“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children”
Native American Proverb
State 38: North Carolina - April 26,2018
We woke up at a Walmart in Raleigh, NC rejuvenated and ready for the days events! Yesterday, we visited the Billy Graham Library, and we could not wait to see what adventures lie in store today. The first task of the day is to drive across town to tour the North Carolina Statehouse. As usual, I first called to inquire about the scheduling of the capitol tours, and the persnickety receptionist I spoke with said, “Tours are only available for school classes or groups of 20 or more”. Naturally, I inquired if there were any school classes or groups of 20 or more with tours scheduled today, to which she responded, “Yes, but you cannot join them”. I was shocked! I have occasionally encountered capitols who only offered group tours, and all have allowed us to join ones scheduled for the day. How rude!!! Albeit not feeling particularly welcomed, off we went to the North Carolina Capitol Building!
After parking Rosie, we ascended the grand external staircase to enter the statehouse. While passing through security, we encountered a class of grammar school children, who were here to tour the capitol. I approached the teacher, and asked if we could tag along. After offering no objections, I thanked the teacher, and apologized for not bringing her an apple. After completing 37 statehouse tours, occasionally we have found ourselves paired up with school groups, which you can read more about by clicking here and here. Depending on how good of a guide we have and how well the children behave, we usually have few objections to touring with school children. Children have such a curious and inquisitive view of the world around them, so in many instances the presence of kids on the capitol tour actually enhances the experience.
The class of students and the Cross Country Couple gathered around the guide's desk waiting for the tour to begin. The constant bickering of the children filled the narrow tall corridor with the sound of echoed chatter. All of a sudden, one of the tour guides stood up from behind the desk, pointed at the crowd and yelled, “YOU TWO!!!”. The room instantly went silent while everyone looked at each other attempting to identify who the “YOU TWO” were! Nate and I included! The guide once again yelled, “YOU TWO COME HERE!!!”. Nate and I looked away from each other, and simultaneously noticed the tour guide was pointing directly at us! The school children sheepishly moved aside clearing a narrow path for our approach to the desk. Me thinks me may have found me self in a wee bit of trouble!!! (FYI I can speak like that because I'm ¼ Irish LOL) Would we be thrown out of the capitol, ticketed, arrested or worse? What would happen to the Cross Country Couple??? Dun Dun Dun!!!
As I stared at our guides extended finger, I had a flashback to the 1992 legal drama movie, “A Few Good Men” starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore. I was expecting the next words out of the tour guides mouth to be, “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!” Although the distance to the tour guides desk was mere feet away, it was the most stressful few steps of our entire cross country trip! Upon arriving at the desk, the guide asked if we were Chaperones, and Nate and I simultaneously and vigorously shook our heads back and forth signifying “No”. “WELL THEN WHO ARE YOU???, the tour guide boldly announced to a still silent room. I replied to the inquiry with my typical spiel:
“I am Lori, this is my husband Nathan, and we are the Cross Country Couple. We are on a year long cross country journey to discover America and find a new state to call home. We are from Connecticut, but do not like living there. We are spending a minimum of one week in each state, and at the end of our journey we will choose a new home state! North Carolina is our 38th state, and we are at the capitol to learn more about North Carolina”.
When most people hear of our journey, we are usually bombarded with endless questions of curiosity such as: How do you earn money? Where do you shower? Where do you sleep? We always make a point to graciously answer all questions. We are firm believers in living your life to the fullest each day, and hope our journey inspires others to do the same! After publicly proclaiming my elevator speech to a silent room packed with teachers, police officers, tour guides and children, no one asked a single question! The banter between the children resumed, the teachers returned to attempting to gain control of their class, and the capitol police returned to illegally searching visitors at the main entrance. The tour guide behind the desk at least put her finger away, but continued to give me the stink eye! GEEZ! North Carolinian's are a tough crowd!
The guide stated we could not join the tour with the school children, and no individual tours were being offered. I found this very frustrating considering there were five people behind the desk who were wearing shirts identifying themselves as tour guides. I asked if the House and Senate were currently in session, and the guide stated she did not know. I asked the same question to the tour guide sitting behind the other tour guide who did not know, and he did not know either! I then asked the same question to the tour guide sitting behind the first tour guide and to the left of the second tour guide who both did not know, and the third tour guide did not know either! “Ya’ll work in the Statehouse! How can you not know if the legislature is in session?”, I said to myself in a moment of irritation”. ARGH! ARGH! ARGH! Although I am patient person, the situation is more frustrating than my visit to the Alabama Statehouse, which you can read more about by clicking here. To make matters worse, there were no self guided tour books available! The Cross County Couple was forced to forge forth on this adventure without a map or tour guide!
Since I possessed neither tour guide nor self guided booklet, I am only able to describe my visit to the North Carolina Statehouse based on my personal observations. Due to the North Carolina’s Government’s inconsideration to visitors who wish to move to the state, I received no resources during my visit to confirm or dispute any of my observations. Since I refuse to risk portraying the North Carolina Statehouse in a inaccurate manner, I will just post the pictures of my visit for your viewing pleasure.
As we ventured throughout the great unknown, which was the North Carolina Statehouse, one fact became clearly evident! The North Carolina Capitol in which we currently stood was more of a museum than the head of the state’s government. We have occasionally come across state capitols who outgrew their current building, constructed a new one, and converted the original into a museum. “Where is the current North Carolina Statehouse?”, I wondered to myself. To answer this question, I would venture back to the tour guides desk to make an inquiry? Wish me luck!!!
