A Few Moments at Murray’s Mill

Murrays_MillTucked away along a winding byway in Catawba County, North Carolina, is a National Register Historic Site known as Murray’s Mill.

On a recent trip to the western part of North Carolina, I spent a few moments snapping pictures of the historic property, which in addition to the Mill (built in 1913 to replace the original), consists of Murray & Minges General Store (circa 1890s), a Wheathouse from the 1880s, and the John Murray House (built in 1912). Three generations of Murray family members ran the mill from 1883 until 1967, when operation ceased.


Murray’s Mill has been carefully restored and preserved by the Catawba County Historical Association since 1980. — Catawba, North Carolina

Visitors can tour the Mill and Wheathouse—the last of their kind in the county—or step into the General Store for a quaint step back in time.


Parking is available by the Murray & Minges General Store, where an old pump and a rusty Pepsi cooler greet visitors. (The name Minges was added through marriage.)


Behind the mill is the John Murray House (left) and (to the right in the distance) other historic structures that are part of the Murray’s Mill Historic Site in Catawba, North Carolina.


Inside Murray’s Mill, artifacts have been well-maintained for viewing, such as millstones used to grind corn, roller mills for grinding wheat into flour, as well as storage bins used to contain the finished product.


The dam and 28-foot waterwheel at Murray’s Mill were constructed in 1938 and replaced the former wooden dam and 22-foot waterwheel.


Although not part of the Murray’s Mill Historic Site per se, trail enthusiasts and casual walkers alike can pick up the David L. Stewart Trail, which is part of a regional network of greenways and trails known as the Carolina Thread Trail that “threads” its way through 15 counties in North Carolina and South Carolina.

For more photos of Murray’s Mill, both past and present, visit NC State University Library’s rare and unique digital collections.

Fearrington Village Revisited


Fearrington Village, North Carolina

Fearrington Village, a mixed-use community consisting of houses, shops, restaurants, an Inn, farm, gardens, and spa located between Chapel Hill and Pittsboro, North Carolina, is quickly becoming my favorite local destination.

Reminiscent of a small English village, Fearrington, (pronounced FAIR-ington), is home to such national notables as The Fearrington House Inn and The Fearrington House Restaurant.

Since my first visit to Fearrington back in December of last year, I’ve become a veritable Village evangelist, singing its praises and seeking to bring others into its fold. Whether it’s Sunday brunch at The Fearrington Granary, coffee or light fare at The Goat, a stroll through Jenny’s garden, or a stop by Dovecote boutique to greet presiding doves Myles and Buster, the time spent at Fearrington is always charming, relaxing, and memorable.


The Fearrington Granary Restaurant is, as you may have guessed by the name, a former granary turned restaurant. Try their down-to-earth-yet-subtly-gourmet fried chicken, baked macaroni, broccolini and homemade buttermilk ranch dip. It’s my favorite!


Here, I’m with my nephew in what is referred to as Jenny’s Garden, which is located adjacent to The Fearrington House Inn. The garden is named after the late Jenny Fitch, who with her husband R.B Fitch, purchased Fearrington Farm in 1973 and began to develop it into the community that it is today. (Fearrington Village, NC; photo credit: L. Morrison)


Want an out-of-this-world-beautiful wedding reception? Consider the Fearrington Village barn. Original to the property, this barn has been converted into a spectacular social gathering place. (Fearrington Village, North Carolina)

During a visit to Fearrington on a drizzly afternoon, (yesterday, in fact, as I write this post), I stepped into The Goat for some Maple View ice cream. Two scoops in a waffle cone later, I was perched upstairs tapping my feet to some live bluegrass music and downing some Butter Pecan.


Live music can be heard regularly at The Roost–an outdoor meeting place beside The Goat–(or in this case, inside The Goat when it’s raining). — Pictured here are The Boys from North Carolina Bluegrass and Country Band. 8/2/14


Stop by The Goat and purchase a fluffy version of Fearrington’s signature breed, the Beltie cow,–or, if you have an aversion to owning stuffed animals as I do–(sorry Beltie!)–just smile and talk nicely to one before continuing ’round the Village.

