Do you ever feel like you're just going in circles, like no matter how long you drive, you find yourself back where you started? I've felt that way in these first 850 miles of my epic post-Army cross-country road trip. And for a good reason: I have been going in circles, one big one, specifically:
I had to come back to Fort Bragg this morning to tie up some a few loose ends, and tomorrow morning I'm taking the GMAT here in Raleigh, my last big hurdle in the business school application process. After that's done, the road trip proper can commence. Up 'til now I've been making my way around Virginia and North Carolina, enjoying the natural and historic beauty of this part of the country, as well as good times with some old friends in Charlottesville, Richmond, and Norfolk.
You'll notice my path on the map above looks for all the world like I took an extended detour into the Atlantic. They're too narrow to show up on this zoom level, but I assure you North Carolina's Outer Banks are there, and they are absolutely beautiful. They have easily the nicest beaches I've visited in the US, and I'd put them comfortably in the top three beach regions I've enjoyed worldwide, along with Egypt's Mediterranean coast and Thailand's Andaman coast. Prices for vacation rentals are also shockingly reasonable, particularly in the off-season, and things just get cheaper the further down the banks you go. Most of the construction boom in the Outer Banks happened in an era when Americans were much more willing to drive a couple hours of two-lane road to spend a week doing nothing much, rather than just flying off to an all-inclusive resort. Which is to say, if you make the Outer Banks your next vacation destination, you will be being simultaneously counter-cultural and nostalgic. All right, enough boosterism.