Sunday, July 27, 2008

Forsyth County, North Carolina: Wake Forest University

George and I recently visited Winston-Salem in Forsyth County, North Carolina, and had a delightful time! I worked in Winston-Salem for four years, but George had never been, so he made the suggestion. It was a treat to be back in Winston-Salem, and it made me wish I'd lived in town while I worked there. (I commuted from Greensboro, a city I loved living in, so it was a tough call.)

We got to town on Friday, July 18, and went straight to the Professional Center Library on the Wake Forest University campus. (It serves the university's law and business schools.) I worked there before I came to Duke, and I'd emailed ahead of time for my old "lunch bunch" (Gina, Linda H. and Linda P.) to go out to eat that day. It was fun to see the library again, and to visit with several co-workers there. Tech Services there has been rearranged, and looks different--but good. A lot of the loose-leaf filing I used to do there has gone electronic, a big change as well, but some things were the same, which was nice. It was fun to show George a place where I'd spend four working years, and to introduce him to everyone. We ended up eating lunch at Coppola's, where the food was good (I had a veggie sandwich) but the service happened to be a little slow that day. Gina reminded me about a time we went there while I was still at Wake Forest, when I ordered the meatball sub. When the server brought it out, she stood at the end of the table, tray in hand, and asked, "Okay, who's the meatball?!" We all had a good laugh over that! I miss both working and dining with Gina, Linda, and Linda; seeing them again reminded me just how much! (The picture to the left was taken by one of the servers in the restaurant; I wish it had turned out more clearly!)

Winston-Salem and Durham remind me of each other in some ways, since both are old tobacco industry towns with major universities brought there by tobacco money. One thing I love about Winston that Durham doesn't have is Old Salem, which I'll write obout in another post. Old Salem is a big plus! Durham does have Winston-Salem beat in the mall department, though; the Streets at Southpoint is my favorite over Hanes Mall. I was a history major in college, and am not a big shopper, so I'm wishing Durham had an Old Salem.

We enjoyed ourselves in Winston-Salem so much that we decided to stay Sunday night as well. Our hotel that night was near the Wake Forest campus, so I decided to run over and around campus. My legs couldn't handle running that morning after all (more about that in the Pilot Mountain post), so I enjoyed walking around campus instead. It was nice to stay close enough to walk in, and made me wish I lived close enough to walk to work now.

Sunday night I volunteered to run out and get dinner take-out for the two of us, and after some driving, ended up at Reynolda Village. I'd forgotten what a quaint shopping area that is! I ordered us a couple of sandwiches from Village Tavern, a restaurant I remembered fondly from my time in the Triad. (There was one in Greensboro as well.) In this instance, the service was slow, the orders were slightly wrong (too minor to return)--and sans ketchup for George, and I wish in retrospect that we'd just eaten there together, tired as we were that evening after touring Old Salem. It's a cute restaurant, and it would've been a nice night to sit outside.

I'd forgotten that Reynolda House and Gardens are behind the shopping area at Reynolda Village. It was too late in the evening to take a tour; besides, I was without George and the camera. Still, it brought back nice memories of a previous visit, and made me want to return there.

On the way out of town on Monday morning, George and I went back to the Wake Forest campus to take pictures around the main quad. Both visits to campus that weekend reminded me how much I enjoyed working there. One of the highlights on Monday was stopping by Z. Smith Reynolds Library and meeting Lauren, someone I've known virtually for several years, first through a Yahoo group for librarians and librarian-wannabees, then through Facebook and Twitter. (One of the few regrets about the weekend was not having George take a picture of Lauren and me, that would've been fun!)

Below are some of the pictures I took on campus.

This is Wait Chapel. In addition to weekly services, it houses special events. In 2000, one of the Presidential Debates between Bush and Gore happened here. I entered a ticket lottery for faculty and staff, and was able to attend the debate, which was fascinating.

This is Reynolda Hall, the administrative building on the Wake Forest campus.

Here's George, in front of one of the buildings on the quad. I thought the flowers were a pretty backdrop.

Here's a picture of Z. Smith Reynolds Library, the main library on campus. Parts of it are being renovated, hence the white trucks and fencing (barely visible here) in the front.

One of my favorite things about visiting the campus on this Monday morning was meeting Lauren, who's been a virtual acquaintance for several years. She works at Z. Smith Reynolds Library, and slthough she was meeting with someone when we dropped in, she was nice enough to come downstairs to meet George and me. It was a treat to meet her in person, after several years of emails, message board posts, Facebook friendship and Twitter feeds. I guess you could call her a Web 2.0 friend!

Because of the construction, we couldn't make a grand entrance through the front door of the library. We followed signs around to what seemed like the back of the building, and entered through the door that bore this sign--rather unassuming for such a large and pretty building!

This is one of the reading rooms, which is quite pretty!

