Monday, August 18, 2014

Being Tar Heels!

Kristi's Note:  Below you'll find my usual 'kick-off' post on this week's state- North Carolina!  I kind of fell in love with the state while doing my research and was totally stoked to share it with the kiddos tonight.  But first, I have to send a huge thank you and shout out to Corinne, Calib, Peyton and Hayden (and Mrs. Sattler!) for meeting us at the Zoo today for a ton of fun!  I think we have tried every summer they have been up to cross paths and I am thrilled that it finally happened.  We had a great time at the zoo and (Corinne, please pass this along to them) the boys were definitely wonderful to my twosome, even though they were a bit younger.  Pretty sure the Bean has a crush on Hayden and it was fun to see Noah and Calib walk next to each other - I think 2 Noah's = 1 Calib.  It turned out to be a beautiful day and we got to see them feed the penguins!  We had a really good time - definitely have to do it again soon!  Now, onward to The Tar Heel State!

I think we successfully navigated through New York last week, even managed to show the dynamic duo that it was more than just “the Big Apple”.  So this week we head down the Atlantic coast away to the home of Tar Heels, Earnhardt’s and Petty’s, mountains that look like Grandfather’s, a place that saw man fly for the first time and the birthplace of a Gatchel household staple.  At a loss?  So was I as I wasn’t overly familiar with the great state of North Carolina before I started my research but soon found plenty to get excited about!  So this week we’ll adventure through “The Old North State” to try to determine which shade of blue is better and if the best BBQ in the land comes from the East or the West side of the state.  So grab a Krispy Kreme, perfect making a left-hand turn , and brush off your putter and get ready ya’ll for a North Carolina adventure with the Gatchel’s!

When it comes to the lay of the land, at 500 miles from tip to tip North Carolina is about as diverse as they come.  With the Great Smoky Mountains  and Appalachian Mountains to the west and the ever shifting sands in the Outer Banks in the east the terrain (and the climate for that matter) varies significantly depending on what part of the state you are in.  Mount Mitchell at 6,684 feet is the highest peak in the Appalachians as well as the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.  Ranking seventh in the nation for miles of ocean coastline, the area off the North Carolina coast, specifically around Cape Hatteras is sometimes known as “The Graveyard of the Atlantic”.  This is due to the fact that near the Cape is where two major Atlantic flowing currents collide (cold from the Labrador Current in the North and warm from the Florida Gulf Current in the South) which create turbulent water and shallow sandbars (shoals) that sometimes extend more than 14 miles off the coast.  Navigating the coast was supremely difficult at best and led to the erection of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in1802.  At 210 feet is the tallest brick lighthouse in the US and in 1999 it actually had to be moved 1500 feet inland for protection from the ever evolving North Carolina coast.

On those same beaches, just over 100 years after the construction of the lighthouse, another historic feat took place on December 17, 1903.  Though North Carolina and Ohio have a hot debate going over who can actually claim to be responsible for the birth of aviation, it was at Kitty Hawk on that fateful day that Wilbur and Orville Wright successfully piloted their Wright Flyer for the very first time.  The first lasted 12 seconds and the plane (flown by Orville) traveled approximately 120 feet.  Three additional flights were made that day, with the longest being piloted by Wilbur for 59 seconds over a distance of 852 feet.  The Wright Brothers National Memorial is located in Kill Devil Hills near the location of the original flights.  Though the majority of their research, concepts and early testing were done in Ohio, the brothers chose the North Carolina coast for its privacy and the fact that the dunes offered the perfect sloped runway directly into the ocean breeze.

The actual land in North Carolina yields an agricultural bounty as well.  The state ranks first (nearly doubling the next closest state of Kentucky) in the production of tobacco.  An integral part of North Carolina’s economy, the tobacco industry has been in flux in the past decade, with the state’s overall production decreasing by nearly 36% in that time period.  North Carolina is also the nation’s leading producer of sweet potatoesNearly 50% of the country’s sweet potatoes are produced in North Carolina.  The state harvested approximately 50,000 acres of the tubers in 2010, more than the next three top producing states combined!  Another stellar crop – Christmas trees!  The state rates second in the nation, producing 20% of all the real Christmas trees sold in the US.  The industry nets the state approximately $100 million in yearly wholesale income.

The land can also claim to be the birthplace of some pretty iconic brands.  My personal favorite “famous for” from the state, in the city of New Bern on August 28, 1898 a drug store owner named Caleb Bradham served the first Pepsi!  Officially trademarked in 1902, Bradham wanted to create a fountain drink that was appealing and would aid in digestion and boost energy so he used pepsin and kola nuts in his original formula.  Though now headquartered in New York, you can still visit Bradham’s original shop in New Bern at The Pespi Store which bills itself as “The Birthplace of Pepsi Cola”.  If you prefer your sugar in the baker’s dozen variety, have no fear because Winston-Salem is the home of Krispy Kreme!  Famous for its soft yeast raised donuts, Krispy Kreme has been a staple in the southeast since the 1960’s and has been gaining rapid global presence in the last decade.  North Carolina is also the home of Cheerwine (more on this later in the week!), Hardee’s and Bojangles.

