Entry Fourteen- Summer in the South East May 27th- August 17th

Our Summer started with me waving goodbye to Mark as he entered the Bismark, ND airport at 5am on May 19th- A week before my last day working for the Forest Service. My last week was spent packing up our trailer, boy did we spread out all our stuff!

Then I had a lovely goodbye party with my North Dakota friends. I met some really amazing people in the six months here and I am so glad I got to experience getting to know them. My last night in ND was spent at TRNP and I woke up surrounded by bison. The ideal ND experience!

Then I went on my own solo road trip, from ND to PHX, and then PHX to NC! I got to see my friend Emily in Custer State Park in SD, visited Mount Rushmore, drove through a hail storm, saw Wind Cave NP and enjoyed the drive with many podcasts.

Landing back home in Phoenix I swapped out all our winter gear for summer gear and grabbed some other items we needed for our summer on the east coast. Ares had a vet appointment and a bath- so bad day for him. I stopped to see a few friends and get some of my favorite food before I was off to the east coast!

Our North Carolina Summer

Mark’s incredible opportunity to intern with IBM at the Research Triangle Park (RTP) office brought us to the south east again. The humidity was not something I looked forward to, but I’ll admit, the drive into North Carolina was quite scenic! The majestic Great Smoky Mountains greeted me as I crossed into our new home. I followed the I-40 straight through to Durham, NC.

The reputation of the RTP area as a bustling center of technological innovation and groundbreaking medical research made it feel like the perfect fit for us. Exploring the local culinary delights was an adventure in itself, and being able to stroll to downtown areas brought back a familiar sense of urban living we’d missed since leaving Phoenix.

Mark’s stint at IBM turned out to be more than just a professional milestone – it was a time of forging lasting friendships, engaging conversations, quiet book reading evenings, watching the Barbie movie and then Oppenhiemer in one day, and numerous other escapades around Durham and RTP. Honestly, the Thursday happy hour at a co-working space became a highlight we both eagerly looked forward to.

Our summer was a whirlwind of adventures, which was a big change from the cabin fever winter that we had in North Dakota. From tracing the steps of the Wright brothers’ first airplane flight in Kitty Hawk to embracing the coastline for a beach day (even if the water was too chilly for a dip), we spent every weekend doing something fun. We often found ourselves soaking in the beauty of Asheville, NC – a perfect blend of nature, art, and delectable food.

Before we knew it, July arrived, and we were off to the Florida Keys to reunite with our closest friends. I drove down early too spend a week with my family and Mark had a terrible 14 hour layover experience in the RDU airport. Thankfully we all made it to Lobstar Feast!
August swept in with packing, hugs, and farewells. And let’s not forget our unforgettable camping excursion with friends in the Smoky Mountains National Park. These North Carolina memories have taken a permanent spot in our hearts, enriched by remarkable places and the wonderful people we met along the way.

We’re all set to hop back into the van and hit the road for a few months of full time travel. First stop – Maine! Stay tuned for more updates from our adventures on the open road.