11745436_10205984728431998_8246457334648000331_nWe made it to the farthest western county – Cherokee County.  This county we also did with our field trip group which made it extra fun. We started the day driving about a half hour out to Murphy to Field of Woods. This site was the first we did for our history project that will show “curiosity” of North Carolina. They have the 300 ft wide ten commandments which claims to be the word’s largest. There are also other attractions including Psalms of Praise wall, empty tomb, all nation cross and more. I would plan to spend about hour to check everything out and climb to the tomb.

11751440_10205984809394022_3851740904946553025_nWe then went back into town for a tour at the Cherokee County Historical Museum. We loved this tour with Mr. Palmer and Wanda Stalcup. It is a small museum that is packed full. We learned so much and you could tell our guides loved their county and history.  I wish we had more time there. This is one of my favorite small town museums that we have visited and the people is what made it.  I loved learning about the symbols on the bear, the story about fairy crosses and the story about the mask made for the museum. We then went to Main Street USA for lunch. It was a tip from the museum and it was cheap and good country cooking.

11745348_10205986961767830_4482054335220159397_nOur next activity was a three mile walking tour where we saw the spot of Fort Butler where Cherokee were held before the Trail of Tears, the first White Settlers monument and the spot where Cherokee got water on Trail of Tears. On the way out of town to Graham County, we stopped at the little church on the hill where Abraham Lincoln’s biological father is buried.  We ended our day back in Murphy at The Sweet Tooth where the kid enjoyed some great ice cream.

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Mingo Falls

River TubingElkWe started our adventure in Swain County with a trip to Mingo Falls. It is  beautiful and only a short hike to get there.  You may want to ask for directions or print directions before you go because several people lost cell and GPS signal.  The next activity would be river tubing with Cherokee Rapids River Tubing.   It will take you four hours or more and for $10 per person that is a pretty good deal.  A couple of tips. If you want to stay with someone then I would tether to them especially kids This river is swift in places and slow in others.  If you start where we did, be ready it was a swift start. The coolest part was two elk eating on the river bank as we floated by. Claire also love the rope swing and took a few turns. I would do it again and Claire would have done it again right then.

We grabbed some food at the cooler and then headed to the outdoor drama- Unto the Hills. I highly recommend you see this show. It gives you a great overview of the history of the Cherokee. I suggest you do that before the other attractions for a great overview.

11227030_10206072930276989_265167319595775487_nThe next morning we started with a program with invertebrates with the Great Smoky National Park. The program was held at  Mingus Mill. The kids collected and studied invertebrates and then heard one of the Cherokee folk tales. The mill is interesting because it does not have a wheel but its powered by with a millrace. I had never seen a mill like that before so  it was interesting.  After the program and mill, we went to the Mountain Farm Museum about on half a mill down the road. The farm has several buildings collected throughout the area. There is a  log farmhouse, barn, apple house, springhouse, and a working blacksmith shop. Be sure to get an inexpensive self-guiding booklet at the beginning that gives more information about all the buildings. There is also a small yet informative visitor center and a nice gift shop at this location. We then had a great lunch at Wize Guys Grille. They have two different food places under one roof. One has burgers and fries and the other pizza and Italian places. Everyone found something that they wanted to eat and enjoyed there meal.

 

11825730_10206072929596972_4711823288886704445_nWe next went to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. The museum starts with a movie of one of the many Cherokee folk stories. The museum has many interesting exhibits and many built on the information we learned at Unto the Hills. We liked seeing one of the rifles that killed Silas. The statue with three sides representing the three different factions during the Cherokee removal was interesting. We learned a lot about Henry Timberlake and Emissaries of Peace exhibit.   There is lot to look at in the museum but there is not a lot of interactive things. It depends on how much you read but I would suggest at least an hour and half.

11745710_10205980663290372_2527020725966491683_nThe last stop in the town of Cherokee was the Oconaluftee Indian Village.  The kids really enjoyed the Indian Village. They have a guided tour of the first part of the village where they demonstrate many of the traditional crafts. They have a dancing demonstration and lecturers throughout the day. I highly recommend the lecturers they are only around 20 minutes and they are very informative.  We spend about two hours at the village. They only doing the dances at certain times so check schedule and plan accordingly.

