Thursday, December 31, 2009

Watauga County

George and I have used Boone (named after explorer Daniel Boone) in Watauga County as our homebase for the past two October vacations, and it's been a wonderful place "to call home" the past two October vacations. Our first stay was in October 2008. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites, and woke up on our first morning there, October 27, to find snow on the ground, and it was still snowing a bit that morning. Later, it cleared up enough for us to start exploring. :)

Appalachain State University is one of the highlights of the town and the county, though George and I have only driven past it so far in our travels. It's a pretty campus, from what we've seen, and they take pride in their football, as well as their academics.

During our 2008 visit, we visited Blowing Rock, both the town and the tourist attraction. The town of Blowing Rock is especially charming! I'll mention the Blowing Rock area more in my Caldwell County post, since both Watauga and Caldwell Counties lay claim to Blowing Rock!

Watauga County was formed in 1849 from several surrounding counties, and was named for the Watauga River. It borders Tennessee and several other North Carolina counties in the mountainous western part of the state. Grammy winner Doc Watson was born in Deep Gap, in Watauga County.

Town of Blowing Rock, in both Watauga and Caldwell Counties

Alleghany County

On October 27, 2008, George and I enjoyed our drive through Alleghany County. The pictures below offer fun snapshots of the things we saw along the way. We especially enjoyed stopping at the Countrty Homestead, a fun example of a country store, filled with interesting crafts and things. The "Hocus Pocus Make 3 Witches" sign below was in that store.

I also enjoyed driving by a real pumpkin patch, pictured below. I don't know that I'd ever seen one in person before, but have always invisioned the pumpkin patch from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"

Alleghany County got its name from the Alleghany Mountains, because it's totally within the Alleghany Mountain region of the state, up in the northwest corner of the state, next to Ashe County. Alleghany County also borders Virginia, and it's county seat is Sparta.

I saw a sign for the Alleghany Christmas Tree Association next to the pumpkin patch, and the picture is below. According to the website, Christmas trees are the biggest agricultural crop in Alleghany County! Who knew?! I think this is a pretty cool fact!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Ashe County

In October 2008, George and I visited the Boone, NC, on our annual anniversary trip. It was our first visit together to this area of the North Carolina mountains--most of our mountain travels had been to the Asheville area.

On October 27, one of our first stops was at the New River State Park in Laurel Springs, Ashe County, North Carolina, and a delightful stop it was! At the pretty and top notch visitors center, we talked with the person at the front desk for a while, watched an short, informative movie, and enjoyed working our way around the indoor exhibit there at the New River State Park. Among other things, we learned that the New River is thought to be the second oldest river in the world, next to the Nile River, and part of it runs through Ashe County. How cool is that?! As you can see from the pictures below, it's a pretty state park, even in October!  I'd like to go back sometime.

Ashe County is a beautiful area in the mountain region of the state. I've made a few visits there over the years to do some genealogical research, as I have a few branches of my family tree who settled in Ashe County for a spell. It is in the northwest corner of the state, so it shares borders with both Virginia and Tennessee. Part of the Blue Ridge Parkway runs through Ashe County, which was founded in 1799.

The lady at the desk of the pretty visitor center at New River State Park recommended we have lunch that day at the Shatley Springs Inn in nearby Crumpler, which we enjoyed. It was family style country cooking, and people were in a happy mood there. There is  spring water on site, and while we were there, people were driving up to the spicket to fill up their water bottles with the spring water.

We also visited Mount Jefferson, and walked on some of the trails, while in Ashe County. There's a lot to do there, needless to say! I'm looking forward to return visits!

Onslow County

Back in early August, George and I joined my sister and her family for an overnight stay in Emerald Isle, NC, down on the coast. We had a great time catching up with them, and one of the fun places we visited together was Swansboro, in Onslow County. We have a family tradition of visiting a quaint restaurant there called Yana's, which happens to have the best fruit fritters we've ever had!

Swansboro is a quaint coastal town of about 1500 people. The county seat of Onslow County, however, is Jacksonville (named for President Andrew Jackson), which is home to the Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune. (Driving to Emerald Isle, we passed through Jacksonville, and by Camp Lejeune.) The county was incorporated in 1734, not surprising considering it's on the North Carolina coast.