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Archive for the ‘North Carolina’ Category

The First Goodbye

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 20, 2010

September 8, 2003

All Pictures

smoking trees

Smoky?

They are called the “Smoky Mountains” for a reason. The trees smoke. When you go there, the park rangers can explain it to you in more scientific terms. But, basically the moisture in the tree evaporates a lot. Even on cold days you can see steam, vapor, whatever you want to call it, coming out of the trees, giving the mountains a smoky look.

tired

The Last American Days

This stop was the beginning of the last trip I took in the US before moving to the UK. I planned to go to school in Manchester, England for a year and wanted to see my brother and sister before I left. My brother came down from Ohio to meet me at Gatlinburg, Tennessee to say his last goodbyes.

After this, my mom and I drove to Colonial Williamsburg and then to my sister’s place. We toured Washington D.C. and my car was sold. I left for England from Dulles Airport via Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. But all those photos are lost.

at Clingman’s Dome

What, me scared?

I was excited about living outside the US for the first time in my life. I’d traveled to other countries before, but never alone. Everyone else in my family had lived abroad. In fact, I’m the only one who was born in the US.

My mother is from Belize. She went to college in Costa Rica and lived there for 2 years. She worked in Guatemala for 2 years. Then she married a Panamanian and lived in Panama for 5 years. That’s where my brother and sister were born.

My family leaving Panama.

The family moved from Panama to the Cayman Islands and spent 2.5 years there before moving to Jamaica. After 3 years in Jamaica everyone moved back to the Cayman Islands for another 2.5 years. In 1979, they moved to St. Croix. One month after that move, I was born. That’s when the family decided to stop moving.

So, I’d never lived outside the US.

This is my sister driving somewhere in DC

So was I scared to move away from all my friends and family? No. Well… not in Gatlinburg.

The fear started to creep in the day I left for Manchester. My sister was driving me to the airport. We were on the Rock Creek Parkway when it hit me what an insane thing I was doing.

In my head I began to think. “I don’t know anyone over there! What if I get sick? What if I get hit by a bus and die? Would I be buried over there in an unmarked grave since there would be no next of kin to identify me? What do I do when I need money?”

My sister looked over at me and asked me if I was okay. I told her I was feeling a little scared. “What if this is the worst decision I would ever make in my entire life?” I felt like I was about to cry.

She kept her eyes on the road and said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. Once you get over there and start making friends you’ll be fine.”

The view from my dorm room in Manchester

I did make friends very quickly. There were a couple ladies on my flight from Chicago who were also attending the University of Manchester. I would end up seeing much of England with them. We hung out for most of that first day.

Americans in England

What? No Really, can you say that in English?

Because of jet lag, my new friends decided to go take naps and left me on my own shortly after I got to the university. I needed to get some water so I walked to a nearby corner store before heading to my dorm to take a nap myself. I picked up a bottle of water and asked the clerk how much it cost.

Clerk: ????????

Me: “What?”

Clerk: ????????

Me: “What?”

Clerk: ????????

Me: “What?”

Clerk: ????????

Me: “Can you write that down?”

He typed the price into a calculator. Apparently he was used to dealing with the foreign exchange students who spoke very little English. But come on, English is my first language! …my only language.

I could tell that he was speaking English, but I had no idea what he was saying. His words sounded like fast mumbling. “Will all the British sound like this?” I wondered. “How will I pass my classes if I can’t even understand what the teachers are saying?”

I went up to my dorm room and cried for a good hour. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be back in the US where I can understand people when they speak. Then it hit me that I didn’t know where to go to buy things.

In the US if I need a hammer, I’d go to Home Depot or Lowes. Where do I go here? If I need medicine I’d go to CVS or RiteAid. Where do I go here? If I need an oil change I go to Jiffy Lube. Where do I go here? (But really I could just go to Wal-mart and get all those things done.) Then I cried some more.

“I don’t have a car anymore!” More tears.

Then I stopped. Going back was not an option. I had already paid for my return ticket to visit my sister at Christmas and started paying for my tuition. There was no money left for me to turn back now. I washed my face.

The thing I needed most was more friends. When you’re in a new country, the one thing you can’t have too much of is a social network. So I went downstairs into the courtyard and socialized. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with Irene from China. She was a great person.

My sister was right. By the next day I was fine!

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

The Great Smoky Mountains

How to get there:

From Gatlinburg –

  • Take I-40, exit 407 (Sevierville) to TN-66 South.
  • At the Sevierville intersection, continue straight onto US-441 South.
  • Follow US-441 through Sevierville and Pigeon Forge into park.

Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone:

  • (865) 436-1200

Website:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • FREE!! This is actually the only free national park in the US.

Hours:

  • Open year round 24 hours a day.
  • Closed only for bad weather

Clingmans Dome

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°33’46.0″N 83°29’54.5″W
  • Turn off Newfound Gap Road 0.1 mile south of Newfound Gap.
  • Follow the 7-mile-long Clingmans Dome Road to the large parking area at the end

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Clingmans Dome is open year-round.
  • The road leading to it is closed from December 1 through March 31,
  • It is also closed whenever weather conditions require.

Notes:

  • It is a long hike up to the dome, but not so difficult that an average semi-healthy person could not make it up there eventually. But it is not as easy as it looks.
  • This place has an amazing view of both Tennessee and North Carolina, but not on foggy days. Check the weather forecast before you hike up there for nothing.
  • The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome.
  • It can be 10 -20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler up Clingmans Dome than the rest of the area.
  • It was named after Thomas Lanier Clingman.

Map:

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Posted in Cherokee, England, Gatlinburg, Manchester, North Carolina, Tennessee, United Kingdom, The, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Farewell Tour

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 19, 2010

August 11-15, 2010

All Pictures

It’s a long ways away

The Long Drive Home

Since I’m going to Japan soon and Mark isn’t, we dropped him off in Flint and made our way south. Don’t worry, Mark is coming to Japan. He’ll come shortly after I get there.

