I’m not sure how it happened, but for various unrelated reasons, several of our long-time friends from California have retired and relocated to North Carolina. We had a great time visiting each of them and seeing their beautiful homes for the first time. It’s weird to think that they’ve been here for a decade, and we’ve all visited and travelled together over these years, but Mike and I had never been to their new homes! All I can say is “Wow”. Your real estate dollar goes alot farther in North Carolina compared to California. And these are people who lived well in California, so you can imagine. LARGE homes on lakes or by the sea, with acres of trees and views, and natural beauty. So happy when friends can retire and live in comfort and beauty like that. Plus, it gives us great places to visit while we pursue our simple nomad lifestyle.
Our first stop was in Wilmington to see Ray. Ray and Mike worked together for many years (different agencies with coordinated efforts) before retirement. Ray also crossed the Atlantic Ocean with us in 2008 when we needed an extra crew hand. His wife let us keep him for a couple of months on our sailboat while we stopped to tour in Bermuda, the Azores, Portugal, Spain and Gibraltar. He would have helped us sail back in 2011, but he was doing a contract job in Afghanistan at the time. Not too many people are willing to cross the ocean in a sailboat (it takes almost a month). And Ray gets seasick, so he had to take meds (the patch), but he was willing to do it again if we could have waited until his contract commitment was done. What an adventurous friend! Ray also showed us some of his prized possessions. In his ‘man cave’ room was the guitar collection (he was in a rock band in his youth), in the 4-car garage a Pantera, a classic Mustang, Harley Davidson motorcyle, and in the marina his powerboat. Oh those boys and their toys.
Bill is another one of Mike’s retired agent buddies we got to visit. They have been the best of friends for many years. When Bill and Monika retired they moved to North Carolina where Bill has family. Their huge house with acreage is on a quiet secluded lake where we could watch the deer play near the water’s edge while having coffee on the deck in the morning. And all these birds, ducks, geese, squirrels, beavers and, of course, our doggies Lucy and Murphy having a grand time chasing them all! Billy took us out for our first taste of authentic North Carolina BBQ and we enjoyed relaxing at their house for several days, shooting pool, drinking, and the guys reminiscing about the good ol days.
Bill’s toys include his single engine 4-seater airplane (just sold, getting a new one), Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and most recently a race car that he is building. It’s almost ready for the race track and Bill will do the driving. Lawd have mercy.
Our close friends Larry and Mary live on Lake Norman. We lived next door to each other in California 20 years ago, and have remained close ever since. Together we’ve enjoyed vacationing around the world, from Australia (where they lived for several years), to St. Martin in the Caribbean and Mallorca in the Mediterranean Sea where we rendesvous’d in our sailboats. They currently split their time between this house and their 54 Hylas sailboat which is now in Sicily. They will be returning to the boat in a couple of weeks to continue cruising on to Turkey and Greece. We always have a fantastic time with Larry and Mary. Mary and I never have enough time to get “caught up” and we always feel like we should have planned for a longer visit.
It was warm enough on one of our days there to go out on their lake boat. We docked for lunch at the North Harbor Restaurant for a yummy lunch. Mary wanted me to stay a few extra days as the weather warmed up, so I could waterski. Uh, no. Mary is extremely fit (and much younger than me) and still thinks of me as her workout buddy from so many years ago. Hiking and biking is about all I want to do anymore. She and Larry still enjoy more extreme sports. I’m too scared of hurting myself! Mary absolutely won’t accept that from me, and if the weather had cooperated with her, I wouldn’t be typing this blog right now because both of my arms would be dangling out of my shoulder sockets! (Love you, Mary!)
For all the years they have lived near Charlotte, they had never toured the NASCAR Hall of Fame. None of us know much about NASCAR, but we had a great time at this interactive museum. The racing simulator was the most fun. Below is a picture of the cars that each of us “drove” in the simulation. It’s so real that I got dizzy, but at least I beat Mike! It was a wild experience.
I just returned from a week in California with my daughter, Kimberly, and her family. I left Mike and Lucy here in North Carolina while I flew to California for my dermotologist appointment, radiology appointment, got a facial and a pedicure with Kimberly, watched Paige at track, Blake at soccer, Garrett at baseball, ate Lance’s incredible homemade meals, and talked, shopped, and laughed with Kimberly until late into the night. A fun, fun week. Now I’m back in the Bear with my honeys and we are on the road again. Next stop, Asheville, NC for a few days to tour the Biltmore. Cherry blossoms are blooming all around, and the weather is finally getting warmer.
Until my next post, cheers!