.