It’s a long drive from Michigan to Homestead so my mom and I made several stops along the way. Mark found a great website and gave me the link. It’s called RoadsideAmerica.com. There are lot of interesting things to see out there!

Not everything was worth a blog entry. Some of our stop was just entertaining enough to break up the monotony of a 3 day car journey. I will just talk about the more interesting ones here.

One last game of soccer

One Last Goodbye

Our first Mark-less stop was in Columbus, Ohio. I have one more chance to see my brother again and to try to talk him into visiting me in Japan. His second son, Alex, and my mom will be spending Christmas with me.

I played a game of soccer with my brother and his boys. It reminded me of the year I lived in Columbus. This was where I learned to play basketball and where I started exercising. This game also reminded me of how out-of-shape I am. I do need to start exercising again.

JV #55

You play Basketball!? ha ha!

In high school I was far from what anyone would call athletic. I had never ran without cause to. I never lifted weights, unless I was trying to retrieve something. But I was, and still am, very tall.

I moved to a new city and a new school. I was going to spend one year with my brother and see what life in the states was like. My mom wanted me in a private christian school. After weeks of searching my brother picked Tree of Life High School for me.

One day a man approached me as I was walking in the hall. “You’re new aren’t you.” he said as he sized me up. “If you want to make some new friends and play basketball, come see me. My office is in the gym.”

At dinner that night I told my brother about my odd encounter. He rolled over laughing. “They think just because you’re tall you can play basketball. You play basketball!?” He fell on the floor holding his sides.

I thought it was funny that anyone would mistake me for a potential basketball player, but I didn’t think it was that funny. “You don’t think I could make the team?”

Malcolm: “No. Have you every played basketball before? Would you even know what to do with the ball?”

Me: “Wouldn’t they teach me?”

Malcolm: “They would if you could get on the team. But you have to get on the team first.”

Me: “Alright. I’ll get on the team. Then they’ll teach me to play. Then I’ll play!”

They misspelled my name… and I changed my major. Biochemistry!? What was I thinking?

The next day at lunch I went to the athletic office at school and signed up to be a Lady Trojan. I was put on the JV team and played my heart out. I never became a fantastic baller, but that was never my goal. I did however, manage to go on and earn a basketball scholarship for college.

Think of all the goodies it can hold.

The World’s Blankiest Blank!

The next stop was to see the world’s biggest basket. It’s actually a 7-story office building and headquarters of the Longaberger basket company. When you go inside it looks like you’re outdoors. There is a piano that plays itself and many cozy rooms with examples of how you can use your Longaberger basket.

in Ottis’ cell

Well I’lllllll Be!

The next day we went to Mayberry. This was my first visit to a fictional town. Well, it’s actually Mount Airy dressed up to look like Mayberry. Mount Airy is where Andy Griffith is from. So to capitalize on his fame, the town recreated Mayberry in it’s downtown area.

This is the actual boyhood home of Andy Griffith. There is a statue of Opie and Andy in the town. You can see the shops, stores and other characters in the town, but the most popular one is Barney Fife. He now has a cafe and his likeness is seen all over the town.

World’s biggest fire hydrant

If we were just driving without unnecessary stops we could have made it home with only one overnight along the way. But how boring is that? Besides when will I have the opportunity to see the world’s biggest fire hydrant again?

one log you say…

One of our stops was in St. Augustine, America’s oldest city to see a home built from one single redwood log. It was very hot inside since there are no windows. But it comes complete with a kitchen and fridge, a bed room, dining room and sitting area. But where was the bathroom? A sign near the house said that “business” was done outside…

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

The World biggest Basket

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 40°03’49.1″N 82°20’46.7″W

By Car, from Columbus –

  • Take I70 East, exit 132,
  • then turn left onto State Route 13 north.
  • Follow State Route 13 north to State Route 16 East and turn right.
  • From State Route 16 East, turn right onto Dayton Road.
  • Turn left onto East Main Street.
  • The Home Office is located on the left.

Address:

One Market Square
1500 East Main Street
Newark, Ohio 43055

Phone:

  • 740-322-5588

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Most M-F 8:00 – 17:00

Notes:

  • This place is an office building. You are welcome to come in, ask questions, and take pictures in the visitor’s area only.

Mayberry
(Mount Airy)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 36°30’06.3″N 80°36’24.8″W

By Car from I77

  •  Take exit 100 to Hwy. 89 East.
  • Turn left onto Pine St./Hwy. 89.
  • Follow Pine to Renfro St., turn left.
  • Follow Renfro Street and take a left onto Independence Blvd.
  • You will see the Blue Signs that say Visitors Center.
  • Once you turn onto Independence take the next left onto Main Street.
  • Follow Main Street until you see the Big Granite Building located beside Barney’s Restaurant.
  • This is The Chamber of Commerce Building and the Visitors Center is located in the Chamber of Commerce Building at, 200 N. Main Street.

Address:

200 North Main Street
Mount Airy, North Carolina 27030

Phone:

  • 1-800-948-0949

Website:

Downloads:

Notes:

  • There is free parking behind the Old City Jail on the intersection of Moore Ave. and Renfro St.
  • You can go camping in this area.

The One Log House

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 29°53’58.5″N 81°18’48.8″W

Go to the old down town of St. Augustine in Florida.

Address:

19 San Marco Ave.
St. Augustine, FL

Phone:

  • 904-824-1606

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • The log house is in the parking lot of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not. You don’t have to pay to see it.

Map:

Posted in Columbus, Florida, Mount Airy, Newark, North Carolina, Ohio, St. Augustine, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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