Category: North Carolina

The 4th in Aberdeen

“She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else. After all it was a great big world with lots of places to run to and if she had to die tryin’ she had one little promise she was gonna keep.” American GirlTom Petty and the Heartbreakers

During the 4th of July, most all of America is up and running. People are gathering with their families to roast hot dogs, hamburgers, eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and basically enjoy all things American. In Belhaven, where I’m from, they PARTICULARLY LOVE and celebrate the 4th with major festivities. They start off the day before with a Miss Independence Padgent then move into a “Street Dance” that lasts until very late. People dance the night away and have a great time. Then the next day there’s quite a large parade with festivities around every corner and booths to buy lots of cool junk. Up the road from this, there is a famous “Mud Run” where trucks are forced into the mud with their tires-a-spinning and the redneck in every one of us flying. You could say Belhaven is pretty hoppin’. But there’s one thing that can make all of this not worth the effort and that’s THE HEAT! One of the sayings go, “It’s hotter than the Belhaven 4th of July’s in here!” That’s when you know it’s hot! LOL So…this year I took great satisfaction in enjoying our day of independence in the nice 78 degree weather that was Aberdeen WA. :p

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Everyone gathered together: Me, mom, dad, sister, nieces, cousins, cousin’s girlfriends and children. We feasted on some wonderful dishes: watermelon, cheese/summer sausage and crackers, pasta salads of all kinds, crab salad, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, cookies, WA cherries and other fruits. We played “Washers” (which is something like cornhole I suppose) and were just all around merry. Check these guys out. Dad (on the left) is attempting to explain something in the best of ways. Tommy (my cousin on the right) of course looks confused, but I assure you he’s not. Though he may be deciphering the white man’s speak.

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It was really great because I got to hang out with my cousin Chris. This summer’s trip was the first time I’ve seen him since I was 13 years old. I have great memories of those times. I met him and a lot of other relatives at a family reunion in Cowden Illinois (look for that post to come). He was 18 then and now we’re both in our 30’s. My how time flies!

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We really were having a great time. It was the first time in many years that I’ve really enjoyed myself. There was no heat really and it seemed like the most simplest, easiest action to just put food out and hang with the family!

Now, let me say that Belhaven puts on a nice little firework show at 9 p.m. It’s nice. BUT, in North Carolina, only cities can administer big fireworks. They’re illegal for residents to just shoot them off (or at least some are). In WA State…THEY’RE LEGAL! This town and every other town is lit up with explosions. Here, there, EVERYWHERE they shoot them off. Fireworks had been blasting off for days before the 4th actually came around. So naturally, Chris being the dude he is went and bought a lot of fireworks so we could have our own firework show!

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Everyone was ready to kick it off! Even the kid.

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It was so funny because he set all the chairs up in a row to watch the fire show commence. Hey look! It’s Kenny again! LOL

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These fireworks weren’t just some run-of-the-mill fireworks. These were the BIG ones!

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It was so exciting even I decided to try my hand at it. I lit several off. I have to tell you I was a little nervous to start with but after that it was all in good fun! After the show commenced we were all lit up; on the inside as well as outside. I know I definitely was. Yes, that IS a sweater. The nights are cold in Aberdeen.

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Our 4th of July celebration was a hit and I’d LOVE to do it every year. I do love America. God bless our soldiers and all of those who fought for us to be free! We know it comes at a price. We love you and will always support you.

The Loop Pt. 2

“I love you when you’re singing that song and I got a lump in my throat cause you’re gonna sing the words wrong.” RiptideMisterWives

After the Big Cedar tree we stopped to have some sandwiches we packed in the amazing Yeti cooler! It has really come in handy throughout our travels. We wouldn’t have been able to financially do a lot of what we have done if we didn’t have that cooler to pack food in. So, big props to Yeti.

Our next stop was very unexpected to me because I didn’t know where we would be. To my surprise it was at a BEACH, “Ruby Beach” to be exact.

