Black Rose Public House: An Irish Pub in the Heart of the Foothills

By Jenny Kane

Our stomachs were growling as we arrived to downtown Hendersonville at around 3pm on a Friday afternoon in the middle of October. In spite of this ravenous hunger, we searched for the nearest sports bar we could find. What we encountered was an Irish pub called Black Rose Public House right at the center of the downtown area, only about 20 yards from the city courthouse. Looking at their menu, the pub seemed to offer a variety of both American and Irish dishes as well as a full bar with 24 hand-picked beer and cider taps. The bar looked newly renovated and was preparing for the Halloween festivity as seen by its intricate decorations. There were a few parties sitting both in and outside, enjoying the sunny fall afternoon. We decided to sit at the bar and immediately began scanning the menu for the heartiest dishes they served. I also took a chance to look over the list of beers they had on tap, and was appreciative to see that a majority were from local Hendersonville and Asheville brewing companies. Looking up from the menu I saw four flat screen TV’s, playing both the local news and the golf channel, which gave me a feeling of surprising comfort in this new place after driving three long hours and not having eaten anything since the early morning.


When the bartender suggested the Black Rose Burger, I knew I had to try it. Leaving my usual picky tendencies behind, I told the bartender to load the burger up with whatever came on it and tested my fate. What came from the kitchen only a short fifteen minutes later was a massive black angus cheeseburger with white cheddar cheese, freshly slices pickles, onion, and tomato on a brioche bun, and on the side, beer-battered French fries. I was in heaven. Taking the first bite I thought I would never be able to fit the entire thing in my mouth, but I managed. Next was an explosion of savory charred flavor with a background of acidic pickle that complemented each other magnificently. I housed it down in 5 minutes and washed it down with a cold Hendersonville Pale Ale. Not only was the bartender extremely friendly, but the entire atmosphere of the pub was emanating with warmth and comfort. Before leaving, I made sure to ask what led upstairs when first walking in the door. Surprisingly, the restaurant expands into an upstairs dining and bar area for large sporting events or holidays. Although it was a slow time of the day, it was hard for me to imagine a completely full house in a relatively small, cozy place in Hendersonville, who’s population hardly exceeds 13,800 people.

Just Across the Intercoastal

By Claire Gaskill

Discovery Doesn’t Require Transportation


Travel writing is the product of a journey. The twists and turns, ups and downs, and discoveries and setbacks of travel are compiled into paragraphs allowing others a peek into a journey created by exposure to the other and personal growth. As curious readers, we seek the writer’s perspective on his journey, whether his destination is known or unknown to us. Personally, as a student and a reader, I sought a new perspective on the familiar South Carolina low country I knew from my childhood. A basic internet search put Pat Conroy’s The Water is Wide: A Memoir on the map for me. Originally published by Boston: Houghton Mifflin in 1972, this New York Times Best Seller contains 322 pages and can be purchased both online and in brick and mortar for just shy of $13.


Not Just a Story about the Low Country


            Pat Conroy, a Citadel graduate with the aspiration to join the Peace Corps, returned to teach high school students at his alma mater in Beaufort, South Carolina. When his Peace Corps acceptance letter failed to arrive, Conroy became convinced he could make a greater impact teaching on the South Carolina barrier island of Yamacraw. Fictional by only its name, Yamacraw Island refers to the real life Daufuskie Island, the location on which Conroy’s book is based.


            The story is set in 1969, a time when racial division, especially in the south, was commonplace. However, upon experiencing Yamacraw for the first time, Conroy was able to count the number of non-African American citizens on just one of his hands. And, with access to the island restricted to a single boat and travel around the island limited to dirt paths where “only one car could traverse the road at a time,” it was not just ethnic diversity that was lacking; jobs, socioeconomic opportunities, and resources were also not plentiful (Conroy, 19). Stuck in a trend of generations of citizens with failed dreams and inadequate education, the school’s leadership felt as though Conroy was an answered prayer for the school.


            The book details Conroy’s experience integrating his modern teaching style into a two-room “attractive and simply constructed white frame” school house that has only seen one teacher, who also serves as the principle, for years (Conroy, 20). Mrs. Brown, who was an African American woman working in what was detailed as a white man’s world, was traditional in her teaching style, integrating capital punishment and considering manners to be the primary curriculum. Working to meet the requirements of the state instead of teaching the information, Mrs. Brown’s teaching style clashed entirely with Conroy’s. Conroy soon found out that “the children hated Mrs. Brown’s guts with their complete power of hating.” (Conroy, 159)


            Conroy helped the students open up. He discovered their character and adjusted the curriculum to meet their knowledge gaps and needs, telling the students “they had to look upon themselves in a different light.” (Conroy, 54) He even integrated field trips to the mainland, a teaching tactic unheard of for these students up until this point. Conroy worked to prepare the students for life after graduation and wanted to give them the skills to have jobs on the mainland in an effort to break the generational cycle of economic struggle.


            His career on the island was first threatened when it was brought to the school district and leadership attention that Conroy was not following the school’s teaching policy. With support of the parents, Conroy was able to hold on to his position. However, after being fired later on, he filed a lawsuit which he lost on the basis of school policy, ending his time on Yamacraw Island. Highlights of Conroy’s island experience include the struggle Mrs. Brown faced as a minority, challenges of creating cultural change, and perceptions the others had of the mainland.


