North Carolina’s Furniture Capitol
In a state that has more than its share of trees, it makes sense that a multiplicity of furniture companies made their home near the foothills of North Carolina. Does the name Thomasville bring anything to mind? If you’ve purchase oak furniture in the past, and in particular, Victorian oak design, the company you bought from was probably Thomasville.
Funny thing—it wasn’t until after we sold our home AND furniture, that it occurred to me this was the brand of furniture we owned. My hubby and I love oak, and I was partial to Victorian Era style. So, we took a Sunday afternoon trip to this quiet town, where one of the furniture companies began.
Thomasville, NC: the Furniture Industry's Roots
When I saw the mural above, the meaning completely escaped me. Standing a few feet from the art work, I couldn’t see the name of the town in the tree’s roots. When I stepped back, I noticed it, and finally understood that Thomasville’s roots were deeply embedded in the furniture industry. See the “fruit” on its branches? You'll find other fascinating art throughout the city by taking a Mural Walk.
The Biggest Chair in Thomasville
Thomasville is noted for the Big Chair—created by to commemorate their town’s history. The original, made of wood, was replaced in 1936 with one that could withstand the elements. It stands proudly near the tiny train station that features a red caboose that is open at times to the public. You can watch trains pass through town at all hours of the day and night via a livestream camera.
The Largest Chest of Drawers in High Point, NC
High Point, a triad city (along with Greensboro and Winston-Salem) is known as the Home-furnishings Capital of the World. Its symbol is World’s Largest Chest of Drawers, towering 36 feet in the air with a pair of socks playfully sticking out of an open drawer as a nod to the city’s hosiery industry. Since 1926 it has been renovated and repainted many times, and disguises a commercial building facade.
The Historic Town of Salem, NC
The original Salem (of Winston-Salem) was home to Moravians, Blacks and Indigenous people in the American South. The historic buildings and interpreters tell the story of its founding. Located near High Point, it's no surprise that Old Salem has an Early Southern Decorative Arts Museum featuring items that would have been created and displayed in homes.
Although the individual buildings were closed on the day we visited, a walk down the center of the street gave us a taste of the cultural history of the early South. Architecture from the 18th century continues to fascinate me. It’s a thing of beauty in my eyes. And who would have guessed that Krispy Kreme Donuts had its beginnings in Old Salem!
For another look at the south, check out my post on Charleston--A Writer's Guide to Travel--one of my favorite historical towns. What are your favorite historical museums? What in particular draws you back to the past? Let me know below!
Immersed in the Woods of NC
I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at our first stop in Western North Carolina. When I finally settled down and figured out my surroundings, I was surprised and amused at what I discovered.
Hickory Cove Bible Camp, where we are volunteering until mid-March, was tucked away in a wooded area in Taylorsville, 20 minutes or more from the nearest store--unless, of course, you are talking about Dollar General, which seems to show up no matter which direction we are driving! Evidently, they are found in the remotest area, and folks are known to stop there often for food, hardware, kitchen or garden items, makeup or candy. Whatever they forgot to pick up the day before. I vowed I would never be one of "those" and so far, I've managed to keep my distance.
NC: A Temperate Zone
I found the local grocery store display above to be a bit puzzling, since North Carolina is generally a temperate zone. Poor kids! They'll be hankering for snow that will never come. Or, at best, only one day every few years,
Speaking of weather, each day is different. Although it rains often, and the temps fluctuate during the day between 49 and 69 degrees in February, one thing is consistent. Gorgeous sunsets!! This state has a corner on the best colors and glow ever!
The History of Street Signs
No one has told me this, but, I don't need a history lesson to figure out how the streets and roads are named in this wooded farmland with rolling hills and dales. Long ago, when there were no street signs, a body, when asked for directions would say, "Go up the road apiece until you get to Bowman's Dairy, turn right, down the hill and you'll see it: first building on your left."
Yep. That's how it happened for sure. Friendship Church Road, Wayside Church Road, Rink Dam Road and Miller's Garage all describe buildings, businesses or structures located either in the past or presently. It's quite charming!
Hickory Cove Bible Camp
We have been warmly welcomed at Hickory Cove by the dedicated staff. My husband has been helping with maintenance during our time here, getting the camp ready for a very busy summer season. I, on the other hand, have been helping sweet Sylvia, the executive assistant (below) sorting supplies in the nurse's quarters, making phone calls for Angel Tree, organizing 15 years of files and various other odd jobs. I'm loving it!
The Mountain Lodge Decor
The camp has graciously allowed us to stay in their double wide trailer dubbed "The Lodge" while we are here. Look at the cozy view I have each morning while I complete my writing tasks! You'd never guess we are living in the North Wing of a trailer--it has four bedrooms and two baths. More than sufficient for the two of us. Our nightly routine usually includes a walk up the road to the mailbox (a mere eighth of a mile or less both ways.) But, it does give us a bit of fresh night air and exercise. It is eerily quiet for the woods, but peaceful. I hardly ever see a creature other than a squirrel or two, which is surprising, although I do hear the birds twittering away most mornings.
Friendly Faces and Places
People in the Piedmont area of North Carolina are friendly and talkative. Whether I'm in a store, restaurant or doctor's office, someone is sure to strike up a conversation about literally anything from the last customer's garden to their stash of candles they need to donate. So fun!
