Right Place, Right Time: Lake Lure has a lot to Offer

By Claire Gaskill

        Along the winding road of Highway 64 lies Lake Lure. This small town is known for its parks, historic landmarks, and, as denoted by its name, winding lake. Lake Lure is not vast in size, with a population just shy of 2,000 people, but it’s landmarks cannot be missed during a journey down Highway 64. When traveling from the west, you will first stumble upon the grand entrance to Chimney Rock State Park. A quick turn in will lead you through a tree lined climb up to the state park entrance. The road, which is surprisingly wide enough to fit two-way traffic, is a difficult drive. However, the clearing at the top that houses the Chimney Rock entrance is a welcome surprise. The entrance is home to a guardhouse that must be passed through before being admitted into the park. While waiting in line to speak with the park guard, the view is incredible. You can see Chimney Rock and the hike up along with a beautiful blue sky and autumn leaves if you, like us, visit on a clear October morning. Be advised, however, that admission into the park is not without cost. At a rate of $13 per adult and $6 per child, tickets to this unique experience can be purchased both online and at the park entrance gate. This seemingly steep admission cost caught us by surprise. As a result, we turned around and braved the treacherous drive once over to see what else Lake Lure had to offer.

            Suffering from car sickness from the windy drive along Highway 64, the Lake Lure Beach and Water Park was a welcome sight. This park was not only beautiful, but it was free.  A small information building sat just beyond the parking lot as the first stop in the park before venturing beyond to find basketball courts and grassy fields, each leading to Lake Lure. Sitting down a hill, the lake, which is the namesake for the town, can easily be confused for a river. Its narrow and winding path is home to docks and boats, and its shoreline is fairly undeveloped beyond a smattering of houses. The public access to the lake’s beach is free of charge and full of outdoor resources. We were not alone on our early Saturday morning visit: a pick-up game was taking place with children on the basketball court, locals were walking along the lake, and families were enjoying a picnic breakfast on the park picnic tables. That being said, just driving through, there was not much to do at the lake beyond enjoy the much need fresh air to settle sick stomachs. After an enjoyable walk, we once again piled into the car in search of our next destination.

            Lucky for us, the next destination was right across the street. Upon pulling out of the beach parking lot, we were shocked to see what appeared to be a village of tents, especially so early on Saturday morning when the rest of the town appeared to still be sleeping and store fronts were closed. We were eager to park and see what all the excitement was about. To our thrill, we had lined our trip up perfectly with the bi yearly Lake Lure Arts and Crafts Festival. The festival happens each year for two days during a weekend in October and for three days during Memorial Day weekend. For more information on the fair, read For Lovers of Crafts and Good Times by other student visitors that also experienced the Festival. As fans of soaps and candles, we were beyond impressed by the offerings of this festival.  With rows and rows of vendors as well as a few food trucks, the over 60 artisans presented their homemade creations under white tents.  Their work ranged from fairly expensive pottery to more unique homemade dolls and children’s toys.

We were first attracted to the candles at the Fresh Scent Soy Candles booth. The Spains, an outgoing and friendly husband and wife duo that run the business, educated us on their products, associated benefits, and the creation process. As we smelled all of their unique candle flavors, they were thrilled to share a detailed account of what differentiates their product from candles sourced from stores. Each soy candle is sold in a glass, mason-like jar and priced at $10. We were so impressed by the candles and their maker that we collectively purchased two. After walking around and fully immersing ourselves in all the festival had to offer, our final stop was Bully Bites. Attracted to their tent by their bulldog mascot, this homemade, all natural dog treat vendor was a great end to our visit. After chatting with the baker, we learned that although these dog treats rival their store-bought competitors, they are very different. They are fresh, meaning they either need to be refrigerated or frozen, and contain ingredients that contend with human food. Creating these treats is an effort to make dogs healthier; only wholesome ingredients are used and preservatives are omitted for a high-quality product. Excited by the healthy differences in these dog treats, we bought two unique $10 bags to bring back to our pups. As we paid with our credit cards, we were surprised by the connectivity of such a remote event. Although it took a second to load the Square app due to minimal internet service, it was fairly common to accept credit cards at the festival.

After a successful stop and multiple purchases, we headed back towards the car. Fulfilled by our time in Lake Lure, we were excited to get back on the road.

