Thursday night was AMAZING. We went to watch the NC Hurricanes kick the other team's butt in ice hockey. We were in the sponsor's corporate box. Very nice indeed. Thank you to Progress Energy for an unforgettable experience. No matter how hard I tried, I unfortunately failed to get my mug on the big screen. And believe me, I was trying!
So, onto the next day, Friday. Well, much to the disappointment (he may argue 'glee'!!) of Poppa Don, the Oz team bid goodbye to Cary and hit the road in a full to the brim 'truck' to Hillsborough. But not before an action-packed day around the traps.
First port of call, a 7am meeting of the Rotary club of Cary Page. This was after our late night at the ice hockey and some of us also chose to continue celebrating the Hurricane's victory further. Our presentation went well, with once again, a lovely audience. I had a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, fruit and something that resembled bacon but I think someone had forgotten to stop it cooking long after it was done.
We jumped in the bus with Poppa Don and Mary as our able guides and headed to the nuclear power plant of Progress Energy. We already had a great relationship with Progress Energy through their generous hospitality at the ice hockey, so we continued that with our tour guide Kim. She took us into the control room simulator which was amazing; all I was missing was my Star Trek outfit!
Scott enjoying the experience in the simulator and Tim trying to understand how it works!
An amazingly informative tour later, we re-boarded the bus and headed to Hemlock Bluffs Nature Reserve which is a great town recreational asset for walking and bike riding.
Next we went to an 'urban' winery called Chatham Hill Winery, the concept of urban wineries being rather than people driving to the vineyards' cellar door, the cellar door is brought to where the people are. It is a small winery in comparison to some in Mildura, but the wines were nice and the food that was brought in from La Farm? La Bakery?, a local NC business, was awesome. We had hand-made potato chips which were divine.
Then we headed off to visit the most amazing business operation that left us gob-smacked. The company is SAS (the largest privately owned software company in the US) and I can see why their staff turnover is miniscule. They have built a town on their 'campus', complete with two childcare facilities, gym, sports grounds, cafes serving real food, a medical clinic, a wellbeing centre and other things I may have missed.
They have 4,400 employees on-site and are Cary's largest employer. The owners contribute to the community in many ways and we were all a bit over-awed by the whole experience.
The Town of Cary (local council) was our next stop and the first thing we were taken to was the Council Chambers. Being the characters we are, we all jumped into the roles of Councillors (Mayor Tim constantly saying into the microphone, 'All in favour of moving the motion to ..., say 'Ay' - I think he loves the sound of his own voice).
We met Mayor Harold and he was very generous in his time and openness in our discussions. At the conclusion of our time with him we presented him with an Aus/US badge which I told him I expected him to wear to the next Council meeting. As their twice monthly Council meetings are televised, I will be checking up on him, which I am sure he will be expecting.
After this, we were all pooped. We headed to a carpark somewhere to be picked up by our next hosts. Except that it was only one person, with one car for five people and five sets of perhaps a bit excessive, luggage.
Thankfully, as like everything in America, his car was big, and we managed although I have no idea how. Then we headed to the country. Jim's wife Joan was ready for us bedraggled lot, with a beautiful spread for dinner. Bless her!
As Jim was Corey's host, the rest of us waited for our hosts to come and collect us. This was around 9pm so by the time we got home to our new lodgings it was straight to bed for us!
The sight from my bedroom window is pine trees and more pine trees; the woods they call it! It is very relaxing.
'Til next time friends,
PS. As usual, a verbose blog from me, but I am excused as it was really over two days so if you halve it, it is actually OK.