When I decided to rebrand, one of the main reasons was so I could showcase parts of eastern North Carolina as options for people to explore. I’ve lived in Raleigh now for almost 10 years, but I talk a lot about eastern North Carolina on my blog and on my social media accounts. Today, I am sharing why I love eastern North Carolina so much.
I won’t forget graduating from high school and spending most of my summer at Harker’s Island with my girlfriend, Beth. When I packed up my things to attend East Carolina University that fall on a NC Teaching Fellows scholarship, my mom and I followed my dad to Greenville. Always one to know the best hole in the wall spots with delicious food, Dad stopped us at Da-Nite Restaurant in Bethel for the best bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. When my parents dropped my off, my mom told people I’d never come back to Roanoke Rapids. I was so energized and excited to be in a new place and meeting new people.
Even back then, I made a point of taking day trips around eastern North Carolina with my girlfriends. One of my favorite small towns is Washington, NC, and some of my fondest memories from college are in that quaint tow. My best friend, Amanda, and I would make an annual shopping trip to AB Surf Shop in December, right after Christmas, to walk on the beach in the winter and to have lunch at Clawson’s, located in downtown Beaufort. If you’ve never been to an NC beach in the winter, you are definitely missing out. It is so serene and beautiful.
After graduating from college, I moved to Raleigh and felt a mixture of nervous and excited to start a new chapter. But there were things about eastern North Carolina that I missed. I missed the smell of peanut season, I missed driving past cotton fields, I missed watching tobacco grow. I found myself taking backroads in Raleigh because I still hated taking the highway. One of my personal favorites is Ebenezer Church Road, if you live in Raleigh and are looking for a good one to drive.
I was a pretty avid runner for a while, and my time was exponentially faster in eastern North Carolina on the flat land then it was in Raleigh. Here is one of my favorite stories for running in Jackson a few years ago. Cheddar Bo biscuits taste better in eastern North Carolina, and after the response to this post, it seems like this is almost a scientific fact. There is nothing better than eastern North Carolina BBQ, especially at places like Sam Jones BBQ in Greenville or Bunn’s BBQ in Windsor. The renaissance of downtowns in places like Kinston, Tarboro, Rocky Mount, Halifax, and Greenville are exactly what inspired me to start showcasing some of my favorite spots, both from childhood and now.
Eastern North Carolina isn’t what it used to be. There are places that haunt me because I remember how vibrant they were as a kid or even when I was in college. But the growth that is happening in the region is exciting and promising. I encourage you to take a drive one weekend. Check out a new part of the region, like Little Washington, New Bern, Elizabeth City, Windsor, Bath, Belhaven, Farmville, Wilson, or Swansboro. They all have a lot to offer, are quaint, and make you feel right at home while giving you the opportunity to experience something new.
Eastern North Carolina towns are consistently plagued by hurricane damage. Don’t forget to support those towns because even after the hype dies down, those towns are just getting started. I’ve long been a fan of Vivian Howard, but her “Country as Cornbread” campaign is one that is close to my heart. In graduate school, I took two economic development classes, and one of my classmates worked with Jones County with economic development. We often talked about the positive impact the economic development was having on the public school system there. To learn of the devastation that occurred in Jones County and that proceeds from Vivian’s project are going to hurricane relief in Jones County… it was a no brainer for me to get involved. Get your shirt by October 31 to help support an important cause.
I hope y’all have a great weekend! Be sure to follow along tonight and tomorrow for a girls’ night in North Hills.
This post makes my heart so happy! I (a Johnston County native) am moving a few hours down I-40W to Iredell County when I get married in May. While I’m so excited for that adventure, I’m also sad about leaving ENC! Thankfully, we’re going to be living in his hometown, a sleepy little farming community, so a lot of characteristics will be similar, but nothing can compare to living an hour and a half from the ocean. Also… how am I supposed to leave behind my eastern barbecue!? I keep telling him that we need to open an ENC BBQ joint out there so we can culture those WNC folks a little bit (;