In writing Tobacco Roads, I hope to provide some sort of guide to the amazing road trips that a Duke student can try during their four years in Durham in order to gain an enhanced understanding and appreciation for the state of North Carolina.  Some posts will describe first-hand a trip I’ve taken, while others might discuss an adventure I’m hoping to take on in the future.  Whether describing a day trip to a Hillsborough festival or a weekend escape to Asheville, I will seek to combine my own experiences with necessary information and links for readers hoping to try the outing themselves.  In time, I hope to create an open conversation where my readers can add their thoughts and similar experiences to each post.

My primary motivation for writing this blog stems from the fact Duke students often fail to enjoy experiences beyond what is often referred to as the “Duke bubble”.   Duke is an internationally renowned institution, drawing students from all 50 states and a myriad of foreign countries.  They flock to Duke for its top-notch academics, unparalleled athletic spirit, gothic architecture, and warm Southern location.  However, when asked how they take advantage of Duke’s distinctive location, students often speak only of afternoons spent in Duke Gardens, on the Bryan Center walkway, or their excitement at being able to leave their warmest coats at home.  Even within Durham, Duke seems to be a rather isolated environment – when turning onto Towerview Drive or Flowers from Erwin Road, the street signs indicate that these are private streets, leaving no doubt that the driver is entering a separate community.

As many of my peers reach their junior and senior years, they seem to crave a reality check on the limited, redundant social scene of Duke.  For most, breaking out of the “bubble” means a short drive down 15-501 to Chapel Hill.  However, in writing this blog I hope to enlighten students to the many other “tobacco roads” that exist, and the unique destinations to which they lead.  Don’t get me wrong – I adore Duke, and can think of no better place to have spent my college years.  My writing is meant to encourage broad enrichment and appreciation, rather than imply a need for escapism.

As a native North Carolinian, I have a long-term perspective on the great destinations, both common and obscure, that the state has to offer.  Born at Duke Hospital and raised just off Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, my family rarely flew to remote vacation spots; instead, we chose to explore the nearby area through summer, weekend, or daily excursions.  Since becoming a Dukie myself, I have enjoyed journeying with friends to many of the same locations from my childhood, as well as discovering new spots for ourselves.  Tobacco Roads is certainly a work in progress, so I welcome any comments on the writing or suggestions for posts.

Let’s hit the road!



Celeste is a Senior at Duke University, majoring in Economics and Public Policy.  Born and raised in Chapel Hill, Celeste has been a North Carolina resident for over 20 years, but will be moving to Dallas in Fall 2011 to join the corporate ranks.  Her interests include volleyball, painting, live music, all things economics, and of course – road trips.


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