Culture through Primary Education


            Although this book shows us an inside perspective on the remote island of Yamacraw (Daufuskie Island), as readers, we are experiencing Yamacraw through the lens of children and the educational experience. This is unique because of the extreme innocence children have. Their perspectives are primarily shared without a filter, and their opinions are raw. Conroy is also not just a short-term island visitor who is interviewing and discovering with the sole purpose of detailing his experience through travel writing. Conroy came to the island with the primary goal of helping these children. In order to do this, he could not just gain a surface level understanding of the children he is teaching. Instead, to accomplish his all too important objective, he had to learn their practices, understand their flaws, and determine how to best fix problems. Through this process, Conroy gained a cultural literacy and applied his understanding, which he goes on to later detail in a book (the secondary purpose of his travel).


            That being said, how do we know that Conroy is truly culturally literate, not just informed about the dialects and learning gaps among the island students? In order to teach the children, Conroy had to go through the initial struggle of realizing his prior teaching style needed to be adjusted to fit the educational needs of the island children. He then was able to transform his teaching throughout the book via his understanding of the culture. Teaching is challenging when you are a member of the culture; in order to effectively teach in a culture where you are the outsider, cultural literacy is essential to success. Conroy’s effective teaching to the local children and the bond he formed with the school community demonstrates he reached cultural literacy. This documented journey through cultural discovery and understanding leading to cultural literacy and its application is what makes this memoir travel writing.


            One of the aspects of this travel writing that I struggled to comprehend was why Conroy was willing to publish such a powerful piece at the risk of harming the students’ idea of “normal” by exposing the flaws in the local education system to society beyond the confines of the island. Conroy was culturally literate and lived the culture each day at school. He knew how uninformed and ill prepared the students were for their potential mainland experiences after school. Yet, he was still willing to detail the flaws within the culture, knowing, as an educator, that this publicity would change the way the school system functioned. In doing this, as a reader, I feared that this would negatively allow the mainland culture to infiltrate the island and undermine its culture, which was so strongly solidified based on the physical barriers that come with existing on an island. The implications of this book are unwarranted cultural change through educational improvement and greater mainland exposure.  I find it interesting that as a culturally literate outsider, this is a side effect of the book that Conroy was willing to accept. However, Conroy’s dedication to the improvement of the island educational system and lifestyle probably outweighed his concern of cultural change.


Unlike Anything I’ve Seen


            The book is a more unconventional approach to travel writing in comparison to my prior exposure. Travel writers such as Anthony Bourdain and Paul Theroux travel with the intension and purpose to write. Conroy, on the other hand, travelled to find a purpose in his career that led him to help children through education. The mere thought of the book became entirely secondary. This makes his “research” of the island less conventional and more free forming. His method of inquiry was through his teaching; he discovered the culture primarily on a need-to-know basis to successfully do his job. Therefore, his “research questions” included what are the interests of the people of the island?, what is the career path for a resident?, what differentiates island citizens from mainland citizens?, and what drives the island citizens?. However, since his method of inquiry was very discovery and usage based, his “research” questions also, most likely, consisted of his daily thoughts and queries during his time teaching. For example, even questions like how much do the citizens know about America? and how literate are the citizens? were research questions provoked by daily experiences in the classroom.


            As a reader and student of travel writing, I found it refreshing and more authentic that Conroy’s travel experience was not a series of interviews or predetermined adventures, like that of Bourdain and Theroux. I was inspired by the reflective nature of his writing, uncovering the island to the reader through a series of anecdotes and a storyline that makes you not only feel connected to the location but also the others that inhabit it. While reading, I developed empathy for the other, a feeling that is not usually provoked by travel writing formed with a more conventional inquiry process.


            Conroy wanted to teach the audience about his experience. Daufuskie Island is primarily unknown. Even Conroy, who lived a boat ride away from the island, was unfamiliar with its culture. By detailing his experience, he was able to put Daufuskie Island on the map and allow the public to understand the struggles of the citizens, bring to light the racism and socioeconomic injustice, and demonstrate how a lack of a proper education can prevent future success. In doing this, Conroy works to get the audience to appreciate the value of education and change while also writing to gain a more public consideration for the people of Daufuskie Island.


Beyond the Book


            As mentioned above, I decided to read this book in particular to gain an additional perspective and further my knowledge on an area I am so familiar with. That being said, since my foundational knowledge about the low country and Pat Conroy was fairly established, I decided to conduct additional research both while reading and after reading.  I decided to do this instead of researching prior to reading because I felt that I did not know where my knowledge gaps existed. Reading the book allowed me to identify them, and researching provided me the information to fill them.


            The main thing I researched was what is the developmental status of Daufuskie Island today. The book made the island appear to be almost a foreign land to the mainland, and I wanted to determine how much of that still holds true. I also thought that this may allow me to understand the implications of the book, as addressed above. Based on my research, I learned that the education system has been refined. A handful of full time residents attend primary school on the island, and then travel by bus and boat to Hilton Head Island for their secondary schooling. This more integrated approach to education requires a commute of over an hour during the high school years, but it helps assimilate the students more than they were in the book. This is a product of the issues addressed publicly by the book as well as the change in time period. As for the island itself, the book mentions that there were limited career opportunities on the island. As a business major, I am fascinated by economic development, and I wanted to determine if that still holds true. Today, the island’s main economy is tourism based. The island website describes a beautiful, authentic, and remote island getaway experience that indicates it is a destination unique to those along the east coast. That being said, my research did not include history or geography. I felt that I needed to answer deeper questions, and I was already very familiar with the geography. Furthermore, Conroy did a great job of addressing the island history through his own inquiry.


