Category Archives: North Carolina

10 Things I Miss About North Carolina

It’s been a while since I announced we would be leaving North Carolina. We are now settled in South Dakota, and I’ve been thinking about, and missing North Carolina constantly. Here is what I’m missing the most.

10 Things I Miss Most About North Carolina

1. Design

In the south, everything comes with a monogram, from car decals to apparel to floor mats. Clothes come in bright, vibrant colors with pretty patterns and chevron (my favorites include a dress I found that’s covered with crabs and a flamingo cardigan!) Basically, I can sum this up with saying I just want the entire crown & ivy collection at belk. Side note: Belk probably deserves it’s own shout out; I had never even heard of Belk before North Carolina but it seemed to be my go – to for new clothes. Finally, I grew an obsession with Simply Southern shirts, and I want every single one! I think that Simply Southern shirts have made their way to the Midwest (although they are not nearly as popular as in the south) but the bright colors and chevron will forever stay Southern!

This is my favorite Southern outfit. You can't tell, but this is my crab dress ;)

This is my favorite Southern outfit. You can’t tell, but this is my crab dress 😉

2.Weather

I know that weather is crazy everywhere, but North Carolina weather was arguably some of the craziest weather that I’ve encountered. My boss told me my first week there that if I didn’t like the weather to wait ten minutes, and she was not kidding. I learned to always have an umbrella and rainboots, and most importantly, I learned that you can never trust the weathermen! Not that it’s their fault, the weather is so unpredictable.

On the other hand, the crazy weather has really worked in my favor many times; there were so many times at the beach that it looked like it would storm. All of the tourists would scatter, but us locals knew better. You don’t believe the sky until it’s actually raining on you. I got the beach to myself several times because of this – and I’ve never been rained!

This picture was taken smack dab in the middle of tourist season. Do you see how empty the beach is? It was packed before this cloud came around; and it never rained!

This picture was taken smack dab in the middle of tourist season. Do you see how empty the beach is? It was packed before this cloud came around; and it never rained!

3.Food

Barbecue, fried chicken, greens, Bojangles, Waffle House, fresh fish – the list could go on forever! And aside from southern food, we were also close to plenty of Thai and Japanese food, most likely to accommodate the service members who had been deployed to those areas.

Carolina food

4.Southern Charm!

Nope, not talking about the TV show (although I love that too!); I am talking about manners and being polite. And saying ma’am, sir, please and thank you, and of course, “bless your heart!”. Plus, in the South, there is no reason too small to have a party to celebrate something!

North Carolina

5. The beach

Oh, the subcategories I have for this; this is going to be a long one because I miss the beach so much it hurts. I miss being the only person on the beach in the winter, walking for hours after work and never seeing a single soul. And always having a go – to no matter what, whether we were bored, needed something to do, or just because, the beach was always an option. There was no bad day that the beach couldn’t fix for me. I miss looking for dolphins, seashell hunting, and looking at all the beautiful, unique houses that I dreamed of owning one day. I miss getting sunkissed from laying on the beach all day then stopping at the fish truck on the way home and grilling fresh fish for dinner. I miss the first sight of my beloved Topsail Island from the top of the huge bridge that you must drive on to get there, the cheesy tourist shops, and knowing the difference between “normal” traffic and “tourist” traffic. I miss watching visitors on vacation; I loved being able to tell vacationers that “I live here” and feeling so proud and so lucky about that. Living at the beach and visiting the beach are two very different things, and I will forever miss being a “local”.

North Carolina beach

6. The mountains
It was North Carolina where I discovered my love for the mountains. Never in my life have I lived anywhere close to the beach, and the same is true for the mountains. So the fact that the Great Smoky Mountains were under a 5 hour car ride away was something pretty special to me. I felt so spoiled having such easy access both to the mountains and to the coast. We are close to the mountains now, but there was something about the Great Smoky Mountains that was special to me. Maybe it’s because it’s where I first fell in love with the mountains, or maybe it’s because they seem so much more relaxed there than here – I don’t know. I just know I miss them!

One of my favorite trips was when we went to see the Fall colors

One of my favorite trips was when we went to see the Fall colors

I could look at those layers all day long

I could look at those layers all day long

7. The East Coast Time Zone
Believe it or not, I preferred the East Coast time zone! I liked being ahead of everyone else. Now by the time I get to work, my old co-workers are two hours into their day, and I’m pretty jealous around 1:30 my time when I know they’re headed home for the day. It was also convenient if I ever needed to call customer service for something because usually they were based somewhere with an earlier time zone (mostly because it was Iowa that I would need to call). Now when I get off work and they’re already closed because I’m the one that’s behind!

North Carolina

8. Animals
From dolphins at the beach to bears in the mountains and anything in between, I always was able to get my animal fix. One of my big bucket list items was to volunteer to watch the turtle nests; I was actually going to sign up right around the time I found out that I’d gotten the job in South Dakota. North Carolina is also a wonderful place to hunt for seashells.