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The beach is beautiful and so very different from our beaches in NC. There’s no sand, only rocks and pebbles that range from large to small.

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Check this guy out. He must be a photographer from National Geographic! I should have asked for his autograph. 😉

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Ruby Beach, as you can see is quite stunning and just very beautiful. I think some of the beauty comes from the big rock formations next to the beach and that visual makes it so interesting to look at. In NC and on the east coast, you don’t have these huge rocks next the beaches to make it interesting but you have the warmth of the water to swim in and the nice warm sand between your toes. Overall the beaches along the west coast are breathtaking and definitely possess a character of their own.

After Ruby Beach we continued north. We came into Forks, WA. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with this place, the Twilight Series kind of put this place on the map. The fantasy romance novels were based in Forks Washington. The movies, on the other hand, were not filmed entirely in this town. There was a scene filmed in Forks and another scene filmed at “La Push” which is a beach just north of Forks. Other than these two sites, I believe most of the movies were filmed in Canada. Well, that did NOT stop Forks from capitalizing on whatever they could from the movie.

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These pictures were taken at the visitors center. I didn’t make any images of the town because there were no images to make. It’s just a tiny little town that you drive through to get to your next destination. It’s one road and the entire town is branded with all sorts of shops named all things, “Twilight”. So they would have shops named something like “Twilight Hair Designs”, “Bella’s Beauty Shop” or “Vampire Lounge”. These are not exact names of their shops, however you get the idea. Though I WILL say that they have a spectacular 4th of July schedule of festivities lined up for our day of Independence! We were planning on attending this because we would be camping at the Clearwater, but unfortunately we never went camping due to forest fires 😦 Now I know some of you are thinking, “Yeah right! I bet you were glad to get outta that one!” But I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to experience it for the first time in agreeable weather. I can’t imagine camping in NC which is why I never did it.

At some point on this vacation I always think I have seen all there is to see in terms of beauty. I think, “That’s it. There’s not going to be anything else more beautiful than what I’ve seen. I’m completely satisfied; I’ve seen it all.” But then there’s ALWAYS something EVEN MORE magnificent around the corner. In this case it was, “Crescent Lake“.

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Now, I would like to let you know that sometimes I have to put myself in compromising positions to get really great shots; walking down rough terrain into dangerous positions, climbing up rocks and almost falling or stepping out onto a ledge 3,000 ft above ground level, forgoing all my fears of heights just to get that one good shot. Crescent Lake was no different. There were no pull-offs where you could safely get a picture. We did find a pull-off that I had to walk about 50 yards away from to get a good image. So I had to step over the railing on the side of the road to get the images. I was not ON the road by any means. I was about 6 ft. from the road. For WHATEVER reason, 3 cars came by me and BEEPED their horns obnoxiously! Why? I was not on the road so there was no fear of them hitting me and to further justify that, there was a rail blocking them and myself. I’m still quite puzzled by this. My thought was, “Are you they beeping because they think I’m going to jump off the ledge?” Well beeping certainly wouldn’t help my staying on it! Anyway, if anyone has any ideas, please leave them in the comments below. It’s been bugging me for a long time. LOL

Traveling Realities

“Think of what I’m saying. We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.” We Can Work It Out The Beatles 

This will be a quick one but it’s something I wanted to share. Not everything is perfect and I like for people to know the not so happy things as well as the happy ones. That is what keeps things real and genuine.

Traveling obviously is a big adventure and there are thrills that are beyond the norm so of course that’s why we travel. However, traveling is not without some sort of difficulty. Unless you’re traveling alone you are bound to have mishaps or unhappy moments with those who accompany you.

