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First, I can’t believe we have finally reached #76 on our journey. It feels like we might make this goal of all 100 counties before Cobey graduates. I might not have to delay his graduation after all. Several have asked what order we go in! The answer is there is no rhyme or reason or plan. Where we go next may depend on the time of year, what we are studying, or someone may invite us to come check out their county. It just all depends. This all leads me to how we ended up in Duplin. It was one of the counties we had left on the way (sort of) to the beach for Thanksgiving.

20171121_112657We started out at Duplin County Veterans Museum in Warsaw. The museum is located in the beautiful 1894 L.W. Best home. Warsaw is famous for the longest continuous running Veteran’s Day parade. It is evident that the county appreciates and loves veterans. The museum focuses on veterans from the county and their stories. It has tons of memorabilia throughout history. The museum is only open two days a week. It is usually not open on Tuesday but we called about a week ahead of time and they kindly opened for us. I encourage you to plan ahead and check out the museum when you are in the area.

23847452_375166186241673_3435016980061895842_oNext, we had lunch at the Country Squire opened in 1961. I highly recommend this place! It is a very captivating atmosphere located inside an old barn and cabin.  The decor of old cupboards, trees, fireplaces, and antiques give it the feeling of legends and romance. It is  Southern hospitality with a Scottish flair. You have to see it to understand it! The food was very good and reasonable. We also had good service for a large party.  The dinner menu is totally different- more upscale and looks wonderful. I can’t wait to go back and try out it out with maybe a glass of their own wine.

 

20171121_14525920171121_150337Our next stop was Liberty Hall in Kenansville which was fascinating. The Kenan family is one of the founding families of UNC-CH. The 1800s home is beautiful and I particularly loved the George Washington painting that was upstairs. We have been to many many houses but the stories made this one interesting and unique. The furnishings and history were boarded up and left intact after the death of Mary Lillian Kenan in 1906 until the house was restored and opened to the public in 1965. You can watch a movie and see interesting artifacts in the visitor center. The house is fully furnished and their several outbuildings so plan on two hours for your visit.

We ended with a quick visit to the Cowan Museum located across the parking lot. It is a small museum with a large collection of items focusing on history and science. The items come from of the private collection of George and Illa Cowan. The collection largely consists of 19th and 20th-century tools and technology from that period.  It also has several other buildings and a park.  The kids enjoyed seeing the perm machine and music exhibit. Don’t forget to stop by the courthouse when you are in town. It is a beauty. On your next trip down to the beach, take a stop off 40 and take in a museum or a bite to eat at The Country Squire.

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For those following along. Here is what we have left from east to west…. Pamlico, Carteret, Onslow, Jones, Pitt, Matin, Wayne, Sampson, Franklin, Warren, Vance, Robeson, Scotland, Richmond, Guilford, Rockingham, Wilkes, Ashe, Caldwell, Alexander, Catawba, Lincoln, Madison, Jackson

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Wake County was a challenge for us because we have spent a lot of time there. We wanted to “officially” complete the county with things we had not seen or done before. We have been multiple times to the art, science and history museums which we love. When the kids were younger, we loved Marbles. We have been to Mordecai House and done the trolley tour which is not to be missed. We have been to the City of Raleigh Museum and done a great walking tour with them. We have spent so much time at the legislature we could give a tour. We have toured the old Capitol and Governor Mansion yes – we have even attended a bill signing with the Governor in the old Capitol. We have had the best tour guide in Raleigh – Frances George while we toured the Lt Governor Mansion. We have been to more farms than I can remember. Cobey has toured the NCSU library which I hear is great. We all toured the design department there which was interesting.   And I will not even attempt to name all the wonderful places we have eaten. After all that, I thought it would be hard but with a few suggestions from friends, we headed out.

20171109_102611Our first stop was in the Living Kitchen. There are three locations – Charlotte, Chapel Hill and Raleigh but we really don’t consider that a chain. It’s very different menu and delicious. Claire and I had smoothies and Cobey was delighted to have a yogurt parfait that was actually on his diet. Bonus we got to visit with friends. Check this place out for sure if you like healthier options.

 

20171109_112452Claire and I then thoroughly enjoyed picking out chocolate from Escazu. The place has a great vibe and delicious unique chocolate. They make chocolate seem like art. There were a ton of choices and many that were dairy free. It was hard but we settled on two each.   The little brown box reminds me of the little blue Tiffany box. You know there is something terrific inside. I am seeing many more brown boxes in our future.

