North Carolina. You might not know much about it outside of the Carolina Panthers (there will be another chance Cam Newton), or that it's the place where Michael Jordan honed his ballerific skills...but this place is one of America's best kept secrets.
There are a few things North Carolina does well - beer, BBQ, and beaches! I hear they make a mean sweet tea, but I don't really drink it, so you ain't heard that from me. What I CAN tell you, is that it's home to some of the most beautiful coastlines east of the Mississippi. I've hit up Myrtle Beach (which is actually in South Carolina, but just a short hop from N.C.) and Carolina Beach, outside of Wilmington. Both are easily accessible from Raleigh/Durham, where I stayed during my visit. Texas hack - take a trip to Corpus Christi or Port Aransas, because you and I both know that Galveston just ain't it.
On a recent trip to Raleigh/Durham, I was scouting around looking for local treasures with a good friend (and designated tour guide), and somehow ended up in one of the most intriguing places I've ever seen. My guide says, "I'm taking you to a treehouse club." My mind flashed to Mickey Mouse for a hot second, and those of you with small children will understand when I say I started hummin' "hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog." I chuckled. A treehouse? Seriously? I look down at my open toes and start wondering how far up I'll have to climb, and whether or not the thing will support my weight. I'm thinking of a little shack, far up in a tree swaying back and forth, and a small hole in the bottom to climb through. I'm thinking rope burn on this rickety ladder I'm about to climb up. I'm thinking space for about 4.5 grown people as long as nobody is over 5'6. I'm thinking I think too much.
I was not prepared for what I saw when we rolled up on the thing, way out in rural Roseboro, N.C.
It wasn't your ol' run of the mill He-Man Woman Haters Club either (you know I had to reference the Little Rascals). Think more along the lines of R. Kelly's backyard party where everyone is steppin' in the name of love and don't see nuthin' wrong with a little bump n' grind. It's a big house built around a very big tree. And way out in the middle of nowhere (no offense Roseboro), right behind the owner's real house, the party don't stop. I'm a fairly decent writer, and I'm having trouble finding words to express how enamored I was! Up and down stairs, in and out of cubbyholes, back doors that lead to new spaces...there was so much to see - inside and out. The entire place made of wood. The furnishings are a mash up of things collected over time, so nothing "matches," but it all makes sense. Each chair, each mural, each signature of those lucky enough to visit scribbled on the wall (including mine), is a part of its genius.
This juke joint in a tree is the brain child of owner, operator, carpenter, master BBQ pit man, bartender, and entertainer extraordinaire - Buddy Melvin. He started building "The Treehouse" around a nearly 16-feet 'round water oak in 1997 and has been adding to it ever since. Here's where it REALLY gets interesting...he's got BOOM-BOOM rooms people! And a shower in the ladies restroom. Because you just. never. know. I kid you not (check the pic below). But Buddy admits nothing and leaves everything to the imagination.
You probably won't find The Treehouse on any "top things to do in N.C." list - although, you should. Shame on you oh-ye-faithful creators of top lists! But I mean, have you ever heard of Roseboro? Me either. Don't get sassy you native North Carolinians. You have to know The Treehouse is there. And thanks to me - now you do. And this is kinda off topic, but why the hell do so many cities in North Carolina end in 'boro' anyway? Greensboro, Goldsboro, Grantsboro, Mufreesboro, Carrboro (ROLL CALL)...I could go on. I'm seriously curious though. SO curious that I actually Googled, "Why do so many cities in North Carolina end in 'boro'?" In case you're interested, here's the best (and most legit sounding) answer:
"Can't believe I am responding to this, but here goes...You will find the ending 'boro', which is short for borough, in states which made up the original 13 colonies. This is because back in England since the middle ages the word "borough" was used to describe townships or areas granted some form of self government. This English concept and word were brought over here as the English formed settlements in "New" England. Americans adopted this traditional word and used it in places like Pittsburgh - also another way of saying 'boro'."
Hmph. The more you know. Without further ado...here it is...in all its glory. And it's pretty damn impressive.
Downright awesome right? Friggin' right.
I stopped by the place in the middle of the day, so there wasn't much going on, but I got a personal tour from Buddy (he accepts donations to help keep her going). My friend has seen the place in full swing, and tells me it's worth my trip back to catch it when it's on and poppin'. The fat girl in me will go back just to taste Buddy's grillin' technique, so no arm twist necessary. I dug around for a picture with people inside so you can understand just how massive the thing is, but no luck. Perhaps that's the point. Everything that happens there stays there...
This is one of those times when you just have to see it to believe it. I stood in the middle of the main room - a.k.a the dance floor - thinking about what kind of buzz would be happening if it were full of people. You can almost hear it if you close your eyes. The Treehouse embodies a special spirit and you can feel it. You gotta just go. If you ever wanna plan a road trip to somewhere you've never been...the Carolinas are full of culture and history. And if you decide to drive there - please read my post on successfully road trippin with friends before you go (shameless plug).
They don't do the place justice, but here's a few more of my pics in The Treehouse...and while you're at it, press play on R. Kelly's video down there to put yourself in the mood.
Here's a few more not-so-well-known, but totally worth it, reasons to visit the Tar Heel state:
Big Ed's Country Market. The biscuits though. They are EVERYTHING. And grits that make me miss my granny even more. Houston hack - Frank's Grill.
The Haw River. Awesome place for pictures, especially if you have a drone! Texas hack - tubing down the Guadalupe (which is even better because you can bring booze).
The burgers. Have you ever had a Carolina style burger? *church fan and faint*...it might not be for everyone, but I was in heaven. Chili and coleslaw. Game, changed. Houston hack - Hubcap Grill.
Asheville. I've never been, but I hear it's like the beer mecca. And OMG. They have a beer week. #sold. Houston hack - 8th Wonder Brewery. It's like a mini beer fest everyday in your back yard.
Queen Anne's Revenge. If you're a cool nerd like me, you'll enjoy a museum all about the pirate Blackbeard (awesome attraction for the young and curious travelers in your crew). Texas hack - cruise the Black Dragon pirate ship in Port Isabel.
If you make it out to Buddy's Treehouse, be sure to leave him a donation for a full scale tour!
Until next time...go, get #lostinfamiliarity