Let me first explain the relationships and then I will explain the living arrangement during our time here in Washington. My sister and brother, by blood, are my half siblings. We share the same mother but not the same father. However, there has never been a time where I have felt them to be a, “half” sibling. We are all a family and all I have ever known are them. My father IS their father and he is all they have ever known of a father. They were very young when he came into their lives. With that being said, my brother and sister connected with their biological father’s family around 2008. It opened up a whole new world for them and they connected with a family they never knew. They gained so much from that experience, especially my sister.

My sister moved here to Aberdeen (my mother’s hometown), and currently stays with her uncle until she can become settled. He has been kind enough to let me and my mother and father stay here during our visit. Altogether, there are 8 people who are currently living in Ken’s house. LOL that’s A LOT of people: Myself, my mom, my dad, Evy (my sister), Ken, Rayann (my niece), Hayley (my niece) and Ken’s daughter Kaycee. There are four bedrooms but the house, for the most part is quite small (I’m not sure of the square footage) and there is only one usable shower. So I hope you can kind of visualize what we’re working with.

This leads me to the “mishaps” and “unhappy moments”. I would say that it was difficult traveling with my mom and dad, but that would be a lie. I love them immensely and they really don’t do anything that would warrant too much irritation or frustration. I, on the other hand can be a “pill” (southern term for cranky or unhappy). I can’t really tell you why, but I suppose certain things pick at my nerves or have a tendency to annoy me? So I will say that some of that frustration is due on my part. However, I realize when I’m doing it so I attempt to bring my irritations to halt and commence to be easier to get along with. But this is all normal and if you’re expecting to get along with everyone you’re traveling with all the time I think you may be living in a dream world, or you’ve just been really lucky.

When we initially arrived at Ken’s house, there were many stresses that each person in the house was facing (minus us). My sister, Ken Hayley and Rayann were all finishing up the end of their school semester; Rayann with High School, Evy and Kenny with college and Hayley with 9th grade. Emotions were high and adjusting to the housing dynamic was rough! I can tell you that some words were exchanged and tempers flared. You must also take into consideration that everyone in this family is HIGHLY opinionated. No one is leaving without stating their opinions. Myself included. 😉

It definitely took about 2 weeks to REALLY become adjusted with everything: the sleeping arrangements, social dynamic of the house, friends and family coming over and meeting them, functions etc etc. By the way, my sleeping arrangement is currently with 5 early twenties-ish British boys in a slightly small room. I’m talking about this band “One Direction”. They are currently the favorite band of my 14 yr old niece Hayley, of who’s room I’m currently inhabiting. They are literally ALL OVER her walls. They look at me every night as I go to sleep and I can’t help but feel a little…intruded on? They’re starring at me constantly. It’s so creepy.

I know everyone sees all of the really great and happy wonderful things that we’re doing and they ARE happy and wonderful! We’re having a blast, don’t get me wrong, but no travel is without some sort of discomfort or frustration. So we definitely have had our trials since we’ve been here but it worked itself out and everyone is good to go. 🙂

New Experiences

“This ain’t no funky reggae party, five dollars at the door.” Garden GroveSublime

That song lyric might have been more appropriate for the last post HA! But you know, Sublime is always a band I think of when I think of California along with No Doubt and a slew of others.

So at this point everyone should know that we are staying with our cousins Bob and Glenda in Penryn. Well, their grandson Chad, who is my second cousin once removed, has been showing me, “around town” and it’s been really great!

We went by his house for minute or two, then ran over to his mother’s house, Lynnette who is my 2nd cousin and talked with her for a bit. That was really wonderful because I have always heard of these people but had never met them! I can’t explain the feeling you get when you meet another family member for the first time. I think this feeling starts when you get older and can appreciate it more. It’s finding others that are part of your blood in some way and so you’re automatically connected and I think that is what I like so much about it.

Touring Homes

We then went and toured some model homes. WOW. These buildings were quite large but some not so large. One thing I noticed were the bathrooms and they were like a room all in themselves.

