Picture
The Highway 55 bridge into Oriental
_ Dew marks the time, the morning still fresh.  It's early for me-- not to be awake but to be on the road-- but today beckoned for a break from the ordinary and the town of Oriental is close enough for a day trip but feels so far away.  With the destination set, my soundtrack, Dustin O'Halloran seems to be assisting with the rising of the sun.  The notes carry lazily out of my open windows and into the forests surrounding these country roads.  Sunlight trickles down otherwise unseen structures as spiders dance their way from tree to grass.  A few cars and outraged seagulls find themselves stuck in a morning traffic jam as we are obliged to wait for a ferry to cross the Neuse River. 

 

A short time after being dropped off on dry land I cross the highway 55 bridge and catch my first glance of Oriental.  Not even a minute later, I am out of the car and up the stairs of one of my favorite coffee shops, The Bean.  Today, as always, the shop is teeming with locals all addressing one another by first name and yet they stop to welcome all newcomers.  After some witty banter with the staff, the locals continue on with their daily schedules leaving me relatively alone.  I take the opportunity to grab a table and spread out all of my reading materials.  This morning, the slow pace of the town coerces me away from my usual shot of caffeine and into a relaxing hot chocolate.

 

I drink my hot chocolate and savor a cinnamon and pecan muffin at a leisurely pace, watching the shrimp boats glide upon the glassy water of the small enclosed harbor.  My snack done, I set off to explore the town making sure that I walk around some of the neighborhoods.  Oriental seems the quintessential, small American town with perfect old homes, some even with the white picket fences. Time doesn't seem to matter here and as I stroll, the locals smiling and waving, I feel as if I could have grown up here--or maybe it's somewhere I will find myself in the future.

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Shrimp boats in the harbor
_ It seems that while time doesn’t matter here, it also doesn’t stop and after walking the neighborhoods and popping into the various shops and galleries, the day has reached the lunchtime hour.  I idly cross another road with no traffic and make my way to my favorite lunch spot, M&M’s Café.  I have one of their signature salads and add a piece of the local catch on top.  I always come to Oriental to get away from my daily routines and I can truly say that I always leave feeling relaxed and revitalized.  If you find yourself on the east coast of North Carolina, make sure you make your way over to the small town of Oriental, a place that takes you in as one of its own.

Picture
Waterfront park in one of Oriental's neighborhoods



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    Brian Sonberg

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