Past the Whispering Pines

Speeding down one crooked country road after another, sunshine, coffee, a soft breeze and my love, my man beside of me. His hands rest gently on the steering wheel as he guides us toward some small garage in between Uwharrie National Forest and the North Carolina Coast. And by garage, I mean a small disaster of a space connected to the driveway of someone’s home. But this was important. For years, Caleb wanted to install an 8.1 liter engine in his ’76 Blazer and he’d finally found the one (not a reference to me)—and at a good price. The only catch was the pickup. (Maybe later, I’ll share some photos of what the engine looks like now, almost completely finished.)

When we arrived, the engine’s seller walked out of the house sleepy-headed, bare-footed, and gun-toting. He talked a mile-a minute, curses flying as freely as the wind, and stepped around various pieces of cars in his garage. The cement was black with engine oil, and so were his feet. Eh. I’m still amazed he walked out of the garage uninjured. Well, that he walked out of the garage at all. 

So, how do I fit into this story? As I said, I was there for the man I love, Caleb. (Little did I know, he would propose the very next weekend. But that’s another story for another day. Don’t worry, it’ll happen.) I was so excited when he called me late in the week before (literally the evening before) our Saturday adventure. It’s so funny to me, how opposite we are—me constantly having a plan and being anxious when it doesn’t go accordingly, him being his casual, easy-going, “whatever happens happens” self.

Either way, I was excited to spend the day adventuring with my guy—even if the path led to this junky little garage. 

What neither of us expected was how beautiful the drive would be. Our map took us through Whispering Pines and onto Vass, NC. (I couldn’t help but sing a little Zac Brown there.) We passed through the heart of Vass along our way, and as we stopped to refuel, we noticed this small, brick shopping center across the street. And also, a coffee shop. I love random, small town coffee shops. I even like to collect the sleeves from my to-go cups. But I also have a peanut allergy, so the first thing I did was look at the name so I could give them a call: Crossraods Coffee Co.

Honestly, it’s rare to find a local coffee shop that doesn’t have some kind of peanut butter drink. I get it. People love peanut butter. But for people like me, it makes fun experiences like new coffee shops and restaurants nerve-wracking, disappointing, excruciating, and sometimes—exhilarating. Thankfully, when I called, I found out Crossroads is one of the good ones. 

At the time, Caleb was on a mission. The engine was just a few more miles down the road. So, we kept driving. But we agreed the town looked like a fun place to explore, so we’d stop on the way back. 

And we did. I met the kindest baristas who even offered to let me read the ingredients once I knew what drink I wanted, just to make sure none of it was “manufactured with” or “processed in the same facility as” peanuts. Everything looked good, the shop’s atmosphere was incredibly calming and relaxing, and the outdoor seating was perfect for a beautiful North Carolina fall day.


On that day, Caleb and I made a plan. Yes, you read that right. Now, our plan is firm enough for my planner’s heart to feel good about and open enough for his relaxed pace. If you’re wondering what that plan is, here you go: it’s to travel as much of our beautiful home state as possible. We want to find the hidden gems, like Crossroad’s Coffee in Vass. We want to find something different about the same “old” place we grew up in. I think we’ll see just about anywhere through new eyes because we’re seeing these places for the first time together. Our stories converge, we share our pasts, and we make new memories.

Part of our decision is practical. Both of us have dreams of visiting California, Nevada, and places across the seas. But as we build our marriage relationship, we also want to build our finances. So, yes, traveling close to home is also financially feasible. But as we’ve discovered, North Carolina offers such variety, history, culture, and people to allow for endless exploration. 

That day Caleb got an engine and I got an adventure, but our road trip gave us so much more. We’re excited to research, plan, and visit all these wonderful places. And the beautiful thing is? They’re right here at home. 

P.S. As for the following weekend, maybe you can guess: We started planning our next adventure. 

You can find information about Vass, NC, here. If you want to connect with Crossraods Coffee Co., you can go to their website linked in the text, follow them on Instagram, or like their page on Facebook.

One response to “Past the Whispering Pines”

  1. Kim Livengood Avatar
    Kim Livengood

    Love it, my Simple Adventurer. Love you, most. ❤


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