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After home touring, we hit up Nordstrom Rack. I’ve never been to one and we don’t have them in NC and if we do they’re either in Raleigh or Charlotte. I purchased a shirt for a very decent price and then we scampered over to the mall.

Tiffany & Co.

Before I begin this it should be addressed that I do love diamonds. It’s my birthstone and even though it’s not very rare, I still love the sparkle and shine. So I saw the Tiffany store and told Chad I had never been into one. He immediately grabbed my hand and pulled me in there. The first thing he said to the salesman was, “We’re not buying anything, but we’re just looking. She has never been into a Tiffany’s before and I want her to experience that.” At this point I was thinking, “Well, he can either say okay and turn around and walk away, or he could tell us he doesn’t have time for us at all that only paying customers were worth his time.” I think all of this because this IS the mentality of most salesman. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to think what I did because that’s how the world works. Well…imagine my surprise when he presented a sophisticated half-smile and said, “Please feel free to take a look. Anything you would like to try, let me know.” I disregarded this as I wasnt sure if I heard him right. I saw a princess cut diamond ring. The salesman came over and chad said, “She likes that one.” The man opened the glass door and set it on the counter for me to look at. It priced at around $24,000. The price wasn’t shocking as I know it can be expensive. I looked at it and he said, “Go ahead and try it on.” I responded, “I can’t because it won’t fit my finger.” He just responded in a very non assuming way that, “it doesn’t have to fit, it fits no ones finger, it’s just there for you to try it on the part that it will fit on.” So I hesitantly picked up the dainty little $24,000 ring and place it on the thinnest part of my ring finger. Hello love. Where have you been all my life. That feeling was wonderful. It was so dainty and shiny. I thought, “This must be what it feels like for other women.”

I looked at the next ring that was clearly covered in diamonds. Chad said, “Can we look at this one”. He said, “Absolutely but we must go into the room over there to do so.” Apparently this ring cost a bit more. We walked eagerly to the room and he pulled out the ring. I placed it on my finger…and then looked at the price.

 

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$127,000 sitting on my undeserving finger. Wow.

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I honestly didn’t know how to pose for the photo. I felt very out-of-place trying it on because I will never have money like that to spend on such a beautiful ring. I feel like such a simple woman in the things I own that I almost felt uncomfortable walking into Tiffany’s to start with. I felt like maybe I should have been dressed up to do this.

The coolest thing about that whole experience, I think, was the salesman. He was so very nice and completely sweet. He was never assuming or bothered. He seemed to enjoy talking and loved his job. I would love to give him a wonderful review. I never for a minute thought he would give us the time of day. It was very sweet and I’ll always remember that. :’)

Buca Di Beppo

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So after all of the stuff we did, Chad took me to one of his favorite restaurants in the area which is, “Buca Di Beppo”. It’s an Italian restaurant located near the mall. He told me he reserved us the VIP seating. I didn’t think much of this because of the VIP seating style back home. When you get a VIP seat, it’s usually just a dark corner that’s somewhat private. It’s not anything to really write home to mom about but THIS was something to write to y’all about!

The VIP booth is IN THE KITCHEN!

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Talk about private! This is uber private! It was just an amazing thing! So you get:

A private booth in the Kitchen

Whenever your bread or water are low a server immediately fills it up for you whether they’re your server or not.

If an order is messed up in the main part of the restaurant, they will bring that order to the VIP table and let you have it.

Sometimes they will let you try different sauces (though I think that might have actually just been Chad’s doing since he frequents there a lot).

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I was surprised to say the least. Behind the booth, located on the wall were pictures of famous celebrities who had eaten there, either at that locations or others across the country. There are very few Buca restaurants in the whole of the U.S.

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We ordered the Spicy Rigatonni and for dessert a Tiramisu (El, it was amazing!) I didn’t eat too much beccause that wasn’t going to be good for anyone! Hands down, that was another experience I will put down in the books. Thank you so much Chad 🙂 Now I just have to work off these calories! Yikes!

