Finding a Thing We Do: NC State Park Bucket List


A lot of couples have a “thing.” You know, a thing that they do.

Chuck and I don’t really have a thing. I guess we try to find the best pizza in our area, but that’s more like a quest than a thing. We also test out the calamari and the buffalo wings, but I don’t really consider either of those a thing.

I kinda wanted a thing. A couple thing. A thing that would drive us to do something fun or have adventures.

Outdoorsy Bucket List

A long while back, before I met C, I visited my cousin in Wyoming. We made a day trip to Yellowstone National Park which, by the way, is so incredibly cool. In the gift shop, I spotted this passport book that you can stamp every time you visit a national park.

I think it was something like this.

I considered getting it. “Maybe I could make that my thing,” I told my cousin. “Maybe I could visit all of the national parks in the country.”

She was encouraging, but I ultimately put it back. Realistically, I was working a dead-end job that wasn’t in my field and had no idea if I’d ever have the money to make those trips.

I ended up getting laid off a few months later, so, yeah, pretty right about that.

The goal stayed with me, though, and I never stopped thinking about it.

On a recent trip to Boone, C and I decided to take a hike at Elk Knob State Park, which was about 25 minutes from our cabin. While we made our way up the windy mountain road, I asked C if we could have an outdoorsy bucket list.

With every national park being absolutely unattainable, I suggested hitting every state park in North Carolina. There are 34 state parks and even at one a year, I felt that we could do it. Quite a few are within an hour’s drive meaning we could hit more than that.

C was on board and we found ourselves a thing. We’d visit every state park in North Carolina.

Photo // After the Knot

Photo // After the Knot

With a 2-mile hike, we checked Elk Knob off the list.

We’ve already been to Umstead State Park a couple of times and I’m trying to decide if it should count. I don’t have an “official” picture of us at the park and driving by just to take one feels like cheating.

For Memorial Day weekend, we took advantage of the below average temperatures and drove up to Durham to visit Eno River State Park. I purposely chose one of the more difficult trails for our hike because I knew A) we needed the exercise and B) there would be fewer people, fewer dogs, and fewer children.

Photo // After the Knot

Photo // After the Knot


I have this grand idea for painting on our wall a giant map of North Carolina with a photo by each state park. I don’t really have the artistic talent for it, but we’ll see what happens.

So what about you? Do you and your partner have a thing?