North Carolina impresses this Texas boy

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2008

I’ve spent my life bragging about my home state, Texas.

My wife, a native of Mississippi, though she shares my enthusiasm about the Lone Star State, has made it plain from time to time that I have a tendency to overdo it. (That probably is exacerbated by the fact that I have very little enthusiasm about her home state, in which I have lived twice and from which I have removed the only really good thing it had to offer, that being, of course, her.)

I’ve lived in North Carolina for just about a month now. The only time I had been here before I became a resident (actually, I’m not sure I am a resident yet; I’m still sleeping at the Ahoskie Inn every night) was back during my truck driving days when I rolled up or down I-95 a time or two.

So I have made it a point to spend my weekends exploring my new state.

First, I went looking for lighthouses. I’d never seen a real lighthouse before and I’ve always been intrigued by them. I headed for Cape Hatteras and paused at the Bodie Island Light Station on the way.

It would be silly for me to presume to tell you what all I learned at those two places. I was so fascinated with the moving of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse that I bought a book about that engineering feat and sent it to my wife. (The collective sigh you just heard was from all the wives out there who in unison thought, “Just exactly what I’d want my husband to send me from 1,264 miles away.” For what it’s worth, I bought her a variety of other stuff and sent that, too.)

But on that trip, I found so many other things of interest that, three weekends later, I went back.

I went as far as the south end of Ocracoke Island (where I was distressed to learn that you must have a reservation to secure passage on the ferry and even more distressed to be told that it would be 90 minutes before the ferry I needed would arrive and that I would be the fourth car on “standby”).

I was fascinated with the island and cannot wait to take Sherry there. I would welcome your suggestions as to where we should stay when we do that.

North Carolina’s beaches are more than a little impressive to a Texas boy, too. Simply climbing the dunes to get to a beach on Ocracoke Island used me up.

And a pause here to poke some fun at myself…

When I got up that first Saturday morning and prepared to head east and south on my initial expedition, I didn’t really give much thought to getting dressed. My standard weekend attire has long been jeans and boots (but no hat and no spurs). About three hours later, when I parked my car for the first time and got out to walk among the (other) tourists, I felt a little out of place. I’ve since invested in shorts and golf shirts and, while that does little to contribute to the general attractiveness of North Carolina, it makes me feel a lot less visible.

On my second weekend expedition, I visited Kitty Hawk. There, too, I was more than a bit impressed, particularly with the re-creation of the Wright brothers’ machine. Reading about and imagining that piece of history cannot even begin to compare with actually being there and walking along the same patch of ground over which they flew.

Last weekend, I traveled to Asheville and drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway and back. Little can compare with the beauty of those mountains, and I cannot wait to take Sherry there and show her the Biltmore estate and, even more, the variety of crafts displayed in the Folk Art Center on the Parkway just outside Asheville. There, I bought her a piece of jewelry. I really wanted to buy a hand woven throw, but decided not to spend that much money without her being there to ensure that my choice was the appropriate one. (The husbands in the audience will understand.)

Sherry has asked me not to go to Colonial Williamsburg until she gets here. She wants us to do that for the first time together. (She’s a little jealous of the expeditions I have already taken, but sitting in a motel room over a weekend n or multiple weekends n is just a bit too confining, and, though I really like driving, 1,264 miles twice on a weekend n once there and once back n is just simply impossible.) And we’re looking forward to venturing further north, too.

We’d welcome your suggestions about other things we should see and do.

And thanks for sharing.

David Sullens is publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald.