I have wanted to go out to visit Raleigh while they are there. With his soon-to-be pending departure, it really was my last chance to check out the area they have grown to love and call home. My parents were flying out to visit mid-April, and they invited Kacey and I to tag along. Hooray! I made arrangements with Kyle's mom to come watch the older girls while I took off for a week. That was so nice of her to do that for me!
We started our trip by touring around Raleigh. Curtis and Chelsea took us to the flea market they go to each Saturday. It was like a giant outdoor DI. Seriously. You could spend forever there sorting through the endless amounts of junk to find the one or two awesome things hiding, which they usually do find.
Curtis then took me on a tour of his work area at the university. He is studying food science, with his research focusing on whey protein. Don't ask me anymore, I really don't know more. But I DO know that he knows how to make cheese. And knows plenty about other dairy products. His new upcoming job involves yogurts and sour creams and things... But I'm all about the cheese. I saw where the milk is pasteurized, the ice cream is churned, and where he makes his cheese. And I learned all sorts of things that I have probably already forgotten and couldn't repeat back to you. But it was all interesting, I promise.
Raleigh is beautiful. So many trees. It is SO different from Utah. Driving down the freeway, both sides of the road are lined with trees. There is shopping and houses behind it, but you have no idea it's actually there because the trees are so thick. It feels more like driving through a forest. Raleigh also has a number of lakes and parks. We visited Lake Johnson and walked the 3 mile loop around it. My dad was kind and waited in the car while Kacey napped. My mom, Curtis and I enjoyed the scenery and chatted while we walked. It would have been fun to rent a peddle boat or canoe to take around the lake, but rentals weren't open at the time. I don't remember why.
After a couple of days in Raleigh we packed up the rental minivan and drove a few hours to the coast to visit the Outer Banks. This was a big highlight of the trip. It was all awesome, I loved Raleigh, but the Outer Banks was pretty cool. I loved learning the history of the first English settlers to the Americas, and learning a bit about the pirate history in the area.
We visited the beach for a few minutes and Kacey dipped her toes in the water. In April the water was still cold. It took her breath away when it touched her feet. But at least she can say she's been in the Atlantic Ocean now.
We visited the Bodie lighthouse, one of many lighthouses along that stretch of islands. It was neat to learn the history of it. It is one of the few remaining lighthouses with the original lens inside (from the 1800s).
After the lighthouse we visited the Wright Brothers Memorial. I had no idea Kitty Hawk was on an island so close to the ocean! The area where they tried out their airplanes was actually a large sand dune. It is now covered in grass to preserve the hill, but there are huge sand dunes still nearby. I didn't expect that.
The next day on our way back to Raleigh we stopped at a nature preserve to try to spot some animals. We didn't end up seeing much, some turtles, a water snake... we heard some frogs clicking and talking to one another. The walk along the boardwalk was still fun though.
Back in Raleigh we relaxed, enjoyed good food and picnicked at Pullen Park. This park was awesome. All I could think of was how much fun Hailey and Keira would have had there. It had a train that went around it, a carousel, a huge playground with all sorts of things for kids to play on, a lake where you can rent peddle boats, and plenty of grassy area and trees (perfect for slack lining!). It was pretty fantastic.
I really had a blast in North Carolina. Thank you Curtis and Chelsea for being fun hosts and spending time with us! It was so fun to visit somewhere different, see new sights and experience new things. I had my first taste of hush puppies. They are so good! Before hand I didn't know what they are. They're basically deep fried cornmeal batter, like breading around a corn dog. Anyway... North Carolina is pretty cool. Curtis and Chelsea are soon moving on to their next adventure: Boston. Sounds like the makings for another great vacation!