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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Weekend Getaway: Charlotte

Posted September 8, 2006

We're Charlotte bound this weekend for a terrific time. Kayaking enthusiast Elizabeth Gardner twisted my arm. She wanted me to check out the new US National Whitewater Center near the Queen City. Plus, I really want to see the Panthers play on Sunday. So here goes. We'll take the train down early Saturday morning. The train ride offers scenery you miss on the highway. Plus, it is so nice to sit back and let someone else do the driving. Friends and family will meet us at the train station in the Queen City. We'll head out to the Whitewater Center. It is billed as the nation's premier outdoor recreation center and a perfect destionation for "Olympic athletes, (yeh, that's me all right) weekend warriors, families, aspiring outdoor enthusiasts-anyone at any skill level-a chance to make healthy, active living and environmental stewardship a part of your daily life." There is whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater canoeing, the largest outdoor climbing facility in the country, mountain biking, hiking, and running trails. We'll be worn out after all that, so we'll recharge Saturday evening on some pizza. So we'll go to my old favorite Charlotte hangout - The Open Kitchen. We'll sleep well. Sunday we'll get up by 8. I can't sleep in late with my crazy schedule. I want to check out the old neighborhoods where my grandparents lived - Selwyn and Clement Avenues. Such great memories on these tree-lined streets. We'll brunch at Eddie's Place/Danny's Too on S. Sharon Amity Road and then head on over to Bank of America Stadium for the Panthers' season opener. What do you like to do in Charlotte? Where do you like to eat? Did any of you watch Charlotte TV growing up? I was a big Fred Kirby and Little Rascals fan. Ty Boyd was another favorite and one of the nicest guys around. As a tiny little fellow I watched Doug Mayes do the Esso News Report on WBTV. My sophisticated father would never admit it but he liked watching Championship Wrestling with Big Bill Ward. My mother loved the Betty Feezor Show with its great casserole recipes. Arthur Smith, Cousin Ralph, Wayne Haas, and Tommy Fale would delight us in the morning with their music and antics on Carolina Calling. Clyde "Cloudy" McLean was right on with his forecasts. And Jim Patterson humored us with his many character roles. I'm getting carried away. One of my favorite memories was breaking up a no-hitter in my little league days at a field near Memorial Stadium. I closed my eyes and hit a long double for the Morganton All-Stars. It was our only hit of that miserable day. At least the burgers were good at Bonanza Steak House on the way back. And Charlotte is where I first got into recording laying down tracks as a high schooler at the old Arthur Smith Studios on Monroe Road for the groups the Beggars and the Cyntriks.
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