When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

21 November 2009

Good luck winning the Great Mail Race!

To Mrs. Shelley's Class at Bon Air Elementary, Kokomo, Indiana:

My name is Barry Campbell, and I live in Chapel Hill with my wife, Carrie Weiner Campbell, my two dogs, Josie and Bella, and my cat, Mr. Gato.

I work in the computer industry and I know Scott Abel as a fellow technical writer and social network enthusiast; when he asked his friends on Facebook to write your class from every state in the Union, I volunteered to represent North Carolina. 

So I am writing you a short letter that includes some pictures of North Carolina.  I hope you like it. 

If you have questions about North Carolina, and you’ve looked them up at the library or on the Internet and you still don’t know the answer, write to me at barrycampbell@fastmail.fm (or my return mailing address, above) and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.

This is a map of North Carolina, showing the major cities, towns and highways.  (Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina; I live in Chapel Hill, which is about 25 miles northwest of Raleigh.)


North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the country, and as of 2008 North Carolina was the fastest growing state east of the Mississippi River.  About 9.2 million people are estimated to live here – 15% more than the number in the 2000 Census, which is the last time the federal Government actually did a formal count.

Geographically, North Carolina is divided into three zones: the mountains, the Piedmont (which is where Chapel Hill is located), and the coastal plain. 

Blowing Rock, NC (in the Blue Ridge Mountains)

Bodie Island Lighthouse on North Carolina’s Outer Banks

Every year, a lot of travelers and tourists come to North Carolina just to go to the mountains or to the beach, but business travel also brings a lot of people here: Charlotte, NC is one of the most important cities in the country for banking and financial services, and the Research Triangle Park (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) area is an important center for high technology, including computers and biotechnology, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

Chapel Hill is in the middle of North Carolina, about equal distance from the beach (in the east) and the mountains (in the west.)   It is the home of the University of North Carolina.

The Old Well at the University of North Carolina dates back to 1897, when the students in Old East and Old West dormitories used it to draw water to drink, bathe, wash clothes and cook with.

In addition to being considered one of the best public universities in the country, UNC usually has a pretty good basketball team.

I graduated from UNC in 1988 and a few years later I moved to New York City, where I met and married my wife.  Our family just moved back to Chapel Hill last spring.  (Sounds like I must like it here, doesn’t it?)

North Carolina is also justly famous for its pork barbecue.

Regional recipes differ, but the basic recipe is the same: pork (either pork shoulders or entire hogs) are cooked slowly, for a long time, over low heat – and a lot of people think the only “right” way to do this is over a hardwood fire.

After the pork is cooked, it’s pulled off the bone, chopped, and seasoned with a sauce made from vinegar, brown sugar and hot peppers.

At barbecue restaurants in North Carolina, people from all walks of life get together to enjoy our state food. 

North Carolina barbecue is served on sandwiches, with creamy cole slaw, or on plates with vegetables (like lima beans, or boiled potatoes) and bread (usually cornbread or biscuits.) 

Hushpuppies (cornmeal fritters) are often served, too.

I hope you enjoyed this letter about North Carolina, and I hope your class wins the Great Mail Race!

Best regards,

Barry Campbell

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