In my mind
Not being one to shrink from taking on too much and this being an incredibly busy time for me, I chose a place that I think may be the other perfect state to visit when you just want to see the leaves turn but you don’t want to shiver doing it. That state is North Carolina.
I can speak about it in an intimate way because I have been to North Carolina more a dozen times in the past decade or so. My mother’s extended family is populated with physicians, so I have aunts, uncles and cousins who are doctors practicing up and down the East Coast. There is a cluster in the Research Triangle, comprised of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill.
So, whenever Geoff and I want a change of scenery, going from parched to quenched, we head to visit my family in the Tar Heel State. Most of them moved there from England or the Northeast, but now consider themselves local natives and that has made it possible for us to travel all over the south, from their jumping off point and appreciate the beauty of that little region that encompasses Virginia, Georgia, South and North Carolina.
Growing up I had only passed through or flown over them on our way to my parents’ condo in Boca Raton. I really missed a lot, but I suspect that the North Carolina of today, bears less resemblance to that state of a few decades ago. I am glad I waited. It really is up and coming in an exciting and unique, yet familiar way.
My cousin Hallie and her husband Mike are pathologists and chose North Carolina for its famous scientific community of young, progressive, professionals. They also loved its reasonable costs of living. A house in North Carolina, even in the metropolitan areas costs about 20 percent of its equivalent in the North East or California. They have a beautiful sprawling house on 20 wooded acres of paradise, three seasons of the year.
The winters are mild, even when it snows, in North Carolina. Spring sees a burst of life, due to rich fertile established loamy soil, regular rainfall and warm temperatures. If you want a temperate four-season climate, this is the closest I have seen to perfection. There is only one brutal month: August. Literally, stepping outside on a sunny August day you had better just wear a towel, it is a veritable Turkish bath. The first time I spent August in North Carolina, the humidity hit me like a wall, it was shocking.
And, along with that comes mosquitoes, a particular concern right about now, until the state perfects a program to eradicate them. To make matters worse, gullies or culverts run in front of almost every residential street, presumably to direct overflow during tropical rainstorms. They present all kinds of hazards, including for drivers who often drive right into them inadvertently when the roads are slick with snow or flooded.
There is something else to mention, lest you consider living in North Carolina. If you are a fierce progressive, you might have to adopt some mental and political flexibility, as the state is undergoing rebirthing pains. For those of you who know the American South, you will understand the tug of war going on right now for the hearts and minds of millennials seeking the 21st century even in rural southern states. I don’t want to delve into it too much, but the struggle is ongoing as the state emerges from a chrysalis of tradition that has a three hundred year history.
Never mind that. North Carolina is fairly bursting with things to do. The most exciting gourmet and ethnic eateries, bakeries, cafes, coffee houses are on almost every block in Downtown Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill. I hope to mention a few of them as I work on this seasonal sticky-post this fall. It may take me awhile to list all my favorites, but I will consider this particular post to be ongoing and a real-time travelogue. Bear with me on this.
Meanwhile, I am putting these pictures here so you get an idea of why this is a place you should consider for a vacation, three seasons of the year (unless you need an all over body-sweat, LOL) and perhaps a place in which to buy vacation property or your retirement home. You had better hurry though, it can’t stay this affordable forever.
While I am thinking about it, I will probably not list any hotels or B&Bs as I usually do. These days, more and more, the way to do this is by snagging an Air B&B and using Uber to get around, if you don’t want to drive or rent a car. There is no better way to “live” your vacation than through a home for lease, including a Vacation Rental By Owner, aka VRBO.
So, this is my test case for an evolving seasonal travel post — stop back periodically. More is coming.
Welcome Autumn 2016!!
Images: Chez BeBe assets /North Carolina in three seasons