            My favorite part of additional research was diving into the reviews. It is easy to see that this is not just a praised book but a loved one. Reviews included words like “enlightening”, “impressed”, “magical”, and “reread”. Conroy is touted as a praised storyteller, a strong writer, and able to address historical topics in a less historical setting. Overall, this book, the associated reviews, and my additional research have made Daufuskie Island a must visit location for me, and it has now earned a spot on my bucket list.





“Beaufort County Schools.” Beaufort County School District,


Conroy, Pat. The Water Is Wide: A Memoir. Bantam Books, 1972.,,


Daufuskie Island, SC, Lton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce & Visitor and Convention Bureau, 13 Oct. 2015,


MarCom, Tucker. Enjoy Historic Daufuskie Island, SC,


“The Water Is Wide.” Goodreads,

“The Road to Little Dribbling” Essay Review

By Jessica Mohr

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first: “The Road to Little Dribbling” by Bill Bryson, published in 2015 by Anchor Books, is a just-shy-of-400-pages text detailing a practiced travel writer’s adventures in Britain, both as a tourist and, eventually, as a citizen. Just following the table of contents is a simple map of England with the relevant cities and nearby bodies of water marked for easy reference, should you get lost while reading. Each chapter, named after a different region or city on the island, details Bryson’s ongoing trials and tribulations associated with being an American in Britain.

What drew me to this book in particular was the time I spent living in London as a requirement for my participation in the Elon Teaching Fellows program. I was a secondary English education major in a past life (the first three years of my undergraduate career), and the fact that Elon wanted to offer me a small scholarship and a prestigious fellowship made it, at the time, a no-brainer to pursue that line of study. Eventually, I did drop the major, but that’s a story for another day. In the spring semester of our sophomore year at Elon, the entire Teaching Fellows cohort was required to go abroad, either to Costa Rica, London, or a country whose native language is your major (i.e. a double major in Elementary Education and French spent the semester in Paris). Since the rest of my English Education peers were going to London, I did as well. Since I had this experience living in London, and traveling around the United Kingdom, I decided it was a good idea to choose a travel writing book about these areas.

We spent just over four months, from January to April, living in a beautiful flat in South Kensington, which was spitting distance to the Gloucester Road and South Kensington tube stops. It was one of the most amazing, transformative, and educational experiences I have had while a student at Elon. I’d never lived anywhere other than the same 10-mile radius in Apex, North Carolina, and the only other places I had visited in the country were Washington, D.C. and Springfield, Pennsylvania where my grandparents lived. I guess you could say that hopping on a plane to the comparatively huge city of London, England was shocking to my smaller-town, Southern mind. However, once my initial culture shock and jet lag wore off, I began to really enjoy myself in this new city. It was fun learning all the quirks of the city, as well as London’s distinct personality, through taking classes, living, and working in London.

While I haven’t spent nearly as much time there as Bryson has, and I’m sure he will continue to rack up more days in the U.K. in the future, my study abroad experience allows me to speak about London as somewhat of an insider. I joke with my family that I wasn’t close to being a native, but, by March, I was scoffing in annoyance at tourists as I speed-walked to the tube twice a day to get to and from work. This is where the bulk of my “research” about the city comes in; first-hand experience. When Bryson discusses the Circle line, and how it is both a slow-moving enigma and definitely not a circle, I thought back to my own experiences with the line. It’s weird and unpredictable and kind of a dump, especially compared to the Jubilee or District lines. Rather than referencing specific bodies of research done on London itself, my experiences and reflections on the time I’ve spent in the city will serve as my primary source of

information. If nothing else, writing this paper will definitely make me nostalgic and want to go back as soon as possible.

My “take” on this book is that its author needs to relax a little bit with his casual elitism. I understand that he is an elderly white individual with a lot of privilege and fame to his name that undoubtedly contribute to the way he speaks about others, but, to me, that only explains his prejudices; it doesn’t excuse them. The general sense that I got was that Bryson is one of those oblivious old white people who just wants things to “go back to the way they were in the good old days,” where segregation was still a thing and women didn’t wear shorts above the knee, lest they be branded with a scarlet A. But at least gas was only a quarter a gallon, amiright? What I’m trying to get at here is that Bryson seems, strongly, to look down on younger generations and their mannerisms. As a person of said younger generation with some of said mannerisms, I didn’t too much enjoy reading about his snooty opinions about the kinds of pop culture I consume, or how stupid we all are because only some of us can’t point out America on a map. That last one, fine, I’m a little appalled as well, but that won’t stop me from defending my geographically challenged peers!

What frustrated me the most about Bryson’s attitude towards the younger generation was actually very early on in the book — section II of the prologue — when Bryson is discussing his learning curve when it comes to British society. He talks for a few pages about how “I am constantly at a loss in this new world,” and “It is a place full of celebrities whose names I don’t know and talents I cannot discern,” among other things. This is a common theme of conversation, that I am willing to bet my student loan debt on, that just about everyone else in my generation has had with someone from Bryson’s generation. For me, this conversation comes up a lot with my grandparents and other extended family; they make some sort of nested-in-truth joke about “oh millennials these days with their cell phones and Kardashians,” and proceed to shit all over my generation for no other discernible reason other than they’re upset that we understand how an iPad works, and they can’t figure it out to save their lives. This pissed off grandparent vibe comes out a lot when Bryson looks down his nose at modern pop culture, which is not something I really care for at all. Something that he needs to understand is that young people today can have a variety of interests, including media that others may deem “trashy” or “vapid,” and still be interesting, well-rounded, decent people. Just because someone enjoys watching Keeping up with the Kardashians from time to time doesn’t automatically make them someone of lower intelligence than someone who doesn’t. With all the nonsense that’s going on in the world today, who doesn’t need some escapism from our childish orange overlord every now and then? Some people like to read books, some people like to go for runs, some people like to binge watch Star Trek, and some people like to turn their brains off and watch reality television. They all have the same potential for assholery as the other.