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.

The Trip Home

By Andrew Scott

At its quickest, three hours and fifty-eight minutes. At its slowest six hours and thirty-six minutes. On average, four hours and sixteen minutes. These are the approximate lengths of time that I have spent traveling Highway 64 east and west getting from home to school, and vice versa. Living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and going to school at Elon University in Burlington, there is virtually only one way to get to these destinations. It’s a straight shot. Seventy miles per hour through rolling farmland, flat plains, and swamplands long forgotten. At dawn there is a faint glow that harkens a new day, but you won’t see a single commuter. At mid-day, the sun melts down a depressingly eerie bright light across the asphalt that has seen better days. At dusk the sunsets in a tapestry burst of heated colors behind the sink trees across the farms mile long fields. And at night there isn’t another light for miles and miles, while insects the size of your fist pelt the windshield of your car. This road shoots straight across the state, fast and furiously; I have traveled it numerous times, yet have never taken the time to slow down and greet the quieter walks of life that inhabit it.

The road from my home in Dare County, cuts through towns that have been all but forgotten like Plymouth, Tarboro, and Nashville. These last remaining pinnacles of the pre-urbanized eastern North Carolina, live and die by the interstate. Once, the highway used meander straight through their quaint towns; but now it flies by them, leaving only quick fast food stops and gas station fill ups. This is all these towns were for me, my four years now traveling back in forth from Elon to Kitty Hawk. I knew I’d stop for food in Nashville, and then quickly fill up my tank in Rocky Mount. If I felt like going the North route I could go through Williamson to Elizabeth City, but most often ride 64 straight through to Manteo. This experience never changed. There wasn’t any exploring or searching for what lay beyond the highways path. Up until now…

The Highway 64 project has given me a new sense of appreciation for the area that I travel numerous times every year. There is heart and soul in these old-timey towns. The quaint brick housed Main Streets where people wave to everyone. The quiet and tranquility of these back-farm roads can’t be beat. The people you run into are even a complete representation of this style of life: slowly-talking, purposefully-driven, and sincerely-hospitable. When you enter these true Mom and Pop shops, the appreciation displayed is unlike any experience found within big city-limits. These transportive Highway 64 experiences flash one back to the mid 20th century America where things moved slowly and lights were out at nine. Towns where everyone knew everyone, and the world was just as big as your county lines. When missing church on Sunday morning was a gossip worthy offense. When high school football and baseball teams dictated the entire talk of the town. Despite these idealistic and often fond memories through the lens of a metropolitan dystopia, when we pass through places like this one can’t help but remember the long, tried, and rough history of diversity and income inequality in these lands. This drive through the “down-” town feels like a jump straight through time, an experience completely ignored by the four-lane strip.

Traditionally, as I’ve climbed the bridge over Mans Harbor into Nags Head, I’ve always rolled down the window to smell the salt air of home. No matter how hot or cold. Now, as I travel back through eastern North Carolina I roll the window down to smell the plowed fields and swampy forests. I drift off the main road, in search of a little soul to the speedway.

A Changing Industry: Apple Growing in the Foothills


By Kate Flinn

The average traveler passing through Taylorsville, North Carolina might not stumble across Deal Orchards. The orchard was at least a twenty-minute drive from what we believed to be downtown Taylorsville, though it was hard to be sure. After some back and forth, we detoured off Highway 64 in pursuit of one of the Foothills’ most celebrated Apple houses. The industrial sprawl of Taylorsville quietly slipped into rolling hills dotted with small shops and quaint farms. Though the drive seemed to stretch on mu ch longer than twenty minutes, the faded “Deal Orchards” sign eventually slipped onto the dashboard horizon.

The packed down dirt parking lot was full of cars and a bus of visitors from outside of town who had traveled to buy Deals apples. They filed in noisily, a moving hungry horde. Inside the orchard’s storefront was a large, open space; its high ceilings and large windows flooded the room with natural light. Boxes and boxes of apples populated the middle of the room, tempting visitors to explore the unique varieties one might only find in this region of the country. Along the perimeter of the shop were yellow shelves of various homemade jams and butters, cheeses, and produce that were visibly fresh, based on light packaging alone.