The barnyard is a big hit with the children. The Fearrington Village farm is a working farm that is home to both Belted Galloway cows (Belties for short, because of the white band around the middle of their otherwise dark bodies), and Tenessee Fainting goats, which I think look like Beltie goats. They have white bands around their middles, too!  …I’ve even seen a donkey once in the pasture.


A Beltie cow seeks shade under a tree while a Tennessee Fainting goat waits expectantly for a carrot. (Fearrington Village, North Carolina)

During one Saturday morning visit, a Fearrington Village farmer asked my nephew if he wanted to help him feed the Tennessee Fainting goats.  Boy, did he!


Feeding the Tennessee Fainting goats at Fearrington Village, North Carolina


Oh, yes! I fed the goats at Fearrington Village, too! (photo credit: B. Sullivan)


Here, a Fearrington Village farmer points to why these goats are called Fainting goats–they have a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita which causes the younger goats to stiffen up and fall over. The older goats learn to spread their legs and stay upright when the stiffness sets in. –Fearrington Village, NC


After my nephew fed the goats, the Fearrington Village farmer taught him how to crank the hand pump and wash his hands farm style. (photo credit: L. Morrison)

On yet another visit to the Village–this time for Sunday brunch–a lady enlisted my nephew’s help to feed the goats a bag of carrots and sweet peppers.


My nephew reaches carefully through the electric fence to feed a hungry Tennessee Fainting goat at Fearrington Village in North Carolina.


A funny face-to-face at The Fearrington Village farm in North Carolina

Come rain or come shine, it’s not hard to love Fearrington Village.

A Park at RDU? Who Knew?


A wind feature at RDU Observation Park — Raleigh-Durham International Airport; Morrisville, North Carolina

I was taking my sister to the airport last Sunday morning when she observed a sign that changed my life forever: Observation Park

All my years—-nine, to be exact—-of circling and circling the terminals at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, (RDU), waiting for that call, email, or text that the plane had landed and my passenger was waiting for me outside baggage claim were over!

Five days later, I found myself not circling the terminals, but rather navigating the turns toward Observation Park as I awaited the arrival of my sister’s return flight. In true Lori fashion, I had left the battery of my good camera plugged in at work, so I was limited to my iPhone’s capabilities.

RDU’s Observation Park, which has been around for over twenty years, is small but quaint. Located near the Control Tower and the General Aviation Terminal, the park consists of an observation deck, benches and picnic tables, restrooms, and a play area complete with a miniature runway and a small jungle gym shaped like a yellow spider. The park is full of aviation history and artifacts, and parking is free.


The flowering, tree-lined path leading to the elevated observation deck is a welcome (and park-like!) contrast to hangars and pavement. — RDU Observation Park


An elevated observation deck offers a bird’s eye view of planes taking off and landing. An intercom on the deck makes it possible to hear air traffic control. In flying, wind socks like the orange one you see flying above and to the left of the observation deck in this photo help to determine wind direction. Aircraft take off and land against the prevailing winds.  — RDU Observation Park


Along the railing of the observation deck are images and descriptions of planes past and present. — RDU Observation Park


In the foreground is a walking path with plaques detailing the history of flight in general and RDU in particular. In the background, a plane takes off on a rainy, breezing summer day to a destination unknown. — RDU Observation Park


Just below the observation deck is a plane propeller from a Douglas DC-3. This “workhorse of the skies” served RDU from 1943-1963.

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One of the plaques along the pillared pathway near the play area harkens back to the first powered flight taken by Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903. The Wright Flyer stayed in the air for 120 feet. …And the rest is history.