With this book, Bryson is attempting to give an accurate and detailed account of what it was like for him to live, travel, and investigate in Britain. His adventures to citizenship and travels around the island may be the closest some people get to a trip around England, or perhaps they are using this book as an intro course before jumping headfirst into a trip of their own. His question going in, as it seems to me, would have been “how can I explain British culture across

the island from my perspective as an American?” Overall, this seems to be the goal of Bryson’s account of his own adventures through unfamiliarity with the culture through to eventual citizenship and feeling more like a “local.”

When it comes to the overall genre of travel writing, I believe this book most strongly engages with the traveler/tourist interacting with the “other,” or someone who is unfamiliar to them. Bryson could have gone to a country that is significantly different from his home country of America, which I’m sure would have made for a very different kind of book, but he chose to visit another white-dominated, English-speaking country. Despite this, he still managed to make it sound like he was a stranger in a strange land.

This was odd to me because, when I lived in London, I didn’t feel as out of place as it seems Bryson felt. When I encountered someone different from me, either a British native or otherwise, I didn’t feel inclined to talk about it like I was a white cultural anthropologist deep in the bowels of Samoa for the first time. Granted, the culture outside of London is indeed a little eccentric — I couldn’t understand my Irish host even though his wife swore he was speaking English — but I was always relatively comfortable and adapted relatively easily to the small, occasional quirks that came up. Thinking back, the only times I was especially uncomfortable with what was happening was any time I was in an airport, but that was only because of my paralyzing fear of flying. The people rarely made me twitch to the point where I felt like a complete outsider.

In the grand scheme of things, Bryson’s overall lack of adaptability when it comes to new cultural differences leads me to believe his cultural literacy needs to be questioned. Going in, I was told that he was a great travel writer with many years, experiences, and adventures under his belt; I expected him to be a wise, understanding individual who has obviously learned a lot from his travels. Instead, this book read as if it were written by someone’s curmudgeonly grandfather who hasn’t left the 20-mile radius of his home town except for maybe the occasional business trip to South Dakota.

In order to be considered a culturally literate individual, Bryson would need to reflect on his experiences a little more and learn to understand that difference does not equal deficit. Just because someone is different than him, and may be treating him differently than he has grown used to here in America, doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be an equally brilliant and well-rounded individual as he believes himself to be. In order to facilitate my own understanding and enriched reading of the book, I made sure to read a small handful of reviews of the book before I purchased it. My first stop was Amazon reviews, as that was from where I ordered the book. I also read some reviews from Goodreads, which, after reading the book, I found myself agreeing with. Lastly, and unsurprisingly, the reviews within the book were glowing recommendations which praised Bryson’s “humor.” In terms of research regarding history and/or geography, I was fortunate enough to have my own firsthand experience with England to look back on. Instead of staring at a map on Google Images, I went back through the Google Drive folder that contains all the photos I took during my semester abroad in London in order to refresh my memory of the city. When he discussed towns and areas that I was not familiar with, I looked up images and maps to ensure I had an accurate mental picture of where he was taking me.

This review may come off as scathingly negative of Mr. Bryson’s mannerisms, writing, personality, and general existence on the planet…oh, who am I kidding, that’s exactly what it is! There’s no “but” there. Obviously, I am not a fan of Bryson’s. I must reluctantly admit that his perspective, no matter my opinions on how he imparts it with the rest of the world, is certainly a unique one. I doubt there are many other travel writers out there who share both his level of celebrity and cynicism, which can be an interesting way to look at international travel when you are a white American. If you’re an average Joe looking to gather all information possible before hopping on a plane to Heathrow, please promise me that this won’t be the only book about England you read before going over there. England is so much more than what Bryson portrays it to be. If you’re an old, pissed off grandparent type, have a ball! I’m sure you’ve been angrily shaking your fist at me the whole time, if you even made it this far. Enjoy yet another old white man agreeing with your worldview. Regardless of who you are, do us all a favor take Bryson’s words with a grain of salt. The United Kingdom has so much to offer Americans as a multicultural travel experience; we just have to let it.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, An Essay Review

By Jenny Kane

In 2012, Cheryl Strayed, formerly Cheryl Nyland, published a memoir of her personal account hiking the 1,100-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) when she was a lost and broken 26-year-old in the summer of 1995. The title of the book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, in itself represents the purpose and direction of the book as an archetypical, travel inspired memoir. Since its publication in 2012, Wild has become a New York Times bestseller and can be found in most book stores today. The hardcover edition is 336 pages—seemingly lengthy, but overall reviewers agree that it’s a fast read. It was published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a small, American firm that has been around for over one hundred years. Although it retails for $11.29 from stores like Books a Million and Barnes and Noble, I was able to access it used for $3.99 off of Amazon. The accessibility of the book expands even further with its movie debut in 2014 starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as her mother. Reese Witherspoon produced the film as a spark to her movement that focuses on reshaping the image of women in the United States. Regardless of its multimodality, in both the memoir and the movie Wild captures the fear and vigor of one young woman pushing against all odds on a journey that hurt, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. That personal journey with self is what makes this book the perfect travel writing example. Her key point is that life doesn’t wait for anyone, and the book’s main purpose is to motivate all of her readers to keep moving no matter how unfair life may seem. Without the will to continue moving, travel is lost, and so is hope.


