The city of Charlotte NC was nothing to me but a word in my address book until yesterday when I met another old Central & Eastern Europe buddy there. I was surprised by the skyline as I approached it. This is a significant and attractive modern city. As befits two real estate guys we met in a modern mixed use development where we had sushi among the North Carolinan hipsters.
I arrived early and so had chance to walk with my camera along Sugar (or is it Sugaw?) Creek, which was heavily polluted and capped with concrete until the project developer uncovered and landscaped it to create the Sugar Creek Greenway. Maybe it was just a "planning gain" schtick to persuade the city authorities to give the permits but he had done a good job of creating an attractive urban park. I watched the locals jog and cycle through it for a while before adjourning for coffee in a French cafe specialising in macarons to wait for my friend.
After lunch I hit the road again toward my destination for the day. More real estate friends, this time from my days in Moscow, live in retirement in a wonderful home on Glassy Mountain in the "Dark Corner" of South Carolina. I left the interstate and drove miles along winding country roads through the beautiful colours of autumnal trees. My run ended with the ascent of the mountain road to their home (today, quite literally) in the clouds.
Before dinner they took me to surprise one of their neighbours. He is yet another American real estate guy whom I know from my days in Poland. He still lives and works in Warsaw but has a holiday home on Glassy Mountain (as I learned when I met him last year at a christening in Warsaw). He happened to be there with his English mother to celebrate her 90th birthday and we had a pleasant drink and (highly political!) chat before returning home for dinner.
We ended a splendid day with a late night drink on the verandah looking out over virgin forest toward the distant lights of Greenville, SC. I was actually in a rocking chair – how Southern is that?!
Tomorrow it's onward to Camden, SC for the wedding of another friend from Poland. The route map of my tour, updating as I proceed, is to be found here. I am sorry I am not posting photos but I have not had the best internet access on this trip so far. I will make an online album when I get back to London and post a link.