Although not technically a Raleigh city park, RDU Observation Park is a park and it is in the Raleigh area, so for purposes of this post I’m counting it toward my goal of visiting (and appreciating) Raleigh’s parks this summer. Five down, and many more to go!

24 hours in Savannah, Georgia

Last weekend, I visited Savannah with my younger sister and her family. We arrived in “Georgia’s first city” on Saturday a little after noon and made our way back to North Carolina just before noon on Sunday.

Conceptually, that doesn’t seem like much time at all! But beautiful Savannah has so much to offer in terms of history, culture, and architecture that it’s astonishing what one can see and do in just 24 hours.

Our first stop was The Marshall House, one of Savannah’s oldest hotels and the place at which we would be staying. The concierge directed us to a nearby public parking deck, where we deposited our car for the next 24 hours–Savannah is a walkabout city!


The Marshall House, one of Savannah’s oldest hotels, served as a hospital during the Civil War and during two outbreaks of yellow fever.

Our growling bellies led us to The Olde Pink House for lunch. Erected in 1789 by cotton mogul James Habersham, Jr., this pink stucco, Georgian mansion is one of the only buildings in Savannah to survive the fire of 1796.


The Olde Pink House in Savannah, GA, served up one of the best eating experiences I’ve ever had. No exaggeration! (Pictured: My sister, me, my nephew, and my brother-in-law; taken by one of the friendly restaurant staff)

The Olde Pink House is the Mary Poppins of Savannah, Georgia. From the moment we walked up the steps to the moment we left, the experience was practically perfect in every way.


What’s a quintessential southern meal without fried green tomatoes? I didn’t want to find out, so I ordered a delicious dish complete with mixed greens, fried green tomatoes and brown sugar-crusted bacon. Oh my! — The Olde Pink House Restaurant in historic Savannah, Georgia


The maitre d’ was particularly proud of The Olde Pink House’s pastry chef, and the house-made pecan pie did not disappoint. (Savannah, GA)


A statue of city founder, James Edward Oglethorpe, stands in Chippewa Square. (Savannah, GA)

The Olde Pink House is located on Reynolds Square, which is one of 22 squares in historic Savannah. City founder, James Edward Oglethorpe, planned the city on a grid, with lovely garden squares surrounded by eight city blocks. Each eight-block area was called a “ward,” and this design enabled the city to grow. (There were originally four squares when the “Oglethorpe plan” was laid out in 1733.) Savannah’s gardens are charming, and the District that contains them is considered a National Historic Landmark.


Savannah’s squares, with their Live Oaks and Spanish Moss, exude southern charm. But beware the enticing hanging moss–it’s full of chiggers, which burrow under the skin and irritate! — pictured here: Johnston Square (Savannah, GA)

After lunch, we returned to The Marshall House, where we relaxed in the hotel’s tastefully decorated library to await our chief reason for visiting Savannah.


The Marshall House’s Library, (Savannah, GA), contains intriguing artwork, books and historic artifacts. My young nephew particularly liked the complimentary lemonade available each day in the library for thirsty guests.

Our chief reason for visiting Savannah? A behind-the-scenes tour of Hunter Army Airfield. Our “tour guide”–an officer with nineteen years of service in the military–arrived on time, and we spent the next couple of  hours gaining an even greater appreciation for the skill, discipline, and sacrifice that goes hand-in-hand with duty to country.

Rain had set in, and we returned to The Marshall House once again to check in and freshen up for dinner. After dinner at 45 Bistro, (which I am sorry to say was a culinary catastrophe and hopefully an exception to an otherwise highly regarded restaurant in the historic district), we made our way down the street to the famous Leopold’s Ice Cream, established in 1919 by three brothers who had immigrated from Greece.


Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has left its mark everywhere in the city–in a good way. Next door to this cinema is Leopold’s Ice Cream–a must-have when in Savannah.


Years later, Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah, GA, is still in the Leopold family and operated like an old-time soda fountain.


