October 24-25, 2014: My 50th High School Reunion
October 10-24, 2014: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
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October 23-24, 2014
A Visit to My Sister in Elon, NC


As part of this trip to Florida, we are going to work in my 50th high school reunion in Charlotte, which took place on Friday and Saturday, October 24th and 25th. Since we were going to be so close to my sister, I thought we might spend the night of October 23rd and most of the day on October 24th at her house, before heading down to Charlotte for the first reunion activity on Friday evening.


Getting to My Sister's House

While this was not the first time I'd driven from my sister's house to Florida, it was the first time I'd driven in the other direction. And the last time, I needed to come along a route that was not the most direct; this time, we will try to make the trip as quickly as possible.

The trip was actually pretty straightforward. Interstate highways make the kind of travel my family did in the 1950s obsolete. Back then, we had to have maps with us as we drove on two-lane roads from small town to small town, often having to make turns near the center of those towns. The constant slowdowns meant that trips averaged perhaps 40MPH. Now, the directions for a thousand-mile trip can be memorized in a few seconds, and average driving speed approaches 70MPH.

For this trip, which was 99.9% expressway driving, we just left the condo and headed west along Broward Boulevard, getting on I-95 north after only three miles or so. Once on I-95 north, the only stops we made were for gas about every 350 miles. We took I-95 all the way north past Jacksonville to the Florida-Georgia state line. We breezed past that, and continued north on I-95 through Georgia to the South Carolina state line. About 100 miles into South Carolina, we came to our first turn- onto I-26 northwest towards Columbia, South Carolina.

In Columbia, we made our second turn, onto I-77 north towards Charlotte. We didn't stop in Charlotte, although we did have to slow down for a while as Charlotte traffic is even worse than I remember it. Just north of downtown, we made our third turn, onto I-85 north towards Greensboro. There is a new part of I-85 that totally bypasses Greensboro (the old route having become Business I-85) and we stayed on I-85 until we exited on University Drive in Elon.

We had left Fort Lauderdale about 9AM, and we exited I-85 near my sister's house about 8PM.

We knew where we were going to stay, one exit further along at Huffman Mill Road, but rather than waste time going to the hotel first, the three of us (me, Fred and Zack) went directly to Judy's, getting there about twenty minutes later. There is a new way to go to my sister's house from I-85, a bypass built maybe ten years ago.

We arrived at my sister's house about 8:30PM, in plenty of time to go out to dinner with them. But first we had to get Zack situated, as we couldn't leave him in the car. Judy has 7 daschunds, and so one feline in the house might have been a problem, but Judy has baby gates in the house so she can cordon off the dogs to certain areas. She gave us her bedroom for Zack, so we took his carrier in there and let him out with some food, water and his litter box. (All in all, Zack took the two stays in Judy's bedroom quite well, considering that he could hear the dogs barking a couple of rooms away. He did spend most of his time under the bed, but after an evening and a half-day there, he seemed none the worse for wear.

We went out to eat at a local place Judy likes, and then came back to the house to spend some time with her and Patrick before collecting Zack and driving the couple of miles to our hotel.


Visiting With My Sister

On Friday morning, we returned to my sister's house, after stopping at Wal-Mart so I could pick up a little DVD player for her. (As with many folks, she is a fan of Downton Abbey, and I had some episodes to give her. The little Sony players can play video from your typical flash memory USB stick, and that's how I left her the episodes.) As we turned into her drive, we found her collecting her mail down by the old barn.

Once we got that set up and working, we went to walk around to see her garden, the horses and the fenced area she's created for her seven daschunds to run around in (it seems to have a border that is as porous as the US-Mexico one, though). The entry gate to this area is just outside her back door, and takes in a large area of the woods between her house and the back horse pasture. When they are out there, they will all come crowd around the little gate, jumping up and down wanting to get to you. We took a few pictures of them there, and you can click on the thumbnail images below to have a look at them:

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While Judy and Fred where standing by the little dog gate chatting, I went down to where we'd parked my car to begin a little movie that would take in her property and basically show you around.

You can use the player at right to watch that movie.

Next, we walked from the dog gate down the path that leads out to her new barn where her horses are domiciled, passing one of her carports on the way. I might also mention that from her back porch, there is another path that leads down to her driveway and across it to the area where her vegetable garden is (in season). You can see that view here.

Judy has had this barn for many years now, and quite a few horses (hers and belonging to others) have called it home over the years. You can click on the thumbnail images below for a couple of interior views of the barn:

Judy then opened up the barn and let three of the horses she now has out into their back pasture.

It was a pleasure to watch the three horses cavorting around in the pasture. There's one adult, one youngster and one relatively new foal; of course, it was the foal with most energy. Click on the thumbnail images below to see some of the pictures we took of Judy's horses out in the pasture:

Judy also has a couple of cats that live in the barn, but neither of them is very friendly to strangers- leaving the barn as soon as Fred and I came in. As we left the barn, Judy pointed out one of them that had gone down into the woods, and Fred used his zoom to get a picture of it. You can see that picture here.

We had a nice visit with my sister, but we had to get down to Charlotte to check in to our hotel in advance of the first function connected to my 50th high school reunion, so we needed to leave in the early afternoon. We did go have lunch at a little local place, though, before returning to Judy's house to collect Zack and head out. As we were leaving, Fred took a couple of pictures of me, my sister and Patrick out by my car. These are below.

We bid goodbye to my sister and Patrick, and headed off to Charlotte.

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

October 24-25, 2014: My 50th High School Reunion
October 10-24, 2014: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
Return to the Index for 2014