We spent the month of December and a bit of January in the vicinity of Durham and Raleigh North Carolina, enjoying some outdoor type activities, but still limited by the virus which continued to bully the U.S. While I typically break my blog posts up by city, we just haven’t done enough stuff outside of boring stuff to report in on. Over the past months, most of our time has been consumed with regular non-travel life stuff like puzzles, reading, and binge-watching terrible television shows. And honestly, that stuff is fine and great. But it’s not ‘hey, look at this fun stuff we found to do in this new place we have never been before!’ And while I could certainly detail at length how engrossing completing an Aladin puzzle while watching Below Deck (trash) is, I just don’t think you need that kind of pain in your life.
I am very much looking forward to us – and hopefully, most everyone else in the U.S. – getting our Fauci Ouchies. ASAP. Until then, it’s likely to be lots of homebodying in our 40×10 space.
Here’s the reporting that I figure is worth reporting….
After being unexpectedly booted from our lovely campsite in VA late in the day on a Sunday, we rolled into Rolling View Campground outside of Durham in the dark. We were tired and ready to plop down and hook-up for the week. We felt #blessed to be able to snag an extra night in the campsite we were slated to arrive at the next day (Monday).
But, soon after we parked, Jake noted that the park’s dumpster was on fire. As in, the dumpster was fully flame engulfed – and firey offshoots were spreading onto the ground.
In classic Jake fashion, he grabbed our fire extinguisher and sped over to extinguish the fire. While the precaution did knock the fire back a bit, his handheld extinguisher was no match for the large trash heap that was ablaze. So, he called the park hosts, who were soon spotted unhooking their own water lines to fight the fire themselves.
At some point, the fire was sufficiently doused and we felt safe going to sleep.
After the excitement of the dumpster fire, our primary source of excitement during our week-long stay at Rolling View was a few hours spent running and walking around the city of Durham. We found it to be a very clean little city based on our limited experience. Durham seems to very much enjoy their tobacco history and the powers that be have clearly spent some dollars revitalizing many of the old tobacco warehouses and factories. It was neat, but left me wondering: where did the funding come from? We have seen so many cities just neglect or pave over the industrial buildings that festoon their cities – what makes Durham so hellbent and able to revitalize their own?
We traipsed through the American Tobacco Campus, which was a whole bunch of Lucky Strike paraphernalia with a side of Burt’s Bees (interesting combo). Soon, we found ourselves seated in an alley at Alley 26 sipping on spiked hot cider and enjoying the chatter of a group of college girls, and realizing that we got old way more quickly than we realized. We then used our old people legs to cross over into the Brightleaf Square area, which was originally built by the American Tobacco Company to store their wares, and enjoyed a beer on a patio.
Durham is definitely worth a gander if you’re ever nearby.
After a week in Durham, we headed 45 minutes South to Raleigh. We secured a first-come space at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds and settled in for a bit more than a month. Holidays are always a real hemorrhoid in terms of securing a campsite, and since the fairgrounds has put a moratorium on their 14-day stay limit in honor of the ‘Ron, we figured we’d take advantage of it.
Our first weekend staying in Raleigh involved waking up before the chickens and driving an hour South of Raleigh to run back and forth on a 10-mile course for 12-hours. It had been over two years since I had made it to the starting line of an ultra distanced race, and while we were hesitant to sign-up due to the global pandemic, we evaluated the perceived risks and decided that our chance of infecting ourselves during this event was low. The prospect of self-imposed pain and regretting signing up due to that was 100%.
We were #blessed with a gorgeous day for running long distances – partly cloudy and around 50º all day. Jake engaged in his typical activities of being the world’s best support crew as well as running in the 3-hour race.
Apparently, he’s not only a great support crew (ok – possibly THE BEST), he’s also good at running fast for 3 hours on not a whole lot of training. After 3 hours of running, Jake secured a coveted 2nd place nutcracker shaped trophy – and the honor of running an extra 12 miles with me at the end of my 12 hour day.
I earned myself 62 miles on the day, two gargantuan blisters on my toes, a case of the shock shakes, and an Impossible Whopper that I finally got the appetite to eat at 4am the next morning. It was a really lovely painful day, and we were pleased by the pandemic precautions that the race directors implemented – even if it meant I had to be more thoughtful about my salt intake due to not being able to indulge in the classic communal bowl of M&Ms.
While In Raleigh, we also enjoyed doing some not running activities, like ordering take-out from Morgan Street Food Hall (highly recommend Iyla’s Southern Kitchen), and wandering down to the horseshow that took place while we made the fairgrounds out front lawn.
But mostly, we just did running activities. We ran to Umstead State Park. And we ran to the Art Museum’s Sculpture park. We ran on the greenway. We ran around the NC State sports complex.
We also made a zip trip to NY for Christmas. The nephew needed us, and we needed him. He asked for (and received) a riot shield this year. Last year, he asked for (and received) an Israeli style gas mask. The child clearly has premonitions regarding the need for military grade gear. This year that gas mask got good use for COVID. Not even two weeks after receiving his riot shield a group of homegrown terrorists tried to take over the Capitol.
We celebrated the New Year back at the RV in Raleigh by eating snacks, completing a puzzle, and watching Anderson Cooper get drunk on television.
After over a month in the Durham/Raleigh area, we didn’t feel like we got to experience the full brunt of its offerings, but, such is life during the pandemic. We were wishy-washy as to wear to roll towards next, but finally settled on the ocean. Next stop: Carolina Beach, North Carolina.