Probably the first New Zealanders in Robeson County..

Lumberton is a small town in Robeson County, North Carolina, not quite on the interstate, so we had to take an NZ style-road, complete with oncoming traffic. This would have been fine, but due to our stop in Myrtle Beach, we were around an hour behind compared to coming directly from Charleston, meaning night (and a torrent of rain) was falling. Quite a complicated little entrance for us!

The ‘bitch’ successfully directed us to Stephen and Angelica’s palatial property where we found them waiting for us on the porch.

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Forgot to take one of the house ourselves, stole this from Stephen’s FB!

EIGHT YEARS after meeting Stephen (as well as Matt and John) in Paris on New Year’s Eve (more on this in the next post), it seemed like we picked up straight where we left off. We jumped into their SUV and headed towards Fayetteville for dinner at a southern-style buffet! Everything I tried I thoroughly enjoyed! We also had our first taste of sweet tea, the most popular drink in the south!

After this we went to a sports bar called World of Beer – it even had a few drops from NZ! We decided to stick with local flavours, and each of us enjoyed a “flight” of four beers, what we would normally just call a tasting tray.

It was also a privilege to talk politics with Stephen (who’s dad was a Congressman for 20 years) and Gel! Stephen’s a walking encyclopaedia of fun facts!

Stephen also thoroughly enjoyed introducing us to heaps of people as “my friends from New Zealand,” which was hilarious. Seemingly everyone in Robeson county wants to come to NZ!

We got home and had a few wines and a great night talking smack and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company!

The next morning, Gel had to go to court. No, not because she was in trouble, but she is a DA (acting for the state), so Stephen took us along for some real-life Law ‘n Order. After the session (around midday), we met the judge and she asked us what on earth we were doing in Robeson!

That afternoon, we headed to Wilmington, the third of the three southern port cities, and the home of the USS North Carolina (a battleship that was a major player in the Pacific theatre of World War II) and Michael Jordan, and after some sushi we braved the cold to tour the ship.

This was an incredible experience that the four of us really enjoyed. That thing has some guns (even without its full original arsenal), while the tour took us through most of the ship, except for the bridge. I kept saying “You sunk my battleship” all the time. I thought it was amusing, not sure what the others thought! Here’s some photos:

Matt finished school (he’s a teacher) and met us for a few drinks at a local pub in Wilmington, before we went to Indochine, which was very much like its old namesake in Christchurch! Sara and I are always partial to Asian cooking!

After dinner we went back to Matt’s house in Whiteville (in between Wilmington and Lumberton), and met his lovely wife Mary Ashton, who after finishing work at 10 baked us some cookies! We watched the end of Monday Night Football with another beer, before retiring for the night.

It was an absolute pleasure to hang out with these guys again after so many years, and will be a highlight of our trip through the states.

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The next day we were back on the road, heading inland to mountain-town Asheville to catch up with a Kiwi! Stay tuned to find out who!

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