To be completely honest: this year’s Summer Guide is something of an elaborate con job.

We somehow convinced the company to fund weekend excursions for five of our writersa company-paid vacation, in other words. This isn’t the sort of thing that happens at major dailies these days, let alone cash-strapped alt-weeklies like ours. It’s kind of amazing that they went for it.

We made a simple pitch: we love the Triangle, but summer in the Triangle sucks. It’s hotter than hell, the good festivals are in spring and fall, and, more than all that, sometimes you just need to get away.

The bosses, probably figuring they could sell some travel ads, signed off. I have no idea if that happened. If not, we likely won’t get to repeat this exercise next year.

So we made the most of it. On relatively stark budgetsbetween $300 and $600, though, to a person, we overshot (sorry, bosses)we headed out to five spots within a half-day’s drive: Hot Springs, Knoxville, Richmond, Elm City, and the Outer Banks. There we ate and drank and unmoored ourselves from the workweek’s stresses. We lounged in the sand and hiked the Appalachian Trail. We stayed in yurts with composting toilets and beachside abodes that climate change will probably claim within a century. We saw concerts, roasted potatoes on a fire, and were casually offered cocaine.

We had wonderful adventures, and we didn’t pay for any of it. Ain’t life grand?

Summer Guide 2016

A Trip to OBX, Canines in Tow

A Wet Weekend in the Young Heart of the Old Confederacy

A Walk Through the Musical City of Knoxville

Everybody Yurts: A Mountain Escape in Hot Springs

Trespassing among the Ruins of Eastern North Carolina

100 Events You Must See This Summer

This article appeared in print with the headline “Road Tripping”