Raleigh, North Carolina has always held a special place in our hearts. Anna and I met in Raleigh at North Carolina State University. She was a driven young Zoology major with dreams of a medical career. I was an immature 24-year old Navy guy, floating through my second chance at college, and too busy going to bars to worry about doing anything more than meeting the minimum academic requirements of my Naval Officer Commissioning program. The semester that we started dating, I made the Dean’s List and by the time we graduated, I had pulled my grades into respectable territory. Needless to say, Anna changed my life (for the better). I’m fairly certain that I changed hers too, but probably, for the worse…
We had wanted to get to Raleigh during our East Coast Swing, but weren’t sure we could pull it off while trying to do everything we wanted. Our compromise plan was to travel from Western North Carolina to Virginia via the Blue Ridge Parkway and try to work in Raleigh during the month of April in between D.C. visits. However, we were on the fence about this plan—something about it felt too forced and non-organic. So, after realizing that the NPS campgrounds on Blue Ridge Parkway were still closed in March, and the opportunity for a Raleigh Instameet with Dave and Rosa of This is Our Next (@thisisournext) popped up, we decided that the Fates had spoken and jumped into the new plan.
We have been following one another on Instagram for quite a while and had been part of a long-standing, multi-Airstream Family Instagram direct message (DM) conversation for several months. Also, a couple other Airstream friends had met up with Dave and Rosa previously and commented that we HAD to meet-up with them sometime. Well, here was our opportunity…
On Sunday, March 26th we departed Asheville and headed east towards the “Triangle.” We managed to find a campsite at the Crosswinds Campground in the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area and Dave and Rosa would join us on Monday.
We shared one of Crosswind Campground’s “Duplex Sites” and it worked perfectly for our two-family, two-day stay with the This is Our Next Crew. Our huge campsite had ample outdoor living space and was about 100-yards from the campground’s beach area.
During the two days we hung out with our new friends, revisited old haunts around campus, ate some North Carolina BBQ, enjoyed a couple of campfires, surreptitiously drank too much alcohol, and stayed up way too late telling stories and laughing (directly related to the over consumption of booze). Adults and kids strolled over to the beach area and spent one afternoon goofing around. I inflated our Botê Zeppelin Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) and the kids, Dave, and I had a great time playing around on it in the lake.
After an exhaustive couple of days, on Thursday morning (March 30th) we all said goodbye. Dave, Rosa, and their girls were headed back to Raleigh-proper and we were headed north towards Virginia and D.C., for our Family Spring Break.
In the end, it was a great decision to ditch our Blue Ridge Parkway plans and head east to Raleigh. Not only did we get to show Owen our alma mater, but we had a fantastic time with our wonderful new friends. It goes to show that you always need to keep your options open and not be afraid to change plans as new opportunities arise.