I was invited to the Safe Haven movie set in North Carolina for assignment but sadly was not able to go. Luckily J9 was able to go in my place and here’s her recap of the trip.
The Safe Haven movie trip was amazing!
Invited bloggers flew into Wilmington, North Carolina and were driven to Southport, about 40 miles from Wilmington. Southport has a population just over 2,000 and is proud of its “deep south” reputation. The locals had charming southern drawls and constantly called me ma’am (as if I’m that old!) This vegetarian had a difficult time finding food that wasn’t meat or deep fried. For dinner the first night I asked if they had any vegetables and the waitress said just fried okra!
When I travel I always bring my running gear so I can try it everywhere I go. So I got up early and started running in the rain. There were no sidewalks from our no-frills small town hotel into Southport so I ran along the street’s shoulder. As I was running, three different car drivers pulled over and asked me if I needed a ride somewhere! The first time I was alarmed but by the second I realized this was Southern hospitality, even though it seems strange to this New Yorker!
On Wednesday morning all bloggers boarded a bus to attend the Safe Haven movie set in Southport. The scene being filmed was a town parade and the entire population of Southport was on set. Locals were dressed as 4th of July parade attendees. Even though the weather was drizzly and humid there was a palatable air of excitement as the movie crew set up equipment and actors. Bloggers were on set for the filming of the parade which took two minutes after a two hour set up!
After eating at a seafood restaurant on Cape Fear, where I ordered totally rogue off-menu, bloggers met Nicholas Sparks at another movie location—the grocery store and hero’s house. Mr. Sparks spoke about the location of the hero’s house and how location decisions were made. I will write more on this topic in late-January when production details can be shared.
The best part of the trip was next as bloggers were broken into two groups to have a question and answer opportunity with Mr. Sparks. This fifteen minute roundtable flew by as bloggers fired questions and Mr. Sparks kindly answered them in between bites of hush puppies (apparently his favorite food of North Carolina!). Nicholas Sparks’ interview will be shared in January closer to the movie’s February release.
Mr. Sparks kindly took one-on-one photos with all bloggers and then signed books. Before Mr. Sparks could leave the restaurant, patrons and restaurant staff also requested pictures and book signing, which he graciously did.
After the emotional high of meeting Nicholas Sparks, all bloggers needed to relax a bit with Yellow Tail wine and finish off the hush puppies. Sole Society presented each blogger with shoes from their new line which caused much preening all around.
Next was watching Nicolas Sparks and the Safe Haven Production Crew present The Boys & Girls Club of Southport a check for having the best parade float. The mayor of Southport gave Nicholas Sparks a key to the city for being such an enthusiastic supporter of Southport and setting Safe Haven in the town.
Julianne Hough (left) and Josh Duhamel (right)
Mimi Kirkland and Noah Lomax (left) and David Lyons (right)
The bloggers could then barely contain their excitement as the stars of Safe Haven came into Southport City Hall to take pictures with the group. First was the child actors who play Kristen and Josh, Mimi Kirkland and Noah Lomax (so cute!). Next was the movie villain, Kevin, played by actor David Lyons. Mr. Lyons made the entire group laugh as he channeled his evil character in one of the pictures. The beautiful Julianne Hough who plays heroine Katie looked lovely in her pictures. But actor Josh Duhamel stole the bloggers’ breath as hero Alex. He hammed for the picture by throwing his arms and legs across some bloggers. Once the actors left, the bloggers giddiness couldn’t be contained and there was squeaking like school girls.
A lovely dinner at a small restaurant boasting of its lower Cape Fear cuisine ended the incredible day. Bloggers mostly from California or New York all tried the southern specialty of fried green tomatoes. I discovered the shockingly sweet tea of the South and asked the server to mix mine with unsweetened tea. She did it but not until she kindly told me that’s not how it’s drunk in the South!
Soggy, tired but incredibly happy, the bloggers all crashed at the hotel for the night before flying home from Wilmington.
Thank you to the Safe Haven movie production and promotion team for an incredible blogging adventure!