We arrived in High Point Wednesday afternoon, after spending the morning poking around Asheville. A late breakfast at Tupelo Honey Café was one of the highlights; Eggs Betty is their version of a Benedict, and it was sensational. Two perfectly poached eggs over light house-made biscuits, topped with some good southern ham and a lemony Hollandaise sauce. Paired with a strong cup of coffee, an outside table in the shade, and my happy-to-be-with-you poodle, what more could I ask for?
After breakfast, we made our way to the River Arts District and toured some galleries, then stopped in at 12 Bones to pick up some of the best ribs in the south to take to Scott and Katy’s house for dinner.
We were on the road for High Point by about 1:15. I-40 goes east from Asheville through the western mountains of the Pisgah National Forest, and it was a beautiful drive. About halfway through – somewhere east of Black Mountain, we stopped at a rest area so Max could stretch his legs and mark some shrubbery, but deep booming thunder, and a dark charcoal sky above the mountains to our east made me edgy and I got us back in the car and on the road again pretty quickly.
Later on, I pulled into another rest area so I could take a quick nap before continuing on. When I woke up about 25 minutes later, it was just beginning to rain. I let Max out again but all he wanted to do was sniff around. Not 15 minutes after getting back on the road, the skies opened up in a torrential downpour that my wipers on high speed could just barely clear.
Almost as soon as it started, it slowed and we drove for a while in “average” rain. After a couple more monsoon deluges, it stopped altogether, and we were on the outskirts of High Point.
I think Max recognized the neighborhood when we were a few blocks from Scott and Katy’s house, and he was pretty excited when we turned into their driveway to be greeted first by Katy, and then his pals, Loolie and Hershey.
Thursday, we left the dogs safely ensconced in the fenced back yard (with inside access via doggy door to the ping pong room) while we went to Raleigh with their friend, Raymond, for lunch and two museums.
Lunch at the Umstead Hotel was an unbelievable treat. We were expecting it to be a 1930s rustic lodge hotel because it was right next to a state park… but no! It was a high end, very swank place like you’d find in New York or Beverly Hills. Doormen, valet parking, a gorgeous lobby with fabulous original art on the walls, and a dining room with high vaulted ceiling and windows looking out to a deck and the pool beyond.
Lunch? Three of us had the lobster rolls (how could we NOT when we all live in Maine??) which were out of this world, served with house-made sea salt and vinegar potato chips. Scott had a Kobe beef burger served as rare as any beef I’ve seen in years, and said it was fantastic.
Next, it was on the North Carolina Museum of Art where they have an exhibition titled El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote You About Africa . This description from the Museum’s website gives a little insight into the exhibit:
“El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You about Africa traces the prolific career of El Anatsui—one of contemporary art’s most celebrated practitioners—from his early woodwork in Ghana to today’s metal wall sculptures created in his studio in Nigeria, offering an unprecedented chance for visitors to follow the artist’s creative development over 40 years.
This expansive exhibition traces four decades of Anatsui’s prolific career, including his early work making use of traditional symbols in Ghana; driftwood pieces created in Denmark; chainsaw-carved wood work, metal assemblages, and draping bottle-top sculptures produced in Nigeria. Anatsui’s metal sculptures—constructed from thousands of Nigerian liquor bottle tops pieced together—transform a simple material into a stunning monumental form. While many of his works make use of found objects—including bottle caps, milk tins, and cassava graters—the artist says that his sculptures are less about recycling or salvaging than about seeking meaning in the ways materials can be transformed to make statements about history, culture, and memory.”
Our main goal for the day was the Nasher Museum at Duke University, to see an exhibit of 34 of Alexander Calder’s Mobiles and Stabiles paired with works by seven contemporary artists. Thursday night, the museum was screening two short films about Calder, including the famous 1955 film by Jean Pavileve, Le Grand Cirque Calder 1927. Click here to watch a five minute excerpt on YouTube. The gallery containing the Calder works was fabulous. We all agreed we could have done without the paired contemporary works – which mostly lacked the appeal of the Calder pieces. The films – in particular the Circus one – were wonderful, giving us some insight into the man behind the legend.
By the time we returned to High Point (after a delicious late dinner at a little Vietnamese Restaurant) it was about 9:30 pm. The next door neighbors had fed our dogs around 5:30, so they were all fine and dandy. As a matter of fact, they all probably had been sleeping on their beds in the ping pong room, but by the time we got there they were all sitting pretty by the door, tails wagging, big doggy grins on their faces.
Today has been a quiet day around the house – early morning owl baby sighting in the trees behind the house, dogs playing in the backyard, and afternoon naps all around. Tonight, Katy, Scott, and I are going to their friends’ house for Passover Seder, and the dogs will hang out here without us.
Tomorrow morning, Max and I will load up Tumbleweed and continue onward towards home. I’m planning a different route – one that avoids I-95 through some of the worst traffic and congestion in the country – up through the countryside and mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, into New York and the Taconic Parkway, then across Massachusetts into southern New Hampshire where I hope to visit my friends Aaron and Susie before heading for Portland.
(On reading this last paragraph, I realize it sounds like we will do all of this tomorrow! Not so! We probably won’t make it to Portland until Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the distractions along the way!)
Katy and Scott gave me some hints and tips on things to see and do along the way, so we should have an interesting time of it. Oh yeah – first stop tomorrow is Skippy’s in Winston for one of those amazing hot dogs I wrote about last year…