Well, last week I made my second road trip of the season. Friday I popped down to Charlotte to see what I could see. I didn’t get to see much, but I fully enjoyed what I did see.
It wasn’t a long drive. After I got back I figured I spent about four and a quarter hours on the road. Most of that was Interstate, 85 and 26. This is great road. Its not urban enough to be
congested and not rural enough to be boring. The section between Spartanburg and Charlotte is full of good sized towns with interesting billboards along the way.
My first stop was the South Carolina Welcome Center on I-26 East just north of Spartanburg. This is a great rest area with really friendly staff. Its got just about every travel resource for South Carolina you’ll need. Stop by and say hi. Tell them I sent you and maybe they’ll give me a cardboard cookie when I go back through.
Then I passed down through Spartanburg and turned left on I-85 East. As I said before this section of the road is a great area to drive along. There are all sorts of factories, truck stops, outlets and upgraded fruit stands. I liked the one with the sign ‘No time to shop? We ship.’ an exit or two after you passed them.
I stopped at the North Carolina Welcome Center on I-85 East and checked it out. Once again, a great place to get any sort of travel info you need. Oh, interesting side comment here. At both of these welcome centers when you walk in they’ve got a photoelectric beam which signals a doorbell sound. Interesting.
When I got to Charlotte I decided to stop by the airport. I like airports. I like airports because they have airplanes. And airplanes are cool.
Okay digression here. There is a Progressive insurance radio commercial where Flo opens with an update from someone in a chopper(helicopter). The person in the chopper comes on and says they can provide lower rates. Flo says this is true, but asks why the guy’s in the chopper. The guy says that choppers are sweet. And Flo closes the ad saying this is true. They’re right. Helicopters are sweet.
Back to the subject. Now I like airports becasue they’re amazing. The Charlotte Airport is bigger than many towns. They’ve got like, eight parking garages. And each has a really nifty
green glass and metal outside. The terminal is nice and also architecturally impressive. (If I remember right. I was absorbing the atmosphere and trying not to appear suspicious.)
I parked, then strolled around the airport ticket area and baggage claim then walked outside and down the luggage parking line. You could see the airplanes ascending from there so I watched a few climb into the sky. (Once again, I did not take photos. Do not take photos in any airport if you go. Its not a good idea. OH, and don’t take notes. That’s also a bad idea.)
After I left the airport I walked around the top of the parking deck so I could see a few more airplanes rising into the clouds. I couldn’t see them coming off the runway but I could see them for just a bit as they rose to altitude. Since the cloud cover was low I saw them for about five seconds. It was still cool.
Then I went back down to get in my car and leave. And here’s another tip if you visit the airport. If you parking on Level 3, Row I, make certain to remember you’re parked on Level 3,
Row I WEST, not EAST. It will save you a lot of time and worry.
Finally found the car and left within an hour, which meant I only paid a dollar for the whole experience. As I drove out I got on the Billy Graham Parkway. The first red light was at Morris Field Drive. I saw a sign for the Carolinas Aviation Museum. So I turned right and followed the signs to it. It cost me $11 to get in, but for me, it was worth it. I took loads of photos and saw airplanes I had only read about. They had a F-14, F-4, A-4, Harrier, F-80, A-7, DC-3 and CH-46, among others. I spent about three hours there and enjoyed it completely. Their gift shop is very affordable with an incredible selection.
By then it was late enough. I decided to head back for Asheville, but had to get dinner somewhere. So I drove out West Boulevard, turned around and drove out West Boulevard in the other direction. Then I turned right on South Boulevard, turned and came back up South Tryon Street. Here’s a little of what I saw.
I finally ended up downtown, got on 485 and headed west back toward Asheville. I stopped in Gastonia for dinner at Harris Teeter. I got back to Asheville in about two hours. This is a great trip which I plan to do again.