Friday, December 31, 2010

Clay County, North Carolina

George and I visited Clay County, North Carolina, on October 27. Clay County is a neighbor of Cherokee County, our home base for vacation.Clay County is also surrounded by Macon County, plus three Georgia counties. It was formed in 1861 from part of Cherokee County, and is named for Henry Clay. It's the smallest county in area of all 100 counties in North Carolina.

Old Clay County Courthouse

 Hayesville (incorporated March 12, 1913) is the county seat of Clay County. With a population of about 300, it's a charming town, and I really enjoyed walking and driving around! This was one of the rainiest days George and I had on our trip, but we made the best of it. Here is the old Clay County Courthouse. A nearby plaque indicates it was in use from 1888 to 1972. There were a lot of technology changes in that time span! The new Clay County Courthouse is here. While I can appreciate the need for more space, the old Clay County Courthouse on the town square definitely has the charm factor going for it. I'm glad they've kept it!

Moss Memorial Library, Hayesville
 Moss Memorial Library, pictured here, is part of the Nantahala Regional Library (headquartered in Murphy), which serves Clay, Cherokee, and Graham Counties. This regional library was initially organized in 1937, initially for the library in Murphy to provide library services to the people involved in building Hiwassee Dam in western Cherokee County. When the initial contract with the Murphy Library expired near completion of Hiwassee Dam, voters approved tax money to expand the services of the Nantahala Regional Library, which became established in November 1940.

Friends of the Library Bookstore
Across the street from Moss Memorial Library is a small house-looking structure that is the Friends of the Library Bookstore. George and I both love used bookstores, so we really enjoyed spending some time in there after our stop in the library, especially considering the rain! (Click on the picture to make it bigger and see the big raindrops coming down.) The volunteer there was very nice and helpful, and steered us toward a local place for lunch.

Almost Touch the Clouds!
After our stop in Hayesville, we decided to go to Macon County. The clouds were so low, we could almost touch them! It gave us a different scenic view from what we were expecting, but it was still beautiful.

Bright Fall Colors
This is one of my favorite pictures of fall color from this trip! This was taken on the road between Clay and Macon Counties. The bending road in this shot was also a familiar site on our trip!

The rest of my Clay County pictures are here.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Graham County, NC

Graham County Courthouse
George and I visited Graham County, North Carolina, on October 26. Our main goal in Graham County was to see Fontana Dam, but we saw so much more!

The picture on the left is the courthouse in Robbinsville, the county seat of Graham County. The county has three stoplights and one high school, Robbinsville High. Graham County was formed in 1872, and was named for William A.Graham, who first served as a U.S. Senator for North Carolina, then as governor, in the 1800s.

Appalachian Trail
 On our way to Fontana Dam, we pulled off at a scenic overlook to take pictures, and found one of many trailheads in this area for the Appalachian Trail. This picture is one of them. If you click on the picture to make it larger, you can see the Appalachian Trail sign. A long time ago, I had a dream of hiking the "AT," maybe even from one end to the other. For now, just finding access points to the Appalachian Trail is fun to me!

Water and Notes Left on the AT
 Of course, George and I took advantage of the opportunity to do some walking on the Appalachian Trail while we were there! Along the side of the trail, we found these full water bottles and a ziplock baggie with some notes for "Andy and AT Hikers." Charming and cool!

Fontana Lake from Highway
One of many "scenic overlooks" we stopped at in Graham County was the one where we took this picture of Fontana Lake, which was very pretty. It's a reservoir created by Fontana Dam, and it is part of the southern border of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, as well as part of the northern border of the Nantahala National Forest.

Fontana Dam

Here's Fontana Dam! Both George and I were pretty impressed by Fontana Dam, which was built in the 1940s as part of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Fontana Dam is the tallest dam in the eastern United States, and when it was built, it was (according to Wikipedia!) the fourth largest dam in the world. Part of the Appalachian Trail crosses over Fontana Dam, another cool fact.

We spent some time in the Visitor Center at Fontana Dam, and enjoyed the talk by a volunteer docent who is a retiree of the TVA.

After our time at Fontana Dam, George and I stopped in Fontana Village and shopped at the General Store before having lunch at Wildwood Grill. There are a lot of outdoorsy things one can do in the Fontana Village area, so it seems like the kind of place that would be fun for a family reunion (for families with folks who like the outdoors, anyway!).

Lake Santeetlah
Our next stop was the town of Lake Santeetlah and the body of water known as Santeetlah Lake or Lake Santeetlah, depending on the source. I enjoyed stopping at the marina and walking around, shooting pictures. The shot on the left is from that stop.

