Christmas in New Bern, NC

The Sunday before Thanksgiving (2012) was the day when Mary Ann and family could celebrate the Holiday together. My apartment warming was Saturday, the day before, so I couldn’t come down until Sunday morning. I thought I would be able to get away before 10 am, but things just seemed to drag on. Still, I arrived about 45 minutes late (12 noon), but still found myself about 30 minutes early for dinner.

I stayed over and left Mary Ann’s after noon on Monday. Danny and I went out on Monday morning shopping for his special shoe polish (to take back to his department) at Saigon Sams different locations in Jacksonville, NC.

I ate at the Mai Tai Restaurant in Jacksonville and finished shortly before 3pm, when they close for about a hour or so. I know this because I was sitting out in their parking lot using my Chromebook when someone drove up and then left almost immediately.

I decided to drive up to New Bern to buy some cheap cigars. There is a cheap (2 for $7) cigar, called “Ram Rod”, that I buy at a little “foreign” tobacco shop just over the river from New Bern, on Hwy. 70 heading toward Havelock. The sky had become grey and overcast and seemed much like just a week or so before Christmas (of many years growing up near Swansboro & Hubert).

It was growing dark when I got to the tobacco shop, and the clerk had posted a sign, “Back in 10 minutes,” on the locked door. I got back in my car and shortly he returned. I went inside and bought a pack of Ram Rods. *The cigar is a long hand twisted, flavored cigar. It has a mild smoke, and I have now started to cut them in half and have four $1.50 smokes.

I headed back toward New Bern on Hwy. 70 and then headed across the new bridge toward “Little Washington” on Hwy. 17. I turned around at the Hardees in Bridgeton, after making the short detour down the old Hwy. 17 that used to cross the river. There is a little “round” house there that I like.

I crossed the river again and turned into downtown New Bern. I made the first left after the drawbridge and went down a block or two and turned right. I was on the street where the “Original Pepsi” (soda) was made. I decided to park and walk up and down the street. This is unusual for me. Rare that I’ve had someone to walk with, and not the kind of thing you usually do, just for yourself. But, it was a wonderful night, cold, but not windy, and as I had said, it looked alot like “just before Christmas.”

I walked up past the Pepsi drugstore (not one now, but I think that is the history), crossed the street and down past a church and perhaps some apartments. Then crossed the street to walk back down the same street, but on the side where the Maola Ice Cream Shop is now located. There were some people in eating ice cream, and I looked briefly at the list of possible ice cream choices and saw one that was “sugar free.” A young woman came up to help from behind the counter. I asked if there were other sugar free choices besides the Vanilla. She said, “No.” I ordered one scoop of Sugar Free Vanilla… on a regular cone. I found the napkins and headed out the door.

I walked down the street past my car, on the other side of the street, and looked at the lighted shops (most of them closed already, before 6 pm). There was a little alcove with several shops and a restaurant at the end. The restaurant appeared to be simple, but elegant and there was a well-dressed couple, standing near the entrance, being attended to. I turned around sharply and headed back out to the street. I paused briefly to let a man, following a woman, cross in front of me.

I finished eating the ice cream before I reached the end of the street and threw away the napkin in a garbage can near the street corner. There was a restaurant, and a wine shop, a toy store, and an antiques shop… Santa’s House about the middle of the block. I walked on, and stopped to take pictures of the antiques shop and happened to capture Santa riding a 3 wheel bicycle down the sidewalk.

I got back to my car and sat there for a while on my Chromebook, playing a game, while several people, and couples passed by, or crossed the street.

I smoked half of a Ram Rod as I headed toward Kinston on Hwy. 70. I passed by Lenoir Community College, and a little further down the road, stopped in Kinston along 70 to see if there was an Andy’s (Hwy. 55) Restuarant, but the only one listed was back in New Bern. I headed on to Goldsboro. As I started to enter Goldsboro,  (just past Wilbur’s Barbecue), I checked to see if there was an Andy’s Restaurant in Goldsboro. My navigation program on my phone said there was an Andy’s just about a mile back from where I was. I turned around, passing Wilbur’s again, and turned right. A short distance, and Andy’s was on my left.

Hwy. 55 was well lit. There were 3 staff (a manager/cook, a young black man, and a tall, young, white waitress in shorts. There was an older gentleman by himself near one door, and two women (maybe 3, but one may have left) talking in a booth in front of me. The young waitress was polite and professional and took my order, bringing back my water shortly. I usually order the Andy’s Cheeseburger Special but order onion rings instead of the fries. I also order my burger with “everything” which normally includes slaw & chili. *I totally treat Andy’s as if I were home. I found myself putting catchup on each individual onion ring, instead of dipping the onion rings into a mound of catchup. I also usually peel off half of the batter before I put the catchup on. I got into this habit for two reasons. The first was that I had found that (and this was at another Andy’s) when I eat the onion rings, often the onion will slide out from the batter and leave a hollow tube of fried batter. I began to pile these up in the tray, eating some of them if I was still hungry. But, later doing this on purpose to cut the calories that I was eating.

I finished my meal, paid and left. I had a vague impression that some young people still had a good work ethic.

I began looking for a place to buy some gas. My “Gas Buddy” app said that there should be several stations around with a descent price, but all the stations I saw, including the one that I bought part of a tank, was all higher by about 4 or 6 cents than the app said they should be. As I pulled out of the convenience store, I was behind a chicken truck. These are large “18 wheelers” with basically a large cage for the trailer in which smaller bird cages can be stacked. Feathers usually fly from these as it rolls down the road. It seems that I was behind this truck until I made it to Newton Grove. Newton Grove is a cross roads (actually a circle) where several highways cross. You can go to Goldsboro, Fayetteville, Clinton, Raleigh (and some others) depending upon which exit you take from the circle. It is also where you can get off to get on I40. My navigation program says it is shorter/quicker to go to Newton Grove on Hwy 13 (from Fayetteville) and then get on I40 down to either Hwy. 24 or Magnolia to Hwy. 24 when I am going to/from Jacksonville/Hubert/Swansboro, NC.

If I were young and in love, or even old and in love, I think I would enjoy walking down the New Bern streets before Christmas, stopping in to get ice cream and look in the various shops. It truly gave me “the mood” for the Holiday.