I arrived back at the tour guide's desk, and the same five tour guides were still sitting behind the counter. In a calm, cheerful and polite manner, I asked the lady behind the desk who had previously pointed her finger at me, “Where is the current North Carolina Statehouse? The lady rolled her eyes, spun around in her seat, and whispered with the four other tour guides seated behind her. In viewing the frantic garbled whispers between the five of them, you would think I had asked a soul searching philosophical quagmire such as: “What is the meaning of life?”, “What is love?” or the most elusive question of all, “What came first the chicken or the egg?”. In actuality, I asked a state capitol tour guide a simple question whose answer should be within the scope of their knowledge; Where is the official North Carolina Statehouse? Apparently, between the five tour guide’s, not one knew the answer!!!
I am a patient man with plenty of time of my hands. I stood there curious to see how long this meeting of the minds would last! I pulled out my phone and started the timer. Around the five-minute mark, the five of them were still huddled behind the desk whispering to each other. When I attempted to check in on their progress, the lady whom I had originally asked the question, spun back around in her chair, put her finger to her lip, said “SHHHHHH!”, spun back around, and continued her heated whispers with the other four tour guides! I cannot believe I just got “SHHHH’ED! Around this time, Lori offered to look up the location of the new statehouse on the phone, but at this point, I was more curious to discover the outcome of this meeting. Around the ten-minute mark, I publicly announced “DON’T WORRY WE WILL FIND THE NEW CAPITOL BUILDING OURSELVES!!!”, and exited the building!!!
As it turns out, the new capitol building is located one block away, and is actually visible from the steps of the old capitol building. Upon arriving at North Carolina’s current statehouse, we were shocked by what we saw! Most capitol buildings are constructed in Neo-Classical Architecture complete with marble columns, a central room topped with a massive rotunda and legislative chambers flanking either side as such is indicative of 19th Century design. While the aforementioned design elements were present in the new North Carolina Statehouse, the architect’s design for the building was instead executed in the genre of Mid-Century Modernism, indicative of the building’s 1961 construction. I absolutely love the funky and swanky feel of this building! Please see the pictures below!
Upon entering, I was pleased and perplexed to discover there was no illegal searches at the door. Why were there ample armed capitol Cops with airport style security and metal detecting wands at the Old State House Museum, but upon entering the current North Carolina Statehouse, I was greeted by a pleasant old security guard sitting behind a desk? Makes no sense to me since this is where the legislators actually meet, but who am I to judge? We had a friendly chat with the security guard who stated there were no tours of the new capitol building either, but invited us to, “wander about”.
The new North Carolina Capitol Building was spectacular, and unlike any other we had encountered on our cross country trip. While most internal grand staircases are made from metal and marble, the center of the staircase before us was covered in plush red carpeting, and roped off as if celebrities were about to arrive! Once ascending the grand staircase, we arrived in the central room of the statehouse. Typically, the central space of a capitol is vast, open and empty. However, the central room of this capitol was dominated by a massive water feature complimented by a magnificent and retro chandelier suspended above. The roof of most capitol buildings are closed to the public. On top of the statehouse are four large roof top terraces and gardens on each corner of the building easily accessible by large glass doors. The aforementioned design elements added a sense of organic tranquility to what would typically would have been a stark cold government building. The new North Carolina Statehouse was the most amazing and unexpected capitol building we have encountered on our cross country trip. Please see the pictures below.
After departing the new North Carolina Statehouse, we drove across town for the Cross Country Couple's Roadside Attraction for North Carolina: The worlds biggest world! Since the Earth itself is the worlds biggest Earth, technically this Earth is either the 2nd biggest Earth, or the biggest Earth on Earth. Did you get all that? LOL! Nevertheless, you have to admit this is one ginormous globe! Built in 2012 courtesy of a 4 million dollar grant from the State Employees Credit Union or SECU, the worlds biggest world appears as if it fell out of orbit, and came to rest against a skyscraper in downtown Raleigh. However, there is more than meets the eye with this 72 foot diameter Earth! Inside of this gargantuan globe is a new wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science called the Nature Research Center. The Nature Research Center contains a three story multimedia area with a state of the art audio-visual technologies theater featuring multi-channel surround sound. The theater within the giant globe seats 100 people, and features a 45-foot high-definition screen!
Talk about an attention grabber! By this point on my cross country trip, we have seen: the world's biggest chainsaw & shotgun (Click Here), the world's biggest bottle of catsup (Click Here), and even the world's biggest Jolly Green Giant (Click Here). However, standing at the base of the world's biggest world was our most impressive roadside attraction thus far! Nate had to cross the street and walk two blocks back to be able capture the worlds biggest Earth on Earth in the pictures below!
Since Earth Day was just a few days ago, the timing of this roadside attraction is perfect! While we are on the topic, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a Happy Earth Day! Humans have done more damage to our plant in the past 100 years than in the previous million years! For over 10,000 years, the Native American’s, who inhabited what we now know as the US, understood the necessity of being a good steward to the land, but sadly our capitalistic society has placed profits and progress before people and preservation. Whether you do something as grand as installing solar panels on your roof or something as simple as using cloth shopping bags, I ask everyone to enact one thing aimed at making our world a greener place. We all must do our part to heal our Earth so future generations can enjoy what has been freely given to us. I would like to leave you all with one of my favorite Native American Proverbs which states:
“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children”
After departing the worlds biggest world, we drove 85 miles East to the town of Greenville where we found a Walmart to spend the night.