S&T’s Soda Shoppe – Celebrating a Century of Soda Shoppes in Pittsboro

Pittsboro, North Carolina.

In two trips to my son’s home in Pittsboro, he’s made sure we stopped at S & T’s while we were in town. It’s for good reason. The restaurant is part ice cream parlor, part lunch counter and part historical museum. The goal, as envisioned by Gene Oldham who purchased the building in 1996, was to recreate a soda shoppe as it might have existed in the first half of the 20th century. I think he succeeded admirably. Continue reading

Sarah P Duke Gardens – Delighting Visitors since 1939

Durham, North Carolina.

In the early 1930’s, the love of horticulture brought the gardens named after the widow of one of the founders of Duke University to fruition. The gardens first came to life in 1935, but in 1939, the public gardens were reopened in their new location. It was a bit tricky to find using our GPS and we found ourselves going into parking areas that were for Duke University employees only before we came upon the correct turnoff. I don’t know if the issue was specifically with our Garmin GPS or if it’s just plain hard to find. In any case, the hassle was worth it. The gardens provide a great place to spend some quality time enjoying nature. Continue reading

The Murals of Siler City – Explore the Murals but Stay for the Burgers

Siler City, North Carolina.

A visit to North Carolina in 2015 prompted a trip to the largest town in Chatham County. Our visit to North Carolina in 2018 brought us back to this town of a bit over 8000 residents in the western part of the county. For more background on our 2015 visit to Siler City, you can check out my post and gallery of photos here, and a guest post from my son, Joshua, who provided a much more detailed story here. In the opening photo above, this post features one of the murals that since 2001 have proliferated throughout the city’s downtown area. This image depicts Siler City very early in the 20th century. Continue reading

Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary – Wildlife Oasis in the City

Asheville, North Carolina.

Regular readers of this attempt at a travel blog will recognize that I like to stop at places where there might be birds to photograph. Careful viewers of my images will note that in many of these posts, there are few photographs of birds. I am not a birder and claim no expertise at identifying the many species of winged aviators (and non-aviators) in the world of birds. Nor do I know the best times of the year to visit these sites. In most cases, we are traveling near the area and decide to stop and see what we can find. Continue reading

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Most Visited Park in the U.S.

This post is being published on Christmas Day, 2018. Let me first start with wishing a Merry Christmas to my readers who celebrate the season.

There is no more beautiful way to travel between North Carolina and Tennessee than to drive through the Great Smoky Mountains. The park, most popular of the U.S. National Parks, hosts well over 10 million visitors per year. Second on that list is the Grand Canyon National Park. You won’t need your Senior Park Pass or shell out any green to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as it is the only national park that doesn’t charge a fee to visit. On a late October day, we found ourselves traveling out of Asheville and for a short distance moving along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, the 469-mile (755 km) highway that is also a National Park. At Cherokee, we turned off the parkway and soon found ourselves on Highway 441, a main road that traverses the park. Continue reading

Asheville – Gateway to the Smoky Mountains

Asheville, North Carolina.

Continuing our tour of North Carolina, this year we decided to head west toward the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. October is a great time for catching the fall colors in this part of the country. We could tell that by the price of hotels on the weekend. Our original plan was to head there on Saturday and stay Saturday night, then tour the park on Sunday. What we discovered when we checked hotel pricing is that on Friday and Saturday nights in October, we could expect to spend upwards of $400 or more per night. Sunday night, however, was another story, room prices dropped by 50%. We quickly changed to staying Sunday and Monday night. Continue reading

Hillsborough NC – Small Town with a Big History

Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Continuing our visits to small towns near our son’s home in North Carolina, we arrived in nearby Hillsborough just as a light rainfall was concluding. Our first stop would be for lunch, then a short walk to the visitor’s center to gain some knowledge of the historic points of interest in this county seat in Orange County, NC. Having recently learned of the Regulators and their impact on the Revolutionary War, this small town became a center of that turmoil. Continue reading

Battle of Alamance – North Carolina

Alamance County, North Carolina.

As a college student, I fancied myself as a historian, though it was clearly misplaced. Having let whatever skills in that area I had atrophy over the last five decades or so, I am always amazed to find a roadside stop that brings up a historical note that I no longer recall, if I ever heard of it in the first place. Such is my visit to the Alamance Battleground. Continue reading

North Carolina Botanical Garden – The Conservation Garden

Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

It seems I can’t bypass a botanical garden. You never know what kind of interesting plants you might find or what interesting facts you might learn there. For example, the carnivorous Venus Flytrap shown in the opening image is cultivated around the world, but is native only to coastal areas of the North and South Carolina. If an insect triggers the tiny hairs on the inside of the leaf, the plant closes in less than a second capturing the morsel and it’s lunchtime for the plant. Once it determines the morsel is edible, the leaf closes tightly and reopens in a few days to a couple of weeks depending upon the amount of time it takes to digest the morsel. Continue reading

Chatham County – A Courthouse History

Pittsboro, North Carolina.

It had been too long since we visited North Carolina. Our last visit was in the fall of 2015. We came back in October 2018 again in part to celebrate Lynn and my 48th anniversary with our son and daughter-in-law. Josh and his wife live outside of the small town of less than 5,000 residents. Yet one wouldn’t guess that Pittsboro is that small judging from the amount of traffic traveling the main drag. You see, PIttsboro is also the county seat of Chatham County and houses the county courthouse. Continue reading