Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Cosmic Otters Southeast Tour

The weekend started out with an uneventful plane ride to Charlotte. We got our rental car and proceeded to drive into town in search of some lunch. We went about this rather blindly, hoping that simply by driving around we would find the perfect place, such as a restaurant. It took a bit more doing than we were hoping for, but we eventually landed at Pike's in the historic South End.

We found out later that it is the only place in town you can still order an authentic ice cream soda (as authenticated by two former soda jerks). Instead we wet our whistles with unsweetened iced tea (you have to specify your sugar option down South).

It was a stunningly beautiful day. Spring is a bit more sprung down there than it is up here. The Fool enjoyed an open-faced turkey sandwich while I relished a turkey burger.

We relaxed a little at our host's home (more on that later) before heading up to the dance in Davidson, which is this adorable little town about 30 miles north of Charlotte. Complete with traffic circles, white-painted churches, and a village green, it's straight out of New England.

The dance was scheduled at a local middle school just down the road from the center of town. Things were about to take an unusual turn, however, for as we pulled up and started unloading, we overheard the head custodian say to the dance organizer, "Well, I'm calling the police."

We ran into some confusion regarding the dance group's contract (they were right, the school district was ... confused) and a first-class example of why small towns can be really cool sometimes. The police chief (the chief!) and the head of the parks department suggested we adjourn to the nearby village green and dance on the brick patio in front of the library. The night was cool and the moon was out and there was a great little coffeehouse nearby, where we went for some fortification. Someone official arranged for worklights to be brought out so we could sort of see the dance floor, the Fool scooted off to a nearby drugstore to buy some mosquito repellent and we had a contra dance en plein air, thanks to a very flexible dance community and organizers who cheerfully loaded and unloaded the minivan of sound equipment about 6,000 times.

It got a little chilly later, especially for Adina, but fortunately, she was traveling with knitters. You can't see the striped socks, but she's wearing some.

We were staying with the dance organizers, who had the niftiest thing going on. In addition to a friendly standard poodle, they had chickens! Beautiful, interesting chickens, who laid lovely eggs, all different shades of brown and green, which we had for breakfast the next day.
Generally acting like people who had never seen wildlife before, the Fool and I took lots of pictures.

A relatively quick two-and-a-half hour jaunt across North Carolina the next day brought us to Asheville, at the seat of the Great Smoky Mountains. (Two-and-a-half hours is a decent amount of travel time when you're from the East Coast, but us Midwesterners hardly blink an eye). The town was just as we remembered, only this time we didn't have food poisoning and the weather was far cooler. Gorgeous, in fact. On our way into town, Adina realized that our friend Matt could probably be found at the Fiddle and Folklife Festival at nearby Warren Wilson College, so we stopped by on our way into town.

The setting could not have been more breathtaking.

Matt was about to go on stage as part of the stringband competition (I think their band name was the Corn Stalkers). We never did find out if they won, but we liked them the best of the four groups who played.

We paused for a moment in Asheville before heading down to River Falls Lodge in northern South Carolina. We arrived early for the potluck and got to snap a few pictures. Here's some interesting things we found in the lodge.

The place is operated almost exclusively by contra dancers and has been described as the best dance hall in the entire southeast, and we'll tell you more about that tomorrow.


Janice said...

A nice accounting of what sounds like a v. cool trip! Esp'y enjoyed the chicken pix (they are camera MAGNETS I tell you!) and the story of how the police got involved in a contradance. I do hope the school officials were DULY chastened afterwards for their 'confusion.'

Jen & Matt said...

"you have to specify your sugar option down South"

Okay, I'm confused. I guess Texas isn't included in the whole Down South bit. Here, they just bring out unsweetened tea and you have sweeteners at the table. What are you guys used to? (Am I going to have to learn to order my iced tea differently when we move up there?)

meg said...

In the Midwest, if you order "iced tea," you get unsweetened tea. It used to be in the South if you ordered "iced tea," you got sweet tea. Now, they ask you - but teh point is presweetened tea is an option.

Eldronius said...

I am in Texas as well. As a kid I loved the teas that were as sweet as Kool-Aid (like my Mom's sister)...yum. Then I would go visit my Dad's side of the family where there was no sugar at all...ick.

Now I just shun it all and drink water, haha!

That trip sounds delightful. I always love reading about y'alls excursions.

LaurieM said...

So much to say! I liked seeing the front of the otters, enjoying their tea. I loved the idea of an outside dance. The lizard with the blue tail is way cool. What hat is that? I like the pointiness and the corners. And chickens! Fresh eggs!

Whew, I think I've over heated.....