Sunday, March 28, 2010

Clay Aiken, Raleigh PBS Taping Concert &
Finding a Retirement Home - March 2010

With the possibility of the family moving out of Wisconsin, I recently took the opportunity to visit the Coast of North Carolina with the thought of relocating to the area. I am retired, after all and should be somewhere warm. Right? The kids will be going to New Jersey, which 1) prices me out of the picture and 2) been there, done that.

First, the Concert

Since I was headed to Raleigh, NC to see Clay Aiken's concert that was being recorded for a PBS special it seemed an opportune time to make this journey. The concert was just indescribable, we are his fans and know he has a beautiful voice, but several weeks later what we heard that night in Raleigh is still being discussed and marvelled over. As a large and diverse group there is usually a negative Nelly or two that can find a hair out of place or a flat note, but I have seen none of that, everyone was quite blown away. The excitement in the room was palpable, Clay was more "on" than we have ever seen him. There was a note in Unchained Melody that, in my opinion, may have shattered the sound barrier. Crying, originally by Roy Orbison, was done as a duet with Linda Eder and it was simply glorious. Bring me up Buttercup (my favorite from AI) was so energetic he was out of breath when it was over and I don't think I've ever seen him quite that exuberant. LOL. All the songs were perfect and I can't wait to hear them again......and again. Anyway, watch for the concert during pledge week on PBS in June. The album, Tried and True, will also be out in June.

Some pic's from the night. The lighting was exceptional, he looked great and I think the concert will be a winner and the first of many more for PBS.

Now for the Retirement Location Hunt

So, with the wonderful concert experience behind me I headed west to New Bern, NC. Ahead of time I had mapped out houses in the area I was interested in so I would have some points of reference for prices and neighborhoods. Downtown New Bern and the views from the bridges were wonderful -

They had painted bears all over town.

This one is the pier at the campground where I stayed.

While the look of the town suited me, touring the neighborhoods and seeing the houses I had picked out did not cause me to once pull out my camera and take a picture. I didn't realize that until later when all of a sudden my camera was permanently hung around my neck. Now, I may have missed something stellar, perhaps I was still in the Aiken fog, but I don't think so. Nice, pretty town, but I'm not "feeling it".

I also drove up to Washington, NC - a little seaport town that I can only describe as shabby chic. The place to live here would be in one of the wonderful old Victorians in the downtown area. It really didn't matter if the paint was peeling a little, they were colorful and had much personality and verve. I didn't take many pictures here, either, although I was rather taken with the little place....kind of like I'd happened on Brigadoon one foggy March morning.

Back to New Bern to look at more neighborhoods. The only one that might have potential was a ways from town and was gated, so I couldn't get in.

Crossing the first two towns off my list I headed East to the Coast to Morehead City and Beaufort. I had been told I would probably love Beaufort. I came into Morehead City and Uh was a weekday in March and the traffic was pretty bad. Can't imagine what it will be like on a weekend in the summer. Now, I'm liking what I'm seeing, however Morehead City is a long stretch of a town with one main road and Beaufort is only reached by going all the way through Morehead City. The beach access to Oak Island is about halfway through town and again, a potential traffic jam. I did love Beaufort and found I could find housing within 5 minutes of town and there was a nice grocery close by.....but the Walmart and other shopping is clear on the OTHER side of Morehead City. Just not feeling the summer traffic here and I'm beginning to worry.

Two things I'm finding unusual - 1) There doesn't seem to be zoning in some areas. You will see a very nice stick built house, then a 1970's single wide mobile, then a 2000 modular and then something else that may be well kept, or not, and then back to a rusting trailer. Now, my price point is the nice (but inexpensive) stick house or perhaps the 2000 modular on a nice piece of land....but I'm not really excited about being sandwiched between, or having to drive through, an encampment of the rusty single wides to reach my home. So, a lot of the houses I've driven past do not necessarily have neighborhoods consistent with the one house I have plucked off I'm not surprised, you can photograph a house to look a lot nicer than it really is. 2) Secondly, and this is a silly, small issue, you can apparently park facing either direction on side streets. The first couple of times I made a right turn and saw a car parked facing me on the right hand side I freaked I was going down a one way street the wrong way.

After two days in the area I scratched off Morehead City, but left Beaufort as a possibility to be considered if nothing better shows blog, I head South.