Two-and-a-half weeks in Mebane, NC is coming to a close, but how I landed in this spot is too long of a story to tell! It's been a fun stay in an Airbnb room called "the library" in a relaxed, cozy 1940's house. The host family attracted me for many reasons but little did I know how much fun it would be to have time with an incredibly precocious 5 year old whose parents are working on a sustainable lifestyle. I've learned a great deal about snakes & lizards, as well as the beauty of scent-less, biodegradable products. I've also eaten a dozen today-fresh eggs, had veggies pulled from the front yard, and picked and eaten many berries.
A post office was established in Mebane in 1809, the railroad then arrived in 1855, and the town was originally incorporated as Mebanesville in 1881; named for Brigadier General Alexander Mebane, a member of Congress in the 1790's. A local tobacco market, and furniture and apparel industries all brought growth to the area, but today this sweet little town is growing in leaps and bounds for commuters to "the Research Triangle". While it still maintains its charming downtown and neighborhood green spaces, the outer rim is building and building.
Thankfully, my car has been in the shop for most of my visit so I quickly learned where and when to cycle, then found my favorite parks on two feet. Besides seeing all of Mebane's neighborhoods and surrounding farmland, this opened up opportunities for conversations with locals in a 12-mile radius. Friendly, still chatty people. So, a somewhat random stop as I point north, but a pleasant one for sure. Now, into the mountains of West Virginia for quiet time during the holiday week.
Arriving at a familiar, woodsy spot felt great for oh-so-many reasons -- the freedom of living outdoors again, the ease of getting about, and the relief that yes, my bruised auto and I made it 400 miles, safely. St. Helena Island, just east of Beaufort, South Carolina, is a historic place I've visited quite a few times these nomadic years, both camping and visiting friends. With Florida in a state of heavy political madness, I arrived this time pondering Beaufort as a future winter location.
This visit had a two-sided nature (if not more). Nearly two weeks were spent at Tuck in the Woods, thoroughly enjoying a peaceful space and feeling like part of the community. This campground now has a combination of residents, part-timers, short-timers and weekenders, and is well-cared for by new owners. Once I was around for a few days, there was always a wave, and neighbors offered coffee and BBQ, stopped to chat on daily walks, and traded books. It was a very cordial setting barely disturbed by the hurried Friday arrivals.
Between well-timed cycling, outdoor socializing, and pondering by the sea, I actually checked out a housing/work exchange possibility for winter on nearby Cat Island, and a few well-situated townhouses for under $150k. Neither will come to fruition for different reasons, but Beaufort is off the list as continued growth is evident; none of which includes a bike culture. To quote a fellow camper: "they don't get cycling here".
It was then time to dig through the bags to prep for a return to civilization for 48 hours with friends on nearby Dataw Island. It was a quick visit that included my first group social since late 2019 with a 10-person book club that felt very much like a cocktail party. It was a warm welcome, and in the final hour I found myself answering questions about this (now) 8-year journey. The best moment -- being told, "you're a hippie," by a great gal from Mississippi! The next day I witnessed three dolphins 'stranding" along the creek for at least a half-hour and yes, I regret not capturing it on video. Honestly, like nothing I've ever seen before.
Much to my surprise, the last night in my tent was stormy with 4 hours of thunderstorms and a "holy shit point" of feeling the ground shake. While I awoke to a sprinkle, I was ready to hit the road again toward the NW corner of North Carolina. Yes, I'm inching north as summer continues to heat up.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover