Ah, North Carolina. Land of the Wright Brothers, the Tar Heels, the Outer Banks, and James Taylor. And Krispy Kreme.
Danielle, Lydia (a great mutual friend of ours), and I departed from the DC-area to pick up our other roadtrip companion, Laura (another great mutual friend) to start our adventure to Atlanta and back. Three girls in one car to visit 8 states in one week?
First up? North Carolina.
However, what started as a nice, leisurely springtime drive through the southeast quickly turned into a girls vs. boy roadtrip. As the lone male, I was clearly on the wrong side of the gender ratio.
As a result, I was appointed official photographer for the bunch. Sounds easy, right?
I don’t think you’ve ever met these three together. Frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t have to stop to charge the cameras or buy new memory sticks on the trip. Yep, that’s how many pictures I’m talking about. Every shot, every time, and every pose ‘absolutely needed’ to be captured by 3 separate cameras. Now, I’m a logical man, but this just didn’t seem logical to me. My thoughts didn’t matter much, though, based on the simple fact that I’d always be outvoted. Great. Just great.
I got outvoted on such a regular basis. That meant we spent far more time shopping, photographing, wandering, and just generally doing girl things than I had want to. Don’t get me wrong – I really like the three of them (Danielle especially) – and we did travel really well together. However, I’m pretty sure my mom scarred me as a kid because of the sheer number of pictures she’d make me pose for – so needless to say I was less than thrilled to be back in that spot. But I quickly learned that the happier I made them as the resident photographer, the better off the trip would be for me.
So after a brief stop at the Raleigh airport to pick up Laura, we set out to try some Carolina-style food and drink. It didn’t take long til we had food on plate and beer in hand. While the vinegar-based Carolina BBQ isn’t my favorite style in the world, it was a must-try when in the state. Probably the same thing goes for grits.
Overall, we’d spent one day and one night in the state: just enough time to have dated and stated North Carolina!
State #20 started off with something completely new. Something not yet attempted before in the 50 states challenge. Something that could potentially have a HUGE impact on the quality of each state and date…
Two guest star travelers!! Oh, yeah.
Yep, Jacek (as the only boy) was now officially outnumbered 3:1.
We had managed to pick snag two Beautiful, Adventurous, Blonde Explorers – or complete BABEs ;) well – make that two and a half – Lydia’s little bun in the oven had managed to start her cross-country journey before even being able to walk! Laura, on the other hand, was well on her own way to hitting the same goal as us – 50 states (with or without a date)!
Luckily, we are all on the same traveling page: bring it on North Carolina.
Jacek, Lydia, and I started in Virginia and drove southward towards our first stop – the Raleigh, NC airport – to pick up our final partner in crime: Laura. Quickly sweeping through the arrivals terminal, Lydia and I positioned ourselves outside of her gate and patiently awaited her entrance. In true traveling fashion, we even created a fabulous home-made sign for our guest-to-be: “Bucket List Item #3,417: Let’s go find Tim McGraw!” (like I said – we’re all on the same traveling & bucketlist page!)
However, we never actually surprised the new traveler with our arts-n-crafts. In fact, she somehow managed to slip right by us and beat us back to the car! Yep, the girl “arrived” in the departures area, called our chauffeur (aka: Jacek), and made her way to the backseat faster than I can finish a box of mac-n-cheese. Damnit.
Sidenote: Laura did admit that now she knows why she got into all those debates with her mom about where to be picked up and dropped off at the airport. Glad we were able to straighten that out – even if it was waaay too late! Whatevs, it’s the thought that counts! We still had our photo-op in the terminal and then set off to explore the city.
Onward and upward.
Having driven ALL damn day, we were ready for some food, drink, and sleep. In. that. order.
First stop: Mellow Mushroom.
Second stop: Hibernan Pub.
Third stop: Red Roof Inn.
North Carolina conquered.