Weekend Escape to Wilmington, North Carolina

This weekend I had the opportunity to once again resume my “Southern Exploration Tour” as Sidney and I dashed out of town on a weekend getaway to Wilmington, North Carolina. Although most people told me that I had to visit Charleston the second town that always came up was Wilmington. With Charleston crossed off the to-do list from two weeks ago it was time to set my eyes on the city located in that other Carolina state.

Sidney was nice enough to drive to Wilmington. We traveled high class in her brand new 2014 Toyota RAV4 XLE.

Sidney was nice enough to drive to Wilmington. We traveled high class in her brand new 2014 Toyota RAV4 XLE.

On Saturday at around noon Sidney and I made the short ninety minute drive from Myrtle Beach to Wilmington. We were warmly welcomed at the home of Kendra and Josh, the couple who we were fortunate enough to celebrate their one year anniversary with when the four of us made the trip to Charleston. Josh is a member of the Coast Guard and Wilmington serves as the home port for the USCGC Diligence, a ship under the branch’s watch. To have a place to stay and people more than eager to show us around helped to insure that it was going to be a great weekend.

Sidney and I in the beautiful city of Wilmington on Saturday.

Sidney and I in the beautiful city of Wilmington on Saturday.

We arrived at the house of Kendra and Josh and after meeting the animals and taking a tour we drove right to the heart of downtown Wilmington. We walked down the main street, then along the water, and finally up into a restaurant called The George. Situated right on the riverfront we sat on the restaurant’s deck that overlooked the Cape Fear River. We ate lunch, enjoyed the view, and plotted what we would do for the duration of our stay. After we concluded our meal we went back to the streets of downtown and after checking out a really cool magic/novelty store with a real life wizard outside to greet us (no joke) we ducked into an ice cream parlor. Called Kilwin’s Ice Cream, Chocolates, and Fudge we waited in a decent line to get waffle cones. Once we had our ice cream we sat on a couple benches next to a horsedrawn carriage and enjoyed. With the humidity high and after subjecting ourselves to the wonderful smell inside of Kilwin’s (nothing smells better than an ice cream parlor) the ice cream tasted wonderful. It tasted so great in fact that after I finished my peanut butter chocolate waffle cone I ate the rest of Sidney’s cake batter cone.

Clockwise: A real life wizard outside the magic store, the horsedrawn carriage, inside Kilwin's, Sid and I with our ice cream, and a view of the water walkway.

Clockwise: A real life wizard outside the magic store, the horsedrawn carriage, inside Kilwin’s, Sid and I with our ice cream, and a view of the water walkway.

We then got back into the car and went on a little ride. Wilmington is home to four beach communities including Fort Fisher, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach. We drove through all four and I personally got a kick out of seeing the brightly colored houses that give these communities such personality. We got out at a random spot at Fort Fisher and enjoyed the view of the ocean and the high winds that provided some relief during the humid day. After a couple hours touring these little pieces of paradise we drove back to the house where the girls showered and Josh and I watched Sportscenter and the World Cup.

Sidney and I at Fort Fisher.

Sidney and I at Fort Fisher.

Once Sidney and Kendra finished getting ready we went back downtown to enjoy the nightlife of Wilmington. The downtown district in Wilmington is awesome. Small and charming you got several options all within walking distance to pick your poison and have a blast. After starting at a little joint called the Liquid Room while we waited out the dinner rush we moved to a place called Front Street Brewery. This place had it going on. Packed and festive we waited about twenty minutes and then got ushered up the eclectic building’s steep stairs to our table. I scarfed down a very interesting take on Shepherds Pie and enjoyed the atmosphere. We then hit up a few more places including a location where I finally got to play cornhole! Sid and I played against Kendra and Josh before switching it up and going boys against girls. It was a lot of fun. With the area really bumping we stopped while we were ahead and went home for the night.

This was the Shepherd's Pie I devoured at Front Street Brewery.

This was the Shepherd’s Pie I devoured at Front Street Brewery.

Early in the morning Sidney and I said goodbye to Kendra and Josh and hit the road back to Myrtle Beach. However, on the way out of town we got to go through the main part of the city and get a glimpse of the everyday, non-tourist perspective of Wilmington life. It put a fitting end to our experience.

I snapped this photo on our way out of town today. I really enjoyed Wilmington.

I snapped this photo on our way out of town today. I really enjoyed Wilmington.

Some of my readers might freak out at this but I actually liked Wilmington more than Charleston. It was more intimate and less upscale, two things that appeal to me. Just like Charleston you had the history and the water but I just felt more at home in Wilmington. I am very thankful to Kendra and Josh for serving as wonderful hosts and to Sidney for taking me. I can’t wait to see where we go next! Don’t Blink.