Metal Detector

9. History
We loved being close to so much history. Not only did we love being able to take in museums, Fort Fisher, Fort Macon, the Biltmore Estate, the USS North Carolina, Wright Brothers museum, lighthouses, the railroad, and so much more, we were also close to even bigger historical sites that were just a half – day’s drive away. We were lucky enough to visit Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., and so much more because we didn’t have to hop a plane like we would in Iowa.

Fort Macon has so much history, and it is beautiful

Fort Macon has so much history, and it is beautiful

10. Memories & People
The people I met in North Carolina took time to show me
everything North Carolina-ian. They took me hunting for shark teeth, made homemade Southern food, took me to festivals, and so much more. The friends I met in North Carolina have played such an important role in my life; they have made me a better person. I don’t know what I expected when we decided to move across the country, but whatever it was, North Carolina exceeded any expectation I ever could have had. I have so many special memories; and some of them can’t possibly make this list because they were just day-to-day life things. Have you heard the quote that you don’t know how special something is until it becomes a memory? That is the easiest way to sum up my entire experience in North Carolina. I miss my friends, and North Carolina more than I ever thought was possible.

North Carolina

10 things I love most about North Carolina

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11 Things Moving Across the Country has Taught Me

At this exact time last year, Mitchell and I were selling, giving, or throwing away everything we owned except for what could fit in our car. It was a bittersweet (and extremely stressful) time; I had no idea what was lying ahead of me and I was equally as excited as I was terrified. I have grown immeasurably throughout the last year and I can’t explain how thankful I am to have this opportunity. Because it’s the beginning of a new yearand the anniversary of our big move, I’m feeling nostalgic. So with that, I bring you 11 things I learned about moving across the country.

11 Things I learned about Moving Across the Country

It can be lonely
I learned this one the hard way, and I learned it immediately. For the most part, my new coworkers were welcoming but it took a long time to make real, lasting connections and relationships; and I learned there’s a big difference between feeling welcomed and actual friendship. At first, the only real social life I had was Mitchell, and this continued for probably 9 months. As much as I love my boyfriend, I really value (and need) girls’ nights; plus, asking a friend which shoes to wear over FaceTime isn’t the same (in retrospect, it also didn’t matter since the only person seeing them was Mitchell anyways).

Mountains North Carolina

You’ll second guess yourself at least once
Most days, living somewhere completely new fuels my desire and motivation for wanting to travel even more, but there are days where it is the opposite. Even though spending my weekends gallivanting up and down the east coast is the most incredible experience that I couldn’t have had from Iowa, it doesn’t replace being there to help my best friend plan her wedding or meeting my other friend’s newborn baby. That’s the big stuff. But the little stuff is hard to miss too – like countless dinner dates, happy hours, and my brother/our niece and nephews’ extracurricular activities.  Missing those moments can really make you second guess if you are where you are supposed to be.

Florida Beach

Your relationships will change
Even though everyone is a quick phone call or text away, it’s a lot of work to keep in touch when you can’t see each other in person. It’s easy to lose touch and drift apart in life, but it’s even easier to do so when you’re half a country away. But even though moving away makes it difficult, some relationships will become stronger. There are some people that I talk to more now than I did when I lived close to them; and although the dynamics have changed in every relationship I have, I am so happy that all of my relationships have remained intact.

North Carolina Beach

….and so will you
Part of the reason your relationships change is because you change too. You will not be the same person you were when you left. Let it happen, and embrace the change. Hopefully it will make you better and stronger in the end.

North Carolina Beach Sunset

It’s addicting
Need I say more? Moving to a place where you know no one is an adrenaline rush. I have learned that a part of me thrives on feeling that little twinge of homesickness. Plus, there are so many restaurants to try, places to explore, and people to meet. Living somewhere isn’t the same as visiting and once you get a taste of it, you may begin plotting out where you want to live next!

Roadtrip Road

You might have to pinch yourself a few times
I always dreamed of moving to the ocean and I never really imagined it would happen. I find myself thinking – “Is this real? Am I really doing this – DID I really do this?” pretty frequently. I have found myself thanking God many times for this incredible opportunity. And even though it’s my own hard work and dedication that brought me here, I feel so incredibly lucky.

North Carolina Beach

Greater appreciation
Learning about new and different cultures (yes, I consider the south to have its own culture 😉 ) helps me to appreciate others from different backgrounds while also making me appreciate my own background even more. Also, working for the military gives me the utmost appreciation for all of our service members, veterans, and their families.

North Carolina Mountains in the Fall

It will open up opportunities
When I dreamed of moving to the sea, I dreamed of sipping my coffee on the patio overlooking the ocean. And even though that hasn’t happened yet, mostly because we live a half an hour from the ocean, the opportunities here are even greater than that; reality has exceeded my expectations. By now, you know the opportunities for travel have been incredible for me, so there’s no need to go into more detail there. Instead, the opportunities for new friendships, new jobs, and a different way of living have all fallen into my lap. It’s crazy the opportunities you might get if you give them the chance.

