I'm delighted that you're here! My heart behind this blog is to invite you into my daily life, the things I am most excited about, the lessons I am learning, and the beautiful things I am capturing. I invite you to pour yourself a warm cup of coffee or sweet tea and stay awhile! I hope this space is an encouragement and inspiration to you!
Pulling a freshly-laundered blanket from the dryer, all warm and cozy. Warm pancakes piled high on a plate for family breakfast on a Saturday morning. Sitting by a crackling fire on a crisp fall night. That’s how the South feels to me: warm, welcoming, familiar. Even though I was born and raised in New England, the South has such a special place in my heart. Dillon and I took an incredible trip to North Carolina this past November. I’m very excited to share our adventures with you!
We began to plan our trip in June of last year. My dear friend Stephanie and her husband Rob invited us to stay with them in their beautiful new home in Raleigh. We were so grateful and excited and began making travel arrangements right away. We chose mid-November, after my last wedding of the season, but before Thanksgiving. That time of year is also the sweet spot after the vivid colors of fall have ended in New England, but are still going strong in North Carolina. Extended fall? Yes please!
At first, we considered booking flights. The drive from Manchester to Raleigh is about twelve hours each way without traffic, but $700 cheaper than flying. I LOVE to fly, (see: watching planes on my birthday). But as Dave Ramsey fans, we knew that driving would allow us to reach out next baby step much faster (and it did!).
We left NH right after work on that Thursday evening and set out for our hotel reservation in Delaware. We made a quick stop for Chipotle in CT along the way, after patiently working through rush-hour traffic. Sharing a burrito bowl piled high with corn salsa (and a tortilla on the side!) has never tasted better. When we got on the highway again, we soon drove past New York City, which is beautiful and bright at night! The skyline was dotted with colorful lights and iconic landmarks. By driving through at 10 pm, we skipped the usual traffic, too!
We listened to worship music, talked, and approached Delaware, one mile at a time. We were so excited when we saw the ETA on our navigation drop to single digits – we were almost there! When we arrived just after midnight, we brought most all of our luggage for the week inside with us on one of those rolling carts. Since we were only staying one night, that must have been quite a sight! After a solid night’s sleep, we packed the car again on Friday morning and set out for Raleigh, but not before… Wawa!
Y’all, we had never seen or heard of Wawa before. The best way I can think to describe it is: classy gas station. Yup. There were about 30 types of coffee to choose from. And the best part? Sample cups. They had teeny tiny cups alongside the coffee carafes for sampling. I sampled while Dillon went for the build-your-own-burrito bar. There were about a hundred toppings to choose from, and they make it right there in front of you. And you know how many gas stations have cheese sticks? Just the basic little vacuum packed ones that have been sitting there for
ages a bit? Not Wawa. They had about ten different cheese options and they all looked fresh. At a gas station. Including Cracker Barrel! Mark this date as the day when a gas station earned itself a paragraph on my blog.
We drove across the beautiful bridges of Maryland and made it through the DC traffic without much pause. It rained for most of the day. This made for an interesting experience when I insisted on painting my nails in the car and opening the windows to let in fresh air as I did. We stopped for lunch at Chik-fil-a in Virginia, had some in-car dance parties, and watched the ‘miles remaining’ drop little by little on our navigation app.
With about an hour remaining in our drive, we made an impromptu trip into an incredibly rural Cracker Barrel to change into nicer-than-sweatpants outfits for our arrival. Imagine us walking into Cracker Barrel each holding a little pile of clothes. Again, this was probably quite a sight. I was bursting at the seams with excitement because everything was starting to feel so Southern and we were almost there. The joyful anticipation is one of my favorite parts of taking trips, so this little pit stop was especially sweet.
We got back into the car, looking a bit more polished and excited, knowing that our next stop was Raleigh. I cued up a special playlist I’d made especially for the occasion, and we opened the windows in the car because it was finally warm enough. With the warm breeze hitting our faces, the familiar sound of a banjo gracing our ears, and the wide-open road ahead, my heart was so full. The ‘Welcome to North Carolina’ sign greeted as we crossed into the Old North State. I don’t think the smile left my face for the rest of the week.
To be continued soon!