08 April 2013

The American landscape

I'm on vacation in the U.S., visiting family on North Carolina coast. I'll be back in France soon.

Parking lots. Miles of them. Of course France has a lot of big parking lots too — more and more of them. I was struck by the expanse of asphalt, surrounded by low commercial buildings, that you see in this photo that I took here in Morehead City.

My home town is a tourist town. A seaside resort. It has also become a big retirement center, welcoming Northerners who come here to live out their lives in the area's mild climate. The parking lots are probably full of cars in summertime. Even in April, the volume of traffic on the wide local highways is amazing compared to what we see in Saint-Aignan.



Speaking of cars and traffic, in a few hours (I'm writing on Sunday morning) we will be leaving Morehead City to drive over to the Charlotte area, to spend time in the town where my grandfather's family lived. It's actually in South Carolina, but just over the border, and it's a six-hour drive from here. The first time I ever went there was in 1960 — more than 50 years ago now.

Back then, my grandfather's sister, my great-aunt Ray (full name: Annie Ray), lived on a farm with her husband. They had raised four children. Going there was like going back to the 19th century, in a lot of ways. Rae and Al  milked cows and churned their own butter, for example, every day. The didn't have indoor plumbing, but an outhouse on a creek down a path several hundred yards from the house. There was a pump in the kitchen for running water. Aunt Rae passed on at the age of 95 nearly 20 years ago now.

11 comments:

  1. Not much to comment about those ugly parking lots.
    You must have had so much fun visiting your great-aunt Rae. I have wonderful memories of a 2 day stay in a farm when I was a very little girl.

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  2. Ehm. Did you go and have lunch at Five Guys??

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  3. Sounds like you are having a great time, we have friends who live in South Carolina and friends here in France from North Carolina. enjoy

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  4. One of the newest shopping centers in the greater St. Louis region is one of these huge, sprawling strip malls like this. All of the stores are in a long (long!) row (imagine something like 20? stores of one kind or another), with a sprawling parking lot in front. To go from one store to another, you have to go back to your car, and drive to the other area of the parking lot, because stores are so far from each other. It's anoying.

    Charming story of the old farm!

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  5. I had country cousins, too. I loved visiting them because I usually got to ride a horse which I loved.

    You will appreciate your vineyard all the more after seeing the strip malls of America which are everywhere now.

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  6. Have a wonderful visit in SC with your family.

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  7. Did you have wings? If I were there with you, we would have had wings.

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  8. I hope you have a great time in NC. I always get excited whenever I get to go back to NC-and especially to Morehead--and I only live in Texas-not in France!!!
    Hope your mom is doing okay! Be sure and go by the 14th block of Evans Street and see if anything has changed! Tell Joanna hello for me! Be safe and have a great time!!

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  9. I thought Walt meant wings on your back... I couldn't imagine how many glasses of "I'm all alone" wine he might have had to suggest that you'd have wings *R*R*. (I'm assuming you meant hot wings to eat, Walt? :))

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  10. W., no, I haven't yet had any wings yet, but a trip to Buffalo Wild Wings is on my schedule. Judy, if I did sprout wings, that might be a bad sign... angels and all.

    And Judy M., hi, we are in S.C. right now, near Charlotte -- Ma, Joanna, and I are, I mean. I was over on Evans Street a day or two ago. The neighborhood hasn't really changed much from all those years ago. Ma is doing well. Joanna too -- she says hi. I always enjoy my trips to Morehead. And the weather is beautiful right now.

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  11. I never had the privilege of indoor plumbing until I was almost twenty years old!

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