North Carolina

Our newest friends

You become an advocate for “home”
Suddenly, everything from Iowa is “the best”. I find myself constantly talking about the sunsets, the food, and the people quite frequently. Because Iowa isn’t exactly a tourist destination, I have a lot of educating to do. I talk about it so much that I think my friends and coworkers wonder why I left in the first place!

No matter where I go, Iowa will always be home

No matter where I go, Iowa will always be home

It will become a part of you
I have left pieces of my heart in many places. North Carolina is not the first, and it will not be the last; and the problem with leaving your heart in so many places is that a part of you is always homesick for somewhere else. North Carolina was never meant to be a forever move, but I love this state so much. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never be content where I’m at, and that’s both exciting and a little scary.

North Carolina beach

It’s completely worth it
Moving across the country was everything I dreamed it would be and more and I would do it again in a heartbeat . . . and I just might!

Myrtle Beach South Carolina Beach

 

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

This is going to be one of those posts where you won’t have to listen to me talk (write?) quite so much because the pictures will speak for themselves. You’re welcome 😉

Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most beautiful drives. Read this blog to find out a little more about it!

When we went to Bryson City over Labor Day weekend, one of the things I really wanted to do was drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina. While I’d love to take my time and drive the entire 469 miles someday, we drove for about 30 miles of it.

Blue Ridge Parkway views from different lookouts. Beautiful! Check out the blog to see more

When I was planning our Bryson City trip, I found myself pretty confused trying to figure out exactly where to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. However, once we rolled into town, I quickly learned that all you have to do is follow the signs because they are everywhere.

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I honestly had no idea what to expect. I feared twisty, windy, and scary roads but that was not the case at all. The roads were very well maintained, easy to drive, and there were plenty of lookouts with convenient parking every 5-10 miles. We somehow lucked out and had most of the lookouts to ourselves, with the exception of about 2 or 3. This was surprising because we were there not only on Saturday, but Labor Day Saturday (read: busiest weekend ever).

One of the beautiful sights from a lookout on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

The first view took my breath away; I couldn’t believe how beautiful everything was. I thought surely we wouldn’t beat the view but then every lookout we stopped at afterwards provided its own breath-taking, beautiful view. I could have stayed on the Blue Ridge Parkway much longer, but the sun was starting to go down.

Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina - check out more pictures on the blog

When we visited the Blue Ridge Parkway, it was cloudy. While this makes for good pictures, it does not make for good sunset-viewing.

Blue Ridge Parkway from North Carolina

We are headed back to the area again this weekend, and hope to catch the sunset and Autumn-colored trees. We also plan to take a train ride, which I’m so excited about!

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New Bern, North Carolina

New Bern, North Carolina may not be the most-visited town in North Carolina, but definitely warrants a visit if you are passing through or staying somewhere nearby.

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New Bern is a small town on the river near the coast. It was named after Bern, Switzerland and there is a lot of history packed into this tiny town.

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There were a lot of murals all over New Bern, adding to the charm

So why did we want to visit New Bern? For starters, it is only an hour from where we live. We also have heard that it is a charming town (literally, everyone used this adjective to describe New Bern), and you may also know that Nicholas Sparks (a famous author) lives there. He had visited New Bern, fell in love, and then moved there. So if it’s charming enough for a famous (cheesy) romance author to both live in and write about, then it must be pretty great, right?

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I must admit that we didn’t even spend a full day in New Bern. I say this so that you know that you don’t have to block out an entire day to experience this town. We always start the day with good intentions to leave early and spend the entire day at our one-day destinations, but it rarely goes that way.

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Even the alleys were fun to look at

We visited New Bern on a Sunday, which is relevant for a couple of reasons. First, North Carolina is very much a southern state; therefore, a lot of businesses are closed on Sundays, including restaurants. Second, I noticed as we walked around that there were a lot of fun places to grab a drink or two – I would have loved to get that experience, but of course, the bar scene isn’t exactly plentiful on a Sunday.

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Pepsi Cola was founded in New Bern, and it is a place that you can visit. The building now is more of a shop where you can purchase overpriced Pepsi clothing and other souvenirs, but I still think it’s still pretty special and they do have some antique Pepsi Cola items on display. You can purchase an old fashioned bottle of Pepsi or Mountain Dew for $1.50 (so worth it).

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Right across the street from the Pepsi Cola store is a beautiful church. We spend quite a bit of time admiring it, and checking out the gravestones that were in the courtyard area. New Bern has so many random places not in the tour books that I found to be both beautiful and fascinating. Even the alleys were fun to explore!

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If you are visiting New Bern, Tryon Palace is an absolute must! You purchase the tickets inside of the museum, which houses a WWI display; interactive displays based on life from the 1800’s (better for kids than for adults); exhibits on the history of North Carolina/natural resources/weather; and a movie.

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Tryon Palace was the original governor’s mansion and first permanent capitol for the state of North Carolina. It was ruined by a fire and has since been restored. There are several gardens on the grounds that are perfectly manicured, and I don’t know how we were so lucky to have the place to ourselves.

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I do recommend visiting New Bern if you have a chance. We really enjoyed our Sunday spent there!

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