Today I arose early to catch the morning plane to Raleigh. The flight was not heavily passengered, and I did not have to share my armrest. I got out the little travel chess set I own, with the pegs and the holes, so that the pieces do not move unless I want them to do so. As with many such sets when unused, the pegs and the holes do not perfectly fit yet, making for a bit of to and fro as I moved the pieces about. I used the little set to study a book by a Canadian eBay seller about a mouthful of an open called the 4 Ne5 line of the Ulysses Gambit in the Caro-Kann defense. I liked this book far better than the earlier one by this seller on the Adelaide Counter-gambit. The Adelaide book seemed as though he had just set forth a chess database on an obscure opening. In this book, he set out an even more obscure line, but with his own games. It was fun to see them play out, although the pegs were cumbersome and the gambit curious. I am never very willing to give up a pawn for the initiative. I am more likely to take a pawn and give up the initiative. I admire Viktor Korchnoi, the super-GM who made a career out of taking pawns everyone thought could not be taken. But I believe in going against the grain of my strengths, and hence will learn some gambits for practice's sake.
I landed in Raleigh about 10 a.m., and then had to head to a computer for some work. When it was noon, I went in search of lunch. One of my theories in life is that people who work for independent used book stores know the key to everything. So I went in to a local used paperback store, bought a biography of Disraeli and a George Meredith novel, and asked for directions to a good BBQ restaurant and a good place to buy a disposable camera. The college woman behind the counter knew of a good camera place, but only of an indifferent BBQ place. I got a disposable camera at a CVS she directed me toward, but the BBQ place was closed. I did see a Food Lion with a bbq grill running. They gave me a free sample cube of New York strip steak. Then I had a sandwich at a place called the Dakota Grill, in which, after asking "to go or eat here?", they ask "regular menu or bison menu?".
I went to WB Umstead State Park, near the RDU Airport, for an afternoon walk. The weather was perfect for walking, and I had my hiking shoes on. The trail ran through a mixed forest of loblolly pine, sycamore and gum trees. Tiny wildflowers blossomed along the path. Everywhere the understory trees were dogwood trees, in gorgeous white bloom. The trail lead to a rushing creek, by which I walked for a good way. I liked the two geese that flew over the creek, honking. I loved the large kingfisher bird who flew just a foot or two above the creek, apparently hunting at high speed. Although a lot of people were at the park, the place did not have that crowded feel. I felt I got in some solitude, and much welcome exercise.
I went to my hotel, a Hilton Garden Inn near the airport. As I got out of my rental car, I noticed in some tourist information that I had picked up at the airport that Durham had a place called the Magic Butterfly exhibition, filled with many tropical butterflies kept indoors. I asked the desk attendant at the hotel how far I was from Durham--she said fifteen minutes. So I set out to find Duke Road, so that I could visit the butterflies in their stately pleasure dome.
I found the Museum of Life and Science without undue trouble, and paid my way into the butterflies.
The butterfly dome housed gorgeous tropical plants. Among the plants, butterflies of all colors flitted and floated. Some men who spoke primarily Spanish pointed out that one of the fruit trees was native to their own home state, Vera Cruz. They said they ate ice cream made of the fruit. I wandered around the small butterfly area over and over, drinking in and photographing the butterflies. Then I went to see the insect exhibits, which were fun.
I got a shower at my hotel, and began the Disraeli book. Then I went to Raleigh, to the Whole Foods Market. My old college friend J. lives in Raleigh, and we had a good dinner. They sell it "by the pound" in the buffet at the place, which seems to be the "in" way to do natural buffet food these days. I had a succulent beef stew over saffron rice, with two exotic root beers. We chatted for ninety minutes, and I got to meet her dog, a hip corgi named Lokey. Then she went off to see her date and I went back to my hotel room to prepare for some work things. I hit the computer to print out some cases, giving me a chance to make this journal entry.
I like this area--it's analogous to, but quite different than, the places I grew up. Tomorrow, though, I do a quick hearing, and then fly back home.