In the words of Miriam Beard, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” My family’s trip to Raleigh last spring could not prove this quote more true. I had never been a traveler before. There were cities that I wanted to see, and things that I wanted to do, but I didn’t want to take the time to drive to my destination. But after our adventurous, and informative five day trip, it was then I decided I wanted to explore more of my own backyard.
It was the first week of March, and my mom had to attend training sessions for her job in our state capitol of Raleigh, North Carolina. We live on the west side of North Carolina in a small town called Robbinsville; about a six hour drive from Raleigh. We arrived late Sunday night, and were scheduled to stay until Friday. Cities are almost two different places when seen at night, so we didn’t get to see a whole lot when coming into Raleigh. The only thing I really remember about leaving that Sunday was having to miss Duke and Carolina play basketball. This is something that a college basketball enthusiast, like myself, does not want to miss out on. Our hotel reservations were made at the luxurious Raleigh Marriott City Center, which is located in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Amongst all the hustle and bustle of the Raleigh Convention Center, which was located directly across the road from us, the hotel staff made sure your stay had a nice southern appeal to it. They welcomed you not just to the hotel, but to the city as well.
Monday had soon arrived, and my Mom had to start her daily classes. So it was up to my Dad and me to find something to occupy our time. We had lunch in this little diner-type setting, called Sam & Wally’s Eatery & Deli. It was located underneath the BB&T bank building, which was adjacent to our hotel. It’s a place for the locals; a place that a tourist would never find. We got lucky and came upon it while wandering around outside of our hotel. It was a very busy place, almost treated like a pit stop from the bank employees up above. The place is small, which means it stays packed throughout the lunch hour. But they have these convenient square steel-coated picnic tables, that were strategically placed outside by the building to where the wind wouldn’t be a bother. Later that day after picking my Mom up from her class, we opted to stay in and order pizzas from the local Papa John’s and watch basketball. Honestly, there’s no better place to watch the beginning of March Madness than in the middle of the Triangle. Everyone around you practically eats, sleeps, and breathes the sport of basketball. That’s what I thought made the city so friendly and cozy; you didn’t have the urge to keep your purse close, or your wallet in your front pocket. The common love for the sport is what connected locals and visitors alike.
The next day, after having lunch at Sam & Wally’s, my dad and I decided to walk downtown and see the city. We found ourselves at the end of Fayetteville Street, standing in front of the State Capitol building. After touring all three levels of the Capitol, we traveled across the street to the North Carolina Museum of History. Not only did I learn more about our state, but I also learned more about my Native American heritage. After resting outside the museum, we made our way back down Fayetteville to our hotel. After picking my Mom up, it was my turn to pick the restaurant where we were going to eat at for the night. I picked out, what I thought was just an authentic Japanese restaurant, but it turned out to be a Thai restaurant called Shaba Shabu. Needless to say, it was an experience me and my parents won’t ever forget.
Wednesday was the day that I had been waiting for; the whole reason I even went on the trip. It was the day my Dad and I went and visited Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke University. It was the basketball court I had always seen on television, and to be able to see it in person was a dream come true for me. We went in and looked around the entrance to the gym, where all there trophies and accolades are held. We were able to go into the gym, but received the bad news that the stadium lights were not turned on, therefore making the experience unsatisfying. But just being in Cameron alone, made the trip worthwhile. After buying all the Duke paraphernalia I could carry from the school‘s visitor center, we headed back to our hotel in Raleigh. That night we had dinner at a place that my Dad and I had discovered the day before. Called the Big Easy, it was a piece of New Orleans stuck right in downtown Raleigh. We ate our food outside and just enjoyed watching all the passerby’s head to different restaurants and clubs.
Thursday was pretty much our day of rest and relaxation. After another lunch at Sam & Wally’s, my dad headed back up to the room for rest, while I headed down to the hotel gym. That night after having dinner at a local Applebee’s, we came back to the room and watched more basketball. I never would have thought that I was about to watch the second longest game in NCAA history. It was the infamous Syracuse versus Connecticut game that went into six overtimes. But what made the game special, was going down to the lobby and seeing all of these people watching the game together. People, and families too, that didn’t know each other, but shared a common interest and love for the game. It was really a great end to our day.
None of us wanted to see Friday come, which meant our wonderful trip would be coming to an end. My mom only had to attend classes till noon that day, so we were able to head back home a little earlier. We decided to stop an eat at a Red Lobster in Greensboro, North Carolina. Little did we know, the basketball mania was just beginning. Everyone in the restaurant was watching Virginia Tech play North Carolina. People were crowded at the bar, huddled at each other’s tables, and standing right underneath the televisions. I loved it; it had a sense of being in your own home watching it.
The main and essential element that I perceived from this entire trip, was that you can go and explore a city without spending a dime. People think you have to spend money in order to have fun in a foreign place. But as long as you’re with your loved ones and you enjoy the small simple things, that’s all the fun a person really needs. To quote Miriam Beard again, “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Any road trip we have since taken, I leave the city with a new experience with the local culture, but more importantly, a new outlook on life.
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