Hello South Carolina!

I have arrived in my new home state! As I write this blog post I am on South Carolina soil where I will begin the next chapter of my life. The bouncing from state to state that has characterized the past several days is over.

But I am not quite in Myrtle Beach…yet. Although in last night’s blog post I hinted at the possibility of arriving at our ultimate destination a whole day early my dad and I made the call to complete the odyssey tomorrow morning. We didn’t make this decision because we are wimps and couldn’t go on for a couple more hours but rather we did it for practical reasons. My apartment community does not open for business until 10 a.m. tomorrow. Getting settled in my new home is priority number one and since we are both early risers we didn’t want to wait around doing nothing for a few hours. Thus, to help us get in Myrtle Beach right when my apartment becomes available and to allow us to get off the road at a reasonable hour tonight, we pulled off into a town called Camden. We are 120 miles from Myrtle Beach.

My dad and I outside a rest stop in Tennessee today.

My dad and I outside a rest stop in Tennessee today.

While yesterday could be characterized as the most exciting day on the road, today was definitely the most beautiful. I thought that the previous few days all showed great glimpses of beauty but today definitely took the cake. Hills covered in large full green trees that looked to stretch for miles while also seemingly reaching out to our U-Haul on the road dominated the landscape the whole way. Throw in the fact that we drove under blue skies on a brilliantly sunny day and you can see how we were treated to a very scenic 10 hour drive.

Some images from today's drive.

Some images from today’s drive.

We woke up in Paducah, Kentucky, and hit the road at 6:30 a.m. once again. Soon we crossed into Tennessee. We drove past Nashville and I got to see the stadium of the Tennessee Titans, LP Field. We then gassed up in Volunteer Country in Knoxville. Next we crossed the North Carolina border and we navigated through the windy and hilly roads until we got dumped into my new home state. Once in South Carolina we drove south to Columbia before heading east on the road that will pretty much lead us to Myrtle Beach. But the conclusion of that route will come tomorrow. This evening we are at the Holiday Inn of Camden for the evening and we are hungry.

Me at the end of the drive today. Next up...Myrtle Beach.

Me at the end of the drive today. Next up…Myrtle Beach.

Here are the stats from today:

Total Mileage Today: 611 miles

Total Mileage for Trip: 2,475 miles

Number of States Visited Today: 4 – Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina.

Number of Stops Today: 4 – Middle of Nowhere, TN (bathroom break), Knoxville, TN (gas and lunch), Border of SC (bathroom break), Camden, SC (ending point of the day).

Food Consumed During Today’s Drive: Convenient store chicken sandwich, convenient store corn dog, 1 pack of Frito Lay’s Flaming Hot Peanuts, 1 Reese’s Peanut Butter Easter Egg.

Drinks Consumed During Today’s Drive: Nothing.

Tomorrow this fun, expansive, and special road trip will come to an end. Because I won’t have internet set up at my new until at least a couple more days you might not see a blog post. But please follow me on Twitter (@BrentReser) for full updates and don’t be shy to tweet at me using the #BrentCoastToCoast hashtag. Thanks to all of you for keeping tabs on me during my travels, I have enjoyed sharing my experiences with you. I just want to offer up one fact with you before I turn this computer off and we go get dinner….my dad is absolutely AWESOME. Don’t Blink.

5 Things I Learned About The South

By spending time in Tennessee and North Carolina this past week, I took advantage of a great opportunity to experience the south. With some time in Florida accounting for my only true taste of how things are in the southeastern United States, I got exposed to a relatively new culture. I thoroughly enjoyed observing both the differences and similarities between the life “there” and the life “here.” In this post I simply want to bring to light the five main themes I observed while in the “Tar Heel” and “Volunteer” states.

Accents – I always thought when I watched movies that took place in the south the actors would greatly exaggerate their accents just to give the film more flavor and extra credibility. Boy, was I wrong. The southern accents in Tennessee and North Carolina are thick. Words are said differently, sentence speed is in a whole other league, and unfamiliar expressions are used.  The way people talked made the accent of my travel partner, a Texas native, sound like he was from California. You know a way that a girl can get to my heart?…have a southern accent. I don’t know how else to describe it but many of the women just sounded so sweet when they talked. I sometimes wondered if it sounded like I had an accent when I interacted with the people down there but I never did ask. Any of my southern readers care to answer my question?

Eating Good in the Neighborhood – There is no other place that eats the way the south does. Having traveled through much of the country and indulged in shoving my face at each place, I can honestly say that the south takes the cake. Although too busy to sit down to eat most of the time, we did get to experience some southern dining. The night we got in to Johnson City, Tennessee, we ate at a little dive restaurant called Red Pig Bar-B-Q. The place just had that southern comfort feel the moment you walked in. Right when we came through the doors the owner of the restaurant came up and shook our hands. The special of the day was written out on a chalk board while the rest of the food selections could be found on paper menus.  For $9.99 I got a half rack of ribs, baked beans, cheese fries, and garlic bread. The combination and quantity was something I was definitely not used to.

