Perhaps you recall I did some post graduate work at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, back in the 90s. Not only is basketball a religion here, it pervades (or should I say, invades) just about everything in North Carolina, except for its fabulous golf courses, and its ubiquitous tobacco. And yes, I was able to play many fine golf courses at Pinehurst while I was there.
But I am returning now to the Tar Heel state for the first time since. Ostensibly, I am here to visit a dear friend from grad school at UC Berkeley. He is now the Chancellor of the Duke University Health System, a rather prestigious job. Before that, he was Dean of the UCLA School of Medicine. You would love this man!
Other than driving around the state to play golf, I really do not know much about North Carolina, save for two visits in the 80s while on business. Perhaps you have heard of the famous Triangle region of NC, which encompasses three major research universities (Duke, UNC, and NC State), along with numerous tech companies and enterprises. And they all have basketball teams!! College sports are a BIG deal here. I repeat, BIG deal!
The Triangle has a population nearing 3 million, and includes nine counties. The Triangle includes the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Fayetteville. And I will spare you all of the Sir Walter Raleigh in a can jokes.
Famous UNC slums: Davis Love III, Michael Jordan, Andy Griffith, James K. Polk, Mia Hamm, Stuart Scott, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John Forsythe, Thomas Wolfe, David Brinkley, Armistead Maupin, and Marion Jones.
Believe it or not, the economy is slowly shifting away from tobacco, furniture and textiles. In fact, my travel buddy, Mr. Mike owned part of a hosiery company here for decades. The economy is now more knowledge based, in pharmaceuticals, biotech, and life sciences. Raleigh is also the state capitol. And yes, I know he lives in a can!
Tourism has become a major industry here as well. And not just for great golf at Pinehurst. Other attractions include the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Outer Banks, the Cape region, and many civil war and historic sites.
Carolina BBQ is distinct and quite famous here. My personal taste leans toward Texas, but here, they CHOP everything!! It smells good, but the chopping diminishes the flavor, in my bbq opinion. Maybe I will try it again?
Some famous people from NC include: Rev. Billy Graham, Thomas Wolfe, Edward R. Murrow, Sugar Ray Leonard, Dolly Madison, Thelonius Monk, O Henry (not the candy bar), Ava Gardner, Soupy Sales, John Coltrane, David Brinkley, Catfish Hunter, Nina Simone, Howard Cosell, Steph Curry, and President James Polk.
On my previous visits and stays, cigarette smoke was a BIG problem. It will be interesting to see if things have changed, for the better. Hurricanes and a higher rate of crime than the national average are other downers. The median home price is around $240,000. NC is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S. Textiles are still big here.
And some rather strange sights: Taxidermy Hall of Fame, Land of Oz, Acid Park, World’s Largest Hammock, the Fugitive Train Wreck, Homeless Jesus statue, and the last clamshell Shell Oil Station.
North Carolina is one of the thirteen original colonies. As a kid, I first learned of NC through the Wright Brothers and Kitty Hawk. It was the last state to join the Confederacy. When my son was interested in finding a college to play golf, he was enamored with Wake Forest, no doubt since the “King” himself, Arnold Palmer, went to Wake.
Sir Walter Raleigh founded the first English colony here. But it mysteriously vanished, perhaps headed back into the can?? Virginia Dare was born here in 587, the first English child born in the U.S. Did she have dual citizenship?
The Venus fly trap is native to Hampstead, NC.
Babe Ruth hit his first home run in Fayetteville in 1914.