Approaching the counter, the woman behind the cashier smiled sweetly: “How can I help y’all?”

In response to some questions about this orchard we had stumbled across–how old it was, who was in charge–she responded with a short chuckle and replied, “Y’all are going to want to talk to Lindsay.” After making a call on her walkie-talkie, we stepped to the side and waited for “Lindsay” to come find us.

After a few minutes, the large wooden door a few feet behind the counter swung open, and a tall man who appeared to be in his seventies entered the room. The woman gave him a nod in our direction. The man took a few steps in our gedsc_0513neral direction, and we were met face-to-face with Lindsay Deal:  the man behind every aspect of the growing, harvesting and marketing for one of the largest, and oldest, apple orchards in North Carolina. His face was colored initially skeptical, noticeably sizing us up as outsiders. Upon a brief explanation, however, he was more than compliant to talk about North Carolina culture across the Foothills. He opened that same wooden door he had come through just a few minutes age before, and invited us into his office.

Lindsay gestured for everyone to take a seat in one of the three chairs nested between the heavy wooden desks and stacks of papers. The wood paneled walls of Lindsay’s office boasted an expansive collection of family photos, most of which appeared to be taken at the orchard over its various stages of existence. The office felt like a time capsule for the growth of this man’s family business.

Lindsay needed no encouragement to start talking about his family’s experience as apple growers. Lindsay’s great-grandfather planted the first Deal orchard back in 1939. “There were once 200 independent apple growers in this area,” he began. “We all used to pick our apples and then pedal them over in Winston and Charlotte.” Suddenly pushing back his faded leather desk chair, Lindsay walked over to a particularly large faded photo hanging on the wall. Pulling the frame down, he gazed at the photo of a group of men–all dressed in suits but for two pairs of overalls. A small plaque below the photo read, “The First Brushy Mountain Apple Growing Co-Op.” Lindsay went on to explain that in 1957, the growers in this area formed the Brushy Mountain Apple Growing Co-Op. Each grower contributed one thousand dollars and would bring the month’s pick to adsc_0512 single seller who would then sell their apples to the major grocery chains.

“As time went on the way people bought apples began to change, so the way we sell them had to change as well,” Lindsay continued. Returning the frame to its rightful spot on the wall, his eyes lingered on the aged faces nostalgically–perhaps for the people in the photograph, or just for a simpler time. “People are more conscientious about their finances these days,” Lindsay said with a sigh. “They’re just buying enough apples to get them through the week, whereas they used to buy them in bulk.”

We learned that Deal Orchards was one of the first successful orchards established in Alexander County. With an aging population of apple growers in the region, much of Lindsaydsc_0529’s competition has tapered out over the years, leaving just three or four primary orchards to spearhead the Foothill markets. Lindsay and his team have their process down to an absolute science and are Good Agriculture Practices-Certified. If you find yourself traveling through Alexander County, be sure to stop by the Deal Apple House and get a taste of what this family’s combination of passion and expertise has produced.

Lake Lure and the Beginning of the Forest Fire

By Maggy McGloin – 2016

Moving from the Western part of the state, the drive to Lake Lure brings Highway 64 through a more natural, unchartered territory. After weaving around winding turns, dsc_0588across abandoned-looking towns, and several fruit stands, you will see the scen  e emerge from around the bend: the infamous Lake Lure, zig-zagging around rugged mountain ranges.

You can arrive to the lake through the entrance to Morse Park. The wide parking lot, just left of the lake, is speckled with few cars, so you can anticipate a quiet walk through the earthy landscape, uninterrupted by too many picnics or noisy frisbee-throwers. Get out of the car–leave your phone inside–and breathe in the crisp, autumn air. Take a walk throughdsc_0590 Lake Lure’s public garden, passing couples holding hands and babies in strollers–caught in the aura of simple contentedness. An aerial view of the lake exposes a quiet gazebo in the distance that looks out to one of the most beautiful views along Highway 64. The contrast between the mountains and lake may remind you of the changing North Carolina landscape along Highway 64, shifting between the coastal plains, foothills, and mountains.  

Begin a silent, meditative walk along the perimeter of tdsc_0596he lake. Rather than imagining yourself on the set of Dirty Dancing, a film inspired by this place, focus on the foliage around you, the memorial benches and species labeled along the path. It’s time to relax amongst the orange-browns and reds before you return back to work or school, the crisp air channeled through the leaves and your lungs, one of the same breath.   