11836802_10206072925876879_5884235511601061389_nWe stopped at Sassy Sunflowers Bakery and Cafe for dinner.  Cobey and I had salads and Claire had a sandwich and soup. This place was so good and the food was fresh. It was our favorite meal in the county. We then headed for Bryson City to see the courthouse and for desert.  We stopped at Soda Pops for Ice Cream. The place has a great atmosphere and the kid’s loved the ice cream. We stopped at the Courthouse and walked around the downtown. This is a very charming town and I would like to go back when we have time. There seemed like several neat places to eat also. We then headed to Murphy. On the way, we stopped at beautiful overlooks and we stumbled on a pedestrian bridge that was wonderfully scary and fun. The bridge was a great ending to a county that we want to go back and visit again soon. Swain ranks in the top of the counties so far.

 

 

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We started our day with a picnic with friends “on the square” in Shelby. It was a nice way to start our visit and a great idea and complete with homemade blueberry pie. This was the first county that Bruce was able to join us and it turned out to be a great county for him to come to. After lunch we made a quick to Shelby City Park.

 

 

 

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We took a ride on the 1919 carousel and the train. It is one of the most beautiful carousels I have ever seen. It is beautiful and you can take a ride for fifty cents. We had a driving tour of Shelby on the way back to our  next stop at the Earl Scruggs Museum. I am really not a bluegrass fan but I really enjoyed this museum. Each person gets a set of ear buds so you can hear various exhibits and there are many places to plug in. The story of Earl Scruggs and his wife was interesting. They also had general history of Cleveland County. There are three small exhibits and a movie so not a huge museum but worth the stop if you are in the area even if you are not a bluegrass fan. There was a volunteer from the area that added to the museum. I would give yourself an hour to explore. Claire found some new favorite songs and I gained an appreciate for bluegrass and its influence.

 

 

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We next hurried to Kings Mountain for the play Liberty Mountain at Joy Theater. The play was about the battle at Kings Mountain and all that led up to it. The battle was very well done and great history of the area. It was loud at parts with gun and cannon fire. There is a good amount of action. I heard they are going to extend the dates so you should try and make it before it ends. We walked around Kings Mountain and then had dinner at 238 Cherokee Grill. The food and service was very good. The only problem is Claire and Betsy ended up with spicy nachos after ordering mild sweet chili. They ended up using lots of sour cream. It was a nice ending to a full day in Cleveland County.

 

 

 

Claire’s Rankings – She said Cleveland may have been better if we had a chance to see everything. Several things were closed because it was Sunday. The second grouping isn’t bad though.

First

Mecklenburg

Tied for second

Greene

Gaston

Union

Cumberland

New Hanover

Tied for Seventh

Cleveland

Harnett

Halifax

Tenth Nash

Tied for Eleventh

Granville

Hertford

Anson

Tied Thirteen-

Avery

Tied Fifteen

Brunswick

Hoke

Seventeen- Bladen

Eighteen- Northampton

Tied for Last

Columbus

Edgecombe

 

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Mr. K's Soft Serve

 

 

Mecklenburg County has so much to offer, you can’t possibly cover it in one day or even two. The kids considered past trips when ranking. Cobey said the Whitewater Center was the only reason that the county made it to the top. Previously, we have been to NASCAR Hall of Fame, Raptor Center, Latta Plantation, Discover Place, and Rural Hill.  Our first stop was Mr. K’s Soft Serve which has been family owned since  1967. The kids both got ice cream which they said was good but not the best.  The place was very friendly and great atmosphere.  The rest of the menu looked good also.

 

 

 

The Mint MuseumFor the rest of the day we got to tour with the Browns which always makes exploring a county more fun.  The next stop was The Mint Museum on Randolph Road.   The museum has history of the mint in Charlotte, and a variety of art. Claire was very interested in the fashion exhibit and the conservation of the clothing items that was taking place.  They have many interesting decorative art pieces including wedgewood and pottery. We were all interested in the political pottery pieces.  Many of the galleries at activity bags to make the museum more interactive for kids and they also had an interactive room.  We really rushed through the museum and Claire wants to go back as soon as possible.