On the way from the library to the car, we came across signs for a Lego camp being held at Wake Forest. I'm not exactly sure what this creature was, but it was in the Wake Forest colors of gold and black, and sitting outside the building where it seemed that the Lego camp was taking place.

Wake Forest is also home to NPR station WFDD. Famous people with Wake Forest connections include golfer Arnold Palmer, football player Brian Piccolo, basketball player Tim Duncan, and poet Maya Angelou.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gates County: The Rest of the Story

Although seeing Merchants Millpond State Park (near Gatesville-pop. ca 300) was my main reason for going to Gates County on July 1, I ended up seeing some other things that piqued my interest that day. You can see from the picture on the left, I passed through the community of Tarheel (on Hwy 158) while in Gates County. (This is different from the town of Tar Heel-two words instead of one-down in Bladen County.)

Down the road from Tarheel on Hwy. 158 was the community of Roduco. I didn't see much business there, but this post office. I wanted to give it a fresh coat of paint and spruce it up before I drove on.

In the community of Eure, I came upon this cute little birdhouse store (called Powell Ln. Birdhouses) on the corner of Highway 158 and Powell Lane. There is a tall birdhouse leaning on the left side of the building, and a smaller birdhouse on the porch floor (to the right of the door). I stopped to inquire on a Tuesday afternoon, but as you can see from the sign, the work week hours are from Call to 3589761.

Gates County was formed in 1779 from several other northeastern North Carolina counties, and was names for General Horatio Gates, whose American troops won at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. In 1790, the population of the county was 5, 372. The population of the county in 2002 was 10,720--not quite double the 1790 figure. Wow. This and other interesting historical facts about Gates County can be found here.

Gates County is considered part of the Inner Banks of North Carolina. The Great Dismal Swamp is partially located in Gates County, but I didn't make it there this time. (If you check out the link, you'll see they've been having trouble with fires this summer. I hope to see the Great Dismal Swamp for myself when I visit Pasquotank or Camden Counties.)

I wish I remember where in Gates County I saw this quaint, patriotic porch!

I found Gates County to be a charming rural area, and Merchants Millpond State Park definitely is a jewel. I'd highly recommend a trip there!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Gates County, North Carolina: Merchants Millpond State Park

The purpose of my trip on July 1, 2008, was to make it to Merchants Millpond State Park in Gates County, North Carolina, and everything else I saw along the way (or on the way back) would be icing on the cake. As you can see from my posts about Hertford, Northampton, and Nash Counties, I covered some interesting ground in the northeastern corner of the state, and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

I was delighted to finally find Merchants Millpond State Park, after years of wanting to see it in person. I remember first seeing a picture of the pond on the pamphlet of a Greensboro bank (since gobbled up by First Union, which then got gobbled up by Wachovia). It offered a Visa credit card with one of several pictures of North Carolina scenes, and Merchants Millpond was the only scene I remember.

I pulled into the parking lot of the park later than I'd expected, since I'd done some exploring in Nash and Northampton counties along the way. (The pictures from Murfreesboro were taken on the way home.) I saw signs pointing toward canoeing, and wondered if I need to rent a canoe to actually see the pond. When I parked the car, I didn't see a pond, so I was beginning to wonder if I was going to miss it totally. (At this point in the afternoon, renting and paddling a canoe seemed like a lot--and something I didn't plan ahead for.)

I decided to follow the first path I saw, just so I could say I'd hiked on a trail at Merchants Millpond State Park. I was a little deflated at first, thinking that I could've hiked on a trail closer to home! (I was surprised at myself for feeling this way temporarily, as the day had already been an interesting adventure!)

Needless to say, I was thrilled when the Lassiter Trail took a turn and I could see water through the trees! It was quite stunning to see so many different views of the pond (which turned to be the swamp--keep reading), with different vegetation (sometimes growing IN the water).

It didn't seem as "buggy" as I expected, considering all the water. The path was well marked, so I was able to saunter along and take LOTS of pictures.

I felt like this big tree X was my version of finding The Big W in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World!," since I was so excited to finally be in the park. Oddly enough, this shot also reminded me of the arranging of stuff (sticks and/or stones, I seem to remember) in the woods of "The Blair Witch Project." I've decided I like "The Big X" reference better, since this was such a fun experience.

After looking at the map of the park AFTER I got home (I know, I know!), the pictures posted so far are actually part of Lassiter Swamp, which connects to Merchants Millpond. The various shades of green were breathtaking.

Eventually I turned around and hiked back to the parking lot. There were nice restroom facilities there, as well as a big map of the park. (I didn't have my glasses on, so I didn't take the time to study it. Note to self: maps are good!)

Next to the map was this sign about ticks, which apparently are bad in the park. It suggested wearing long pants and socks over the leg bottoms, in addition to insect repellent. I was wearing shorts and Tiva sandals--lovely! I was phantom itching for the rest of the afternoon, but didn't find any county-border-crossing ticks when I got home.