In several interviews with the New York Times and The Guardian, Strayed comments that the seventeen-year interim between those events in her life and publishing this book was crucial to the rhetorical effectivity of her writing and “ability to grow and reflect”. The aging of her field notebooks and journals are what strengthened the life story she had to reconstruct through writing this memoir. Inherent to the writing process for this particular piece of travel writing was rhetorical reflection on some of the most painful and powerful points of her experience and picking apart her psyche to portray the events as they actually happened. Through this style of anecdotal storytelling, Strayed successfully lends the audience the ethos, pathos, and logos necessary to emote the blunt truth of her situation. Before she hiked the PCT, Cheryl was working as a waitress, separated from her husband, and helplessly mourning over the premature loss of her mother to lung cancer. It was only when she hit her absolute low—her addiction to heroin—that she knew she had to make a radical change. The fake surname that Cheryl developed, “Strayed,” speaks a lot to her identity and life experience as a woman who overcame injustice and failure through physical and mental isolation as a function of travel. Today, Cheryl is an American essayist, podcaster, traveler, and soul-searcher. She has now written four best-selling books and has published many of her essays in popular magazines such as the New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post. Wild is her most profound book to date, as it represents her own account of her life as it really happened, not withholding any of the detail.


Strayed says the goal of her journey was to find “radical aloneness,” a mental and physical state in which no other program, job, therapy, or place could give her. In Wild she states “alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was” (Strayed, Chapter 8). This example is enough to show how impressive of an author Strayed is. It’s personally inspiring to me that a woman with little to no writing experience could produce such profound and poetic diction that has now reached millions of readers. Another personally impactful line from the book was: “I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me” (Strayed, Chapter 4). In my own experience with travel, I find it hard to be vulnerable with the culture and with aspects of my identity that I usually hide away. After reading Wild, I am newly inspired to let the geography and culture shape me more and bring out those vulnerabilities. Strayed is pleading with the reader that overcoming a fear is the first step to growing as a traveler and individual.


Her book starts similarly to how her journey started, with a series of beginnings. One was her decision to hike the PCT after finding a book about it “with a blissful waterfall on the front,” a second was to actually follow through with that decision and purchase all of the gear she would need and conduct research, and a third was to actually put herself at the foot of the trail in the middle of the Mojave Desert. However, it wasn’t until after her hike that she realized that her true beginning was the day she discovered that her mom had cancer. After laying out these pieces of her journey, Strayed uses the remainder of the book to take the reader through a loop of rhetorical analysis and reflection of the past events of her life as they relate to her journey on the trail. No one could prepare her for the news of her mother’s passing when she had already battled so many personal feats throughout her short life thus far. But it was this news that first sent her down a meek road, full of disappointment. Hiking the PCT for Cheryl meant escaping the source of heartache that she was familiar with and being forced to confront it in an unfamiliar landscape. Thus, Wild is an example of travel being used as an outlet to explore identity and individuality, and that is what Cheryl was able to harness through her own journey.


After doing some research of my own on the Pacific Crest Trail, it becomes clear pretty quickly that it is no place for a novice hiker. Cheryl was exactly that at the beginning of the summer of 1995. She had no idea how she would complete the journey from the Mojave Desert to the forests of Washington State, as the trail is loaded with untouched and awe-inspiring biodiversity that most people never get the chance to experience. The people on the trail are usually either experts on the geography, skilled hikers and outdoorsmen, or hunters, all of which Cheryl was not. However, when she did interact with any of these groups, she at first approached them with her appropriated reaction of fear and distrust. By the end of the trail, and book, she meets a group of hikers and spends the night with them. It is then, at the end of her journey, that she is able to let down her walls and allows herself to be vulnerable, something she hadn’t done in a long time. Both the close-knit culture and the dangers of the trail forced Cheryl to challenge her previously formed identity, and to look at life through an open lens.


Very little of the book is actually devoted to Strayed’s childhood and the actual event of her mother’s death. Strayed uses a theme that reminisces the life that aligns with various events and hardships she faces on the trail. The emotional scenes she does give about her past are incisive and full of pathos: “crying in a public bathroom after her mother receives a diagnosis of incurable cancer, her mother crying in the next stall over, neither saying a word to the other”. This is the only paragraph she gives but it is enough to bring the reader to that moment and empathize. Most of the book is subtler and focused on the details of life hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. She states “the wanting was a wilderness and I had to find my own way out of the woods,” before diving into tales of enormous backpacks, friendly fellow hikers and treacherously icy mountain paths (Strayed, Chapter 2). The audience also begins to realize here the deeper meaning of this “wilderness” as a more complex, psychological metaphor. Although nothing was particularly extraordinary about her hike along the PCT, her travel writing is relatable and motivational to all readers who may be going through similar events in their lives. Cheryl Strayed purposes this book as a means for readers, especially women, to empower themselves as individuals through travel, and synonymously through soul-searching. 


This memoir has had a personal impact on me as a novice to both life’s hardships and travel. It has inspired me to address both the mental and physical obstacles in my life and to not let those obstacles define who I am. Furthermore, my values and upbringing have helped give me a perspective of my own and, thus, the impact this memoir has had on me is individualized, as is every other reader’s. I first had watched the movie and was extremely inspired by the message and emotion within the film. While reading, I had the tendency to picture some of the scenes from the movie, but I do not see this as an impairment to the significance of the book itself. Instead, the movie acts as a guide for my mind to explore the author’s journey. I feel a personal connection to the author and her message in that I understand how embracing and isolating oneself in nature can act as a therapy for some of life’s hardest moments. As a fellow woman, Cheryl Strayed represents an amazing role model for me and other women as she motivates her readers to empower themselves through travel in nature—bringing herself down to the bare bones of her identity.