We then went to Brook’s Sandwich Shop for what is said to be the best burger in Charlotte. Brenda agreed that it was the best burger in Charlotte but Cobey said it was not the best burger in the state.  Claire had a BLT which she loved!

 

Charlotte Museum of HistoryWe then went to the Rosedale Plantation.  We had a great tour where we learned about the family that lived in the house and interesting features of the house. The last stop was the Charlotte Museum of History.  The museum is also home to the largest bell in the country. It is also home for the   1774 Hezekiah Alexander House who was a signer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. This is the largest surviving house in Charlotte. We toured the house, small garden, kitchen and springhouse.  We saw lamb’s ear in the garden which they used for toilet paper.  The museum also houses a large interactive display with a replica stone house and garden.  We ended the day with the First Annual Baby Bundle project hosted by Susan Tillis. These baby bundles go to new babies born at Fort Bragg for E4 families and below. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Baby Bundle Shower

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Snow Hill SIgn

St Barnabas Episcopal Church Happy JackGreene County is a small county but had an unfair advantage because of our personal tour guide- native Charles Taylor. He did a fabulous job setting up  things for us to see and people to talk to. We stopped by the courthouse which recently had a fire and had boarded up windows. We then stopped by  St. Barnabas Episcopal  Church. This Carpenter Gothic  church was built in 1887. It is a charming church has a church bell outside and a graveyard.    Our  first appointment was  a tour at Happy Jack. This is a family run business since 1946. It was great learning about the inner workings of the business.

 

 

 

Simply Natural Creamery On the way to the county museum and visitor center, we stopped into the ABC store and learned about a sweet potato Vodka called Covington. It is distilled in the county.  The county has a large sweet potato production and a sweet potato festival. The museum is one room and the exhibits change. They currently had a hat collection exhibit. There was a flag from the county and some information about the forming of the county. Otherwise, not much to the museum. We then headed to Simply Natural Creamery where we had a tour and had ice cream twice. The tour was very informative about the running of the farm. The ice cream moved to the top of list for North Carolina ice cream.  We then headed to Ribeyes of Snow Hill.  It was the first of the franchise and the owner of the franchise lives in Greene County. The best part of the day was our guest at lunch.  Ben Rayford is a WWII vet and past Greene County Mayor and town council member. He told a story of coming face to face with Paton and being in France when the war ended This was the highlight of the trip for me.. After lunch, we meet with the warden of one of the three prisons in the county.

 

 

The last stop on the way out of the county was the monument to  remember a battle at Fort Nooherookuh where almost 1,000 members of the Tuscarora Nation were killed.  They attack took place on March 21-23, 1713. It is now the largest burial site of Native Americans in North America. The monument located on farmland is quite beautiful and unique. It  was a great end to a wonderful visit to Greene County. Cobey bumped newly placed New Hanover County and placed Greene County as number one.

Monument - Greene County

 

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Bellamy Mansion Musem

11235050_10205502955187968_538999169246573655_nWe visited our 17th County- New Hanover. This was a extra special county because my brother joined us and we had special friends John and Pam show us around. We had high expectations with the owners of AllAboutWilmington as our guides. The did not disappoint. We have been to New Hanover several times. We have been to the Battleship North Carolina, Fort Fisher Aquarium and the Wilmington Children’s Museum. We have eaten at some great restaurants in the past including Carolina Cupcakes.  Last Year, Claire learned all about Bonsai trees at the Painted Lady Bonsai. We knew the area had lots to offer.  We wanted to revisit Fort Fisher since we have not been in while, and then see some new things. We took the ferry from Southport and started at Fort Fisher. We watched the fiber-optic battle map first. It had a sign not to push the button that it was only for school groups. We pushed it anyway. 🙂 It is a great overview of the battle there. We walked around the tour trail and read some of the wayside. When we came back in to the exhibits Claire read about a confederate spy- Rose O’Neal Greenhow. She was very interested in the story and wanted to find her grave at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

Winnie's Tavern The next stop was Carolina Beach State Park. They have a small exhibit about carnivorous plants. We had a very good and informative  talk from Ranger Helms about the plants and his job. We were then off to lunch at Winnie’s Tavern.  It is a little off the beaten path and not a fancy place but it did not disappoint. My brother said the burger alone was worth the trip. You should look it up the next time you are in town! We then headed for Oakdale Cemetery. We stopped by the office and got a map of the famous grave sites. They have some really interesting ones. Along with Rose O’Neal, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial, the first governor of NC elected by poplar vote, and  a girl buried in a run barrel . I love the history you can find in a graveyard.