After all is said and done, you can call me, “Experience Lady”. HA!

LOOK OUT CALIFORNIA here we come!

“Goodbye to all my friends at home, goodbye to people I’ve trusted.” Jet AirlinerSteve Miller Band

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We set off for what was an EXTREMELY smooth ride! Starting from the beginning, everything came into place and even though we were very tired, we were not letting that get us down. The weather was absolutely beautiful in North Carolina so it wasn’t hard to enjoy mother nature’s gift.

imageOur friends Beth and her husband Roy drove us to the airport and we couldn’t have been more thankful. For those of you who are not aware, Raleigh is about 3.5 hours from our home so it’s a bit of a stretch. So thank you Beth and Roy 🙂

We arrived a bit early at RDU. I should mention I was a bit taken aback by the complimentary luggage check-in that was stationed directly outside of the terminal. I thought, “Oh sweet! Delta is uping their checki-in game by making it faster.” We assumed they were employed by Delta and before we could even make a decision as to whether or not we would utilize that service, a gentleman came over and started check our luggage. So we just went with the flow and before you know it the guy says, “We are not employed by Delta. We are contracted to do this work.” Which then it dawned on me that they were looking for a tip. So the thought I came away with was how much and how fast things change or I must not notice a lot through my experiences. *note to self, notice your surroundings*

Security and Cary On was a bit wild. The line moved entirely too fast and, as usual, I always feel like I never know how they want me to go about this process; which items go in what containers etc. I began sympathizing with those individuals that feel the 360 x-ray machine (not sure of the term) is a bit invasive. Still, I would rather be invaded in that way than to be a victim from lack of security. So I’m appreciative.

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After such stress we finally settled down for a nice lunch at one of the airport pubs. Our food was decent and we got out of there in great time.

Check out a little video update from the Minneapolis Airport: http://youtu.be/UGWn406plu8

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Dad ordering some food from this cool techy restaurant

 

We had a 2.5 hour layover in Minneapolis. Our flight ended up changing and our arrival time into Sacramento went from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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Mom and dad trying to catch a nap on the plane

 

But as you can see we were super exhausted because in California it was 10:00 p.m. but in North Carolina it was 1:00 a.m.

Imagine our relief when we finally got to California! We were so tired but so happy to be here.

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Baggage Claim in the Sacramento airport. How cool is this?

Our cousins, Bob and Glenda picked us up from the airport in the Nissan Quest we purchased from them. The weather was really cool, around 50 degrees which is extremely abnormal for this area of California.

By the time we actually went to bed it was around 1 a.m.

*yawns*

Tic Marks

“I say a pressure drop, oh pressure, oh yeah, pressure drop a drop on you.” Pressure DropToots and the Maytals

I knew this was coming; the pressure would would start to close in the closer it got to our time of departure and then the reality would start to set in. Well folks…it’s definitely setting now! I will say that I’m having a bit of stress at the moment. It seems like everything is happening at the last minute. I have my last two classes this week ending on Thursday, I have to meet my advisor at UNCG Friday, grade final projects over the weekend and fit in some cleaning in between all of that. There’s some extra things I have to do as well and then we are out of here next Wednesday, May 14!

I want to share with you all some info that some of you are not aware of: my parents live in Paradise. This place is absolutely gorgeous. The view of the water is breathtaking and often when eating at the dinner table we look out of the window and call it, “The Moving Picture Show.” 

 
   

 

It’s just so beautiful. It will be sad to leave this for the summer because the beauty spans across all types of days, not just sunny ones. 

  
The nights are fantastic too.

   
 
Who wouldn’t love this right? Please don’t take my talks of beauty as being boastful, it’s just hard not want to share it with others. Plus, I just want you all to know what I’m leaving. Even though I’m going to be exploring A LOT, I will still long for warm days on the creek, and wish I was smelling that wonderful salt smell blowing through the air on windy days. 

It’s home.