Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mebane NC - Triangle & Triad Areas of North Carolina

Monday (5/9) to Monday (5/16):

On Monday morning we got up very early to get the motorhome to Rowell's so that they could replace the valve on our leveling system before travelled north. While they worked on the motorhome we returned back to Johnny's K restaurant to eat breakfast. We finished our breakfast and waited until we heard from Rowell's that the work was done. I asked them about maintenance on the leveling system and they told me that the fluid in the hydraulic reservoir needs to be checked from time to time and that the jacks need to be kept clean. Other than that there is no recommended maintenance on the system.

From the shop we hooked up the Jeep and headed 125 miles north along I-85 to Mebane NC. Jones Station RV Park is a newer campground (opened about 2.5 years ago) with 36 sites. They are in the process of adding an additional 20 spaces. We have a pull through site with full hookups. Only complaint is that although where we park the RV is level the rest of the site is sloped. They have the nicest bathroom & shower facilities we have seen on our travels. We got set up and the leveling system worked getting us level and stable.

On Tuesday morning we restrung one of our day/night shades. If you ever live in an RV with the old style day/night shades, from time to time the strings will break. We had replaced one last year and this is our first one of this year. After completing this task we did some shopping at the Premium Outlet Mall that is located here in Mebane. We were going to walk at one of the local parks, but it was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so returned back to the campground and walked around it.

On Wednesday morning as we were cooking breakfast our power went out. We reset the all of the electrical connections but were not getting any power to our 120 volt electrical plugs inside the coach. We tried waiting a while and still no power at the plugs. We even tried running the generator to see if that made any difference: it did not. I called Newmar RV Customer Service Department to see if they could help with the problem and they quickly diagnosed it as an "inverter" issue. I ended up having to remove everything from two bays so that I could get to the inverter/converter (it is mounted between two of the chassis rails). Newmar walked me through resetting the fuse and then restarting the inverter/converter. Once we did this we had power again in all our electrical outlets.

That afternoon we went over to the Mystery Brewery in Hillsborough NC. This is a small brewery that does not brew any beer on a consistent basis: they are constantly trying new brews. Each Thursday they introduce a new batch of beers and whenever they run out they may or may not make another batch in the future. So it is a mystery as to which beers are available on tap. We tried a sample of their dark beers and liked all four that we tasted. I ended up ordering a glass of a dark IPA and Connie had a glass of one of the brews we tasted.

From there we drove past an historic house located in Hillsborough: the Nash-Hooper house. Hooper was a North Carolina representative who signed the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. The house was not open, but we stopped and took this picture.

On Thursday we went to Lake Michael Park (we had to go to this place since I'm sure it named after me) and walked one of the trails in the park. The trail goes along the lake and then ends: so you end up walking back on the same trail. We were lucky they have put bridges over the drainage areas along the path so it was not too muddy from the recent rains.
Mike hiding out in the forest.

Connie had to lift this tree so we could pass under it.
Friday we decided to visit the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro. This was the site of a battle that occurred during the Revolutionary War in March 1781. The battle was won by the British but at a great cost: They lost almost 25% of their men in the battle. Nathaniel Green was the American general who led the troops and came up with the battle plan. He also planned an orderly retreat to avoid capture by the British troops. This battle was one of the bloodiest in the entire Revolutionary War. We view a short film in Visitor Center and then took the 2.25 mile walking tour of the battlefield.

The Atlantic & Yadkin Greenway runs through the battleground park and it is a "rails to trails" pathway that runs for 7.5 miles in Greensboro. We rode our bikes along the pathway for about an hour before we decided to head back to the Jeep.

After we had dinner that evening, we had a nice visit with our neighbors, Bob & Jackie Hood. They are both from this area and are spending the winter here. They have been "full-timing" for 17 years in two different motorhomes. They gave us some tips and pointers about some things they have learned over the years along with stories of the places that they have "work-kamped" over the years. They are also planning on visiting Nova Scotia this summer in June & early July.
Bob & Jackie Hood - Full timers for 17 years
On Saturday we decided to visit Durham. We stopped by the Visitor Center and found out there was a history bike tour that was happening down town starting at 1:00 PM. We walked around the downtown area for about 45 minutes waiting for the bike tour to start before heading to the Museum of Durham History to start the tour. The tour lasted about 1.5 hours, covered 6 miles on our bikes and made a number of stops in downtown Durham. The tour was lead by Ernie Dollar who is a native of this area of North Carolina. There were over 100 people who went on the tour.

Ernie Dollar who lead the tour
One of our stops was at the baseball field where the movie Bull Durham was filmed. Another stop was at a church where the services were only celebrated in American Sign Language (ASL) for the deaf community in Durham. When it was built in 1930, it was one of only four churches in America that only held services in ASL. This church for the deaf lasted until the 1990's and it is now used by a different denomination. Brodie Duke, the son of Washington Duke the founder of the Duke & Sons Tobacco Company which later became the American Tobacco Company, owned a lot of land that eventually became Durham. The only non-Duke family member who owned an interest in Duke & Sons Tobacco was named George Watts. Brodie named the streets in a section of land he developed in the following order: Washington, Duke, Hated, Watts. So if you named the streets in order it was Washington Duke Hated Watts. Later the street known as Hated was renamed Gregson.

After we finished the ride we joined a group of tour riders for a beer with Ernie Dollar (who lead the tour) across the street at Bill McCabe's Irish Pub along with some of the riders from the tour. We spent some extra time visiting with Damien (originally from Florida) and Christine (originally from Michigan) who live in the area and helped with the tour.

From the pub, we walked a few blocks to the 21c Museum Hotel (which Damien & Christine told us about). It is located in the Hall Building which originally was built as a bank. The architectural firm that designed the building also did the Empire State Building in New York City. The hotel has modern art on display that you can see along with the old bank vault that is located in the basement.

From there we went and visited the Duke Homestead & Tobacco Museum. Washington Duke returned from the Civil War to his farm of 300 acres and started growing/selling tobacco. From this humble start he later founded the American Tobacco Company which during his lifetime was the largest tobacco company in the world. The Duke family trust money started Duke University and the Duke Medical School along with a number of other ventures over the years. We walked around the homestead for a few minutes before viewing a short film about Washington Duke and the tobacco business. We then took a quick tour (it was near closing time) of the Tobacco Museum. We learned a lot about tobacco, it's history and how it became a multi-billion dollar business.

Duke Homestead
Sunday we repaired another one of our day/night shades that was about to have the string break. Since we had just done one a couple of days ago, this repair went rather quickly. In the afternoon, we returned to Lake Michael Park and took a shorter trail for our walk. From there we went to a local Chinese restaurant, China King, and ate a late lunch. Both our meals were very good: Connie had Chicken-Garlic dish and I had the Peppersteak-Onion.

The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is known as the Triangle. It is the home of the Research Triangle Center which is one of the first collaborations between universities (Duke, Univ of North Carolina & North Carolina State Univ) and the business community for the high tech world starting in the 1950's.

The Triad is Greensboro, Winston-Salem and Highpoint. I think that they came up with this name because they were excluded from the Triangle.

Mebane is located half-way between the Triangle and the Triad.

Tomorrow morning we will continue our travels north to Appomattox Virginia.