It's occurred to me that I come off on here as hating Raleigh, as most people would see it, or hating the Triangle or the state of North Carolina in general. I do not, on all counts. But first and foremost, it's not the place to live for the Tar Heel-born lady I love, and that means it's not the place for me anymore, regardless of how I feel about the area.
I think I've sufficiently covered what I feel are the shortcomings for the RDU metro. So this is not the intent of this topic. It's rather the opposite. I want to spread a little sunshine. Or rain, if that's what y'all would prefer. I've seen more rain in the last year than I care to for a good while (including today).
-First of all, if it was still down the road from me, tonight I probably would be going to Stevenson's BBQ @ McGee's Crossroads for the purpose of eating probably more pulled pork (vinegar) than any health-conscious human being would ever imagine. Doing the same at a *pig-pickin'* is just as good, probably better, because I will probably be offered a beer to go with that BBQ/slaw sandwich. We can do the pork shoulder in the oven thing and make the vinegar sauce but it's just not the same to me.
-Those random, exploratory night drives around Raleigh. After 11pm, the 50th(?)-largest city in the United States pretty much rolls up the sidewalks, with a few bastions of life on Glenwood extending into a small slice of downtown, and around NCSU. That whole scene itself isn't my thing anymore (college-age people) but people-watching is always cool. It also makes you ponder the limitless potential of Downtown Raleigh, which could be reached with the proper handling. Then from there I might go to Western/MLK Boulevard and go past state then catch the back toward 40 to go home or go east and go MLK or Lenoir or whatever to take Rock Quarry and go home that way. All the construction downtown turned me off of going there other than when I had to during normal operating hours (this was in 2006, mind you) but at night there was the freedom to roam without obstacles (other than the occasional sobriety checkpoint - no problem here. I couldn't afford booze the way it's jacked up at ABC anyway
-Sitting in the parking lot of the Bojangles @ Jones Sausage and "40 Highway" (to put it like the locals do), around quarter to 7am, fueling my lagging brain functioning with a sausage and gravy biscuit to decidewhether to tackle 40 and the Belt or the Rock Quarry/Sunnybrook school bus quagmire. Every day is a battle in the war of life...better have a plan.
-I wouldn't mind milling around downtown Smithfield again with no intent other than to explore (yes, you could say that's an offbeat hobby of mine) and get exercise. For all its dinginess and social backwardness, Smithfield has a weird charm about it. And the Ava Gardner museum. And the Ava Gardner post office. And more flea markets than you can shake a Doobie Brothers 8-track at.
-I also liked the old part of Clayton (downtown, Main/Lombard) and I'm happy to hear they're getting some new restaurants and stuff there. Main is extremely narrow and people parallel park on the side of the street, so it was always an adventure driving on it during the day - or worse, trying to pull out of one of those parking lots with little room or visibility. But I always got a cool vibe walking around there. I know a lot of smaller towns here in Texas that left their old downtowns for dead even if there was development somewhere else (like there is in Clayton). But Clayton's old town center actually has something to it amidst the widening sprawl and newer and shinier development.
-It really was boring as hell, but as it was, life wasn't all that bad in the subdivision I lived in that straddled the Wake/Johnston county line (the house was maybe 200 yards from the line; I could've whipped out the driver to send a couple golf balls from the front yard literally into the next county
) It was quiet, most of the time...
-Duke's Mayonnaise. Technically I can get it in Houston, but because only one specialty market carries it (this is the whole metro area we're talking about). What I miss is that people don't cook with it here for that reason. That stuff ruined me for life. I can't eat coleslaw or potato salad made by heathens using Hellman's or Kraft or whatever (they're all the same, Duke's is the only one without sugar). No offense to my folks.
-Scraping off the windshield in the morning in 26-degree weather was about as fun as the whole drive to WakeMed in the morning rush, but living in a place where actual winter occurs every year and not every once in a solar eclipse was rather novel. It got old around the start of February though. I arrived shortly after Christmas '05 and left in late January '07, so I pretty much got to see two winters there. Including one dusting of snow and one icestorm. Thankfully I did not have to partake in driving during the latter, and watched the carnage on WRAL instead.
-The sports. It's rare to see college get top billing in the local media in any major or even semi-major city (I won't go there...) so watching and following basketball was fun. Then there was the Hurricanes and their '06 run. I was in Raleigh the same night the Stanley Cup was handed over at RBC. I wasn't in the building, but it was good enough.
And this is probably long enough. I'm sure there's someone else out there who has left the Raleigh area, misses something about it and might share their thoughts.
Have a good one, and maybe a little rain.