The primary research I conducted before reading this book involved understanding the Pacific Crest Trail, its landscape, its dangers, and its culture. Similarly, to follow up on some of the fine details Cheryl Strayed describes in her memoir, I made sure to look into each stop along her journey to help bring a real image to the words on the page. The PCT is more than just the geography. There is an entire association that surrounds itself on the ideology of ecological preservation and community—something that Cheryl found inspiring and uplifting when before she had never even thought to be a part of such a culture. Next, I researched Cheryl, her interviews, and as many reviews as I could possibly find on her book and the movie. I found that her personal interviews and book reviews were pretty spot on with the film, which was surprising and impressive. Overall, I discovered an author who has successfully written a multifaceted book that takes travel writing and places it at the heart of the human psyche and life as a human being. Each reader gets their own experience in reading the book and watching the movie and is effected in a different way. Cheryl herself is trying to show her readers and the public that life is hard, but it is the only life we are given so it is important to embrace it and enjoy it; and more importantly, that some types of extreme travel can cure even the most painful aspects of life.

Magnolia 23 (Asheboro, NC)

By Soula Kosti

Magnolia 23 is a small restaurant on 23 South Fayetteville Street in Asheboro, NC. This restaurant takes pride in its home-cooking and soul food. The owners have created a homey, Southern spot with the Southern-style fried chicken as their specialty. They promise their customers the real deal.


This small place is closed three times a week, and has some weird times. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, they open at 11 a.m. and close at 2 p.m., and then reopen at 5 p.m. and close at 8 p.m. On Sunday, they open at 11 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. We went on a Sunday, right before Thanksgiving week and they were planning to stay closed for the entire week. However, many people waited in line and it seemed a popular place, as we had to wait for about 15-20 minutes.


Magnolia 23 offers no menu, as they include different items depending on the day of the week. Even though, there isn’t a big variety, the portions are pretty generous. People who choose meat can get two sides. When we went, we both got the fried chicken, that they say is 63rd best on the entire nation. They give you the choice between white and dark meat, and we both chose white. We both got the white roll instead of the corn bread. My sides were the mashed potatoes and the slaw, while my companion’s were the mac n cheese and the yums. The chicken was absolutely amazing. It was served hot, falling of the bone, and as crisp as it should be. The sides were good, but we could definitely say that the chicken was the star of the plate. The staff was also nice and friendly. The owner is always around and goes from table to table to introduce himself, make sure everything is good, and get to meet his customers.


            Since we had to wait in line to be seated, we got the chance to explore the restaurant’s decorations. As you walk in there is a table with a sign on it saying how Magnolia 23 was voted 63rd on the nation for its fried chicken. The walls have boards with the menu of the day and a personal statement, including phrases such as “our food is made from scratch and most importantly made from love.” In the back of the restaurant, there are many family pictures that give the place more of that homey feel and vibe, and also a big map so people can add the place they came from. When the owner came to talk to us, he actually suggested that we should add our home to the map, and so we did.

lucettegrace Review

By Soula Kosti

During our long trip around the places Highway 64 connects, our last destination in the Piedmont area was Raleigh. Once we finished our drive around Raleigh, we decided to stop at a bakery and satisfy our sweet tooth. The place that was closest to our location and we decided to stopped was luccettegrace. None of us had been there before so that was a great new experience for all. We parked right across the street and we easily found the small bakery. The front view of the store is full of glass and gives the pedestrians a view of the inside of the bakery, as well as, a view of the road for those dining in. The inside of the pastry shop is very bright and colorful. The dark brick wall contrasts with the bright chairs and colorful writing on the wall in a perfectly balanced way.

This bakery’s menu offers lunch, beverages, as well as pastries, but we were there just for the later. Jessica and Maritza got the Macaron Gift 


Box, which included 8 macarons with different flavors of their choice. I got the Churro Bun and the Candy Bar Cake. As they described them, the Churro Bun is a cinnamon sugar dusted croissant filled with vanilla cream, and the Candy Bar Cake includes chocolate hazelnut praline mousse, praline chocolate crunch, brown butter cake, and praline cream. Jessica and Maritza said they loved the apple pie flavored macaron, while Maritza wasn’t a big fan of the rose. I wasn’t a big fan of the churro bun, but I enjoyed the candy bar cake.


lucettegrace could be described as a french-type bakery, which includes a contemporary menu. The portions aren’t very generous compared to the price, but desserts can be that way. There wasn’t a big variety either, but the staff was pretty friendly. The bakery’s motto is “lucettegrace is a starting point for your day, an escape in the middle, and a reward at the end.” They are located in 235 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh, NC, and they are open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Daniel’s Restaurant and Catering

By Jessica Mohr

This review is special to me because I have been going to Daniel’s Restaurant and Catering for as long as I can remember. Whenever extended family came into town from Philadelphia, we would always take them here for a delicious Italian meal that was also reasonably priced, especially when compared to some of the places in Raleigh or Cary that were also on the list of “grandparent accepted” restaurants in the area. In addition to being affordable and delicious, Daniel’s is right down the road from my house! Google Maps calculates it as 1.8 miles away. That’s walkable, if you’re desperate. Due to my long history with this place, and its location 0.8 miles from Highway 64, Daniel’s was a natural choice for this review. 

