Photos on the Page Taken With: Nikon CoolPix775
Sunday, October 21, 2001 to Wednesday, October 24, 2001 - From Virginia to North Carolina, Again
Sunday morning, I got ready to leave. I had been staying in my sister's cramped apartment on her sofa which didn't open up into a bed. I was getting on my sister's nerves, as usual, so it was good that I was almost on my way.
I got a late start on the road and I headed south on I-95, through the state of Virginia. I decided to stop a few hours later in Gaston, North Carolina, pulling into a large RV resort surrounding a lake. There were fewer people around now, the brisk autumn air less inviting to most RVers.
For me, it was good to be back RVing, and I'd already RV'd through freezing conditions last winder, so I was undaunted by a little chill in the air. I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up and organizing things in the RV, vacuuming, throwing things away. We had the first spot near the campground office, convenient to the bathrooms and with a perfect view of the lake, but as the sun set, the water disappeared behind black pitch of night.
On Monday morning, I awoke to mist rising from the lake and before leaving, I ran down a grassy hill to take some photographs. Today, my goal was to get to Charlotte, North Carolina in the mid-late afternoon. I'd be staying at my friend Elizabeth's home. I had met Elizabeth on a previous trip to Charlotte through my old boss. She had attended my book signing that night and afterwards, we had dinner and discovered that we had a lot of things in common. We stayed in touch periodically through email, and she had invited me to stay in her home for this Charlotte visit.
Before getting back onto I-95, I stopped for some breakfast at the Countryside Family Restaurant. I opted to sit at the counter, usually the best seat in the house, however it was a slow morning. I did exchange a few words with an older couple sitting on the other end of the counter, talking about traveling, about the weather, about RVs. I ate a big breakfast, then let the Berts pee in the parking lot before we hit the road.
I pulled into Charlotte a little later than planned, but it was still light outside as I made my way through rush-hour traffic and into Elizabeth's neighborhood. She and her husband had recently bought a beautiful house set back in a wooded area out in the suburbs. As I eased the RV into her driveway, tree branches lightly scraping the Apache's roof and Elizabeth was waving at me from the kitchen windown.
At first, she separated her two cats from the Berts, but we soon realized that the Berts really couldn't care less about the cats and the cats simply didn't know what to make of the Berts, so all was well in the big house. That night, Elizabeth and her husband whipped up a delicious vegetarian stir fry. Later, she invited a friend over to join us for dessert and drinks.
Actually, she was trying to fix me up with her friend on a blind date, and I was a willing participant. I had met so few guys on the road other than people I already knew, and I trusted Elizabeth's judgement, so I wasn't worried. Chuck ended up being a sharp, witty, attractive guy with an interesting career and endless knowledge of movies. Even though we mostly listened to Elizabeth dish fun gossip, we were able to exchange a few words and glances to realize that we had some things in common, including a similar sense of humor.
But alas, I'd be leaving town in a few days, and he had a busy schedule, so nothing else could really happen there. We said goodnight, and the Berts and I retired to bed to make an early morning appointment the next day.
On Tuesday, we battled traffic in the morning to get to the local NBC affiliate station on the other side of town for an interview. At the last minute, the TV correspondent decided to film inside the RV which, although organized, had boxes and stuff stacked up all throughout. So I had to quickly move everything into the front seats, close the curtain, and try to set up a little "home office" on the table.
The Berts were distressed that people were in the RV and Chewie nearly bit off the cameraman's nose, but the chihuahuas eventually settled down and the interview went well. We left the TV station and returned to Elizabeth's house where I worked on email until it was time to go to the Charlotte Webgrrls event.
Earlier, I had met up with Webgrrls chapter leader Robin Ives. She used to be a Webgrrl in NYC and had relocated several years earlier, then started a chapter in her area. She is an intense, thoughtful person and it was nice to see her again (had met up with her and her daughter on my previous visit through Charlotte).
This event was the first co-ed Town Hall I conducted so it was interesting to get the "male" perspective on the effects of September 11th on their businesses. Having men in the room proved, however, my ongoing theory that men's presence in a room affects the dynamic and the conversation and how women react. The women in the room were reluctant to express themselves, a stark contrast to the previous women-only Town Halls that I had held. Nobody really wanted to share their feelings or experiences, so I was forced to fill in the silence which was fine for me, but disappointing to me as well.
Finally, things warmed up a little and a few people gave their opinion or shared a thought or two. It was fascinating to hear the men talk in much stronger language and terms about what had happening and the aftermath than the women. If there was any emotion expressed by the men in the room, it certainly wasn't fear or sadness but rather anger and frustration. While the event was interesting in some ways, for the most part, it didn't have the same cathartic affect as previous ones had for me. Live and learn.
I returned to Elizabeth's house that night with a slightly twisted ankle from running through sprinklers on the lawn outside the event meeting room. She brought me frozen green beans in a plastic bag to put over the swelling as I rested it on the living room table. We watched some television, but I was ready for bed pretty early. The Berts and I went to the guest bedroom in the big house in the suburbs of Charlotte, and slept soundly.