Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Winter in the Southland

I'm on the return leg of a trip to Charlotte, NC on business and a little pleasure. I drove down last Tuesday and took two days to make the nearly thousand mile journey. The first day I encountered some light snow in southern New York and eastern PA, and then smooth sailing to Roanoke, VA. The news in Roanoke was that a "big winter storm" was approaching. People were absolutely obsessed - well at least the people on the local news stations. The forecast in Roanoke was 1-4 inches of snow and more to the south. The forecast for Charlotte was a Winter Storm Warning.

I got up early on Thursday to face the pending behemoth, and was pleasantly surprised to find that all of the hype was over the top. I was on the road for close to two hours before I saw a flake. I actually saw more salt trucks than snow flakes.

Coming through the mountains into North Carolina the light snow stopped and then started again about an hour north of Charlotte. The snow quickly turned to sleet, then freezing rain to all rain in a about a 10 mile stretch.

When I got to Charlotte, it was a ghost-town. The streets were deserted of mid-day traffic and the mall adjacent to the hotel had only a few stores open. Most had signs about the "inclement weather." One even had a sign indicating that they were out "playing in the snow." The best was the sign on the coffee shop indicating they were closing early!

What a bunch of wimps.

I have more info about "the storm" on my Maine ASCD blog including pictures of the less than 2 inches of slush and the quote from the local news indicating that they had broken all previous records for a 24 hour snowfall - 2 inches. I howled!

I left Charlotte on Sunday to mild temperatures in the 50's and based upon the forecast for bitter cold, headed east to The Outer Banks. I had initially intended to drive south to Hilton Head and find me a nice green golf course. But the forecast for there was temps in the 40's and I figured if I wanted to play golf in that kind of weather, I could do that in Maine.

So after a 5.5 hour drive through some fairly remote areas, I arrived on the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina and settled in a Ramada in Kill Devil Hills, just north of Nags Head. It is a very pretty area and I'll post pictures soon.

On Monday, I scouted out the surrounding area visiting the "First Flight" location in Kitty Hawk and even drove down to Cape Hatteras.

Backtracking north I have headed up to Virginia Beach for an overnight. The news here again was for brutal winter weather. This time the forecast is for the deep freeze and once again the natives are restless. The lead story on both the 6 o'clock and 11 o'clock news was "the cold." They were even telling people how to dress. People in "the south" apparently have forgotten how to wear clothes.

Apparently the hotels in Virginia Beach were designed by people who also need a lesson in wearing clothes. When I arrived at the Marriott Courtyard on the north side, there was a repairman in the lobby repairing something that was leaking in the ceiling - obviously a broken pipe. The gentleman at the front desk to took my credit card failed to mention that the central heating had been turned off and as a result there was no hot water. I only learned this when I went down to the pool area and stepped into a freezing jacuzzi. The pool, though warmer than the other puddle, was far from warm so I returned to my room and decided a warm shower was in order. No such luck.

Several phone calls to the front desk, promises that "heat is on the way," more phone calls and sitting for 45 minutes in a wet swimsuit, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I told them I was leaving and that they needed to find me a hotel in the area that had hot water.

Thirty minutes later I was checking into a queen suite in the Marriott Courtyard 18 blocks north down Atlantic Ave. My over sized room perched on the beach provides an even better view to the north where I can see the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel stretching to the Del-Mar-Va peninsula. This morning I found the first rays of sun angling in from the cold horizon landing in my bed.

I took a little trip last night to see some of the town. This time of the year Virginia Beach is pretty deserted. Many of the hotels and restaurants are closed. I had a truly awful "irish" dinner in a restaurant near the hotel that would make all of my relatives roll over in their graves. The deli style corned beef was cold, the potato had some black spots, and the "cabbage," was a wedge of brownish glop that looked and tasted like nothing. They even had some rubbery squares on the plate that were supposed to be slices of "traditional Irish Soda Bread." I told the waiter that there was no Mrs. Murphy anywhere on the planet that would serve this stuff and call it an Irish dinner.

Don't come to Virginia Beach for the food - at least not any Irish food.


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