Monday, August 26, 2013

4th week of August: Things to Do--THE Quintessential North CarolinaTour (if you know me)

For anyone who has briefly been in the presence of me or my husband, you quickly understand how much we love our home state of North Carolina.  Proud Tar Heels that will only and forever pull for the Wolfpack, we've had friends tell us we should start a North Carolina travel agency. So, one day I thought about what would be the quintessential North Carolina tour that we'd take our friends on.

This would include some iconic NC spots, but mostly places that are dear to our hearts and our heritage. It would be a whirl-wind road trip, but that's part of the fun!  Most of the time would be spent driving, but when you are in NC the drive is always beautiful.

So, join us, won't you, as we mentally go through the proper 10 day NC tour!  (Warning, this post will contain a lot of links, the idea is for you to web-explore these places on your own!)

Day 1: Whiteville
Columbus County Courthouse: Whiteville, NC 

To begin, we'd start out from our current home town in South Carolina and drive north and slightly east up I-95 to I-74 (or is it HWY 74 here, who knows?) and go to the hometown of my husband, Whiteville, NC.  He could tour us around, try to find where A.R. Ammons grew up, go to the NC Forestry museum, drive through the back roads, maybe even to Crusoe Island, a small community with their own neat way of talkin' where Matt's family is from. (Called an island because they have bodies of water  completely surrounding them. Before the bridge was built, the members of this community had to cross water to go into "town".) The first night of our trip we'd stay in Whiteville.

Day 2:  Lake Waccamaw and Ayden
Pier at Lake Waccamaw, NC

Day 2 we would wake up early and drive to Lake Waccamaw (10 miles East) and hang out on a pier, or go to the state park and hike.  Then we'd drive up through Eastern NC on HWY 11 up to Ayden.  Ayden is where there is Pete Jones' Skylight Inn BBQ:  THE place for Eastern NC BBQ.  We'd eat there for a late lunch and then head on up through Little Washington to HWY 64 and drive East to Manteo, where we'd stop for the night.

Day 3:  Manteo/ OBX

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Buxton, NC

We'd spend the morning at Fort Raleigh and wondering about the mystery of the Lost Colony, then stroll through the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens, grab a lunch and explore downtown Manteo. Then we'd drive down HWY 12 to Cape Hatteras.  There we'd spend the afternoon walking on the beach, checking out a lighthouse or two, bird watching at Pea Island, and finish up with watching a sunset over the Pamlico Sound
Avon, NC

Or a moon rise over the Graveyard of the Atlantic:
Avon, NC

We'd drive back to Manteo for the night.

Day 4:   Raleigh
View of downtown Raleigh, NC at night from Boyland Bridge

Day 4 of our whirl-wind journey, we would get up early and drive 64 West to Raleigh.  Once there we can hang out with my awesome sister and brother-in-law and grab a hot dog at The Roast Grill (Which could have it's on blog post on here.  Maybe someday).  We'd then walk around our Alma Mater and finish by having dinner or a drink at the PR .  No need for fancy Raleigh "foodie" dinner, we're keeping it real.
The Roast Grill: Raleigh, NC

Day 5:  Lexington
Famous Lexington Barbecue (From The Monk)

Next morning we'd get a Char Grill Hamburger Steak burger on the way out of town.  We'd drive 64 West all the way to my home town of Lexington, NC.  Now here's the rub:  before we get to Lexington, we can spend a day at the NC Zoo, one of my favorite places.  However, then we will have less time in Lexington (and by Lexington I mean Winston Salem, cause there's not much to see in Lexington besides BBQ and my family).

Day 6: Lexington/Wine Country/ Boone
Horse Farm in Valle Crucis, outside Boone, NC

Get up and hang out with my awesome Grandpa!  Then get a Lexington BBQ sandwich for lunch (the best BBQ sandwich of your life and you can only get it at Lexington #1--or as we locals call it The Monk).  Don't be alarmed, though, I'll probably get a hamburger....(this is a story for another time!) Afterwards we'll drive HWY 421 through the foothills to Boone.  We may even stop somewhere in the Yadkin River Valley for refreshments!

Day 7:  Boone/ Crabtree Meadows/ Mt. Mitchell**
Mt. Mitchell

Get up early and have breakfast somewhere "hip" in Boone, like Proper or Stick Boy. Then we'd drive the "BRP" down past Grandfather Mountain to Crabtree Meadows (mile post 340).  Here we'd hike to my favorite spot in all of North Carolina.
Crabtree Falls

Then, if time allows, we'd keep driving south and head up towards Mt. Mitchell--the highest peak east of the Mississippi!  Afterwards, we'd keep going  until we end up in Asheville, where we'd spend the next 2 nights.

**Matt and I had plans to do this leg of the trip when we go to the mountains in September, however a road closure on the BRP has made it impossible.  Also Crabtree Meadows is closed for the 2013 season.

Day 8:  Asheville
Downtown Asheville

Spend the day in Asheville, hang out, go to Biltmore, whatever we want!  Asheville kind of has it all: Shopping, Hiking, Eating, Drinking, Exploring!
Gargoyle over looking Biltmore House

Day 9: Bryson City
Bryson City Garveyard

Drive BRP to Bryson City and hang out with the Cherokees in the Smokies! If time allows, we may drive up to Newfound Gap or search for some family cemeteries in the National Park. We can stop for the night in Bryson City and head home the next morning, or if we have more time that we thought, we can drive through the winding mountain roads and Pisgah Forest to Brevard and stay there for the night.
Smokies, near Newfound Gap

Some nerd hiking off of the Road to Nowhere

Day 10: Home
Triple Falls in Dupont State Forest

Again, depending on how tired we are, we can get up from Bryson City and head home.  Or if we've stopped in Brevard the previous evening, we can go to Dupont State Forest and discover waterfalls before heading home.  We'll be tired, but happy to have spent the last 10 days in the home-land, the land of the long leaf pine, the summer land where the sun doth shine....

Sunset over my backyard, through the screen porch

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