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Road Trip in Review: North Carolina

 The last leg of our journey took us to visit friends in North Carolina, first in Raleigh, and then in Asheville. Because it turns out that I know a lot of people in North Carolina (I also have relatives there, who I already saw at the wedding, and another friend who we didn’t get to visit because we were pressed for time as it was.)

The trip to Raleigh was a nice break after walking around DC all day long. It mostly involved us hanging out in Friend’s apartment, playing video games, listening to Disney music, and watching The Princess and the Frog because some people in the room had not yet seen it. Oh, also lots of animals. Friend and her roommate both studied zoology, so they have 2 cats, 2 guinea pigs, and 3 snakes between them. I got to hold a snake! (Because terrified as I may be of spiders, I think snakes are really cool.)

We crashed on the couch, which, oddly was one of my best slept nights on the whole trip. For a couple months before we left, I had taken to periodically sleeping on my couch, so… apparently, I just sleep well on couches.

The next morning, we took our hosts out for brunch at a local restaurant (continuing our goal of not eating at chain restaurants) and then departed. We had meant to go to the Raleigh science museum, but got our signals crossed when IDing it on our GPS, and ended up one town over at a different museum which cost $20. Since this was $20 more than the price of the museum we had planned (which was at least a half hour in the wrong direction), we decided to skip the museum and go to Asheville.

Ashville, it turns out, is a lot like our home of Eureka Springs. And people had told us that before, but now we got the evidence of it. It’s very artsy and liberal and quirky. Oh, and apparently all of the restaurants have neat bathrooms. Seriously–from a mural of cats on the moon, to hand painted tiles, to what looked like a very nice… dungeon? all the bathrooms were pretty fabulous. And so was the food. I mean, we had biscuits the size of cat heads. And breakfast tacos. What’s not to like?

Asheville is also full of local artists. We went through several different artists’ studios, but it was at Zapow! that we bought souveniers for several friends back home. Because this is the place that has art related to pop culture, and sells everything from unicorn greeting cards to $800 chairs that are upholstered to look like monsters. If I had the money and the room for one of those chairs, I would have bought one. Alas, I will have to wait.

Other highlights of the trip include Splasheville–a local splash fountain which was a lot of fun. We were trying to decide if the fountains were on a schedule, if they turned on and off at random, or if someone was controlling them (and if so… from where?) If you know the answer, let me know! Then there was a brief beer drinking at a local brewery. Apparently there are a lot of brewerys in Asheville, but neither Fiance or I is much for the taste of alcohol, so we split one beer, and drank about a third of it between us. Then he drank another third by himself. And this is the most beer I have had in my life. SO after that, we looked for chocolate. There was lots of chocolate. There was a local chocolate shop, where we had brownies and lemon ice cream, and also a visit to a Lindt chocolate store. Now, Lindor Truffles are some of my favorite chocolates, and this was the jackpot. Usually, you can only get assortments in the normal flavors, like dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. But we ended up with a pound of truffles in about 20 different flavors, including mint, which is my personal favorite. We consumed many of these that night while playing Forbidden Island (which I had picked up the same day at a game shop, apparently in record time. Friends were shocked to see that I both bought the game and held a conversation with the game store employees about Matt Leacock and all his beautiful games in about 5 minutes).

And of course, there were the cats, three of them to be exact. One was very scared of us, so we saw little of her. One was tempremental, and took to Fiance much more than she took to me. (I have to admit, I’m jealous. I have often been told that animals that normally don’t like people like me, but I’m losing my reputation to him.) In fact, this cat rather enjoyed biting me. And then there was the giant orange tabby. He was about the size of a sofa pillow. Or a small dog. Probably the biggest domestic cat I have ever seen (and not fat, truly big.) And one of the mellowest, attention-loving cats I have ever met as well. If you sat on the couch, he would just wander over and lay down next to you, as if to say, “you should pet me. That’s what I’m here for.” And if you didn’t he would lay his chin flat on the sofa cushions in the most pitiful and dejected pose he could muster. Naturally, I wished we could have adopted him ourselves.

But alas, he went home empty handed (well, not entirely empty handed, we did have lots of artwork for friends). We secretly hoped to make the 12 hour trip in one go, but we didn’t get out of Asheville until nearly one o’clock, so between 7 and 8, right after crossing into Illionois just long enough to immediately cross into Missouri, we found a town with one gas station, one sketchy looking motel, and one sketchy looking (but not chain!) restaurant. Nothing happened in the restaurant other than the usual, though the bathroom light had one bulb burned out and another that was flickering (we weren’t in Asheville anymore.) We drove a little more until we found a town with a not-so-sketchy hotel, and I busted out my bathing suit to swim laps. We made the last 5 hours of our journey the next day, and though I was happy to be home (especially as I was pretty sure I had another wedding quilt to get to) I was sad to see the end of our little romantic getaway….

…But last week we found a roadtrip notebook in the bookstore, so I think it’s time we started planning our next one.


I am a poet, linguist, and ESL teacher who loves to play games.

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