The appetizer I selected for this review is their arancini. For those of you who have never experienced the Italian magic, arancini is a deep-fried ball of risotto with a gooey glob of cheese in the middle, served over homemade tomato sauce. I like it with extra Parmesan cheese on top and more pepper than most people deem tasteful. Not only are Daniel’s arancini large (think tennis balls), they are also robust and substantial. As soon as you cut into them you know there’s about to be a party in your mouth — the hearty, warm smell of a well-made risotto combined with melted mozzarella cheese comes wafting out of the ball, inspiring a reaction I can only describe as excitement. The first thing you notice when you take a bite is how crisp the fried outer shell is. Despite sitting in a bed of moist tomato sauce, that outer shell is still sharp and crisp when you take a bite out of it.

Once you get through the fried outer shell, flavorful risotto and creamy mozzarella cheese greet you on the inside. Risotto is an Italian staple made with rice, meat broth, onions, garlic, fresh herbs, and usually some butter for good measure. Whoever Daniel is, I want to find him and ask him where he gets his seasonings, because this is some of the most intense flavor I’ve ever experienced out of a risotto, and I’ve been to Italy! This appetizer reminded me of the small hole-in-the-wall restaurant my mother and I ate at no less than three times during our two-day visit to Florence. Everything in Daniel’s arancini tasted fresh, authentic, and vibrant.

While I could survive on arancini alone if I really put my mind to it, I also opted for an entree, and what better dish to select for the main course than pasta? There were plenty of “pastabilities” on the menu, but I decided to go for the house favorite: penne alla casa. This is, as written on the menu, “a heavenly concoction of red sauce and cream, garlic, Romano cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and spinach.” I also added chicken so I could pretend I was having something healthy. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this dish as well. The sauce was indeed heavenly, with just the right amount of kick from the garlic, the pasta was nice and al dente, and the chicken was well-prepared. The only critique I had was that there was a bit too much spinach in the mix for my liking, but that’s too much a personal preference for me to count it as a negative aspect of their recipe. After all, I had more than enough pasta to eat off of for three days after my meal, and that’s far more exciting than worrying about the quantity of spinach. Between the leftovers and the half a loaf of garlic bread in the takeout bag, I was one happy customer.

Lexington Barbecue Festival- 2017

By Jessica Mohr

For me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of a North Carolina barbeque festival is the smell. That scent of pigs parts being slowly roasted over a variety of wood wafts all around you, and you can’t get the vague taste of barbeque sauce out of the clothes you were wearing until they’ve been washed three times are all landmark experiences when it comes to barbecue festivals.  Unfortunately, these things were not present at the 2017 Lexington BBQ Festival.

Before we get into my criticisms of the festival, let’s start off on a sunny side! Lexington, on a normal day, is a small, quaint North Carolina town with a sign for barbecue restaurants just about as frequently spaced down the road as they do signs for churches. Small, local joints with their own secret sauces and methods of smoking pig parts line the road down the center of town. Even as you drive up on 64, you can tell you’re approaching Lexington by the increasing number of billboards advertising for these local joints, as well as the large one advertising the annual, famous Lexington BBQ Festival. This is, without a doubt, a barbeque town.

Upon arriving at the festival, I was surprised to notice the remarkably normal smell of the town. When you’re going to a BBQ festival, you expect to smell some of the food you’re going to be sampling, right? We’ve all seen the TV shows of pitmasters going ham (pun intended) on half a pig over a bed of crackling wood or charcoal. After continuously being slathered in rich, homemade barbecue sauce, the meaty smells of pork and sauce waft over everything nearby. There was none of this in Lexington. If anything, I smelled more of the gas station down the road than any sort of pork products. Even while standing outside the sole barbeque food tent, I couldn’t really smell anything distinctly pork-ish, at least until I unwrapped my sandwich from its tinfoil prison.

Overall, I would say I was definitely underwhelmed by the Lexington BBQ Festival this year. There were more flea market-style merchants selling trinkets than there were actual barbecuers selling delicious pork foods, and, to be completely honest, the fried apple pie I bought from a church stand was far more satisfying than the small sandwich from the sole BBQ food tent in the middle of town. Given the hype and cartoon pig proudly advertising the festival as a BBQ festival, the event itself was not what I expected. Maybe something has changed within the town to alter the “flavor” of the festival, and make it more driven by miscellaneous vendors than restaurants? Maybe this was just a fluke year, and it will be back to normal in 2018?

Thankfully, a representative from the governing board of the festival reported that they are indeed aware of the overabundance of miscellaneous and redundant vendors, as well as the disappointingly low number of actual barbeque stands. I was happy to hear that they are planning to begin regulating vendors at the festival more stringently in upcoming years. In the recent past, the overseers of the event decided to relax regulations on who is allowed to set up shop during the festival. This, as we’ve seen, allowed people selling artisanal soap and postcards to be more prevalent than actual barbeque stands. In order to make the Lexington BBQ Festival just that again, a BBQ festival, the governing board is prepared to take action in order to restore the smells of pork to Lexington once again. I will be very excited to go back next year and see how they are doing.

Piedmont Travelogue

By Jessica Mohr

On a sunny morning in late October, my travel group and I set out in my mom’s Chevy Avalanche for a day-long road trip around central North Carolina. From Elon to Lexington, we enjoyed taking in the sights of I-40, a busy, industrial road linking countless towns and cities together. However, the real adventure didn’t start until we hopped on Highway 64 heading out of Lexington. I-40 is great for getting where you need to go in a timely fashion, but this stretch of 64 through Franklinville and Ramseur is more for sightseeing and enjoying North Carolina’s great fall beauty, unless you live out there, of course. The tops of the trees are just beginning to turn orange, yellow, and red — a striking contrast to the sharp blue sky against which they are set.