After about thirty minutes, circle back from your meditation walk, headed back to the parking lot where you’d abandoned the car, technology, and the outside world. Returning to the road is sad, but you can be grateful for the time spent idsc_0602n nature. Perhaps take one last look back at the mountains, soon to return behind you. A pillow of smoke catches your eye, curling from the top of the mountain in a small patch. Must be a small forest fire, you think at the time; snap a few photos and go on your way. Weeks later, you may think back and realize that this small cloud of smoke could have grown to become one of the most destructive forest fires in North Carolina, spreading to Asheville and uncontainable until December 7, 2016.

Small-Town Sundays in the Foothills: What Not to Do

By Jordan Stanley – 2016

The Expectation:

Lenoir was the last stop of a two-day, six-town road trip through the North Carolina Foothills. To get a taste of the town, one might start by driving down the main street, scavenging for hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and investigating a few mom-and-pop joints. One stop in particular, famous to Lenoir, is the Bolick Family Pottery Shop, well-known throughout the state for a unique yet traditional craft now transcending generations. Of course, a visit to Lenoir would not be complete without a dutiful visit to the famous Fort Defiance, a plantation house home to Revolutionary War General William Lenoir, the town’s namesake.

These stops, planned and unplanned, would serve adsc_0608s a rich taste of North Carolina history and tradition. Yet the expectation of the town on a Sunday late afternoon–everyone would be leaving church, taking the dog for a walk, or going to lunch on their day off–was disrupted by a quite different reality.

The Reality:

On a clear-skied, sunny day–characteristic of the summer season-turn-Fall–Lenoir welcomes incoming drivers with the “Welcome to Historic Lenoir” sign.

With a population of 18,000+, Lenoir is one of the more peopled towns of the Foothills, yet as the car tires roll into the downtown area, there was a sense of solitude, a feeling that may take moments to explain.

The Lenoir downtown consisted of a strip of quaint and traditional buildings marked by understated elegance–brick facades, and character. The eclectic exteriors of the buildings ran along a wide cement and brick sidewalk, ideal for families and friends walking side-by-side, heading to lunch or one of the several shops and cafes available.

Yet perhaps it was this exact feature, installed for community, that seemed to source of the feeling of loneliness, of incompleteness: these pedestrian-friendly sidewalks were empty, the parking spots absent of cars. Storefront after storefront was branded by a resigned “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign, above store hours that run Mon-Fri, maybe Saturday in some cases. Still, a quick drive-by cannot fully capture the liveliness of a town thrumming beneath. Getting out of the car–even if there only four or five others in sight–walking along main street, and taking a closer look is necessary before resigning to a quiet Sunday.

In addition the absence of Lenoir residents in the streets, the eerie feeling of the downtown was supplemented by a track of instrumental music playing thrdsc_0622oughout the street from a series of unseen speakers. The music could be described as a marriage of jazz piano and elevator music, perhaps meant to be a nice backdrop to the sounds of engines and human voices. The bizarre ambience, one reminiscent of a post-disillusioned movie, would still not be the main source of disappointment in Lenoir. The greatest disappointment offered by a quiet Sunday in this town, is that a walk along the main street revealed Lenoir has a lot to offer. Amongst a few cafes, the town’s GOP headquarters, and small markets, it seemed every other storefront was an art gallery or antique shop–both retailers for town character, personality, history, and secrets. In an eclectic collection of castaway personal belongings and artistic expression, these are the shops that give define Lenoir local flavor. The storefront windows were decorated with autumnal displays, from puppets, to art easels made of birch branches, to leaves and twigs perched with fake birds. Yet each was closed. Not a single site was open. Walks around square blocks, the real estate turning to banks and insurance fronts the farther the sidewalk talks you the center of town, and a feeling of defeat sinks into the sunny day.

The Change of Plans:

Ultimately, hunger and defeat merge to form resignation–forcing a return to the one restaurant open, initially passed by due to lack of interest. It was a small bistro called Bella Torte Bistro, dawned with trendy iron outdoor dining furniture, and an updated, French-decorated interior. It was clear, that flannels, t-shirt, and leggings meant being underdressed, but an empty stomach and low self-consciousness of a foreign place equate to going in anyway. Passing beneath the turquoise Bella Torte Bistro sign, sticking from the corner of the building, a hostess/waitress opened the door with a warm welcome.

