One of the great things about living in Raleigh is how close we are to the Atlantic Ocean. North Carolina has beautiful, sandy beaches from top to bottom, but the route from Raleigh to Wrightsville Beach has to be the fastest and easiest. Hop on I-40 and two hours later you’re bodysurfing. Seriously. That close. In fact, we tested it out again this weekend. A mere thirteen minutes after piling into the car, we saw a sign for the North Carolina Ferry System “1-800-By Ferry.” When your house is within thirteen minutes of a ferry sign, I consider that a pretty good place to live.
The 2-hour trip down I-40 is with a 70-mph speed limit, two rest stops, decent radio station reception, and frequent-enough exits for gas and/or fast food. It’s well-maintained and essentially litter-free, with the exception of a staggering amount of tire pieces. The east and west lanes of the interstate are separated by aesthetically-pleasing cables and the exit and entrance ramps are nicely landscaped. It’s a busy road, but not overloaded with tractor-trailers.
Sights to see along the way? I-40 between Raleigh and Wilmington is lined with lush, dense, green foliage…….and not much else. Of course, sometimes there are cattails growing in the ditch beside the highway, and there’s also an occasional pond or farm field and a few billboards. I’m not sure why there are so few billboards, but it’s nice not to drive down a “South of the Border” corridor.
To be fair, there are a few exits we’ve been meaning to try and hope to try some day soon. I’d like to tour the Duplin wineries and partake of the free tastings they advertise on those billboards. There are also a few Civil War sites along the way that I’d like to visit, such as Moore’s Creek National Battlefield and Bentonville Battleground. Our problem is we’re always in a hurry to stick our toes in the sand when we’re headed east. And when we’re headed back west, we’ve usually hit the road later than we should have and can’t afford to stop along the way. Maybe some day soon we’ll actually plan ahead and veer out of our well-traveled lane.
So after two hours down a boring road, you arrive at a beautiful beach on the Atlantic Ocean. That’s a day trip! I’m in.
That’s Life in Raleigh.
The students at N.C. State have poured back into Raleigh for the start of the fall semester.
Did we miss them this summer?
Um, not so much. While they were gone, things were a little calmer, a little cleaner, and a little quieter. We could actually drive down Hillsborough Street—even with all of the intense construction of the soon-to-be new-and-improved Hillsborough Street. All the streets near campus were wide and clear, free of all the parked cars. And driving near the campus without having any close encounters with pedestrians is a special treat. We could even eat at the restaurants and frequent the businesses on Hillsborough Street. I mean find a place to park and everything! No long lines of scholars at the Harris Teeter weighed down by cheap twelve-packs, either. So yeah, we enjoy their summer vacation, too.
Raleigh has plenty going on even without a university of twenty-thousand-plus students. We’re the state capitol. We have the Research Triangle Park. Our economy doesn’t rise and fall on the backpacks of college students.
But the heart of our city just may. With our NCSU students back in town, Raleigh is a richer, more vibrant city, humming with creativity. Serious creativity. Barrel Monster, anyone? We’re younger, hipper, and smarter. The brain power, enthusiasm, and sheer energy concentrated in that part of our city makes Raleigh a better and more exciting place to be.
Memories of long, carefree college days come flooding back at the sight of all these throngs of young Wolfpackers. Who can see all these young adults and not wax nostalgic about the Ed’s Grocery of yesteryear and the Circus Room at Darryl’s? Add to that the fact that Sidney Lowe is back on campus, and I feel young again and ready to hit that Brickyard for another celebration! Yep, I was there when Sidney brought it home last time.
So welcome back, N.C. State. We’re glad you’re here. Go Wolfpack!
But about that large group of male NCSU students living in the house directly across the street from my home and my two teenaged daughters—well, I’ll save that for another day.
That’s Life in Raleigh.