Cherohala Skyway
After our Lake Santeetlah stop, we backtracked a little bit towards Robbinsville to get on the Cherohala Skyway, a drive that a local recommended to us. (We've gotten pretty bold about introducing ourselves to locals on these county visits and asking them for recommendations!) The Cherohala Skyway reminded us of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it seemed more dramatic, in terms of leaf colors and turns in the road. Maybe it was because the Cherohala Skyway was just new to us, though. At any rate, the drive was just beautiful! It's a fairly new road, finished in 1996 at the cost of $100 million! We didn't make it all the way to the end of the Skyway in Tennessee, though, because it was toward the end of a full day of sightseeing and mountain driving, and we were running out steam. We changed the route in our car GPS to take us the fastest way back to our hotel in Murphy from the section of the Skyway we were on in Tennessee, but that ended up being quite an adventure (and a story we're glad to tell, if you just ask!)!

My two regrets from this day trip to Graham County were that we didn't get to the end of the Cherohala Skyway in Tellico Plains, TN, and that we didn't take the time to see the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in Graham County. It is so hard to do it all!

Other interesting tidbits about Graham County:
* Parts of the movies, "Nell" and "The Fugitive" were filmed in Graham County.
* It's the only dry county in the state of North Carolina.
* Graham County is the birthplace of Ronnie Milsap.

The rest of my pictures from Graham County are here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cherokee County, NC

The last week of October, George and I drove to Murphy, NC, our vacationing home base for a few days. We were excited to see a new (to us) part of the state, as well as a town where most people from home replied, "Murphy, where's that?!"

We stayed in a nice Holiday Inn Express, a place George and I would both recommend to others. It had nice amenities for the price (including an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, as well as a hardy complimentary breakfast.) The staff was very helpful and courteous, to boot, and we enjoyed getting new tourist ideas from them every morning over breakfast. The weather while we were there was mostly overcast, with rain sometimes, but we still had a great time! The fall leaves at the lower elevations were about at their peak.

Murphy's the county seat of Cherokee County, and is the westernmost county seat in the state. Wikipedia tells me that Murphy is closer to the capitals of six other states than it is to our own state capital of Raleigh! (Can you guess which states?) Murphy is named for Archibald Murphey, a North Carolina politician. Murphy was incorporated as the county seat of Cherokee County in 1851, but it already had a rich history by then, especially with the Cherokee Nation. Parts of Qualla Boundary are located in Cherokee County. This area was part of the Trail of Tears.

One small claim to fame for Murphy is that Eric Rudolph, the Atlanta Olympics bomber, was arrested in Murphy after being in hiding for about five years!

Murphy and Cherokee County have many postive things going for it, though, and we have an amazing time in the area! George and I visited six North Carolina counties during our stay in Murphy, and I'll be writing about all of them soon. I'm starting with our host county of Cherokee.

Hiwassee Dam

One of the first places we visited in Cherokee County was Hiwassee Dam, a dam that's part of the Tennessee Valley Authority or TVA. I thought it was very cool to see, as well as to drive over (on North Carolina State Highway 1314). Construction on Hiwassee Dam began in 1936, and it opened in 1940.

Lenderman Cemetery, Cherokee  County
Speaking of driving over Hiwassee Dam, George talked me into driving beyond Hiwassee Dam on the two-lane road, and with his eagle eyes spotted this cemetery sign while I was watching the curvy mountain road. Now, George wasn't looking for this cemetery, and neither was I, but he encouraged me to turn around and check it out. Turns out I'm related to the Lendermans in this Lenderman Cemetery!

Fields of the Wood
On the way back from Hiwassee Dam, we stopped at Fields of the Wood. In the photo on the left, you see the Ten Commandments on the side of the mountain. There are several other religious momuments in this "Bible park" near Murphy. Admission is free, and it is definitely something to see if you're in the area. When we were there, it seemed pretty run down and sad looking, physically. There were signs around, telling about the park's history and development, which made it more interesting. Otherwise, it looked kind of gaudy in a simple way (big religious monuments, but no neon lights). All of this really made me think about religion and "spreading the Word." Fields of the Wood has been a question/answer on "Jeopardy" because of the big Ten Commandments on the hillside.

Cherokee County Courthouse
Here's the top of the Cherokee County Courthouse. Renovation and expansion of the Cherokee County Courthouse started a couple of weeks before we arrived. It was constructed of marble quarried from the community of Marble, right there in Cherokee County. Murphy also made "Jeopardy" because it's one of only three towns to have an all-marble courthouse (but the only one where the marble came from the same county!).

Cherokee County Historical Museum
 George and I also enjoyed touring the nearby Cherokee County Historical Museum. I enjoyed talking with the docent, a Cherokee County native. The museum included a lot about the Cherokee Nation and a model of the inside of an old log cabin.

Harshaw Chapel and Cemetery, Murphy
Being the taphophile that I am, I couldn't leave Murphy without stopping by the Harshaw Chapel and Cemetery. It's been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.

Joseph C. Campbell Folk School
In the eastern part of Cherokee County, we visited the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown. We didn't explore the campus much, but we did enjoy browsing around in the Craft Shop, where we were verrry tempted by some of the crafts!

I took many more pictures of Cherokee County, which I've posted to my Flickr account here. Enjoy!