The inside was modern with wood floors, shapely chairs and multiple levels of seating. Each table was punctuated by pots of turquoise blue, silver, and white flowers in the color scheme of the restaurant and sign outside. An iron staircase winds up to a third-floor landing with extra seating, as well as downstairs to the basement where dsc_0613one finds Charlie’s Pub. It seemed the Pub shared the same menu as the Bistro, but with a different wood-panel and booth atmosphere.   A table at the back of the restaurant sat regally, occupied by a family of 10+ dressed up in what looked to be church gear as a long table. Off to the side sat a priest and two elderly women, dressed to the nines, sharing lunch and forkfuls of pie.

For Foothills-French cuisine, the food was wonderful, ranging from reimagined Ceasar salad, to three-cheese mac-n-cheese, to classic French onion soup and traditionally delicious French fries. Despite a satisfying meal, it was difficult to determine what inquiry was left in Lenoir–that is, beyond where is everybody? Was there an opportunity being missed here–that a schedule only allowing Saturday and Sunday travel would deprive towns like Lenoir of the opportunity to showcase their identities?

On the way out, the hostess/waitress rang up each receipt by the coffee pot and pastries and spoke about the bistro. The only reason it was open on a Sunday–of all the other real estate on the main strip–was because it was new to Lenoir and wanted to establish a following. She felt their opening is a small part of the town’s effort to revitalize the downtown, which had been a town goal for the past and upcoming years, potentially creating a college town experience for the local university. She said that town wasn’t empty due to church and post-church Sunday traditions; rather Sundays and Mondays were just Lenoir’s slow da ys– business always picked up on Tuesday and more so throughout the week. Her comments were simple and decided, prompting the questions: Was her acceptan ce of the slow Sunday business a sign of how things have always been–and was it actually related to Sunday culture of North Carolina? Was this empty downtown just how things had been for so long that people have forgotten why? Are these questions worth asking?
Suffice to say, the little luck in Lenoir painted a picture of North Carolina Foothills Sunday culture: laid back, not commercial, and perhaps not even capitalistic. Things shut down, the businesses, the food, the roads even. Ultimately, he deeper reasoning behind this scene could not be determined from an outsider–trying to work on the locals’ day of rest.

 

 

 

The John C. Campbell Folk School

By Samantha Lubliner, 2016

unspecified-2Past a gas station screenshot from the ‘60s was the town of Brasstown. Composed of a mail center, library, and gas station, the surrounding hill was a collection of homes bordered with signs encouraging the election of Trump/Pence.

The John C. Campbell Folk school lays just beyond the town with an old fashioned white sign marking its emergence beyond the trees. We parked in a full parking lot and walked toward what looked like a visitor center.

Branded with Danish vowels and values, the trip to the Folk School was grabbing onto the threads of Danish education systems. We started in the history center and were able to speak with Matthew Brose, a folklorist who specialized in Anthropology.

unspecifiedEmbedded between conversations of life and relationships, he spoke about the history of the Folk School in milestones. Between the dedicated commitment to working the land and building a new system of education was a history of community. His work focuses on documenting the stories of the people who populate the folk school. He mentioned that his interviews from the past few years have been especially interesting since he is recording and telling the story of the grandchildren he originally spoke to in the formation of the folk school in the 1920s. The motto of the folk school, as seen by the countless signs and embossing is “I sing behind the plough.”

We asked the vendor in the craft store about the meaning. As he pulled out an old piece of paper, a poem written in the ____, he offered to make a copy for us. The line of the poem reads “I sing when the impulse comes to fly light and free. I sing behind the plough and to the sound of mowing.”  The man told us that the motto serves as a constant reminder to find joy in the land and within daily tasks.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-9-35-50-pmThe crafts of the folk school were varying in discipline and medium. Kaleidoscopes, mosaics, and pottery sprinkled the wooden show room with color. Their craft store was composed of aisles of colorful art crafted throughout North Carolina. Each stand of work had the name of the artist and the home of the craft on a small paper in front of the pieces.

