Dearest sweet North Carolina,
As I reflect back on your glistening winters cuddled up by a crackling fireplace, spring seasons filled with fragrant blooms of jasmine, vibrant falls watching the leaves change from green to warm oranges and reds, and hot, southern summers complete with fireflies and cold sweet tea, it occurred to me: this is home. This is where I belong. I long to see fields of cotton and tobacco; sit on the front porch and talk for hours about the weather. Cheerwine. Bojangles. Tar Heels…a few of my favorite things. You are the sweet to my tea. Forever up and gone to Carolina in my mind. Until we meet again.
Feeling a Southern state of mind coming on? I know I sure am! When we were stationed at Camp Lejeune, I fell in love with North Carolina. Many of the Marine Corps’ best will eventually land at Lejeune, and I hope you love it as much as I did. Here are a few tips and tricks to surviving and thriving in Jacksonville, North Carolina:
1. Two words: Bug repellent
You’ll thank me later. Camp Lejeune is home to numerous swamp lands. You know what that means? Mosquitoes the size of small cats. I kid, I kid…but seriously, those critters are ruthless. Citronella alone cant handle those bad boys. Do yourself a favor and invest in some heavy duty insect repellent. Birds aren’t the only thing flying around.
2. Watch out for the Jacksonville Ninja
Seriously. Jacksonville has their very own ninja. You can see him on the side of Highway 17 practicing his mad karate skills. Although I’m unsure of his name, he has become a local favorite and a legend, if you will. You cant miss him. You’ll know him when you see him. And snap a pic when you do!
3. Bring your spirit of adventure
Up for a road trip? The Crystal Coast lines the shores of Eastern Carolina. Along these shores, you can find many of the East Coast’s best beaches: Kure Beach, Carolina Beach, Topsail Beach, Surfside Beach, and Emerald Isle, just to name a few. So pack your sunscreen and get some vitamin sea!
Not about that beach life? That’s okay. North Carolina has something for everyone! Wanna go into the mountains for a getaway? Head to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. You won’t be disappointed. Not into the finer things in life? Rather keep it simple? Western North Carolina is home to numerous Appalachian Mountain ranges and trails. Various camping sites are dotted throughout this mountainous region.
Other places to check out, if you’re looking for some family-friendly staycation ideas around the Camp Lejeune area Fort Macon State Park, Fort Fisher Aquarium, and the USS North Carolina Battleship, Wilmington.
4. Try something new.
Cheerwine. Bojangles. Cookout. Hwy 55. All Carolina favorites. Try them, you’ll LOVE it!
5. Are you ready for some football? Or basketball? Or baseball?
Duke University. University of North Carolina. Eastern Carolina University. North Carolina State University. Nuff’ said. North Carolina is ACC Country. A sport for everyone, all year long.
Embrace it. It’s not goin’ anywhere.
7. “Pardon our noise, its the sound of freedom.”
With Marine Corps Air Station New River being only a few miles from main side Camp Lejeune, you’ll be sure to hear the maneuverings of aircraft daily. Embrace it. Learn to love it…it’s the sound of freedom!
8. Take it slow. Kick your feet up.
Welcome to the South, a place where the tea is sweet and the accents are sweeter. Time moves a little slower. Summer starts in April. Macaroni and Cheese is a staple. Front porches are wide, and words are long. Talk to your neighbors. Wave hello. ‘Y’all’ is the only proper noun. Chicken is fried. Biscuits are covered with gravy. It’s a grit-eatin’ world. Everything is “darlin’” and someone’s heart is always being blessed.
Enjoy your stay.
Have you been stationed at Camp Lejeune? What are the must-do’s?
Posted by Amanda Ward, Marine Corps spouse and blogger at With Love, Mandy Lou