On my way out of the park, I decide to follow some more signs and drive around the park a bit, and was able to take numerous pictures of the actual millpond! It was exciting to find this area for many photo opps! Too bad I didn't spot any alligators--talk about a cool shot! (As it happens, Merchant's Millpond is the northernmost point of the American Alligator's habitat--who knew!)

I'd highly recommend visiting Merchant's Millpond State Park, and wish George had been with me to see it too. If I'm able to return, I think I'll make time for the canoeing offered there, which sounds like a fun way to explore this state park.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Northampton County, North Carolina

I drove through Northampton County, a county in northeastern North Carolina, on July 1, and stopped in Jackson first. Jackson seems to be a quaint rural southern town, a quiet place with some jewels to be found. (As of the 2000 census, there were 695 people in Jackson.) I didn't have an agenda in mind when I stopped in Jackson, only to see what I could find. The picture here seems to be a city office.

Since it was the week of July 4th, there were a lot of American flags out.

Jackson's the county seat of Northampton County (formed in 1741 from Bertie County), thanks to its central location in the county, and this picture is of the Northampton County Courthouse. The area was orginally known as Northampton Courthouse; Jackson was incorporated in 1823 and named for Andrew Jackson.

This historic marker stands in front of the county courthouse.

I enjoyed visiting the library there in Jackson. Check out the library's hours at the bottom of the sign! I scanned the genealogy collection (several shelves) for possible treasures, but nothing stood out that might have some of my family history. (It's always worth a look!)

Near the library is the Northampton County Museum, and the scene on the left is painted on the side of the museum. (The museum was closed, so this scene was part of my history lesson on the Northampton County.

In between the museum and the library was this small building, which was closed. The sign on the corder of the building reads Country Doctor's Office. (The library is the red brick building behind the red car on the right.)

Looking through the windows of the country doctor's office, you can see the horse painted on the outside of the county museum.

I enjoyed discovering the Church of the Savior, a local Episcopal church. I could tell from a distance that the church was old, and this sign points out that it's on the National Register of Historic Places. Right up my alley!

Here is a front view of the sanctuary.

One of the pretty stained glass windows from the outside of the Church of the Saviour. (I did try getting inside, but the doors were locked.)

I took lots of pictures at the adjoining cemetery. (I love walking through old cemeteries!) This was one of my favorite shots of this very pretty cemetery.

Driving through the town of Conway (pop. 734 in 2000), I got stopped by a train. From where I stopped on the road, I could see this service station on my left. It intrigued me to see the old style gas pumps, with full service on one side and self service on the other.

On Highway 158, I saw a little cemetery under a big mimosa tree, next to a crop field.

The flowers on the mimosa tree seemed especially wispy and pretty, so I snapped a closer shot.

After I returned home, I found the Northampton Chamber of Commerce's website, which has a nice picture of the courthouse on the front. I enjoyed exploring the CofC's website; a lot of good information about the area can be found on the county profile, as well as the links on that webpage. I enjoyed learning about the county's industry, which includes three peanut-related companies and a casket factory.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nash County, North Carolina

I hadn't planned on stopping in Nashville, North Carolina, on my July 1 trip to Merchants Millpond State Park, but I needed gas, and it was right off the road. Nashville, dubbed on at least one local sign as the "original" Nashville, turned out to be a neat little town, and I'm glad I decided to explore.

This is the Nashville convenience store/station where I stopped for gas, and I was pleasantly surprised by the price of gas, which was several cents cheaper than the Sheetz near home. To make the deal even sweeter, I got a free car wash for filling up. Since my initials are LL, I took a picture of the sign.

Nashville is the county seat of Nash County, even though the largest town in the county is Rocky Mount. (As it happens, Rocky Mount is part of both Nash and Edgecombe Counties.) Both "our" Nashville and the one in Tennessee were named after Francis Nash, a North Carolinian of American Revolutionary War fame. Here's a picture of the Nash County Courthouse.

As I cruised down the main street, I saw this house, which I liked a lot. Ironically, there's a CVS (drugstore chain) going up on the other side of the home. I don't know if you can tell there's construction going on from the far left side of this picture.

Here's a picture of the same house, but from across the street. Very southern looking, no? I like the little white birdhouse in the middle of the bushes, there in the foreground.

Here's the home of the Nashville Graphic, the town's newspaper.

I like old churches, so when I saw this from afar, I decided to see what its story was.

It turned out to be the local arts council, looking for members.

Just down the road from the arts council, I saw a sign for the town of Red Oak, so I decided to follow on a whim. (I thought it sounded quaint!)On the way, I saw this pretty farm field--I think this is tobacco.

Once in Red Oak, I found Red Oak Baptist Church.

Here's a picture of Red Oak Elementary School, which used to be Red Oak High School (according to a sign on the building). Thir mascot is the bear.