Scenic barnhouses and gardens escalated the beauty of the grounds from a North Carolina town into a community.

Rocky Mount Farmer’s Market

By Ciara Corcoran

 

On a crisp October morning, we pulled into the Rocky Mount Farmer’s Market. The goal: fresh apples. Status: hungry. The Market was situated in a permanent shelter on Peachtree Street, about 5 minutes from Rocky Mount’s historic downtown. I was hoping for nothing more than a fresh North Carolina apple. Much to my dismay, we were not in apple region. We were in seafood region. Outside the shelter was a man selling fresh shrimp and crawfish out of the back of his truck. Inside the farmer’s market were a variety of vendors. Sweet potatoes, fresh flowers, baked goods, grits, handwoven baskets, personalized aprons. There was even an antique car. I quickly scoured the vendors, accepting the fact that I was misguided in my apple desire.

The vendor that caught my eye was S & S Boiled Peanuts. I’d never had a boiled peanut, but that was all about to change. I struck up a conversation with the man and his wife who were selling the peanuts and revealed the fact that I’d never had a boiled peanut. Well, this just didn’t stand with him. He got up and offered a boiled peanut to me and my two friends who were along for the journey. He cracked the soggy peanuts in half for us. Inside the damp peanut shell were two engorged peanuts that looked nothing like the peanuts I knew and loved. The disdain was apparent on my face because the man reminded me that “they’re legumes, not nuts.” This may be true but I still wasn’t on board. I popped the beans in my mouth and was overwhelmed by the heat and the saltiness. I slowly chewed but had I not been in the presence of the man who prepared the peanuts, I would have spit them out. I couldn’t get past the mushy consistency and saltiness.

I thanked the man for the peanuts, and he commented on the camera I was carrying, asking what I was taking pictures before. I explained the project and he summarized it by responding in his North Carolina drawl, “So you want to know what Southerners do on the weekends? We get drunk.” He gave me some context to this by explaining that today was Koichella, a beer, music, and food truck festival happening at Koi Pond Bar about five minutes from the farmer’s market. He even said that he and his wife would be there later selling more of their boiled peanuts! We thanked him for the invitation but had to decline, not because of the boiled peanuts, but because we had to continue our journey down the highway.

We drifted through the farmer’s market some more. Completely abandoning any desire for an apple, I found Magie’s baked goods and pursued my options. I was overwhelmed by a selection of sweet breads, pies, and pastries, each looking more delicious than the next. I ended up purchasing a sweet potato turnover from. Magie recommended toasting the turnover in a George Foreman grill. We didn’t happen to bring a grill on our journey, but I can tell you that is was just as sweet, soft, and flaky eating it straight from the bag as we continued our journey down Highway 64.

Silver Run Falls

By Christian Kowalski, 2016

Christian attempts to skip across the rocks of Silver Run Falls.
Christian attempts to skip across the rocks of Silver Run Falls.

Silver Run Falls is a small waterfall found in Cashiers, NC. The path to Silver Run Falls was difficult to find and took our group a few tries to finally pinpoint the sign that led to the trail. The sign, tough to detect between all the trees and winding roads, pointed toward a downward slope which was our trail. The trail was short and provided and few nice photo spots, including a bridge over a little watering hole. After walking for about five minutes, we arrived at the falls, which were hidden beneath all the trees and mountains.

Silver Run Falls had many rock formations that made it easy to navigate for picture taking or seeing the falls from a different perspective. With the water freezing cold, the rocks were our life preservers keeping us out of the water as we moved around the falls. The falls weren’t particularly massive since there had not been a significant rain for awhile in the area. But the sights and sounds of the area were still incredible.

Our group spent around 30 minutes at the falls, relaxing and taking pictures. It was a great time to climb on the rocks to see how close you could get to actually touching the falls. The falls also allowed us to pause momentarily during our busy day and just enjoy cool mountain air and the sound of the falls. It was a welcome escape to all the town visits we packed into the day and brought us up close to the scenery we had been driving through all day.

Once we left the falls, we made our way back, except instead of walking on the bridge we crossed the watering hole on a fallen tree. This conclusion to our short visit was a quick, fun experience for an overall wonderful experience at Silver Run Falls.