Chapel Hill, NC -> Knoxville, TN
After 9 years in North Carolina it was time to finally pack up and say goodbye. Maybe I should be more sad about leaving, but I can’t complain – the place has given me great memories, two degrees, my dear husband and more wonderful friends than any one person should be blessed with. I am nothing but happy and thankful for my time there. The Triangle area has been my first adult home and I’ve loved being an adopted North Carolinian – from camping in the Outer Banks to eating my way through my rotation in Asheville, I can authoritatively say that this entire state is awesome. Thank you to all the natives and other transplants who took us in and made me feel that this was as much our home as it was yours.
We cleaned out the apartment and headed west on that long stretch of I-40 that I feel like I’ve been driving every few months or so for my entire life. The first stretch from Durham to Winston-Salem seemed especially to fly by. I know that length better than any other section of highway from driving it every other weekend during the three years Jeff was in law school at Wake. The Jeep knows the way so well that I’m a bit surprised it didn’t try to veer down the exit for I-40 business/Hwy 421 as we approached.
We had a delicious lunch at Chai Pani in a very packed Asheville (totally forgot that it was a three-day weekend and the tourists were out in force!) and walked through the cool streets to stretch out. I took Jeff to my favorite ice cream place, but unfortunately they were out of the best thing in the world: maple syrup bacon ice cream. Yes, it sounds horrible, but one taste and you’ll understand that this delicious concoction of creamy ice cream mixed with crunchy, salty bacon kissed with crystallized droplets of maple syrup is the perhaps the most wonderful food in the world. We settled on Moonpie and Salted Caramel instead, both delicious in their own right but still not the salty, sweet, creamy deliciousness I was hoping for.
This leg of the trip we listened to Justin Halpern’s I Suck at Girls on audiotape – definitely would recommend that book and his other, more popular Sh*t My Dad Says. So hilarious. We’ve only listened to the audio versions, but they’re a great laugh and make the time fly by.
In Knoxville we had a wonderful cookout with my mom, sister and cousin Christina and their 4 rambunctious puppies. Nothing says welcome to summer like fresh corn on the cob, chicken on the grill and blackberry cobbler (made just the way I love it – dropped, not with the crust). We had a delightful evening hanging out on the screened in back porch and soaking in the sunshine. Going to sleep on a real mattress after a great home cooked meal – is there a better feeling? I submit that there is not.
The next morning we did some much needed laundry (you’re never to old to bring your dirty clothes home to wash, right mom?) and I had to go navigate the Knoxville police department for some fingerprinting. And then began the long string of goodbyes on what we’re dubbing our “farewell tour”. We had lunch with my dad and sister at this fabulous hibachi/sushi buffet place that I’m very thankful I didn’t know about earlier because I would be about 60lbs heavier. On our way west we stopped by my mom’s office and said our goodbyes there too
And then it was goodbye to the only other place I’ve lived for a significant amount of time. Rarely do I turn the car west towards Nashville after a visit “home” but for us that is the only direction that matters for the next two weeks.
I leave you with some great lyrics from Zac Brown Band’s Chicken Fried:
I thank God for my life
For the Stars and Stripes
May Freedom forever fly
Let it ring
Salute the ones who’ve died
The ones that give their lives
So we don’t have to sacrifice
All the things we love
Thank you to all the men and women serving our country and paying the price for my freedom. Especially you little brother. God keep you and your friends safe over there. Love you Wubby. Happy Memorial Day.