Weekend Road Trip - Rural North Carolina - Welcome to the Land of Peace and Quiet...

February 11, 2013

Most people who know me, know that I have been a part of the Knights of Columbus for more than just a few years.  Actually, I’m approaching a quarter century as a Knight.  We’re most known for helping others - something that has been an inherent part of ‘me’ since I learned as an aspiring Cub Scout in the 60s about ‘do a good deed for others’.  So, when I received a call from a friend saying that he knew of someone who needed to get a refrigerator from one place to another, and if he could volunteer myself and my truck, Starship Elvis, it would be done.  This would also require the assistance of my youngest son – all 6’5” of him.  Pushing 22, he’s starting to catch on just a little bit that there is life beyond getting the next (now) legal cold one, and girls.  Actually, despite certain intellectual limitations of his own, he does his best to help others – his dream is to one day run a surf camp for disabled people.  So, when I texted him about going with me to North Carolina on Saturday, his immediate response was “ROAD TRIP – YEAH!!”


I’ve made numerous trips to the OBX (Outer Banks) as I like to visit the lighthouses and other places that you have seen on my website.  This trip was going to be different.  It wasn’t about going to some well-known place, but more of a very rural town in north-central NC about 125 miles West-South West from Virginia Beach.  A few things were immediately noticeable as we crossed the line from Suffolk, Virginia into somewhere in North Carolina –


  1. North Carolina has a state-wide ban on potholes and torn-up roads.  You can’t find them.  Period.
  2. Virginia encourages potholes and torn-up roads throughout Hampton Roads. As a last resort, they’ll import them from North Carolina and West By God Virginia – I guess helping thy neighbor takes on a whole new meaning here.
  3. If a sign is posted with a specific speed limit – do what is posted, or be prepared to suffer the consequences.        I saw a few non-believers exercise the limits of that rule, and find out that it does apply to them too.
  4. When you are in rural NC – slow down like the sign says (I did) and take a look around…
  5. Be open to taking longer at doing something than you expected – people are friendly here in NC.


We learned a whole bunch about how life could be – if given a chance.  Places that have real general stores, not of the Cracker Barrel® or LL Bean® variety – but real ones.  Like getting an ice cream cone with Yahoo® mixed in with it.  Trust me on this one – my son wants to go back and get some more.  Places where you can get a chance to leave the silliness of living in a metropolitan area with a strong tourism sector (that would be Vah Beach y’all…) where the noise of traffic, sirens, loud car stereos, etc. just doesn’t happen.  Instead, you hear birds (a relatively warm day in the mid-40s) and other critters.  You don’t see 300x500 ft. billboards advertising the latest t-shirts, saltwater taffy, hammocks, bbq, or whatever collectible you could imagine, like you do along some highways.  Of course, this would seem to limit the ability for local law enforcement to ‘observe from concealment’ for any unsuspecting motorists who think they can exceed the speed limit through Deputy Billy Bob’s territory.  That would be a BIG negative.   Nope – if you follow the rules, you’ll do just fine.  You don’t - you’ll get a fine.  Pretty simple.  The lady we were helping is a native to these parts – and she made sure that we had a good understanding about the area, as only someone of her age would know, and share.  You got a whole new appreciation for things, listening to her.  We arrived at her auntie’s home – note I said ‘home’ not ‘house’.  There’s a difference.  Again – trust me on this one.  We showed up, are greeted by her auntie and uncle – who proceeded to make sure we got the refrigerator taken care of.  No worries between my son and I – we’re both ‘fairly capable’ when it comes to picking big heavy things up…  I figured we’d ‘chat’ for a few minutes and then head back up to Virginia Beach.  Wrong!!  “We’re going to break bread here…” – meaning, eat lunch.  Okay, ‘lunch’ was a full-on turkey dinner like you get once a year at Thanksgiving.  Looking around – you could tell that this was a real home full of real memories and a fondness for family gatherings and friends ‘popping-round’.  This was the kind of place that seemingly only exists in Norman Rockwell paintings.  Well, I’m here to tell you that in Robersonville, North Carolina, Norman Rockwell must have met Andy Griffin.  This place is as genuinely ‘country laid-back’ as you will find.  My idle musings were quietly interrupted with a “Would you like sweet tea or New York (pronounced New Yawk) sweet tea?  Not knowing the difference, I found out that “New Yawk” sweet tea is roughly 2lbs. of sugar to one glass of tea.  Needless to say, staying alert after all of that food was not an issue… and in turn, we learned a lot more about how life is in this part of the United States – peaceful, with purpose, and without hang-ups or a nearby Starbucks® to run to.  In fact, I don’t recall seeing one the whole time we were there.  Imagine that!!  After a spell, we returned home, enjoying the peaceful ride getting back into Virginia Beach just at sunset.  Along with all of the noise and silliness, and roughly 30 Star Bucks® between Chesapeake and  Vah Beach.  Oh yeah, those potholes?  They ate my son in-law’s car for lunch on Friday, along with 20-something other motorists.  It made the local news – again.  VDOT – gotta’ love em’…

Smithfield Virginia - © John Cadell Photography

Have a great week!!  © John Cadell Photography

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