Wednesday, October 22, 2014

home is where the heart is

This past weekend I took a couple of days off work and made a long weekend trip to Raleigh for the opening weekend of the North Carolina State Fair. Raleigh isn't the part of North Carolina where I did most of my growing up, but I did spend a good chunk of years there from halfway through high school until a little while after graduating college, and I love that city. Anywhere in North Carolina is home to me, and I'm always so happy to be back.

I stuffed myself silly with fries, a grilled chicken sandwich, Dr. Pepper and a vanilla milkshake from one of my favorite local spots. This place is a stone's throw from my old high school and just a couple miles from where I used to live - if even that far! No trip to Raleigh is complete without a meal from Char-Grill.

You also can't visit without a trip to the NC Farmers' Market. It's right down the road from Lake Wheeler, where I used to work (still my favorite job ever!). The colors of all the fresh produce are amazing. The freshness is in the air. Because it's NC and the temperatures are still great this time of year, you can get practically any fruit or veggie. The biggest bounty right now though are the pumpkins of course. And not just your regular old orange pumpkin awaiting its knobby toothed fate as a jack-o-lantern. This pretty pink and green pumpkin is a Jarrahdale and I'm in love with it.

Aside from all of the usual fair attractions like the rides, food and animals, the tractor pull is the loudest, most awesome thing to do. The idea is simple: trucks and tractors pull massive weights as far as they can and the one that goes the farthest is the winner. But it is so much more than that!

The fair is also a great opportunity to see some big name bands in a relatively small venue for super cheap. Last year, the Florida Georgia Line tickets sold out before I got them. but Parmalee was a pretty good show this year. And only $10!

You just cannot get good or real sweet tea in the north, so I have to get my fill anytime I'm below the Mason-Dixon Line. Bojangles and Smithfield's in one day? Oh, Lord. Biscuits, BBQ and sweet tea make me so happy!

Back in Philly after the long weekend, and this pup was so happy for my return. She might be a Philly dog these days, but she's a Carolina girl, too. I picked my faithful sidekick up at Lake Wheeler Park, which is of course how she got her name (Wheeler). One of these days she'll get to go romp around lakeside again :)