Cotton Exchange

We headed for the Cotton Exchange.  I am not much of a shopper but I really love this place. I love the history written throughout the plaques all the wall. I love the small unique shops. We got toffee at the General Store and dog treats at the Dog Bakery. We then headed to Bellamy Museum Mansion. There we started out by watching a film of the overview of the house and then a house tour. The house has sparse furnishing but some beautiful architecture detail. The tour was almost two hours. He was very knowledgeable but tour was a little long especially after a full day of touring. He also could have skipped some inappropriate stories with my kids and other kids even younger in attendance.   So the mansion ended up being an plus and minus for New Hanover county.  After the tour, we headed home but there is even more to explore in New Hanover County.

After our day spent in New Hanover and considering the things we have done in the past. New Hanover moved to the top of Cobey’s rankings. He also gave Winnie’s the honor of best burger. Claire ranked New Hanover tied for first with Union, Cumberland and Gaston.  I loved The Cotton Exchange so I am giving it best for shopping so far not that I know much about shopping. And although the tour was long it was my favorite home so far Bellamy Mansion is worth checking out just don’t get the long tour.

 

 

Oakdale Cemetery

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Roberts-Vaughan House Yesterday, we made quick trip to Hertford County. We are working on Claire’s project on Lafayette and decided to explore the county at the same time. I was quite surprised what the county had to offer.We first stopped in Murfreesboro. They have so much history and many preserved buildings. We first stopped at the Roberts-Vaughan House (1790-pictured above). We got a tour of this house and learned a little about the town history. We next went to the Agriculture/Transportation Museum. It is small but fascinating.  We  got to see a replica of a flying machine that was built 30 years before the Wright Brothers flight. We also saw the corn husker that gave Gatling the idea for rapid fire gun. We saw a few other houses and buildings from the outside then went for lunch.

Flying Machine

 

We had lunch at Tavern 125. Cobey had a burger (pictured below), Claire had clam chowder and I had philly steak.  The kids had key lime pie(pictured below)  for dessert. The food was very good and reasonably priced.

Tavern 125

Tavern 125

 

We then went to the Parker’s Ferry. It is one of the last cable ferries in NC. It can only carry two cars at a time. The kids actually thought it was fun!

Parker's Ferry

 

Chowan CollegeWe then drove thru Winton which was not very impressive. They had one museum that was not open and a few old buildings but many were in disrepair.  We stayed a few minutes then after some searching headed to Chowan College for our walk in the county. It was the best we could find. The ponds on campus were nice and we walked around for a bit then headed home.  It will not make the top of our counties but it will not be at the bottom either. We will be back for sure either for a field trip I set up or one of their second Saturdays that they start in April. Lafayette visited here and you should too.

 

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Hoke was our 13th county and the first county visit that it rained the entire time.  I am glad our main activity was indoors.  We decided we would fly a mile instead of walk a mile.

We started our visit at The Mill at Puppy Creek for lunch. The food was a mix of Italian and bar food.   My side salad was not so good but the lasagna was good. The bar food was good also. The service was good but took awhile to get our checks. We really liked the atmosphere – big windows overlooking the old mill and river.

Old Mill at Puppy Creek

After lunch, we were unsuccessful in finding another place to have dessert or something interesting to see so  we headed for the main attraction in Hoke- Paraclete XP, Indoor Skydiving. It was a homeschool field trip and we had 15 flyers – age 8 to adults. The staff was awesome. We first went to a classroom where they  explained everything and taught hand signals. We then went and got all our gear and suited up. Once we went in the tunnel, I did get a little nervous. We each got 2 one minute flights.  It was fun and everyone had a BLAST!!   The staff is so patient and professional. We could not have had a better first flight. Claire is begging to go back.

Claire Skydiving

 

Cobey Skydiving

Me

The kids were not impressed with the courthouse. They thought it was to tall for the width but at least it was not one from the 80s,

Hoke County Courthouse

Overall, this kids put it last on the list. They absolutely LOVED skydiving but overall not much in Hoke County.

