By Jeff Flitter, 2013
One beautiful autumn Saturday, though too warm for October, my group and I jumped into the car to start our exploration of Highway 64. As a meticulous person that prefers to have a plan for every adventure, I was nervous to get on the road with little to no idea what I was about to experience, see, or even visit. We left for Highway 64 with the intention to spend the day stopping in Mocksville, Taylorsville, and Lenoir and getting a meal in each. The idea was to get breakfast in Mocksville, lunch in Taylorsville, and ending with dinner in Lenoir. As we pulled out and started our journey, I was starting to feel the hunger already and everyone seemed to still be getting used to the experience of waking up on a Saturday morning. Thankfully, I had my trusty coffee to keep me going until we got to our first stop in Mocksville.
The first stop was difficult to get to because of a bridge on Highway 64 that caused us to loop around the highway to get back on track. Stopping at Mocksville for breakfast was nerve-wracking. It had no breakfast options that we could find online, except for the fast-food restaurants located closer to I-40. We had noticed a farmer’s market happening further from down town, so we decided we would drive through downtown Mocksville and out to the farmers market. Downtown Mocksville was a quaint area. It was very quiet on Saturday morning, but we noticed it had some interesting businesses. I was drawn to the lone restaurant on the corner and music store in the middle of town. Other stores seemed to be a good addition to the downtown area, but others were outright strange to me. Two stores stuck out as the most unique, the doll store and the miniatures store. The doll store was filled to the brim with antique dolls that, while valuable to many collectors, did nothing but scare me more than the American Girl dolls my sister used to own when we were children. The miniatures store stuck out to me as unique since it sold miniature homes and other pieces to put in the homes. I found myself impressed by the seemingly successful stores that cater to such as specific group of people and were located in such a small town. The farmers market was less than what we expected with there only being two trucks outside and what appeared to be one small stand with little to offer. We decided we might have better luck in Taylorsville so we jumped on the highway to hit our second destination. Our plan to eat three meals in three cities already was already dashed by the lack of eating establishments in Mocksville.
The drive was beautiful and continued to amaze me. I made sure to drive with the windows down since it was such a nice day and would be a waste to not have a pleasant breeze on my face. I decided that it was the best decision regardless of how anyone else in my group felt. The destination was a small restaurant called the Crossroads Grill, located about ten minutes outside downtown Taylorsville in the middle of nowhere. This was definitely not a place most would stop at when visiting Taylorsville. The restaurant was a small diner with fast service and friendly staff. We had barely been seated before a waitress arrived to take our drink orders. The food was exactly what I would expect from a diner. We each ordered a different side dish and meal to get a fuller experience of the restaurant. The food was good, but nothing exceptional. Basically it was what I expected from a diner. The sweet tea was delicious and not overly sweet. The gentleman bringing us our food was very nice and treated us like friends. The restaurant contained many regulars that all knew each other and the employees. It also had plenty of photos from local sporting teams and events, which I always enjoy seeing how involved a restaurant is in the local community. The most surprising moment I had in the restaurant was a sign for a raffle with the prize being a gun. Being from outside Philadelphia, this was a first for me and made me a bit concerned about guns in the area. With that thought in mind, we headed for the downtown area.
Having finished lunch, we went to downtown Taylorsville. A slight improvement from Mocksville, Taylorsville was a larger downtown area with a bit more people. With the larger downtown, however, came more shops out of business. The downtown area had little going on this weekend when we visited, but returning a few weeks later showed us what it could be when a festival was happening. However, this trip contained no festival and therefore left us with a mainly empty downtown. Right off of downtown, we did locate a small thrift store. One of my travel companions, Immanuel, found some old video games, which I believe was the highlight of his trip. Having experienced the downtown area and allowing Immanuel to purchase some old Nintendo 64 games, we hit the road again for our final stop, dinner in Lenoir.
Lenoir was, in my personal opinion, the most successful town we visited during our day. We walked around the town as it began preparing for its monthly antique car show. We saw a lot of people of varying ages out enjoying the day. Many restaurants and businesses lined the streets and a lot was open. We enjoyed our first walk around the town and then decided to stop in the inside farmers market. Having never seen a permanent fixture for a farmers market, I was intrigued by the idea, so we stopped in and took a look around. We found local foods, art, and even a small coffee shop within the walls of the market. After looking around a bit, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman working the market for the day. With a stroke of luck, it turned out to be one of the co-founders of the market, which opened in the spring. Surprisingly, his name also happened to be Jeff and he told me all about himself and the market. We spoke for about an hour about everything from where he grew up to his love of local products. He shared his love of herbs, which he sold in the market in plant form, as loose-leaf teas, and BBQ sauce. With a taste test, he easily convinced, with little effort on his part, me to purchase some tea and BBQ sauce. Since then I have found great success with the sweet BBQ sauce that has a bit of a kick, but the tea did not turn out as good as the taste, mostly due to my failure to use proper amounts of water. After the conversation, I left the market with my local products excited to cook some BBQ chicken and feeling that the day was worth it just for this conversation.
After the market, we found ourselves hungry again and decided to scrape our original plan for dinner, since the restaurant had not yet opened, and instead went to a pizza place named Piccollo’s. The restaurant was decorated with a mixture of old time pizza joint signs, tomato sauce cans, and modern Halloween decorations. The food was good, but I always prefer a thinner, crisper crust to a Chicago deep-dish pizza. We left full and happy to experience the car show. Our expert in antique cars, or what was as close to an expert as we had, was Immanuel. He enjoyed the antique cars the most, while the rest of us were clueless to everything related to the cars. Having finished our tasks for the day and being exhausted from a long day, we headed home with our bellies full and our travel journal fuller. A day without a plan is always a concern for me, but it went fairly well. I wish we had gotten a meal in each city and enjoyed our time in the areas a bit more, but it was a successful trip. We may not have accomplished our goal of three meals in three cities, but the day was a new experience and full of successful moments.