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11755107_10205986132987111_2583226367954054928_nI struggled to find something for Graham County.  I believe the best thing it seems to have going for it is Fontana Lake which is quiet beautiful but we really could not find much else.  I highly recommend not depending on GPS or your phone for directions. We lost signal and directions several times. We started our visit at the Fontana Dam which has a beautiful view. This was the last stop of our Cherokee field trip and our crew had dwindled to three families. The photo to the left is of the kids left standing on the end of Day 3.  They have a small but nice visitor center that talks about  the building of the dam and energy. It is free and worth a look.

We then went to Fontana Village Resort for dinner. We were told by locals that there was nothing to eat in Robbinsville. We ate at the Wildwood Grill. Cobey had a burger, Claire had nachos and I had a salad. The service was good but the food was just okay.  The atmosphere was a little dissappointing along with the rest of the feel of the resort. I really expected a quaint charming resort but didn’t find it. We ended up driving by Historic Taboco Lodge which was more what I expected. We ended up wishing we had eaten there and Claire wants to go back and stay.

11800336_10205986933927134_4495951521674656386_nWe drove through Joyce Kilmer park which was nice but we didn’t see the huge trees. We then went into the downtown – Robbinsville and found the courthouse which was not much to speak of. We also after some effort found the Junaluska Memorial. We hiked through a small Traditional Medicine Trail that had interesting information about plants and uses. We had to pass a heap of beer bottle and trash to get to the trail. When we got to the top with the Memorial, we were disappointed to find it over grown, broken tiles, and broken lamps.  It was really disgraceful and says a lot about a county that would let a memorial deteriorate like this.

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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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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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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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Mt Tabor School 1870

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On the way home from the beach we decided to hit two more counties- Columbus and Bladen.  On the way we stopped at the Mt Tabor School from 1870 for a quick photo. (photo above)  Our first top was the visitor center in Fair Bluff where we took a walk on the trail along the Lumber River. They have a nice boardwalk and trail which made for a great walk.

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We then did our own car tour of the area. We picked up the brochure at the Visitor Center.  They have some great old buildings including a Trading Post (1802) and Depot (1897). The depot has a small museum but it was closed that day.  There were many more beautiful buildings and one of Claire’s favorite cemeteries.  We ended our visit with ice cream at Elvington’s Pharmacy.

 

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After we went through Chadborn, we stopped at the NC Museum of Forestry.   It is  very small museum inside with some fossils found in White Lake. We were more interested in the things outside.  There is also a short tree trail where the trees are marked and a fossil dig. You can check out tools in the museum. The best part was the Whispering Giant sculptor found in the front.  Peter Wolf Toth a sculptor who immigrated from Hungary made a series of these to honor Native Americans. There are 74 statues with at least one in each state. We stopped at the courthouse in both counties. Neither where impressive.

 

 

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We started our visit to Bladen County at  the  famous Melvins burger in downtown Elizabethtown.  This was Cobey’s favorite burger.  They put out some hamburgers and watching the system is entertaining. We then visited a graveyard behind an old church and the local park where on August 27, 1791 the Battle of Elizabethtown  took place.  This is were 60-70 Whigs crushed over 300 Tories. They used a ruse of commanding phantom soldiers to make the Tories believe they were much larger and then engaged them during a disorganized retreat.  There is a marker to commemorate this event.

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We ended our trip to Bladen County with a stop at Houston’s Peanuts for a snack and then Lu Mill Winery. Claire loved the winery were she got a slushy and jam sample. They have a great gift shop. We also explored the grounds were Claire loved the little church. It was a great end to a full day.

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Jeff’s Boat- OIB

 

We have decided to partake in a travel challenge. Our plan is 100 NC counties, 50 states and 15 countries before Cobey graduates in 2020.  We have a few rules. We are not redoing states or countries. Driving through a state does not count. You have to eat something and do something. The same goes for the counties. The kids will be ranking the counties as we go and they can consider things we have done in the past in the county. I hope you will follow along with us on the adventure.

We started with Brunswick County because that is where my brother lives and we were in town for his birthday. We have been to many good restaurants at Ocean Isle Beach and Oak Island. We have also been many time to the Museum of Coastal Carolina at Ocean Isle Beach. It is a great small science and history museum. We have even climbed the scary lighthouse at Oak Island and explored the Fort Caswell. For this trip we decided to focus on Southport.  We started at the Visitor Center which is at Fort Johnston. After checking out the small museum which has some cool movie artifacts we decided on a golf cart tour.

