My trip to The NC (more commonly known as North Carolina) was just prior to this blogging experiment; however, it was a great trip and deserves a blogging shout out. My friend moved to Durham a couple years ago to work at Duke. I finally paid her a long-overdue visit and we hit all the highlights. To the surprise of none that know her, she is the perfect tour guide.
We spent some time on the gorgeous Duke campus and it's everything a well-moneyed brick and ivy should be. If you're ever in the neighborhood, do not to miss the Sara P. Duke Gardens, Nasher Museum of Art (aka The Nasher), and Duke Chapel. We took a day trip on the Pottery Highway*, played Kokology at the beach as we watched the sun *not* set into the ocean, learned the very significant (if not moral) difference between tomato- and vinegar- based bbq, attended a live music performance in the picturesque tobacco district, and shopped in Historic Wilmington (a charming cobblestone town where when a double-scoop ice cream cone is requested, they'll present to you two massively independent waffle cones. You've been warned).
* The Pottery Highway. An entire highway (although not so much a highway as a sometimes-paved two-lane country road) full of nothing but pottery. I like to think of it as Pottery Heaven. Go, go, go to Seagrove, North Carolina. Established in the 1700s, potters have been drawn to central NC for its rich, unique clay ever since.
The Ten-Step Idiot's Guide to the Highway of Pottery.
- Orienting: Visit the handful of pottery stores in Seagrove, where many (but not nearly all) potters display their work.
- Orienting, part duex: Make note of the potters you particularly enjoy. This will be on the test.
- Preparing: Pick up a road map, and a complimentary refrigerator magnet, from the nice old woman in the Visitor's Center.
- Sign the Guest Book in the Visitor's Center. Watch the joy on the face of the nice old woman.
- Planning: Recall the potters whom you particularly enjoyed while in the handful of pottery stores in Seagrove. Locate them on the map. By "locate them" I mean to say find their home address on the map provided by the nice lady at the Visitor's Center, where you got your refrigerator magnet.
- Executing: Roll down the windows, crank up Sweet Baby James Taylor, and meander this way and that along Highway 705. When you come to a home you marked on your map (see: Planning), stop, peruse, purchase, repeat. Many potters accept VISA. Repeat.
- Executing, continued: Throw out the map. Stop at random homes and take pleasure in unexpected surprises.
- Celebrating: Jugtown Cafe, an absolute must. Two words. Onion. Rings.
- Damage Control: Purchase at least one extra carry-on bag, if not an extra suitcase altogether. There's no possible way to fit your precious treasures safely into the luggage you brought with you pre-pottery highway.
- Damage Control, final warning: Stash an extra $25 in your pocket. You'll need it for the overweight bag fee at the airport.