You know if it’s a Gatchel trip through the state a discussion on sports is a must.  I’ve already alluded to the epic rivalry (especially in basketball) between Duke and the University of North Carolina on the collegiate level.  Professionally, North Carolina is home to the Carolina Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes.   In 2011, North Carolina officially named NASCAR its state sport.  The NASCAR Hall of Fame is located in Charlotte, not too far from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Nearly 80% of all NASCAR teams call North Carolina home, including both of the famous families I included in tonight’s opening.  And if car racing as a state sport isn’t quite quirky enough for you, consider playing a round at Thistle Dhu (pronounced ‘this will do’) which is home to the first miniature golf course!  In 1919, James Wells Barber created the private miniature golf course on the Pinehurst Estate with holes ranging from 71 to 12 feet.  I have a feeling we may be celebrating this particular North Carolina ‘sport’ around here this week.

In addition to agriculture, a major producer for North Carolina’s economy is its importance to the nation’s banking industry.  Headquarters for one of the world’s largest banks, Bank of America, Charlotte, believe it or not, is actually the second largest banking center in America.  A further ‘believe it or not’ is North Carolina’s role in television and film productionWilmington is sometimes even known as “ Hollywood of the East” .  North Carolina has produced (and sometimes provided the setting for) such movies such as Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games and A Walk to Remember and is the backdrop for TV shows such as One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek and The Andy Griffith Show. Production of textiles and furniture is also important to the state’s economy.

Have I given you (and the Dynamic Duo!) enough surprisingly fun facts about North Carolina yet or can you handle more?  How about the fact that North Carolina is the birthplace of two US presidents.  Eleventh President James K. Polk was born in PinevillePolk’s achievements in office including breaking ground on the Washington monument, victory in the Mexican-American War and the opening of the Naval Academy and the Smithsonian Institute.  Andrew Johnson, seventeenth president, perhaps doesn’t compare quite as favorably.  Johnson had massive shoes to fill when he assumed duties as president upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Johnson may be best known as being the first President to be impeached (by the house, he was later acquitted by the Senate) for violating the Constitution.

Can you handle any more?  How about a trip to the Biltmore Estate?  Located in Asheville, at over 135,000 square feet, the Biltmore Estate is the largest private residence in America.  The Estate has over 250 rooms – glad I don’t have to keep that house clean and maintained.  But if I did, I could maybe rely on Lowe’s to help me do so.  And wouldn’t you know, the home improvement power house was founded in North Wilkesboro and is now headquartered in Mooresville.  The company started as a small hardware store in 1921 and now has over 1,754 in the US, Mexico and Canada.

Remember how I mentioned earlier the debate between East and West BBQ?  (Yes, that really is a FESTIVAL all about which is better in NC)  Well I can’t say I feel strongly one way or the other, but I knew BBQ had to be on the menu this week.  So I started it off with this awesome recipe for Carolina Style Pork Barbeque.  I would consider this to be eastern style since it lacks any tomato base.  Based on a little research, I found it was best served with this Red BBQ Slaw – on top or on the side up to you!  And of course, there must be dessert!  I made a Humminbird Cake to start us off this week.  The first known copy of the recipe was published in Southern Living in 1978 (though it is said to have been a southern staple since the mid-19th century) by Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro.  The magazine has stated that it is the most requested recipe in its production.  If you want to go super authentic – here’s the original!  (I actually used the original recipe to make it tonight)  I have a feeling this one may be making a repeat appearance at the Gatchel’s…

Alright, consider yourself officially immersed in “The Tarheel State” (yep, it officially has two state nick names).  I have really been looking forward to sharing all this with the kids (putt-putt, pepsi and krispy kremes – they’re on cloud nine I tell ya!).  I’m sure you don’t believe me, but I have yet to come across a state that hasn’t really sucked me in and gotten me excited about sharing it  (OK, I will admit that Montana stretched my abilities but the kids will STILL tell you that Evel Knievel is from there) and obviously North Carolina has given me MORE than enough to keep us busy this week.  So until next time…

North Carolina Fun Fact of the Day:  The first English colony in America was located on Roanoke Island. Walter Raleigh founded it. The colony mysteriously vanished with no trace except for the word "Croatoan" scrawled on a nearby tree.  (Really wanted to get more into this, but thought it might be a little too much for the kiddos to handle this week.  If you’re interested, google “Lost Colony” and have lots of fun learning!)

Super close for the penguin feed

The keeper going in right where we were standing


Noah asked if we could exchange Mikayla for a penguin....

What a crew

They couldn't resist

I know this is kind of hard to see, but there's an orangutan in that box.  I don't know what went down at the orangutan exhibit last night, but the way the orangutans were spread out and laying it looked like the after effects of one wild frat party!  This one's face was literally pressed up against the glass

Hmmm, wonder who this elephant is

In flight

And getting eaten by a fish

To bee or not to bee?

A butterfly!

Look at that little miss surrounded by all those handsome boys

Posing with flamingos

When polar bears attack!

Red Slaw

Shredded Pork


My very beautiful Hummingbird cake

Between bites Grant said "This is so not going to work, I am not sharing this one."

Three layers of yummy goodness

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