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Friendly County-Northhampton County #12

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Jan 21, 2015 Under 100 County Challenge, Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

We needed to go to Jackson, NC for a project Claire was working on so we decided to make Northampton county number 11. We started our visit at the Northampton History Museum. It is a small one room museum but it has some interesting exhibits and the person working there was very helpful and informative. We then went to the Chamber to see one of the costumes from The Lost Colony. The costume designer is from the county. We then headed to lunch at Embassy Cafe.  I had the great BLT! Cobey said his barbecue sandwich was one of the best and Claire enjoyed her tuna salad. Bring cash!

BLT

 

After we ate lunch, we went to the Northampton County Courthouse, built in 1858. The courthouse is still in use and we were able to take a peek inside the courtroom.  This was the spot where Lafayette was welcomed officially to the state. We then did a self-guided walking tour of the town. They have some interesting buildings and worth a quick walk.

Northampton County Courthouse

 

 

We then headed for the Trapper’s Cottage, also known as earth house. You need to be sure to visit. Claire and  I were fascinated by this place.

Tapper's Cottage ??????????????????????????

 

We then stopped at the Battle of Boon’s Mill and the marker for Sir Archie. If you stop at the Sir Archie marker, you can still see the Moxie Plantation down a very long driveway. We were wishing we could go tour the place.

Claire at Sir Archie

Cobey at Battle of  Boon's Mill Northampton County is not a flashy county but we were surprised at the rich history so for its population it was nice.  It was not one of our favorite counties but because of the history and nice people we were sad about that fact.

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Eating Our Way through Granville County #8

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Aug 27, 2014 Under 100 County Challenge, Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

Granville County Courthouse

Granville County Historical MuseumWe started our day in Granville with breakfast at Finch’s family restaurant. It has been around since 1945 and you can see why. They had good food and great service. Claire loved her french toast with powdered sugar.  We then headed to Oxford to check out some beautiful buildings and the 1840 courthouse with weather vane on the top. We spent some time in the Granville County Historical Museum. It is small but has some interesting stories about Granville and rural North Carolina. It is held in the old jail.

 

We almost skipped the lunch- Harvest Restaurant  because of the sign on the door but we went decided to go ahead despite Cobey’s objections. They had a variety of interesting sandwiches. The food was good not great. The restaurant is housed in an old house which gives it a nice atmosphere and the service was good.

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The snack after lunch made up for the lackluster lunch. They loved Snocrazy’s Snowballs. This place was great with lots of flavors. Yum!! Don’t miss this place if you are in the area.

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We drove around and saw more beautiful houses, churches and the Oxford Orphanage.  We then had the honor of a tour with John Turner in Butner. He told us about the history for the Butner and his vision for a Veterans Life Center.  This center is so needed to help our Veterans heal and they deserve that and much more.  VLC – Cares and so should you.

We visited the town hall where they have an interesting exhibit about Camp Butner. A large part of the town was acquired by the US Army during World War II. The built 3,500 structures in just six months and could house 35,000 soldiers. The area was used for training, a hospital and a POW camp for German prisoners. They have photos before it was taken over and after.  We asked someone in the town hall for a place to walk. We were told about a greenway that went by Rite Aid. I asked about a trail maybe in the woods. I was then told we don’t walk in the woods unless we are hunting. We also visited he memorial across from the town hall.

With some help from google, we ended up taking a nice walk at Lake Devin.

Lake Devin

 

We also made a quick stop through Stovall and found this beautiful church. It once was the Stovall Episcopal Church. I would love to find out more about the church. I love it!

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Grammie's Kitchen After our walk, we went make to Creedmoor for not one bakery but two. We first meet one of my high school friends at Grammie’s Kitchen. They had a great selection and we even picked up diabetic friendly treats for the grandparents. It was really yummy and they have a few tables so we could rest for a bit. We then crossed the street to Raleigh Cake Pops which was a huge hit with lots of different flavors. They ship cake pops all over the country.

Raleigh Cake Pops

 

We ended the day at Bob’s BBQ! Claire and I loved it and thought it was the best BBQ yet but Cobey still loves Parker’s. We ended up eating our way through Granville County and having a great day!!

 

 

 

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