 

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20171109_114417Our choice for lunch was The Roast Grill. When we stepped into this hole in a wall, I had high hopes. I love these types of places. Claire and I got hot dog and bottle drink to go.  The hot dog was a bust.  Claire and I agree with hotdogs in Salisbury are much better.  There are much better places to eat in Raleigh.  I understand it has been there forever. I understand the vibe it gives but there are much better places to get a hotdog. I could barely choke it down. Trust me just skip it!

 

20171109_115725We made the quickest stop ever by the NC History Museum to see Claire’s project. We were in and out in less than 15 minutes. It was record time but it was good to see her two winning projects and we had not stopped by yet.  If you are in the area, be sure to check out the NC Junior Historian exhibit. You will find some great projects from talented students across the state.

 

 

20171109_121429We then headed to Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral. When we arrived, we figured out we were too early and they were not open yet. Honestly, outside we were not that impressed and you have to be careful because there is goose dung everywhere.   It is big but I really didn’t like the brown brick.

20171109_123907We decided to head back downtown to Raleigh Denim. I am so glad we did. We talked the curator about the business and even caught the owner for a moment. They started the business in their home with a sewing machine from eBay. It grew from there. You can see the jeans being sewed on site. We learned about raw denim and what makes the jeans special.  A pair of these is on my wishlist now after I lose a few more pounds.

 

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After the Raleigh Denim, we went back to the cathedral.  The kids were not too excited but we had more time before our last stop. I am so glad we did. Inside is amazing. The architecture, art, statues and stain glass are stunning.   Be sure to get a self-guided brochure so you can learn more about this remarkable building. This place is a must see!

Our last activity was an escape room. We had not done one before and thought it was a perfect opportunity. We chose the Geek Out room at Cipher Escape. We were joined by some friends. It was one of the harder rooms and sadly we did not escape but we still loved it. We would do it again for sure. Gather some friends together and do an escape room!

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Overall, another great adventure and fun day in Wake. It goes to show there is always something new to do in Wake.

 

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20171026_120321We started with a great tour at the Person County Museum of History. There is a lot to see on this small property. There are two houses, a schoolhouse. general store, bell tower, tobacco barn and doctor’s office. I was most intrigued by the people of Person County. There is a small exhibit about the Titanic. There was one Person County that died and one that survived.  There was a room dedicated to the story of baseball Hall of Famer,  Enos Slaughter. There were stories of businessmen, men in the service, a Governor and entertainers.  There is an extensive collection of artifacts and information. Take a tour and learn more about the people of Person County.

20171026_13221920171026_12333920171026_131217We had a nice lunch at  Bookland Eats. There were some interesting different choices. I tried the deviled eggs in three different styles. The bacon with blue cheese was the best but the others had too much vinegar for my taste. We also got pimento cheese and hushpuppies which was okay. (not what I expected) I had steak salad which was very good and I really enjoyed. Claire had fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese which looked okay but she didn’t care for it.   The creme brulee was not very good. I would say overall it was good but not great. Prices were reasonable and service was good so I would give it another try.

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20171026_144808We ended the day with a tour at Sunset  Ridge Buffalo Farm. The property is absolutely beautiful  We had a great tour guide that told us interesting facts about buffalo and the farm. We have been to a lot of farm tours in North Carolina but this was unique and we were able to purchase bison meat after.

Person County is easy to get to from the triangle but mainly overlooked. Make a point check it one day soon!

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20171015_123142When you ask where to eat and the county and they recommend a hot dog at the bowling alley, you begin to worry.  And when the best part of the county is the hot dog at the bowling alley well…

20171015_123107We first went to Stone Mountain State Park. We started with the visitor center which had a few display but dated and not much to speak of. We really didn’t have time to hike and there is nothing else there-  no lookouts or anything. I was hoping for something like Pilot Mountain where with a short walk you could have a scenic view. We didn’t find that in the park. We drove the loop of the park but there was nothing really to see. Maybe we missed something but it was disappointing.  We then headed the Blue Ridge Parkway which was beautiful as usual.