During our wait in line at Leopold’s Ice Cream, (the line was out the door!), we enjoyed the movie posters–they are rotated out periodically and are films produced by current shop owner and operator, Stratton Leopold. I was delighted to see (pictured here) two of my favorite actors, Morgan Freeman and Ben Affleck, and (for better or worse) my favorite Affleck film, Paycheck.

Following our dairy delight and mini trip down the Hollywood walk of fame, we ventured toward the Savannah River to explore River Street, which is home to several hotels, shops, and restaurants, and offers an up-close view of the boats and ships passing through or docked for a spell.


Historic steps leading down to River Street in Savannah, Georgia. The sign: “Use at your own risk” — We did. :)


The World War II Monument along the river walk (River Street) is one of several war monuments in Savannah. This one is referred to as “The Cracked Earth,” because it depicts a world divided.


My sister took this picture of me surveying the names of all the fallen WWII soldiers from Chatham County, GA, who are memorialized inside “The Cracked Earth” World War II Monument. Also inside the monument, on the top right, is a Purple Heart and a Metal of Honor. — On River Street in Savannah, GA

As twilight was settling on the city of southern hospitality, we came upon the monument of John Wesley in Reynolds Square.


John Wesley was secretary to James Edward Oglethorpe, Savannah’s city founder. Wesley later became rector of Christ Church in Savannah. Also in his lifetime, Wesley was a missionary to the Indians, started the Sunday School movement, and was the founder of Methodism.

Our night at The Marshall House was comfortable and pleasantly uneventful–the hotel is reputedly haunted–and the next day we headed back to River Street for Sunday brunch at Huey’s On the River. As we later made our way to Bay Street for a history tour in a horse-drawn carriage, we encountered an interesting sight–a palm leaf artist feeding the pigeons some of her morning oatmeal.


Scattered throughout the touristy spots in Savannah, GA, are the “palm leaf people”–vendors who craft roses, swords, etc. out of palm leaves. This particular palm leaf artist had quite a following…of pigeons. Without being commissioned, she crafted my nephew a sword, which she said could be turned upside down and hung as a cross in his bedroom once he got home. He was quite pleased with it, and my brother-in-law felt obliged to give a donation for her efforts.


A carriage tour of Savannah may seem a bit touristy, but it’s a great way to get an interactive view of the city and determine what and where you’d like to explore in more depth. Our guide was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and allowed for two-way conversation and questions.


Along the carriage route, we saw the historic Scottish Rite Masonic Center. If the story our tour guide told us is to be believed, the blue trim work on the top facade (beside and above the columns in this photo) is worth a pretty penny.


This fire bell, known as “Big Duke,” was purchased in 1872 by the Savannah Fire and Police departments. It’s said that each eight-block ward/square was given a designated number, and that number was struck in an emergency to communicate the location of the fire/trouble. Big Duke was quickly decommissioned, because in practice it was difficult keeping track of how many times the bell tolled.


On a whim, I captured this church steeple through the trees during our Savannah carriage ride tour. Turns out, it’s the steeple of Independent Presbyterian Church–where the feather floated down in the movie Forrest Gump! Portions of that movie were filmed in historic Savannah, perhaps most notably the “life is like a box of chocolates” bench scene.

We passed by many other historic places and notable sights during our carriage ride, such as the home of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. Fittingly, the building where the first meeting was held (just behind her house) was surrounded by a troop of chattering tourist Scouts.


Savannah’s City Hall, with its impressive gold-colored dome and waving flag was a majestic sight, and one of the final ones we saw as we left the grand old city.


The last thing I photographed in historic Savannah–though the window of our retreating vehicle–was The Savannah Cotton Exchange, which harkens back to the 1880’s when cotton was in its heyday and the area was considered “The Wall Street of the South.”


As we bid the low country and marshes adieu, we all vowed to return very soon–there was still much to be explored. …My nephew enthusiastically added, “I want to live in Savannah!” ;)