I decided that on my last Saturday in North Carolina I should go skating. I had two aims: to do at least 20 km (so I round my NC mileage to 300 km) and to visit the Walnut Creek Wetland Center.
My skating route included lake Johnson once more but I did not make the usual “almost round it” it this time, instead I skated along its dam where the asphalt is super smooth only for a short time and returned back to the Centennial Campus Trail. This one brought me to lake Raleigh and out of the campus, where it became Walnut Creek Trail, the one I have skated on so many times before. This time, however, there was no wildlife (neither dead wildlife) encounter and by the time I reached the Wetland Center it was not opened yet. I therefore decided to skate little more. This did not work out so well as it turned out to be a lot more skating. I almost reached the Neuse River Trail – I did not do only the final 0.5 mile as it there would be a downhill ride down the long wooden bridge on the way back and I was not up for pins and needles in my feet today.
Though I met some bikers on my way, I was the only visitor of the Walnut Creek Wetland Center the whole time I spent there. The center is located in a green building that can be proud of sophisticated features reducing the energy and water required as well as sustainable materials used to build it. This was probably the reason for its unusual design that I liked so much. There were at least four (but probably five) rooms, however, all of them but the lobby looked like classrooms. This kinda reduced the area to cover during my visit but even the single room (lobby) had quite a lot to offer. Thanks to a turtles poster I identified the turtle I had seen the other day (it was an Eastern Box Turtle) but failed to identify either of the snakes I had seen over the two months. The lobby’s masterpiece was definitely a so called touch table, where kids were encouraged to explore “materials of nature” such as butterflies, ancient shark teeth, snake sheds, turtle shells (the had such a fine ribs in there!), beaver pelt and many more.
There was a little bit to see outside, on the deck of the center, too: a few information boards, periodical pole which was impossible to see at this time of a year, a cistern to preserve rain water and holes created by carpenter bees. It was amazing that any insect can create perfectly circular holes without any tools and knowledge of pi value. There were two holes and both of them had a visitor into them. As I am consulting with Google know, I can confirm they were not the carpenter bees.
After the break it was little harder to get adjusted back to the skating movements but the struggle did not last too long and I finished the rest of the route with no problems, neither any excitement such as more snakes or coyotes. In total my last skating trip was good 40 km long. Raleigh Skating Mission accomplished.
It took my only a while to recover and after a lousy lunch (in other words, whatever was left in the refrigerator at this point) I started googling what stuff I have missed over the past two months and hopefully could rectify for that on my last weekend in Raleigh. Again I realized that the capital city is not automatically a synonym to ton of fun and/or long opening hours. I found out about an art place that looked interesting but it would close about the time I would reach it and would not be opened at all on Sunday. In the end, I decided to look for activities in the proximity of the campus, thus avoiding too much walking. In the case of both attractions I visited, I also did not run in opening hours problems and both of them were fun enough to make me feel that I complied with the Mrs. C’s wish to do something fun on my last weekend.
The first stop was the WRAL Azalea Garden right next to the broadcasting company’s building. I had noticed the TV building few times in the past but never paid any attention to it. Until today when I learned that if I want to a nice office for myself, I have to become a TV person for a US broadcasting company. Their property was pretty big and just overloaded with antennas of various sizes and shapes. Now I can also confirm that the transmission tower was theirs, too. As for the garden, it was not as spectacular as the arboretum (which I expected anyway) but considering the fact that a company founded the place, it was nice and of a decent size, too. Furthermore, it provided me with lots of opportunities to take pictures, including snap and snaps or a baby rabbit feeding next to a fountain. I definitely was glad to go there as it would be a huge shame to miss a place that was pretty nice and super close to my temporary home.
From the garden I headed to the Pullen Park again. However, unlike my previous visit, the primary purpose was not a photography but join the local kids and spend the Saturday afternoon in the way they do. To achieve that, I went for two rides – a carousel and a miniature train. The carousel was an extraordinary piece of work. The animals were well-done, with so many details on them and looking pretty real. A supposedly clarinet music was playing and I enjoyed my ride on a piggy’s back a lot.
The miniature train ride was much much more scenic than the ride on an actual train last weekend. I saw the lake and all the wooden bridges across it, the carousel house and a playground. Although the train ride was not boring at all, I probably enjoyed the carousel little more.
Done with the rides, I still did not have enough, so I stopped at the Talley Student Union on the way back home. Good I did it – it looks spectacular from the outside and I liked the ground floor but had no idea there would be so much more hidden on the remaining floors.
I am glad I chose to be active today and I look forward to seeing what adventures tomorrow provides me with. I am also grateful I survived all my skating adventures in one piece, without any accidents (even though there was one close call today) and brought my mileage to nice 333 kilometers.