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Holiday Get-Away Close By

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PITTSBORO — For lots of people, getting away -- for a lazy summer weekend or for one of summer's longer holiday breaks -- doesn't mean traveling long distances. They are finding a get-away right in their figurative "backyard," and others are discovering it, too.

Hundreds of families turned Jordan Lake into their "home away from home" for this July 4th weekend.

Campers are celebrating America's 222nd birthday by pitching tents -- and American flags -- along the shore. They came to the lake to swim, jet-ski, soak up the sun, or relax in the shade.

One group that comes to Jordan Lake lives on the same street in Fayetteville. They're such good neighbors, they decided to vacation together, too.

"Most of us are all neighbors around here from Fort Bragg, and we're just havng a good time, quality family time," said Neil Higgins, who was spending the afternoon supine in a hammock.

Higgins says his hammock sure beats a bunk at Fort Bragg.

This is the third year they've spent Independence Day at the lake. Camping out is also a family tradition for the Gene Shackley family, who came from Smithfield to get away from it all. They like the beach area and the playground and of course the water and boat.

More than 600 families set up camp at Jordan Lake for the holiday weekend. Jordan Lake is earning quite a reputation as a cool summer getaway.

"We've had calls from all over the central part of the state, from people who are interested in coming here and also calls from Virginia and South Carolina," said superintendent Mike Seigh.

"Camping is fun. You feel really close to nature and god," said Hector Sanchez, as he held court over a grill holding hot dogs.

Sanchez had brought his two sons all the way from Missouri for a week of "roughing it."

Saturday they cooked hot dogs over a charcoal grill and traded fish stories.

Despite the hundreds of families at Jordan Lake, there are no traffic jams or crowded beaches. Each campsite offers an oasis of shade and seclusion amid an otherwise hectic holiday.

Park rangers say July 4th is second only to Memorial Day as the busiest weekend of the year.