Welcome to the Red Pig Bar B Q

Red Pig dinner: ribs, cheese fries, beans, and bread.

The next day we had to meet with the restaurant that was catering the post-game meal for the football team. During the meeting we were treated to lunch. The server came out and said “This is how it works here…I am going to bring you ten different items and let you eat until you get full.” He then returned with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, Salisbury steak, green beans,  cole slaw, biscuits, corn, apple sauce, and two other items I can’t remember. He kept coming back asking us what we wanted more of. We then ate banana pudding for dessert. BBQ places lined the streets, grits were served everywhere, and I am pretty sure no one ever left a place hungry.

This meal really hit the spot.

No Excuse Not to go to Church – The first thing I noticed once we got in the rental car and started driving from place to place were the vast array of churches. Just a couple of sentences ago I said BBQ places lined the streets but churches still had them covered. Predominately Baptist, these churches were at every corner of our journey. It was interesting to see the different architecture/building design of each one and it was fun to read the marquees as each church had its own thought provoking and clever saying to catch the eye of parishioners. We joked that there had to have been at least one church for every two people who lived in the region. Then again, I kind of think there had to be some truth to this thought because every church we drove past we never really saw anyone outside or vehicles around the structure. But I guess it was not Sunday.


The marquees of the churches always had someting thought-provoking for you to contemplate.

Color Me Green – The areas of the south I visited on this trip had great natural beauty as everywhere we went was covered with lush green trees, bushes, and plants. It seemed like we were on back roads for the majority of our transportation from place to place and it was as if we were driving through Sherwood Forest. It really did look like a fantasy land. The thick green trees extended across the roadways, making for a tunnel of green foliage that we drove through. On Saturday morning, a co-worker and I drove up to an area that overlooked acres upon acres of vibrant forest land. It was quite the sight. Even at Kidd Brewer Stadium you were surrounded by greenness and trees. The humid temperatures and good amount of rain the area receives contributes to its impressive blooming appearance.

Everything we saw was green.

Southern Hospitality – Finally, I will remember from my visit the kindness and genuineness that the locals treated us with. As I mentioned in my post from last night, we were treated with class and thankfulness from the Appalachian State fans. The same can be said about the athletic department staff from App State as well. They went out of their way to accommodate us and make sure we had every need tended to. But it goes even beyond the folks at Appalachian State. Everyone who Jimmy and I worked with were top-notch from the hotel staff to the airport personnel to the transportation specialists. But again, it goes beyond them too. Everyone who we just encountered as a byproduct of spending time in the area (from the supermarket clerks to the waitresses who served us breakfast to the people on the roadways) treated us with nothing but consideration and respect. Yes, southern hospitality.


We are constantly told stories, fed stereotypes, and left to wonder about ways of life many miles away. The thing is, we will always be left to wonder unless we actually get to visit the places in question. Luckily for me, I was fortunate to visit an area of the country I had never explored before and was able to bring back with me to the good ol’ west  a very favorable opinion.  Don’t Blink.

Off to North Carolina

It is currently 3:30am and I am just a little more than a couple hours away from embarking on a day–long odyssey that will take me from Missoula to the east coast. In between Montana and my final destination, there will be several stops. Lots of take offs and landings. Surely some babies who won’t stop crying and some seat mates who won’t stop talking. Odds are there might be a couple hiccups. Am I dreading what lies ahead for the next several hours? Absolutely not.

By the end of today I will be in Boone, North Carolina, where my co-worker Jimmy and myself will start making preparations for The University of Montana football team to arrive on Friday and to ensure a smooth sailing ship logistics wise so they are ready to go come Saturday night when the Griz take on fellow FCS heavyweight Appalachian State in a much anticipated football game.

This year I am serving on the advance travel crew for the football team. It is an endeavor that I am extremely looking forward to and one that I hope to learn a lot from. How did I get so lucky that the first game I get to do this for is a regular season game for the ages? I have no idea.

Jimmy and myself will fly out of Missoula to Minneapolis. From there we will go to Atlanta. From Atlanta we will touchdown in Bristol Tri-City, Tennessee. From Bristol we will make the drive to Boone, NC. While helping with the travel/lodging/transportation logistics, I will also get to give our fans a first-hand account of the team’s activities through our social media channels…not a bad gig.

Have a great week everyone! Make sure to tune in (ESPN Gameplan) to the game at 4:30pm MT this Saturday as the Grizzlies take on App State, it should be a great one. Don’t Blink.