My love for North Carolina started a lot sooner than I realized from my time spent at my grandparents’ farms. Each weekend, I would head to either Hobgood, NC to help tend to the small menagerie of animals my grandfather added to his cotton, soybeans, and tobacco farms, or to my dad’s family, which was a former dairy farm in Rich Square, NC. I also would have play dates with my cousins on their cattle farm right outside of Jackson, NC. I grew up thinking this was pretty normal, not realizing just how unique this was for me.
When I turned 16, I worked two jobs, one at a clothing store in my hometown of Roanoke Rapids, and the other lifeguarding in eastern NC at a country club. I think that was the beginning of the pull between my heart strings of rural life & a bit urban, if one classifies Roanoke Rapids as urban.
When I went off to college, I found myself taking backroads from Roanoke Rapids to Greenville, partly so I could stop and get a milkshake from The Freez and partly because I loved those back country roads so much better than the interstate. During harvesting season, there was one particular field that I loved to pull over and walk through when I needed to clear my head on my way back to college. I grew up attending ECU games with my dad, and we continued that tradition until I graduated. There were few things I looked forward to in college more than sitting with him at an ECU football game. I would have otherwise missed out on hearing him hollering at fans when they were badmouthing the coach or the occasional taunt at the ref (my personal favorite was when he called one Echibod). I had a great time in Greenville with my friends, learning about different types of food, experiencing various types of art, and of course, making short day trips to New Bern, Washington, and Beaufort. Reading days, in both the winter and spring, were spent at Atlantic Beach with a stop at Clawson’s.
There weren’t many days better than the ones I spent at Shackleford Banks with friends, and those days spent in Sanford at the Dairy Bar catching up with some girlfriends I made in college. But I also did love heading back east. Truth be told, I never quite knew where I would end up, going to college, after graduation, as an adult. It isn’t surprising to me that I ended up in the country of Wake County, close enough to a Target, Poole’s Diner, a wine bar, but far enough away that I can have some space and find a field to walk through if needed.
When I met my now-husband at a bar in Raleigh, the first question I asked him when I decided I was interested in him was if he would ever move back to Buffalo. While there have been times I wanted to move away to experience something new, I always knew this would be my home. There ain’t nothing better than a Bojangles’ cheddar bo from the Nashville restaurant right off 64, or a BBQ sandwich from Sam Jones’ BBQ in Winterville, or a Mother Earth Brewing Weeping Willow Wit on a summer day. And how can one not love the skyline view of Charlotte, the sun setting from Grove Park Inn in Asheville, and the ferry ride from Swan Quarter to Ocracoke? From the tree houses in Windsor to glamping in the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is so much to experience here. When I think of what makes North Carolina home, it’s all of those things.
💋 With love from NC
Inspiration for this post came from my friends at Bit & Grain here
Looking for travel ideas in North Carolina? Check out these:
Ocracoke Island | Bald Head Island | Charlotte | Halifax County | Kinston
Asheville | Winston-Salem | Greensboro | 12 Restaurants to Try in NC
Mary Leigh says
Love that Nashville Bojangles! I always think this everytime we travel anywhere in or outside of NC. NC really is the best. It would take so much for me to move away from this place.
My grandparents lived in Castalia – so we also spent quite a bit of time helping in the garden and my grandfather raised cows and chickens, too! So thankful to call this place home.
I totally agree! We do live in a spectacular place!
I feel the same way about Virginia! But, I also have a lot of love for NC…we grew up going to Salvo on Cape Hatteras Island, and my hometown is only about an hour and a half from Boone, so we often went skiing there or at Beech Mtn. My brother actually lives in New Bern now, and we love visiting him there!
Oh, New Bern is such a gem! And I love Boone, too. xx
Wow, I didn’t realize the Nashville Bojangles was so popular! My hometown has really come up in the world. Did you know that our governor also grew up in Nashville?
That Bojangles is iconic! I met Governor Cooper when he was the attorney general and we chatted about northeastern NC then! He’s a nice guy!