Friday, March 31, 2006
Saturday, March 4, 2006
US Airways took us to London's Gatwick airport, leaving Charlotte at 7:30pm and arriving in London the next morning. Fortunately, we had a couple of empty seats next to us, and we were able to stretch out a bit and get some sleep. We arrived tired but functional, and made our way to rental car area. As we drove off, it started to snow. Lisa did the driving since she has the most experience on the wrong side of the road, and she doesn't think I can handle a roundabout. (In parts of America, they're known as traffic circles or rotaries, but I'll confess that I had never seen one in California. Also, check out the Swindon "Magic Roundabout".)
We've been living in North Carolina for nearly five years, but we've never been to Charlotte except to change airplanes. We got a good deal on a direct flight to London from Charlotte so we decided to drive 250 miles to get to the airport. The trip actually went pretty smoothly with no traffic problems and minimal navigation issues. We didn't have much time to explore but it seems like a nice place if you like big cities. It's funny how you miss some aspects of a real city when you live in the boonies, which we, of course, chose in order to escape from the urban jungle. The center of the Charlotte is the intersection of Trade and Tryon, in what's known as Uptown. I'd probably call it downtown since that's where all the skyscrapers are, but what do I know? So we walked around for a while, and admired the large buildings and all the shops and restaurants. We agreed that it would be interesting to spend more time in Charlotte so we'll definitely come back to visit.
We had our bags packed for the trip to England and were loading up the car. I put the suitcases in the back of SUV. Just before departing, it seems that Lisa and I had a slight communication problem. I thought she said she had put the jackets in the car, but she meant only that she had brought light jackets that we might use while wandering around Charlotte, not the heavy jackets that would protect us from the near-freezing temperatures that were forcast for London during our trip. So off we drove to Charlotte, blissfully unaware that our "real" jackets were hanging on the hand-rail of the staircase, four feet from the door to the garage. It took nearly four hours to drive to the Charlotte airport where we discovered our mistake. I thought about buying a new jacket for Lisa, but as it worked out we managed to add a few layers and survive the British winter. Now, we can laugh about it, but at the time I was worried that one of us might not make it home alive.