We’d arranged to drop the rental car off by 11am so Ashley our house-sitting host had us on her door step not too long afterwards as Enterprise Rentals was only a few hundred metres down the road from their home. Henry and Ellis met us with excitement at the door and Ashley welcomed us in. Henry is a 6-year-old Standard English Bulldog – he had some great character too him and was good fun. Ellis is a bit younger at maybe 3 years old and appeared to be a bit of this and a bit of that. Unlike Henry that was pretty laid back, Ellis liked the attention – to the point that he almost needed the attention – he liked to be rubbed and up in your face as much as possible. Ashley and Dan don’t have any children at this stage and so Henry and Ellis fill that role for them. To say that have the run of the place was a fair statement – they live on the couch and sleep on and in the bed with Ashley and Dan – emm, going to be some changes for the week ahead. We sat and caught up with Ashley going over the in’s and outs of the house, and then Carol and I headed up the road to the local supermarket to get some supplies. We hadn’t long been back and Dan arrived home – so that afternoon was largely spent getting to know them and sharing some of our adventures with them along the way.
That evening Ashley and Dan took us for dinner at a little dinner that Ashley helps out at – was about 30 mins south of Burlington in a little area known as Snow Camp. Dinner was very popular with patrons standing wating for tables to become available. We headed back to the house and were greeted by Henry and Ellis. Ashley and Dan headed off early the following morning (4am) and so Henry made himself comfortable with us parking up on the bed with us. Despite the weather being fine, it was no longer shorts and tee shirt weather as the temperatures struggled to get up to much above 5 degrees in the coming days. Our daily routine consisted of a good walk with the dogs but we did have some dramas on our first outing on Saturday morning. Ashley had left us a key – but in her rush, it wasn’t the house key and so we found ourselves locked out. Thankfully Ashley has a very understanding neighbour who holds a spare key for them and he was able to get us back in – out of the cold. With keys now in hand, we were able to move around with greater confidence locally – phew. Besides walking the dogs and the occasion trip up to the supermarket to restock, the majority of our time was spent tending to the dogs – Ellis needed lots of rubs and attention, whereas Henry was happy to go with the flow and rule the roost.
On the Wednesday we took advantage of the generosity of Ashley and borrowed her car to head over towards Charlotte to an area called Mooresville where there are a number of car museums – this area north of Charlotte is right in the thick of NASCAR country, with a number of garages bases locally. The trip over was around 120 miles and took best part of 2 hours but we got to see some more of the state on our way back and forth (following I77, 85 and 40). First up was the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame (downtown Mooresville also has an Auto Racing ‘Walk of Fame’ for locals to enjoy). This museum had a really nice collection and the volunteer was quite endeared by the fact we were from NZ. She knew a Kiwi with a motorsport shop nearby and insisted on contacting him. Max Crawford is a strong name in NZ motorsport and has been based in the US since 1980 making sports / racing cars for the local market. When I spoke with Max he was in transit to Daytona for the 12-hour race where they had cars competing. Max was very generous in offering for someone to show us around his garage which was around 30 mins away from Mooresville, but we simply run out of time to do so which was unfortunate (but it was very good of him to offer to host us / have his team locally host us). Enjoying my time at the Hall of Fame, the volunteer then let us into a real gem across the road – over from the museum there is a classic car consignment dealer and boy did they have some great cars for us to view (I think Carol will agree there collection was amazing, and yes, if we had a few dollars there were a few options there we would happily have brought home with us).
The cars, many of which were car show ready, had a range of prices, but for the most part, the pricing really wasn’t too bad when you looked at the condition of the cars. I think it took us well over an hour just to browse the car yard. From there I headed down the road to the Memory Lane Car Museum – a good collection which includes one of the largest NASCAR collection in the US. A nice collection, but I still think the highlight today was the classic car yard we found. We headed back to Burlington – managing to miss any rush hour related traffic, and got back to the dogs and headed out for a late walk – which I think they appreciated. Thursday dawned a bit finer than earlier in the week so I braved the shorts for one last outing here in the US as we walked the dogs, picked up some bits at the shops and readied the house ahead of Ashley and Dan arriving back later that night. Friday morning was an early start for us and for Ashley who got up and offered us a lift up the road to the local train station – we headed off at 8am with the train due 8.45am. We said our goodbyes to Ashley – and the dogs of course and headed off – our North Carolina house sits having drawn to a close. We’d really enjoyed our time in this part of NC – but crikey the temperature has changed in the past couple of weeks – but there again, it is supposedly winter here, so we really can’t complain – but I do miss wearing my shorts daily.