For our summer trip with the kids, we decided to explore the Carolinas. On Monday night we flew out of Chicago Midway and landed in Raleigh around midnight. We picked up our Infiniti QX60, and headed to our hotel - the Hyatt Place, Raleigh Durham Airport. Being the county collectors we are, on Tuesday morning we got up early and did a solitary drive, letting the kids sleep in. From there we sort of did a circle loop to the west, picking up Person, Orange, Alamance, Randolph and Chatham Counties. Once we got back we picked up the kids and headed south towards Myrtle Beach. As we neared Fayetteville, we turned onto HWY 87 and picked up Bladen County – a “hole” that we had missed on a previous trip (before we were actively collecting counties). Our hotel was the Surfside Beach Oceanfront Hotel in Surfside Beach. But before we checked in, we continued south about three miles, crossed into Georgetown County, then turned around and went to the hotel. That evening we did some of the sights and had a great dinner at Surfside Beach Pizza & Italian Restaurant. We also saw a Virgin Islands license plate. Later that night we went on the beach to look for crabs.
On Wednesday we spent a little more time in Myrtle Beach But our destination for the day was Charlotte. Once we left, we headed NW on HWY 51 and HWY 38. We picked up Marion, Dillon, and Marlboro Counties on the way. We then crossed over the North Carolina border and Scotland County, near the city of Gibson. We then continued mostly west, picking up Richmond, Anson, Union and Mecklenburg Counties. As we got near Charlotte, we decided to head south and cross back into South Carolina again, picking up Lancaster and York Counties. From there we went straight to our hotel, the Hyatt Place Charlotte Airport. That evening as we went out to pick up some fast food at Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s, we decided to take a side trip north (with two of the kids joining us) and picked up both Gaston and Lincoln Counties.
On Thursday we spent the day at Carowinds Amusement Park. Carowinds is the only amusement park that is located in two states – both North and South Carolina. It was a fairly slow day at the park. So there were virtually no lines at all. We ended up getting our fill of the roller coasters much earlier than expected because of it. So we left the park in the early afternoon.
After we left Carowinds we headed northeast around Charlotte, then went east on HWY 27 for quite awhile. Along the way we picked up Cabarrus, Stanly, Montgomery and Moore Counties. When we reached the city of Cameron, we went north on HWY 1 for about one mile and picked up Lee County. We then turned around and went south on HWY 1 and wormed our way through several roads. Eventually we crossed a small bridge and entered Hoke County. From here a straight shot to our hotel would have taken us through Fort Bragg. But we didn’t think we’d be granted permission to go through. So instead we went around it, and went straight to our hotel in Fayetteville – the Home 2 Suites by Hilton. Before it started raining, we took a dip in the pool and swam with an adorable child whose family was outside grilling at the time.
Our last two days were very county-heavy. Eastern North Carolina has a lot of small counties. And we hit them all! Once we left our hotel on Friday, we headed north on I-95. We lost a kid’s shoe along the way. Near the city of Kenly we got off the interstate and crossed into Wilson County. At that point we headed south and east for quite awhile – all the way to the ocean. We picked up Wayne, Greene, Lenoir, Jones, Onslow and Carteret Counties. We reached the ocean near Emerald Isle and spent some time on the beach. Once we finished there we turned around and went north on HWY 70. Once we reached James City/New Bern (in Craven County) we stopped to eat at Ruby Tuesday. With our bellies full, we crossed the Neuse River and took a side trip for a few miles on HWY 55 and picked up Pamlico County. We then turned around, went back north and crossed into Beaufort County – where are hotel (the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Washington) was. But before we checked in, with our hotel in sight to the right, we veered to the left on W. 15th St., drove a mile, crossed a bridge over the Tar River, and picked up Pitt County – our last new county of the day.
On Saturday morning we set out early. Our initial destination was Roanoke Island to visit the lost colony. Inside the museum, they let people draw pictures and surmise what they think happened to the colony. And they put them in a book. They clearly have a sense of humor about it too. After we left there, our next stop was to visit a lighthouse in Cape Hatteras. From there we stopped in Kill Devil Hills to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. On our way there we picked up Hyde, Washington, Tyrrell and Dare Counties. After we left Kill Devil Hills, we said goodbye to the ocean and started our trip back to Raleigh. We headed mostly west on Highways 158, 17, 37 and 135, picking up Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Chowan and Gates Counties. Chowan happened to be our 2000th county! We’re committed now! When we got near the city of Winton we turned southwest and picked up Hertford, Northampton Bertie, Martin and Edgecombe Counties. We then continued both west and northwest, and hit a four-county point area, picking up Nash, Halifax, Warren and Franklin Counties.
At this point we were closer to our final destination - the Hyatt Place, Raleigh Durham Airport, which happened to be the same hotel we stayed in at the beginning of our trip. But before we got back, we had two more counties to hit. Heading mostly southwest, we made our way over to the city of Kittrell and crossed into Vance County. From there we went south and picked up Granville County (via a quick turnaround on HWY 56). Having collected every county we’d intended to reach (including six bonus ones which weren’t originally planned) we pulled into a Krispy Kreme to get some fresh donuts before heading straight to the hotel.
All in all we picked up 57 new counties on our trip. We visited one amusement park, one National Memorial, and lost one shoe. So what’s next? We’ve got a trip planned for Arizona and New Mexico, just three weeks after we got back from this one. And in September we plan to visit the Yellowstone area. So stay tuned!
NEW COUNTIES - 57
TOTAL NEW COUNTIES FOR 2019 - 160
ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 2012