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We went with the Southport Fun Tours which lived up to their name. The tour had a lot of information about movies and TV shows have been filmed in the area. The tour also had a lot of information about the history of the area. There is history back to the Native Americans and lots of Civil War history. It was a great balance and kept us all entertained. I highly recommend this tour. We headed for Provisions for lunch but the line was too  long and we were starving so we ended up at Fishy Fish. I really love the decor and atmosphere but the service and food were not great.  I had the worse peel and eat shrimp that I have ever had.  Cobey and Claire liked their meals better but it was not over the top. I guess we should have waited for Provisions. We walked around downtown and took a photo with a tree that the Native Americans used to mark a trail. We then headed back to OIB. Southport is a really cool quaint town that is worth a visit. Check it out!

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Homeschool Days at Chimney Rock

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Tuesday Oct 15, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, North Carolina, Travel

Chimney Rock

Chimney RockWhen we cancelled our DC trip, we had a few open days.  I decided to fill them by trying to go visit some friends. Jennifer Johnson told me about Homeschool Days at Chimney Rock State Park. We signed up at the last minute and we were not disappointed.  In the morning, we attended three stations- Raptors, Spiders and Adaptions.  The stations were informative and hands on for the kids. It was very well put together.  They also had a guided hike after lunch that we did not attend. We went to the Smokehouse in town for lunch and it was very good.  After lunch, we went back to the park to hike some of the trails. We asked about the trails at the gift shop. The lady made it sound like it was not so bad. We must have looked in better shape than we were because it was a work out.  We took the elevator up. I highly recommend the elevator because you will have plenty walking at the top. We walked up to the rock and then took Skyline Trail up to Exclamation Point. There was also an Opera Box and Devils Head on the way. The kids had a great time playing while the adults were catching their breath.  The views were beautiful. We are looking forward to more visit to Chimney Rock Park.

On the way to Charlotte, we saw a garden on the side of the road. We stopped to see what it was about. We stumbled across a gem- Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. A volunteer told us they were scheduled to tear the bridge down when a group got permission from the state to do this project. The beds were just planted this April and the project was completed with volunteers. The bridge is beautiful and worth a stroll if you are in the area.  For fall, each bed had pumpkins decorated as people with different themes.

Lake Lure Flowering Garden

IMG_7709Lake Lure Flowering Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tyron Palace

Cobey at Pepsi Family Center

 

NC Homeschool Adventures went back to Tyron Palace. It is one of the few places the kids have begged to go back to. They really wanted to go back to the Pepsi Family Center which in the North Carolina History Center. They loved this interactive museum where you can make turpentine, sail a ship, cook and make a quilt. I was afraid they would be disappointed because they were now too old for it or they were remembering it more fondly than it was; but, we started out our visit their and they loved it. I did manage to tear them away for a delicious  lunch at the cafe. We ate looking over the water and it was very nice. We then went and toured the Palace where we had a great tour guide. We toured one other house on the property and then back to the Pepsi Family Center. We ended up having dinner at Captain Ratty’s which is downtown New Bern  and it was great. We had  a great day and it was getting ready to be even better.

 

 

 

Guest of the Day

 

We arrived at out hotel the Hampton Inn in New Bern to discover we were the guest of the day. We had a special parking place, breakfast brought to our room and our name in lights. The kids loved it. We have stayed in lots of hotel rooms and it takes a lot to excite the kids now and that did it. What a great idea by that manager that really doesn’t cost them any money but makes a families day. Thumbs up to Hampton Inn of New Bern.

The next day we went to Shackleford Island. We had about a two hour tour of the island with Laura. She is so passionate about the horses and marine life that it is wonderful to learn from her. We got to see the horses up really close which was fun and Claire and Cobey got to snack on pickle grass which they had been talking about to all the kids. We spent another hour just hanging out on the beach and enjoying a great day. I really love it there and Laura makes it even better. When we got off the boat, we went to downtown Beaufort and had a great lunch at Clawson’s and then headed back home.

 

 

Shackleford Horses

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