Saturday, December 20, 2008

On the road: Columbia

David & Marian Cortesi

The State House

Wally Mersereau opines Columbia is a charming town. It's a smallish University town, the university being the U of SC. When we arrived we had time to check out the South Carolina statehouse (another missing from our collection).A helpful and knowledgeable docent showed us around, explaining how the interior had recently been restored from years of neglect and ill-planned remodelling to fully reflect the architect's Victorian vision.Which included some chandeliers right out of a "steampunk" fantasy.Outside, we noted the stars set in the masonry to show where Union cannonballs damaged the walls of the still-unfinished building.This helpful local decided to show us around.He pointed out where the Union cannoneers had also knocked the foot off George Washington's walking-stick.

Zoo and Gardens

We spent Friday morning at the local zoo and botanical garden, on a woodland walk.The animals were not impressed with us. But we liked best a free-range lizard on a christmas bow.

Gamecock Arena

Later we walked to the arena. This is a new and very nice facility, and it exceeds requirements for basketball games and such trivia, but the important things are not up to snuff, by which I mean, the food. Although they do have that sine qua non of good arena noshing, Dippin' Dots, the "chicken tenders" were not, the Philly Cheesesteak was grossly oversalted, and Wally would like it known that they didn't have either pickles or relish at the condiment bar. And, they have pretty near the cheesiest mascot costume around. Actually the mascot had a lot of good moves, but that floppy beak! And that skirt! OK, one more thing for Dawn Staley to fix.Add Image

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the road: Charlotte, NC

David & Marian Cortesi
En route from Durham to Columbia we stopped for lunch in Charlotte, NC, said to be the 2nd-largest financial center after NYC, where the tops of the many skyscrapers were disappearing in the afternoon fog.

Downtown was decorated for the season with cheerful reindeer on every lamppost.The center of downtown Charlotte is The Square, which is defined by four heroic statues. One is a prospector who appears to be dumping his paydirt onto a dude whose bow-tie is too tight,One is a stalwart worker sitting on an eagle with a bow-tie,One is a mother & child,And we forget the fourth because we were busy reflecting on modern art.Tomorrow: Columbia, SC.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On the road: Raleigh

By Dave & Marian Cortesi The morning after the Duke game was (appropriately) dull gray and gloomy. We drove from Durham to Raleigh to bag us another state capitol. We have pictures of 40 or so of them. In North Carolina, the only official occupants of the Old State House are the Governor and Lieutenant Gov. Inside there was a surprise. All the way up on the third floor is a charming old State Library, very nicely preserved and displayed. Also on the third floor is a similarly cozy and appealing State Geologist's office. Below these are the original legislative chambers. This was the House of Representatives. North Carolina has over 100 Reps (which seems a superfluity, but I'm sure they feel a need...) and you can see why they felt a bit cramped back in 1960: This is what they had built for them by Edward Durrel Stone, who also did the Kennedy Center in DC and many other famous buildings. Finished in 1963. It's a very nice building inside, with four interior garden courts and spacious and imposing legislative chambers. This is where the Reps sit--quite an improvement over the old one. Look at those chandeliers. Those double-cone lamps are just soooo 60s, aren't they? Admit it, you had a fixture like that in some apartment you lived in. Here's Marian, trying out the Grand Staircase (carpet for official use only): The neigborhood around the capitol has a lot of impressive 1890's houses. Here's a detail from one. We also visited the Mordecai House historic park and were given a very pleasant tour but the weather was too gloomy for pictures. Tomorrow: a stopover in Charlotte.