1. Wytheville, VA
    Motel Life

     
  2. Pilot Mountain, NC

    Heading out on this trip, I realized I hadn’t really been on the road in five months. A rough winter in Chicago kept my car confined to the alley, and I’d adjusted to a routine of biking and busing everywhere. Last night’s after-dark drive into the Blue Ridge Mountains reminded me how invigorating fresh, dark air can be, blowing through windows at 70 mph. Just after sunset, I pulled over to capture this shot of the moon over Pilot Mountain on I-74 and then I drove on into the night towards everything and nothing it seemed.

     
  3. Quality Grocery, Raleigh, NC

    I didn’t plan to post anything from Raleigh, per my mention of the trouble of hometown travel blogging in my last NC post. But even though I only spent a handful on hours in Raleigh on this trip, I stumbled upon a new spot that only opened in the city last fall. Quality Grocery is a gem tucked into the Oakwood neighborhood just a block from the infamous Oakwood Cemetary. It’s staffed by friendly, tattooed hipsters who love talking about chicken salad and craft beers, road trips out west and the best coffee shops in the city. The menu is simple and inexpensive (hot and cold salads and sandwiches under $10), and the beer selection is extensive including single cans and bottles for consumption and 6- or 12-packs to take away. Quality’s also got a freezer of treasures from Maple View ice cream, and an eclectic grocery selection (think ketchup, sour mix, cereal and toilet paper). The inside decor is adorable, but the real prize is the orange patio furniture. Perfect for a late-afternoon lunch.

     
  4. Blue Ridge Mountains, NC and VA

    I was lucky enough to spend Memorial Day weekend in rural Appalachia for a wedding, and see some beautiful primitive churches and natural springs. Living in the city, I forget how much I love camping and waking up in nature. There’s nothing quite like it!

     
  5. Back on the road tomorrow!

     
  6. Spokane, WA

    I was in Spokane for a conference so I didn’t do much exploring but I did manage to make it to Riverfront Park to find a sight I missed last summer: the world’s largest Radio Flyer wagon!

     
  7. O’Hare Airport

     
  8. in the sky over the outskirts of Seattle, WA

     
  9. Raleigh/Durham, NC

    It’s a different kind of traveling when you’re going home, and often we visit the familiar to feel familiar. But every time I go back to my high school and college hometowns, I like to seek out the new there. I like to punctuate the familiar with places and faces I haven’t been introduced to yet.

    I recently made a trip back to the RDU area in my home state of North Carolina. Having survived the worst winter in Chicago history (*the weatherman’s words, not mine!), I was thrilled to see sweet spring in the Carolinas. I started in downtown Raleigh with a late lunch at the new restaurant The Station enjoying a savory sandwich and a beer on their patio off Person street. I stopped by the most recent addition to downtown Raleigh’s coffee shop scene, Dia de los Muertos, off Hargett Street and headed to every Raleigh local’s haunt, The Raleigh Times. Other highlights of downtown are Capital Club 16 (try the burger and the Sunday brunch!), Neptunes (for dancing in basements on the weekends) and Foundation (for drinking in basements any night of the week). Also nearby is the Oakwood neighborhood and cemetery for a lovely walk on a spring afternoon.

    I also spent an afternoon in Durham, NC near my old high school and was thrilled to see so many new spots downtown. Highlights were certainly Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop where you must try the caramel ice cream … and the cream puffs … and the macaroons … and the caramels … and the meat! Also lovely was Mercury Studios’ open studio space and craft gallery and the adjacent patio at Motorco, as well at Cocoa Cinnamon coffee shop around the corner. My favorite spot in downtown Durham is probably Dear Hearts — a recently opened vintage clothing and accessories store where practically all of my favorite clothing items are from. Not to mention all of this is within walking distance of Brightleaf Square, Duke University, a number of great spots on Ninth Street and the Durham Bulls stadium! Definitely a cool area!

    It’s always nice to see an area so close to my heart grow and flourish. What about you? How do you spend your time when you visit your hometown?

     
  10. "Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry." -Jack Kerouac