Cherokee County is a gem in North Carolina, with a rich history, beautiful scenery, and interesting things to do! We're already talking about going back!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bladen County, North Carolina

On October 10, which happened to be 10/10/10, George and I headed to Bladen County, North Carolina, to "see that we could see." We headed toward White Lake, a popular destination in Bladen County, and this blueberry farm was one of the first things we came upon. I thought this sign was charming!

I had never been to White Lake before, though I've heard of it for years. It was fun to finally arrive!

Once we got close to the lake itself, we were intrigued, and thought we'd come upon a road race!

It turns out that the event was something called the American Triple-T, which was a three-day event of running, biking, and swimming. George had the great idea to park when we spotted the Finish Line, and to walk around and see what we found. It was fun to cheer for the athletes crossing the finish line after completing this amazing feat!

While we were near the finish line area, we walked around and took some pictures of the actual White Lake. As you can see, it's a very pretty lake! It has a sandy white bottom (hence, the name) and is fed by underground springs.

Here's another pretty picture of White Lake. Some of the triathlon athletes stepped of the walkway and bank on the far right of this picture and cooled themselves (and especially their legs) off in the lake. George wished he had brought his bathing suit along so he could've joined them. (He would have, too. George is a polar bear, for sure.)

Next, we headed toward Kelly, North Carolina, so that we could cross the Cape Fear River using the inland cable ferry, Elwell Ferry. The Wikipedia link for the Elwell Ferry tells some interesting history about Click here for a good shot 0f the ferry without a car on it.

Here's a picture of the ferry ride from inside my car!

After we left Kelly, George and I visited Elizabethtown, the county seat of Bladen County. We enjoyed Sunday lunch at a local spot after walking around downtown for a bit. It was a fun day trip!

The rest of my pictures from Bladen County are here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chad and Brad's 100-County Countdown

Here's a shoutout for my running friend Brad, and a challenge he and Chad have taken on that sounds like so much fun! They're RUNNING in every county in North Carolina! What a fun idea--I wish I'd thought of it! :D They're ahead of me in the county count, and they've written some fun race reports! Check it out at Chad and Brad's 100-County Countdown.

Meanwhile, I have SEVEN county posts to write and share here! It's been a busy, but fun and interesting couple of months! I'll be back soon with some pictures and posts.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Moore County

Cameron, my first stop in Moore County
I took a vacation day on Friday to make an extra long Labor Day Weekend, so I decided to head down to Moore County. It was a delightful trip! Moore County is home to Pinehurst, Southern Pines, and several other communities, and is best known for its golf courses, which have hosted the men's and women's U.S. Open golf tournaments. I'm not a golfer, but appreciate the beauty of a golf course, so I enjoyed riding through Moore County a lot!  In addition to the golf courses I passed along the way, I was also impressed by the big, tall pine trees lining some of the roads. I usually don't consider pine trees to be majestic, but there were some majestic pine trees in Moore County.
Part of Cameron Historic District

Since my photo formatting skills have gone to pot on this blog post, I'll be rambling a little bit here about my Moore County impressions:

Although I hadn't planned to stop in Cameron, I saw the signage on my way down the highway, and decided to take the exit and see if it was nearby. It didn't take me long to ride in and through Cameron, so I stopped and took a few pictures. It has a nice little historic district, and according to its Wikipedia page, there are three professional wrestlers who called Cameron home.
Donald J. Ross, Architect of Pinehurst No. 2
and Champion Golfer

This statue is in the Pinehurst business district, and pays homage to Donald J. Ross, a professional golfer and golf course architect. I'd never heard of him before, so I'm happy to know a little more about him. Apparently, he's quite famous for his golf courses!
While driving around Moore County, I also enjoyed finding the WRAL weather satellite photographed below, as well as the town of Foxfire, because I like its name!

Park behind Southen Pines Welcome Center
In Downtown Southern Pines
Welcome Sign for the Town of Firefox
Southern Pines

One of several golf courses I passed
Southern Pines Water Tower and WRAL Weather Satellite

Pinehurst City Clock
Southern Pines Welcome Center

Cameron United Methodist Church

Part of Cameron's Historic District

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vance County

On April 4, 2010, I visited Henderson, in Vance County, North Carolina. I'd driven through Vance County heading north on Interstate 85 North, but this was my first trip to Henderson, the county seat.

Vance County, which shares a border with Mecklenburg County, Virginia, to the north, as well as the counties of Granville (west), Franklin (south), and Warren (east) in North Carolina, was formed in 1881 from the surrounding North Carolina counties. It was named for Zebulon Vance, a former North Carolina governor and U.S. senator, possibly the most popular politician in the state at that time.

Notable Henderson natives include Charlie Rose and Ben E. King.

Fire Station and Town Clock

Tombstone Next to Fire Station

Churchyard of First United Methodist Church, Henderson

Mural in Downtown Henderson

Downtown Henderson on a Sunday

Condederate Memorial at Old Courthouse

Mural Next to Uptown Rose Restaurant and Pub, Henderson

Small Park in Downtown Henderson

Large Popcorn in Front of Raleigh Rd. Outdoor Theatre

Prize for Charming Place Name in Vance County