Saturday, July 7, 2012

Reviving our Travel Tradition
July 5, 2012 
We are delighted to be on the road again for purely recreational travel (as opposed to our our last few travels which could be more appropriately identified as travails—consequently unblogged.)

Nearly a year ago we were the winning bidders at a silent auction for a two-night get-away at the Omni Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, and we found the soon-to-expire gift certificate as we were packing for our move a couple months ago.  Best of all, as part of the package our friend Roger at Senior Citizens Inc. was our personal concierge, providing lots of suggestions for great places to dine and things to see in Charlotte.  We know we are going to have a great time there.

But, as always, we manage to find a few interesting sights to divert us on the way.

The first is Jody Pendarvis’  UFO Welcome Center in Bowman, NC.   The bottom 46-foot diameter saucer  is tethered to the ground, but the smaller saucer on top is loosely attached so that visiting aliens can tow Jody in it when they depart. We are not at all sure the upper saucer is airworthy, and the lower one is clearly disintegrating . No question, however, Jody is already in outer space.  (Having thoroughly researched the UFO Welcome Center, we ogle, photo, and leave quickly, certain that we do not want to experience a close encounter with Jody.)  

In Ridgeway, NC we stop at the world’s smallest police station, active from 1940 to 1990. Next to it is the twice as large “new” police station, needed due to excessive donut consumption. Previously, it was the town’s fire station, housing one truck.

In the outskirts of Charlotte we stop at this Metamorphosis sculpture, made of layers of stainless steel designed to rotate independently of each other forming an endless variety of faces. Although it isn’t working when we see it, several people who work in the building behind the sculpture see us studying it and testify that they have seen it moving a few times. Perhaps it is only put in motion for visiting dignitaries.
When we arrive at the Omni, we are treated like visiting dignitaries—we have a luxurious junior suite on a flat iron corner of the building with 300 degree views of uptown Charlotte. 

The city beckons. We wander the neighborhood, an urban wonderland of pocket parks and landscaped plazas with fountains and public artwork, tucked between modern sky scrapers. 

If Jody Pendarvis ever visits Charlotte, he will find a kindred spirit here—the Firebird in front of the Bechtel Museum of Modern Art conjures thoughts of a friendly flying alien.    

We are never out of sight of security guards or police officers. Why all this security? We learn that Charlotte is the second largest financial center in the country, only surpassed by New York. Who knew?

We end our first day in Charlotte with dinner at Blue, voted both best uptown restaurant and best place to hear jazz in recent Charlotte Magazine poll.  It is just a five minute walk from our hotel, and both dinner and jazz are divine.

We fall asleep to the muffled sounds of a band playing at a rooftop gathering of young professionals across the street.  We have been here less than half a day, and already we are enchanted by Charlotte.  

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