Saturday in Charlotte
Well here we are then. It is Saturday night and I am sitting at a computer in the Bates Motel, somewhere in North Carolina. My luggage apparently cycled part of the way and thus only arrived this afternoon, approximately twenty four hours after I did.
The motel, which is known to its owners as the Sleep Inn, is actually rather acceptable, as Robert Fripp might say. Breakfast is a help-yourself affair, which is not at all the same as a buffet. At least it is a buffet but not as we know it, Jim. There is a microwave and a lot of sachets of Quaker Instant Grits. Grits, for those of you not familiar with the traditions of the southern states are a kind of porridge that comes in some unusual flavours, including the never to be forgotten red eye gravy and country ham.
I sidestepped this in favour of the only alternative: endless supplies of grill-it-yourself white toast with peanut butter and jelly. Somewhat to my surprise Camie has become completely addicted to peanut butter (or maybe she always was), and has been off shopping to try and find a better kind: one with the peanuts left crunchy. Me, I am happy with jars and jars of the smooth stuff.
Shopping, ah yes! We went to Charlotte today to shop and discovered that there were no shops there. It was extraordinary. I have never seen a state capital with less to offer the eager shopper. We walked and walked. Eventually I asked a policeman if there were any shops and he directed us to Overstreet Mall, which is a mall in approximately the same sense that I am a superhero. The, ahem “mall” was smaller than the little bunch of shops that sit in the centre of Laajasalo – and they were almost all closed anyway.
In the end we had a late lunch at a micro-brewery/restaurant called Rock Bottom, part of a small chain that interestingly does not include the Charlotte restaurant in the list of locations on their web site. It was very nice, and I recommend the Red Beer. The burger was good too, and the hot sauce was very definitely hot. Which is how I like it.
Later, we got off the bus two stops before the motel and went to a Food Lion, where we hung around the food sections like children in a toy shop. Let me suggest you try a Campbells Soup At Hand. I have just had one (every room in the motel has a huge fridge and a microwave) and I can safely say that the Creamy Tomato flavour is sweet enough to qualify as a warm soft drink.