Those Places I Adore

When you close your eyes and imagine you could be anywhere in the world, where would you be?

Would you be relaxing on a beach in Malibu? Hiking the trails of the Appalachian Mountains? Perhaps you’d be riding Space Mountain, sailing the Caribbean, or snorkeling off the coast of Australia.

Here are my top five favorite places in the whole world, in no particular order.

Las Vegas, Nevada:

It’s loud. It’s flashy. It’s tawdry and obscure and hot. But as much as I love the flashy lights, the gambling, and the night life (ask me about the ginormous margarita my brother-in-law, Timm, bought for me last time we were there) the real reason behind my love for this city lies in the people who live there.

Surprisingly, this country girl who’s spent her life knee-deep in crab grass found herself captivated by the beauty of the desert. I love how quiet it is at night. I love how blue the sky looks against the sand. I love how the horizon stretches on and on forever, with nothing obstructing the view. I love how the sand shimmers like water in the morning sun. The desert is haunting in its beauty. And I’d love to spend a quiet evening, sitting in a lawn chair in my father-in-law’s back yard, talking over a cold beer.

Except there’s no such thing as a “quiet” evening with my father-in-law, so I’ll settle for a not-so-loud one.

Oriental, NC

This quiet little waterfront town reminds me of Capeside, the fictional town in Dawson’s Creek.

Maybe that’s because the guy who wrote the show lived there.

Brian’s extended family–his aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousins–live here. It is the most picturesque little town you can imagine: people riding their bikes down the street always wave as cars passing by, the guy at the pizzeria doesn’t just know your name but what you like on your pies, town gatherings are more like family reunions than picnics with strangers.

The waterfront of Oriental is breathtaking. The people are friendly. And the memories we make with family there are what we’ll talk about when we’re old and grey.

I’d rather be on Aunt Tina’s porch, sipping a cup of hot tea and talking than any place in the world. That, to me, is the true definition of relaxation.

Boone, NC

If you’ve never visited the mountains of North Carolina, it should be on your bucket list. ESPECIALLY in the fall. Boone is my college town–I’m an Appalachian State University grad. Don’t get me wrong–I am a beach bum through and through, but Boone is truly one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever been. And I had the privilege of living there for 4 years.

There’s nothing quite like a crisp, cool autumn morning in Boone. Nature paints her own masterpiece in the colors of the leaves. A drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway will take your breath away at every single turn. There’s hiking, biking, camping, fishing—Boone is definitely friend to any outdoorsman. And if you love to take pictures—well, just look at the collage above.

I haven’t been back to Boone since I graduated in 2003, and it’s high time for a visit. We’ll be making plans to rent a cabin and walk the hallowed halls of my alma mater soon.

Charleston, SC

I have the distinct pleasure of living somewhere that is on this very list. We are a short, 40 minute drive from downtown Charleston, and it is one of my favorite places to be. You can stand anywhere downtown, throw a rock (although don’t, cuz that might hurt someone) and hit a fantastic restaurant, bar, museum, or any other all around awesome place to see. The architecture will take you back to a time before automobiles, cell phones, and iPads. There’s an air of southern hospitality at every turn, and you’ll be greeted with a “hey Ya’ll,” everywhere you go.

I love everything about Charleston: the food, the wine, the history, the houses, the waterfront, the beaches….

Wait? Did I say beach? That brings me to my next favorite place…

The Beach

It doesn’t really matter which beach (although I’m partial to the Isle of Palms here in Charleston, because it’s where we got married). Give me sand to bury my feet in, surf to swim in, and sunshine, and I’m one content lady. Any season of the year, any time of day, the beach is my number one place to reflect, reminisce, relax and rejuvenate.

Truly, though, my favorite time on the beach is early morning. I like to arrive before all the other beachgoers. When the sun is barely peeking above the clouds, and the only ones I’m sharing the beach with are the occasional jogger or surfer. I love watching the sky go from gray to pink to brilliant blue as the sun rises. I love sitting perfectly still in my little beach chair and watching the sandpipers skitter over the sand with their little legs, looking for their breakfast. I love the roar of the ocean–that sound that washes out everything else and allows you to be at peace with yourself.

So, reader…if you could go anywhere in the world, to your most favorite place…where would it be?

Feel free to come with me to the beach. Pull up some sand and have a seat. I promise to bring a picnic. And sunscreen. SPF a bazillion.