Hickory: Furniture Capital of North Carolina
Since there are so many trees in North Carolina, it makes sense that it's known for its quality furniture. We owned two bedroom sets back in Illinois made in this state. We visited the Hickory Furniture Mart one day and was amazed at the variety all under one roof. Too bad our future home is 5 hours to the east!
Hope you've enjoyed this peek into our nomad life. It's an adventure I never thought I would experience, but I know it will make us appreciate our townhouse when we finally settle in. God has been good to make all the connections just when we need them. Can't wait to see what He has in store next!
Have you ever been without a home for a period of time? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. Check out my St. Augustine Adventure, too!
Those Were the Days, My Friends. . .
As we headed towards North Carolina, our future home, and not far from the Virginia border, I saw billboards announcing the upcoming attraction: Mount Airy. Hmmmm. The name sounded familiar. Ahhh, yes! Voted an “All-American Town”, it was chosen as the setting for The Andy Griffith Show, and, coincidentally, the star himself grew up here. Above, you can see a mural painted in his honor.
We drove through, then later wandered down the main street, with it's many storefronts reminding us of another era. I felt like a child again, sitting cross-legged in front of my black and white TV, twin antennae sprouting from the top. Although I was a city girl, something was mesmerizing about Andy, who never got ruffled and took everything in stride. And Aunt Bea? Well, goll-ee! What kid wouldn't want her bustling around the house, cooking and cleaning, giving sound advice, and offering milk and cookies hot out of the oven after a hard day at school?
Even the Townsfolk Played the Part
The visitor’s center had two seventy-something folks giving us helpful advice—what to see and do in one hour, since we had to drive to the coast that day, and had very little time. Although we didn't visit the museum, we enjoyed our stroll, chuckling at the signs and peeking in windows.
Supposedly, Andy Griffith worked at this soda fountain in his youth. So, we decided to check it out. Wow. Talk about going back in time! We met Gina, another 70-something lady who made quite an impression on me. Even though she had many health issues, and had to stop driving, it didn't dampen her enthusiastic spirit for life. She found a way to make it work. . .
Of course, Gina offered to take a photo of us, so we obliged!
Out on the street, we found many references to Mayberry and the show. . .
And look what drove down the street, obviously slowing down as he passed, hoping I’d take a photo. . .
All in all, it was well worth losing time on our journey. Since I am moving towards rebranding myself as "historical" (silver hair and all), it seemed appropriate to stop and drink in the nostalgia.
Have you visited a town used as a movie set? Ever visited Mount Airy? If you are a Baby Boomer, did you watch The Andy Griffith Show? If so, who was your favorite character and why? Let me know below!
Are you a writer stuck in a genre that's tired? Do you want to branch out into something new? How about travel writing? If you love words, adventure and a desire to share your discoveries, with a possibility of free food, lodging and activities, travel writing is for you!
The How-tos of Travel Writing
Believe it or not, travel writing is much like creating a novel or magazine article. All good writing needs a hook, which is usually sentence or paragraph that draws you in, then follows with points or scenes that bring you though the piece in an orderly and engaging way, keeping the promises the title and hook offered.
But where do you begin? Your hometown, of course! There are numerous things to see and do where you live. Restaurants, shops, nature hikes, and museums are just the beginning. Ask your local chamber of commerce, library or historical society for ideas. And read this short article, 5 Tips for Travel Writing Success in Your Hometown.
Have a focus. “Three top places to enjoy the fall leaves in (your hometown)” "10 top restaurants that offer hygge atmosphere in (your hometown) this winter” are some suggestions. Everyone googles ‘best’ or ‘top 10’ when they are looking for places to go, so add yours!
Then pitch your idea to a local newspaper or magazine. Much advice for these steps and beyond are found at Great Escape Publishing If they agree to publish your article, that's when the fun begins.
Looking for more possibilities for publication? Try Midwest Living, GoNomad, Rovology, or Play, Stay, Eat. But here's the catch: before writing an article, reading well-written ones is a must. Subscribe to Afar's newsletter, check out Travel&Leisure from your local library, and any other popular travel magazine. Read voraciously, to get a feel for the voice and content of a great travel piece.
If you are looking for constant inspiration and mentorship, join ITWPA which offers classes, travel ideas, examples of travel writing, great photography and more. It's an organization which will give you guidance and credibility, along with a jounalist's pass all your own!
I've given you a quick introduction to travel writing, but it takes study and perseverance, Consider joining the groups above for support. One successful travel writer, Abi King, has a stellar website, Inside the Travel Lab and offers a newsletter that will give you a feel for the travel journalist's lifestyle. Be inspired!
Are you a travel journalist? If so, tell us your favorite location to write about. Have you considered travel writing? Let me know your thoughts below!
Where do you go when you have a hankering for New England, but need to remain in the Midwest? The Third Coast, of course! Oh, you've never heard of it? Well, neither had I until a friend pointed out that factoid. The travel industry also calls the Great Lakes the “Inland Seas.” Who knew?
Visiting the home of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of The Girl Scouts in Savannah (1912) was truly an inspiration. Although this woman never achieved her dreams of a loving marriage and a house full of children, she found her passion in helping girls around the globe to realize their own dreams.
There is nothing more delightful to a historical fiction author's heart, than a visit to an old city. It's intriguing and enlightening, and sometimes hilarious! People are people no matter which century they lived in.
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.