Road To 50 Part 32: North Carolina

The Eastern State, North Carolina, offers a rare inclusion of majestic mountains, ample beaches, and charming cities.

Grandfather mountain.
Grandfather mountain. PHOTO RISHI PATEL

North Carolina is an Eastern state with the perfect mix of attractions. It offers a rare combination of lengthy shoreline with sandy beaches, various mountain peaks to climb and explore, and several cities on the rise. Having been to North Carolina plenty of times because I have many relatives there, I can say that it’s a sensational state which allows you to be close to nature and cities that exude small town vibes.

Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather mountain and suspension bridge
Grandfather mountain and suspension bridge. PHOTO RISHI PATEL

Grandfather Mountain is a peak in the northern part of the state. The premier part of the summit is a moving suspension bridge that allows access to a rocky platform. Circumnavigating the uneven, treacherous path of rocks provides a 360 view of the surrounding scenery as if looking at it from the top of a skyscraper.

To ascend to this nearly 6,000-foot pinnacle, I had to navigate very sharp turns and steep climbs in my car. The journey to the top provided panoramic views of the hills/mountains surrounding me, and the blue sky was as pure and shiny as ever. Nevertheless, there were no guardrails and instead only falling dirt on the side of the road, which made reaching the apex a thrilling excursion.

Once parking at the top of the mountain, my family and I walked over to the edge of the lot, where looking down was an enormous abyss littered with tree branches, loose rocks, and pebbles. I grew dizzy, but looking directly forward provided panoramic views of perfectly aligned lush green rolling hills. The fact that they were distant from me allowed the sky’s pure blue color to seep onto the top of the hills, thus obscuring the view. I squinted for clarity, there was nothing but the screeching wind blowing into my ear at that moment.

As I step foot on the massive gray dangling bridge, my feet thumping on the metal made a melodious beat, kind of like a song. I was very nervous, as I thought a step might blow out any second with all the weight of passersby being put on the bridge. I dared not look down as there were gigantic rocks, tree branches, and dirt below me. Once reaching the other side, the challenge was more immense, as I had to tread through the large, jagged, unevenly arranged brown rocks just to reach the most scenic viewpoint. Scurrying through the rocks like a four-legged animal, I could feel the rough texture of the rocks prick at my fingers. Every time I tried to stand, the wind was trying to push me down. I also had to be careful not to slip on these poorly arranged rocks. Once I finished my climbing and finally reached the summit, there was a vista of the splendid lines of hills in the distance. The sky was literally falling, the blue from the sky penetrated the top of the normally green hills. It was a surreal moment because of the breathtaking view of neatly aligned turquoise hills in front of me.

Charlotte

Charlotte skyline from Romare Bearden park.
Charlotte skyline from Romare Bearden park. PHOTO RISHI PATEL

The Tar Heel State’s biggest city is on the rise, and the downtown area is full of superb sights. Walking through the barren streets on a Sunday night was a shock to me. As I approached Romare Bearden Park in the center of the city, I could hear loud music where one bar was ALIVE. There was loud boombox music, folks dancing, chatting, and enjoying. I looked around the rest of downtown and it was eerily quiet. As we proceeded into the clean Romare Bearden Park, there were finally groups of people enjoying the day. We headed into the center of the park into an open lawn. There was water sprinkling down from rocks that were structured to look like the letter “F,” and a sculpted metal statue of twirls. Although enchanted by the park amenities, I got lost in the serene sight of the skyline that was right above. Towering skyscrapers on all four sides, and the sun shining on the windows sent glistening sparkles down on me. Not even the outside chatter or forceful wind could awaken me from that picturesque moment.

Greater Charlotte Area

In Greater Charlotte lies Birkdale Village, an upscale shopping district that I make sure to visit during all my trips to Charlotte. The complex itself is a unique concept that I have never seen before, and my most recent trip to Charlotte signified why I am so infatuated with the place. It was a Friday night, and it was vibrant. The vroom sound of a McLaren instantly caught my eye, it only got more lively from there. As I got out of my car in the heart of the village, I could hear boomboxes thumping and people sprawled out onto the grass in lawn chairs. Restaurants were packed to the max, and people were intermingled in conversations all over. The streetlights provided a guide to move forward, as all the white painted architecture was dim in the humid North Carolina night. The humidity was draining, though the music and chatter was robust. Walking alongside the lines of stores was a moment for myself to hang out with my cousins, and reminisce in how this village has signified a place of bonding between us for many years.

Charlotte skyline
Charlotte skyline. PHOTO RISHI PATEL

Rishi Patel

Contributor

Rishi Patel's passion for writing is almost as great as his passion for traveling. Traveling remains the utmost favorite hobby and pastime for Rishi, which has led him to visit 47 of the 50 U.S. States and he cannot contain his excitement as he tries to reach the milestone of visiting all 50.

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