Driving on 64 through this rural section of the state was a welcome change from the more developed and crowded cities I’ve come to call home: Apex and Elon. By no means are either of these towns a bustling metropolis, but they are certainly busier than downtown Ramseur, NC. While driving through both Franklinville and Ramseur, we hardly encountered any traffic, even though we were there around lunchtime. Pedestrians waved cordially to us, giving the impression that these were towns where everyone knows everyone, and newcomers/tourists/visitors are few and far between, except when related to long-time residents. Ramseur’s defining characteristic was mainly its evident history as an industrial town; old factory buildings and mills lined the roads, and regardless of how long they’d been abandoned or repurposed, they still bore the name associated with that previous life proudly.


Unfortunately, the roads that wound through Ramseur made one of our travelers a little motion sick. After stopping on solid land (read: an empty Arby’s parking lot) until she regained her equilibrium, we rolled out once again, this time aiming for my hometown of Apex! This stretch of 64 was one that I was significantly more familiar with, as I’d been driving on it since I was old enough to have a learner’s permit. As we got closer to the new Chipotle off 64 just past the demolition site that used to be my high school, I was able to put on my tour guide hat! Granted, I didn’t know any super interesting historical facts about the highway or the places we were going by. My tour guide knowledge consisted mainly of things like “that’s the neighborhood where my best friend from high school lived! She’s now off getting a doctorate in how to save the world from Stanford,” and “this is the new toll road, we’re all pissed about it because it’s only a toll road around Apex/Cary and is free everywhere else.” Local tidbits are my specialty, not a broad historical perspective.


After a delicious lunch stop, we loaded up the truck once more for the final leg of our drive – Apex into Raleigh. Since my house is 20 minutes away from downtown Raleigh (15 on a good day), this was a blissfully short drive, comparatively. Remarkably, none of my travel group mates had ever been to Raleigh! On again went my tour guide hat. We drove the length (and width) of the city center multiple times, being sure to circle the Governor’s Mansion multiple times until we could all get a peek at it through the large, leafy trees obscuring most of the view. We also saw the courthouse, museums, convention center, and the beautiful tree mural that shimmers in the wind. Since we couldn’t let a trip into Raleigh not include sampling the local food, we stopped at a small bakery called Lucette Grace, which was a fun combination of French rustic and sleek modern lines on the inside. After snapping some photos and each filling one of the bakery’s bright yellow boxes with 8 assorted macaroons, we meandered back to the truck to head home to Elon, all with a better understanding of how this historic highway winds through the Piedmont region.

Piedmont Profile

By Nicole Galante            

The Piedmont leg of Highway 64 is much more than a collection of small country towns. It is historical, diverse–it encapsulates the spirit of North Carolina. 

We began our journey in Lexington, North Carolina: home of the nation’s famous barbeque festival. Like one would expect from a small country town, Lexington’s downtown strip has ol’ southern character. Its main street is lined with boutiques, family owned restaurants, and pigs. Yes, pink pig statues line the sidewalk, paying homage to the barbeque that put the small town on the national map.

From Lexington, we wound down two-lane Highway 64 to get to Asheboro. This second stop on our journey brought us to a town bigger than the one we came from. Asheboro has distinct southern charm, much like Lexington, but its scale is larger. On the downtown strip, tourists can stop into a secondhand bookstore, get coffee next door, and finish their trip off with a nice dinner at a local establishment. If you’re in Asheboro during September, make sure to visit the town’s Fall Festival for even more fun.

Passing Asheboro is where Highway 64 begins to get a bit bumpy. The roads grow windier and windier, and the trees begin to close in. If you’re a back-seater like I was, beware: car sickness comes at you quickly.

As the road got straighter and my car sickness began to subside, the Highway brought us to Franklinville, and then Ramseur. The interesting thing about these two towns is that, despite their close proximity, each is distinct. It was easy to see where Franklinville ended and where Ramseur began. Small southern towns are not, it would appear, completely universal. Each has its own charm to offer tourists driving through. As quickly as they arrive, though, they’re gone: nothing more than small points in our rearview mirror as we continued down the highway.

Siler City, Saxapahaw, and Pittsboro passed in a similar fashion. Each brought its unique charm, but passed with blinding brevity. Then, we hit Apex, a town much larger than we were expecting. Apex is not your typical country town like Franklinville or Ramseur. It is commercialized, colonized, and growing in all directions. Costcos, Citgos, and Chipotles can be found at each intersection you past. While the town may have started small, it’s grown into something much larger today.

Apex prepared us well for our final stop: Raleigh. Highway 64 no longer runs through the heart of downtown, but we drove the course where it used to stand. Downtown Raleigh is the epitome of civilization, unrecognizable from its fellow Highway 64 towns. Raleigh visitors can admire the city’s skyscrapers, go to museums, spend hundreds of dollars on dinner, and even visit the governor’s house. If excitement is your thing, then Raleigh is the place to be.

At the conclusion of our six hour trip, we were exhausted, saturated with an overwhelming amount of sights and information–but it was worth it. Before this trip, we never believed that North Carolina could be so diverse and full of life. It goes to show you that no two towns are exactly alike, and you can find hidden treasures in the unlikeliest of places.