We got up, had breakfast and drove home today.  This is not terribly interesting but North Carolina is a pretty state so once we got past the swamps in the east it was a very pretty drive.  In fact, we stopped at a state sponsored nature center that explained the swamps.  In fact, they don’t use the word ‘swamp’ anymore; instead, they celebrate the ‘natural wetland terrain’ and its animals and Tom found some more bird carvings to admire.  The keeper there asked him if he’d like to sell any of his carvings in their store.  He didn’t want to get involved with that – to him that would make it into a job rather than something for pleasure but he may donate one or more for their exhibits. 

We drove back through the town of Washington, NC which bills itself as “The First Washington”.  This seems to have been a fairly normal small town and then they decided to spiff up the main street downtown and the waterfront along the Pamlico River.  It is now a pleasant place to spend awhile walking up and down the street and having a picnic at the waterfront.  This we did by walking over to a hole-in-the-wall place that locals know about (and which Tom knew about because of a music festival he had gone to) called “Bill’s Hotdogs”.  This place is tiny and sells only three things:  hotdogs, chips, and bottled drinks (and they don’t really sell that many chips or drinks).  There is no published menu or prices; you’re supposed to go to a window and order through a hole like at the movie theater.  Everybody just orders a number of hotdogs “all the way” since their hotdogs with everything are unique.  They have a peppery white-bean chili that they put on first (before the weenie) so that you can actually eat it with your hands.  Prices are not published – you’re supposed to know that they’re a dollar.   Everything’s a dollar – that makes the math easier. 

We took our bag of dogs and found a picnic table where we could watch the boats and had lunch.

Then we strolled along the street a bit.  I stopped at a sporting goods store.  In the south, a sporting goods store often does not mean a place with athletic shoes and basketballs; instead, it can mean a store that sells guns, fishing poles, tackle, and licenses.  One man came in for a fishing license while I was there and was told that he was now eligible for a lifetime license at $20.  That seems like quite a bargain to me.

After that, it was a leisurely drive back to Clayton.  We had dinner at Smithfield’s again and then went home to mentally gear up for the fact that our vacation was ending and it was time to pack and leave. I had bought two T-shirts along the way so I was good as far as laundry was concerned.

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