A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Feels like the beach was my thought on a summerlike day in Greensboro — temperature pushing past 80 with a soft wind blowing — so I threw open all the

Madison County Championship Rodeo

Feels like the beach was my thought on a summerlike day in Greensboro — temperature pushing past 80 with a soft wind blowing — so I threw open all the

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Feels like the beach was my thought on a summerlike day in Greensboro — temperature pushing past 80 with a soft wind blowing — so I threw open all the

Feels like the beach was my thought on a summerlike day in Greensboro — temperature pushing past 80 with a soft wind blowing — so I threw open all the windows in my house. Cross breeze cutting through, balmy air, ceiling fan whirring, an occasional bumblebee gently bumping the window screen, and for an afternoon, at least, I could imagine being at the beach, back at places so familiar and friendly.

For a moment, I’m at the Blockade Runner Resort in Wrightsville Beach, on a balcony overlooking a manicured courtyard popping with blooming hibiscus and tropical birds-of-paradise; arching pindo palms with their pineapple-y bases; canna lilies blazing orange and red, echoing the colors of the maritime signal flags flapping from the boardwalk.

For a moment, I’m kicking back in a swinging rattan chair at the Atlantis Lodge in Pine Knoll Shores, bare feet brushing the weathered gray deck, a cup of coffee in hand, just brewed in the room’s kitchenette. The Atlantis is dog-friendly, and I love seeing the guests’ pets, tails lazily thumping in the sun, puppies with their cold noses, with their warm hearts, nudging their owners for a Frisbee throw, for a run on the beach, for a chance to dig in the sand.

I can’t wait for the chance to unlatch the door to my own screened porch overlooking the dunes of the Outer Banks at the Sanderling Resort in Duck; the hotel even stocks rooms with a complimentary s’mores kit to use around a firepit that’s lit at sundown.

I’m remembering the Golden Sands motel in Carolina Beach, the rooms just a few steps from the Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar. Got a bar stool outside on the pier beneath a string of party lights, a pail of Topsail oysters, and a frosty can of Fullsteam beer, Humidity Pale Ale. And just as the sun starts to drop a little lower, a band — The Shoaldiggers with their swampgrass sound, Da Howlies strumming Hawaiian music — cranks up and the pier bounces, and everyone whoops and hollers and dances in the open air.

There’s the Main Street Inn in Topsail Beach, a compact but nearly perfect boutique hotel, where I sat for hours on a Friday night in a slatted rocker and swayed to the music drifting over from Patio Playground directly across the street, my own personal concert from the ’60s, with Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin and The Beach Boys crooning “Barbara Ann” and “Surfer Girl,” a soft-pedaling summer soundtrack that dropped my shoulders and soothed my spirit. A hand-lettered chalkboard sign propped in front of Patio Playground Putt-Putt read “Be Cool, Be Kind, Be Nice, Be Happy,” and, back in that moment, with a Technicolor sunset widening over the Banks Channel behind the inn, it was hard to imagine any emotion other than happiness.

When it’s time, I’ll point my car east. I’ll roll down the windows and drive until I smell salt, until I see the loblollies change over to longleafs, until I hear the lap of water beneath the Alligator River Bridge, and I’ll welcome my coastal reunion, when our beaches are finally and again wide open.

                            

Elizabeth Hudson                         
Editor in Chief                          

 

This story was published on May 18, 2020

Elizabeth Hudson

Elizabeth Hudson

Hudson is a native of North Carolina who grew up in the small community of Farmer, near Asheboro. She holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and began her publishing career in 1997 at Our State magazine. She held various editorial titles for 10 years before becoming Editor in Chief of the 80-year-old publication in 2009. For her work with the magazine, Hudson is also the 2014 recipient of the Ethel Fortner Writer and Community Award, an award that celebrates contributions to the literary arts of North Carolina.