November 22: Sailing on Lake Ray Hubbard
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December 22-27, 1986
Christmas in North Carolina


For the second time since we have been together, Grant and I have decided to go to my sister's house in North Carolina for Christmas. Grant thought that we should at least alternate between Chicago and North Carolina, so this year it is Carolina's turn. We flew to Greensboro and rented a car there, and by the afternoon we had arrived at my sister's house.

To get to my sister's, we left the airport and headed east on I-40 and I-85 to the usual exit for Elon, North Carolina. My sister lives about five miles northwest of the university town.

I want to show where, exactly, my sister is, but the difficulty I have is that between our visit this Christmas and the time at which I am writing this online narrative (early 2017), a lot has changed, physically, in Elon, Burlington and North Carolina, with the result that the way one gets to my sister's farm today is much different than it was at Christmas, 1986.

This week, to get to my sister's farm, I followed the same route that I have driven for fifteen years. The exit for Elon College (even that name has changed, as Elon College has become Elon University the town has changed its name officially to simply "Elon") put you on Huffman Mill Road- actually one of the streets which, if you follow it northeast, will take you to Burlington, NC, the larger city just east of Elon.

So just off the exit from the Interstate, you have to double back on Garden Road which actually goes northwest more towards Elon (blue route). It connects to South Williamson Avenue, which you take north, across US Highway 70, through the center of Elon and out to the north, eventually angling off to the northwest.

In the first decade of the 21st century, development south of Elon and Gibsonville led to a huge new shopping area along I-85, and so a new exit was constructed for access to the expressway. At the same time, a bypass was built around Elon, so that so much traffic wouldn't be going right through the center of town and right through the campus. So now, to get to the side of Elon on which my sister lives, you can get off I-85 at that new exit, and take the much-faster bypass around to her side of the college town (green route).

Anyway, once you get to the north side of Elon, my sister's farm is about three miles to the northwest, off Elon-Ossipee Road.

My sister has a really nice farm a quarter mile west of Elon-Ossipee Road. She has been there for, I think, about twenty years now; she lives there with her husband Bob, and their two kids Ted and Jennifer. Actually, Ted and Jennifer are 18 and 17 about now, and they are both close to finishing up high school and deciding what they want to do after that.

Judy and Bob bought the land and then built a house on it; the only structure they kept when they bought the property was the old red country barn down by the road. That's where the other residents of Greyfield Farms, as Judy has begun to call it, reside; those would be my sister's horses.

There's an aerial view of my sister's property at left, but of course it doesn't show the farm as it looked this year. The biggest change between then and now (as I write this) was the construction of a new, modern, cement-floored barn up near the house, to take the place of the vintage dirt-floored old one.

I always like visiting my sister and Bob (and the kids, of course), not least because it is a chance for me to get out of my city environment and into a more pastoral one. It's good for the soul. And although there are no boats anywhere nearby, I think Grant thoroughly enjoys coming here, too.

Of course I brought my camera, and during our stay had an opportunity to take some candid pictures as we messed around outside with Judy's horses.

On Lowe Road in front of Judy's farm, she is driving a carriage and she and Bob have fixed up for one of the horses to pull.

Judy and I in the Carriage

Grant has really taken to Judy and Mom, and they have really taken to him, especially my Mother, who thinks Grant is just great. Bob seems a little uncomfortable with our relationship (although I may be being unfair to him), Judy thinks its great, and it seems as if Ted and Jeffie could care less one way or the other (probably because I am positive that at their age they have already met a number of gay kids their age).

Judy and Grant Riding in the Carriage

Here is Judy driving the carriage. That is Lowe road, right in front of their farm, and Hubert Lowe's nursery operation across the street. Grant is just getting in the carriage.

Grant really liked seeing my family, as relations within his are somewhat strained, what with all the stuff that went on with his father and himself about his mother and her death. They seem nice enough when I see them, but I am sure that for Grant it is a case of their being nice for "company," when in private things are much different.

This is my niece Jennifer riding one of the two ponies that reside at Greyfield Farms. Judy's property is behind Jeffie in the picture.

Here I am sitting astride the pony. I thought I was much too heavy for it to try to carry me, so I just sat there while Grant took a picture.

I didn't think this was a good idea, Jennifer standing on the pony's back, but both Judy and Jennifer assured me that it wouldn't hurt the pony and would make a good picture.

Jennifer has always been involved with the horses, and I know that she cares for them a great deal. She is getting to that age, though, where other interests are intruding, and she doesn't participate as much as she used to in going to the shows with Judy.

That doesn't cause any particular problem, as I think she still carries her weight in taking care of them. Here is Jennifer with the pony.

Here is my picture of Grant and the pony. As I said before, Grant most likes thing associated with the water or boats, and there is nothing like that around here. He looks a little pained, here; I don't think he takes to animals very well; he would rather be sailing. I know he is allergic to cats, but I don't know how far the allergy goes.

We had a stray cat that wandered onto our patio this year that was at first quite scared of anything. After leaving some milk for it for a while, it got friendlier and friendlier, until it was pushing the door open trying to get in. I let "Gladys" lay down on the rug in the kitchen, but not wander through the house, but it left enough hair that it began to bother Grant. While I was away, Grant and his nephew, who came down to visit and help Grant with some electrical work, took Gladys over into Highland Park and let it loose, on the theory that in such a wealthy neighborhood, it would find a good home.

At left, Judy said that the pony could carry me quite OK, so Jennifer goosed it along and stepped out of the picture so that Grant could get this shot.

Of course, we did all the Christmas things, and I went down to Charlotte to get my Mom and bring her up here. Judy did a great meal on Christmas, and generally we just hung out and Grant got to know my family better.


You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

November 22: Sailing on Lake Ray Hubbard
Return to the Index for 1986