When people ask me where I’m from, I lie. I do this partly out of malice, and partly because it’s so annoying to have to explain the concept of Down East: the marshy countryside comprised of small communities that each pretend to have their own unique identity. (Sure, Otwaians, Harkers Islanders are weird. Whatever.) So I say that I’m from Beaufort. Because that’s where my happy place is, anyway.
Beaufort has less than 5,000 residents and was ranked in February as “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel Magazine readers. I did not vote in the contest, because I know damn well that it won’t be so cool once its not a small town anymore. I mean, I’ve waited tables at like a hundred different restaurants in the area, and I love the dumb tourists that come in and give me their money, but I still think it’s best we leave it a secret. And don’t berate me for giving away any secrets, y’all. I doubt I’ll lose sleep at night knowing my average of 20 readers per week will flock to the town on holiday.
I recently visited Beaufort with a few goals in mind: getting tan, drunk, and taking photos for a practice travel post on my wildly popular and quickly growing blog. This didn’t work out, at all. Well….one of the goals did. Shit, man, I was incredibly successful at getting super hammered and wandering all over town, but I didn’t really get much of a tan, and I stopped taking pictures at some point (thank GOD).
Plus, as soon as I snapped a few photos of pretty sailboats and the sunset, a HUGE storm came rolling in, the sky turned scary black, we all made Take Shelter jokes, and had to sprint to take shelter in the nearest bar. This was the beginning of the end for us. After waiting for the downpour to pass over us, we headed to our initial goal bar, my favorite spot in the world, the place that my boyfriend and I met, and where I have made grown men cry-the Pub.
The Backstreet Pub, Beaufort, NC
There was a customer appreciation event, but, because of the rain, the staff had packed up the picnic food that we were planning on making our dinner. We did see a pretty fucking awesome band, called Vagabond Swing. These guys were from Louisiana, and were awesome. I ended up hanging out with various members all weekend. One guy called me a tease. I won’t go into further deail, so I guess he’s right.
So, after Jon and I stayed for a few beers, we headed to the local coffee shop/liquor bar/wine store, The Cru, for a quick pizza.
However, once there, we ran into a sailing crew that we had just met. These guys were pretty cool. They had come up through the Panama Canal, and I really enjoyed sharing Central America stories with this one old British man. Anyway, of course they offered to buy us a shot…and then offered to secretly open yet another place in town-
Since we were apparently about to participate in an illegal after hour party*, we inquired about illegal after hour burgers-they assured us that it was possible. EXCEPT, after arrival, and after probably a hundred more pints, we were told that the grill could not be turned on. I don’t remember the reason for this. I just know that we were super drunk and super hungry and by then everywhere serving food was closed. So we were fucked. Eventually we made our way back to the Pub, and picked up a member of the band to go take shots with at the worst place in the world, The Dockhouse.
The rest is a blur of regret and audacity. I won’t be showing my face in that town for at least a month. Maybe not until next summer. Fuck it, I have friends in the mountains now (for my 3 international readers, I live in North Carolina-which stretches from the Blue Ridge mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. I used to live by the ocean, now I’m right in the middle of the State-making it super easy to visit either beautiful place over a weekend). If I feel the need to flee the appalling city heat of Raleigh, I’ll just visit Asheville, and try not to get quite so blacked out.
But I still love Beaufort.
*Disclaimer: Nothing we did there was illegal. Except for the Taiwanese hookers with the heroin balloons. But I didn’t invite them, I promise.