Friday, January 30, 2009

Speed reducing measures coming soon for Gregson & Duke Streets?

I found out this week after seeing some city surveying crews around Trinity Park that some traffic calming measures may soon be coming to Gregson Street and Duke Street. Drivers use those streets, right through pedestrian heavy neighborhoods, like freeways--at least in terms of speed. Several proposals have been made for slowing down the dangerous speeding, including returning the streets back into two-way traffic, which was met with mixed reviews from the neighborhoods.

What's going to be placed up and down Duke Street and Gregson Street is apparently like what's on Anderson Street, if you are familiar with that. If not, I took some pictures today of what Anderson Street has. It has traffic islands on the side of the road, marked with black/yellow signs (you can click the pictures to enlarge them):

What these traffic islands do is to make drivers feel a little squeezed, less wide-open like a freeway, and that has been shown to slow the traffic down. The more narrow a driver perceives a road to be, the less likely he is to accelerate.

The thing I liked on Anderson Street too is the permanent sign that gives drivers feedback on how fast they are going and what the speed limit actually is (seen in the first picture).

We've seen numerous close-misses, actual wrecks, and even fatalities, directly attributable to drivers speeding on Duke or Gregson Streets. Because there are slight hills on these two streets, drivers often top a hill traveling at speeds greater than their visibility allows. Thus, if someone is turning into their driveway, or a pedestrian is crossing the street, the speeding car doesn't have enough time to stop to allow for that and an accident occurs. While I don't think these medians will cure all speeding related accidents, I hope they help address the problem.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Day for us on Inauguration Day

In this newly "blue" state of NC, we got a rare snow day on this Inauguration Day.

My car's back window at 10:00 am on 1.20.09. Believe!

The "Snowbama Man" my niece made. Nice cap!

Wonderful, memorable day.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

A feast for the Chinese New Year

At the Durham Bull Pen residence our favorite Chinese restaurant is Eastern Lights. The Eggplant in Garlic Sauce is excellent. Best Hot & Sour Soup in town too. Last night when we dined at Eastern Lights, our server mentioned that Chinese New Year is coming up--Year of the Ox, incidentally--and that they'll offer a special menu available on those nights, January 25th and 26th. There is even a special deal if you can get a group together for dinner that night, but make your reservations ahead (according to the menu below).

Click on the menu to better see the special dishes and deal for Chinese New Year:


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mint in Chapel Hill

My good friend Jack allowed me to post here at the Bull Pen his review of the restaurant "Mint" in Chapel Hill:


We finally went to Mint, a new Indian restaurant that opened on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. We went for the lunch buffet today. We found the food to be very good. Fresh, medium spiced, and a nice variety of both meat and vegetable dishes.

The buffet today included Onion Bhajais, Aloo Gobi, Chicken Korma, Channa Saag, a black lentil dal (can't remember the name), tandoori chicken, another dish with cauliflower, peas, potatoes, and chick peas that was just the perfect blend of spicy and sweet, an egg curry dish, and of course basmati and a very light nan. The mango lassi was probably the best that I've had. Just very light and refreshing. None of the dishes were heavy at all. The decor was very nice. It was much lighter inside that the Sitar India Palace, which probably added to making the dishes feel lighter.

Since finding Sitar India Palace in Durham about 8 or 9 years ago, it's become our benchmark for local Indian food. I'm sure that I've been there about 40 times over the years and I've never left as much as a single grain of rice on my plate. Everything is just really good there. I have to say that Mint was every bit as good. If I could change one thing about our experience there today, it would be the music. While Sitar India Palace plays traditional Indian ragas and songs, the Mint had on something that I can only describe as new age.

The two desserts that were on the buffet were the traditional kheer (Indian rice pudding) and a sweet carrot dish which looked similar to a persimmon pudding. I had neither, as I was just stuffed from my first and second rounds at the buffet.

The lunch buffet runs $9 on weekdays, and higher on the weekends. Before we left, we asked to see a menu so we could see what else they had. And they had a lot. We want to go back for supper soon and order something a little spicier. I did see that they had goat curry (which I love) on the menu. I'll probably give theirs a try.

I definitely recommend it.


Thanks Jack for the review and I can't wait to try this place out soon. -- DBP

Monday, January 12, 2009

Something on fire south of American Tobacco

It's smoky outside and as of about 10:30pm this was what it looked like south of American Tobacco. I didn't get close but it looks like the big ladder truck was there. Lots of smoke and sometimes flames seen. Lots of sirens and the news helicopter too.

You can click the pic to make it larger.

Maybe it just looked big, but whatever it is, it's throwing off a lot of smoke.

I think it must've been this fire. I hope the firefighter will be okay.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Durham County Library Interactive Calendar

It's possible that I'm the last one to know about this online resource, but I inadvertently found it while looking for something else, so I thought I'd post it.

Durham County Library has a comprehensive calendar with all the arts & crafts workshops, kids' story-telling times and kids' movie times, computer workshops, ballroom dancing, community meetings, and everything else going on at the Library.

You can run your cursor over the program to get a pop-out of the event with more details. You can sign up online. You can even grab the RSS feed.

Here's the direct link to the calendar: Durham County Library interactive calendar. (I'm saying 'interactive' because you can evidently sign up for events by clicking on the links within the calendar.)


Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Day Hike - Umstead State Park

For the sixth year in a row, some friends and I gathered for an afternoon hike on New Year's Day. This year we chose Umstead State Park. Umstead is fairly large, and there are entrances from both I-40 and Hwy 70. We'd done a hike on the Hwy 70 side before, so we tried the I-40 side, which enters off Harrison Avenue.

We walked the "Company Mill Trail" down to Crabtree Creek and a little beyond. The trail was rocky but well-marked. The air was cold and exhilarating. A nice start to the New Year. At the trailhead:

A sample of what the trail looked like:

Once down at Crabtree Creek, it's easy to see the ruins of the old dam that was in use at least as early at 1810.

There was also a grist mill in use at the site in the 1800s, and the old mill stone is now displayed beside the trail. The mill stone was thought to be lost, but in the mid-1990's it was found in the riverbed downstream from the dam and recovered. A National Guard helicopter helped pull it out of the creekbed and place it beside the trail.

Going along further down the trail you can see the old foundation of what was probably the mill operator's house. Also further down the trail--we didn't get that far--there is a bridle trail that is part of what was the "Durham Road" that is an old, old trail connecting Raleigh and Durham. Evidently an former stage road can be found bisecting this route too and I'd like to go back soon and find it. (This information is via Randy Johnson's Hiking North Carolina, a guide worth owning, in my opinion.)

There is a nice new metal bridge that crosses Crabtree Creek and another map on the other side of the bridge for checking your route. This section of the trail is nice for stopping and enjoying climbing the rocks, checking out the old dam ruins and the mill stone, and listening to the rushing water. The entire loop of the Company Mill trail is 4.8 miles. Down to Crabtree Creek and back is just over 2 miles.

I love to see the surprising green ferns peeking out of the brown leaves in winter.

It's a nice hike and closeby too. The park was very well kept with plenty of maps at the trailhead. A highly recommended afternoon hike.