Coming back from a Spring Outing last year, I happily took the off-ramp to the newly completed Highway 70 bypass around Goldsboro. No more stop lights. No more traffic. Just 4 lanes of divided highway, and I'd be that much closer to home...closer to work...closer to after-school activities...closer to the stress and hectic lifestyle that is modern America.
And as I eased off of the by-pass, I realized that I ended up several miles past Wilber's. That icon to North Carolina wood-smoked, whole-hog barbecue that has welcomed travelers for over 50 years was nothing more than a speck in my rear-view mirror. And, I realized that with this new by-pass, countless families heading towards the beach, highway travelers, and, yes, dads and kids heading to their Spring Outing weekends would miss out on the chance to stop, stretch their legs, fill up on a plate of barbecue, green beans and corn sticks, and, if adventurous enough, walk around back to see the pits where the hard, painstaking work takes place to make wood-smoked barbecue.
Thus, that day as I drove towards Raleigh, I decided to make my Chief's Challenge an inspiration for all of us to avoid those highway by-passes that quickly return us to the routines of life and to instead give the Arapahoe Nation's Big Guides, Little Guides, and Princesses a reason to take a pause, to spend time together, and to get off the beaten path.
This Chief's Challenge has three parts. I want you to visit 2 North Carolina state parks to experience the beauty of this wonderful state, and I want you to visit 2 North Carolina historic or cultural sites to learn of the sacrifices and successes of those who were here before us, and lastly, I want you to sit down at a good ole North Carolina, wood-smoked, barbecue restaurant and savor the pure heaven that is NC barbecue, cornbread, or a vegetable plate. As I told the Arapahoe Nation at Fall Outing, gas fired doesn't count, and brisket doesn't count- because that ain't barbecue!
Now, many have strong opinions about east vs. west, vinegar vs. ketchup, and whole-hog vs. shoulders. Being a native of Beaufort County, NC, I too have my firmly held opinions (even though I have been known to leave a clean plate at red Bridges and Lexington No. 1). But for this Chief's Challenge, as long as it has a snout and is cooked with wood, it counts.
I want you to make a day of it. See this great state and its great people. Talk to the park rangers, the historians, the pit masters, the waitresses. And if you do this, you'll earn the "Off the Beaten Path" Chief's Challenge patch- but more importantly, you'll create a wonderful memory with your child.
More information about the Chief's Challenge 2017 available HERE