 

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We ended up eating at the bowling alley. First, it is actually outside the bowling alley which makes it a little better. Secondly, they had unique different topping based on different regions. I had the Atlanta  Cobey had the  Kansas City and Claire had the Chicago. I will say it is the best value of any of our meals yet. We ate for 13 dollars and it was a pretty dawg for the good hot dog! If you are ever in Sparta get a hot dog from the Hot Dog Station. There were a few other places to eat in the area that I would have tried if we had stayed longer but we had to get on the road for VA. The parkway and hot dogs at the bowling alley saved the day!

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Looking Glass Falls

Cardinal Drive In 2What an amazing three days in the mountains! The first day we started out at lunch at the Cardinal in Brevard, Transylvania County. The food was a good value for the price but nothing to brag about it. It reminded me of a Sonic with inside seating. The service;  well, they were a little grumpy toward the tourist that didn’t know what they were doing. But everyone should order food thru a red phone at least once in their life. It was worth the stop for the atmosphere.

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We then went a little out of town to PARI (Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute). Here, we had a program where we learned about radio astronomy, toured the facility and each student was able to operate a satellite. It is interesting and fascinating to have this facility in North Carolina. It was good but the Challenger Learning Center in Columbia, SC has them beat as far as programs. They have some interesting artifacts from space shuttles and they have a large mineral collection with the highlight being cupcake the dinosaur egg. I thought it was particularly interesting that they told us that the scientists were off on the timing of totality for the eclipse after all. And did you know the atmosphere is in trapped in bubbles in rocks? Fascinating!

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We went back through Brevard to get to Sliding Rock where the kids spent about an hour or so sliding down the rock. I hear the water was cold. Maybe next time I will join in but someone had to take photos. We ended up in Brevard for dinner at Jordan Cafe. The food was really good. Cobey and I had really good burgers and Claire had a wrap. The service was very slow. They messed up three of the orders and really didn’t try to make up for it. So, over all disappointing but I would try it again.

20170824_104400The next morning after a quick stop to Looking Glass Falls, we went to Cradle of the Forestry which is a National Historic Site. (Tip- It is free if you have a National Park Pass) First, please do not miss the movie. It gives a great background on the history of Forestry and its connection to Biltmore Estates. The museum is very interactive and then there are two walking trails with related buildings and a train. I debated between this and a new military museum in town. I am really glad we ended here because it was well worth the two and half hours we spent there. I highly recommend you stop in if you are in the area.

Kobe BurgerAfter the museum, we headed to Hendersonville, Henderson County for lunch at Flat Rock Wood Room. The lunch turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. It was epic! Our waiter set the stage by explaining everything so well and literally making us want to have everything on the menu. He built the food up so high that I was worried we might be disappointed but I can say it was an outstanding experience. We started with chicken wings which were probably the best I have ever had in my life- just amazing. Cobey had the special Kobe Burger that he said was the best burger he ever had and he knows burgers. He also tried the pizza which he loved. Claire had the Fork and Knife Sandwich which she is still talking about the sauce. I had the brisket with the best bacon cheese grits I have ever had. There were seven of us and we were over the moon satisfied. It was one of the best restaurants we have been to in NC.

Hendersonville BearsAfter lunch, we had a nice guided tour of the Henderson Historical Museum which is housed in the Old Courthouse.  Afterward, Claire enjoyed walking downtown and getting photos with all the bears. They have some quaint little shops including an ice cream shop, hard cider shop, bakery and Mast General Store. After hunting down all the bears, we headed to the cemetery to see the angel from Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel. By this time I don’t know how but we were hungry again and went to Hot Dog World. This is one of those local been there forever dives.  I had the pimento cheese burgers which was truly amazing. Henderson County has the food thing down pat.

20170825_092752On the last day, the first quick stop was the horse in quaint Tryon.  They use to make toy horses in the town and pull a giant wooden horse like this one down the street. We then headed to Columbus where we saw the Doughboy Statue and where we had one of the best-guided tours ever by Robert Williamson. We spent three hours at the House of Flags Museum and it was fascinating. It inspired Cobey for a history project and gave us an all a totally new appreciation of flags and their meaning.  You need to go just to find out about a Liberty Cap. Who knew you would find one of the best museums in the state in little Polk County?

 

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20170825_130405The last stop of the trip was at Tryon Internation Equestrian Center where we had lunch at Roger’s Diner. The food was very good and decent service. The center is very well laid out and impressively done. There are several restaurants, shops, general store and a large arena. I can see why horse folks love this place. Top Notch!

Three days and we found one of the best restaurants in the state and one of the best museums. I would call that a successful trip.

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