Category Archives: Small Towns

Shelby, North Carolina

Ni Fen Bistro in downtown Shelby, North Carolina

Shelby, NC is a town about an hour or so west of Charlotte along I-85.  While I knew a little bit about the town and it’s history, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that in all the time we’ve lived here I mostly regarded Shelby as someplace to get through on the way to or from the mountains.

Cleveland County Court House, Shelby, North Carolina

Friends of ours recently moved to Shelby, and we spent a recent afternoon and evening walking around downtown, having dinner and listening to some live music.  The downtown area is a far cry from the Shelby I previously knew, and as the county seat for Cleveland County is quite a bustling place.

One of many record album sculptures in tribute to songwriter Don Gibson in Shelby, North Carolina
One of many record album sculptures in tribute to songwriter Don Gibson in Shelby, North Carolina

Shelby is the birthplace of a number of famous people, including country songwriter Don Gibson, legendary banjo player Earl Scruggs, and country music singer Patty Loveless.  Throughout town are a number of statues in the form of record albums that commemorate a number of Gibson’s more famous creations.

Shelby Cafe in downtown Shelby, North Carolina
Shelby Cafe in downtown Shelby, North Carolina

No small town would be complete without a number of interesting restaurants.  We only tried one, but plan to return often to try some more.

Shadows, Shelby, North Carolina
Shadows, Shelby, North Carolina

A Quick Stop in Abingdon, Virginia

Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia

We made a quick stop in Abingdon, VA on the way from Bristol to Bardstown, KY.  I’m pretty sure I have been in Abingdon at one time or another, but we wanted to check the place out for a potential long weekend visit.

Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia
Train Station in Abingdon Virginia

Of course because there is a train station there – actually two, a freight depot and passenger depot – it gave me a good excuse to stop for a few photos.

Shadows on a stairway in Abingdon Virginia
Shadows on a stairway in Abingdon Virginia

According to my metadata we were stopped for less than an hour, so our stop is hardly representative of what there is to see and do there.  Abingdon has a large arts community and is known as being the home of the Barter Theatre and the Virginia Creeper Trail, and the Appalachian Trail passes close to Abingdon.

Babycakes Unique Eats bakery in Abingdon Virginia
Babycakes Unique Eats bakery in Abingdon Virginia
Babycakes Unique Eats bakery in Abingdon Virginia
Babycakes Unique Eats bakery in Abingdon Virginia

Abingdon is about 3 hours by car, at least the way most people would go, but about 4-5 hours for those who like to take the scenic route.  Definitely close enough for a weekend or even an overnight visit.  We’ve got it on the list for a return!

Abingdon Virginia
Abingdon Virginia
Abingdon Virginia
Abingdon Virginia

Passing Through Bristol

Bristol Sign recognizing the City of Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia. The sign spans State Street, so the sign has a half in each state.
Bristol Sign recognizing the City of Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia. The sign spans State Street, so the sign has a half in each state.

On our recent adventure to Kentucky, Kathy & I decided to break up the drive by spending our first night in Bristol – but is Bristol in Tennessee or Virginia?  As it turns out, it is a town in both Tennessee and Virginia!

Bristol Sign recognizing the City of Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia. The sign spans State Street, so the sign has a half in each state.
Bristol Sign recognizing the City of Bristol in both Tennessee and Virginia. The sign spans State Street, so the sign has a half in each state.
Paramount Theater on the Tennessee side of State Street in Bristol Tennessee
Paramount Theater on the Tennessee side of State Street in Bristol Tennessee

Many folks – including me for a long time – had always thought of Bristol as being in Tennessee.  But the state line runs right down the middle of State Street, so the businesses on the north side are in Virginia while those on the south side are in Tennessee.  And both sides of town have their own city government.  Interesting!

Train Station, Bristol Virginia
Train Station, Bristol Virginia
Train Station, Bristol Virginia
Train Station, Bristol Virginia

What attracted us to Bristol to cause us to decide to stop there?  Well for one thing they have a very nice train station, and there is some interesting history in Bristol, particularly related to the early roots of country music.  We made a quick overnight stop and managed to hit some of the highlights, and now we’re talking about a return visit, when we can spend some more time seeing more of what is there.  It was a nice town to visit and we hope to get back there soon.

Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol Virginia
Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol Virginia
Sun and shadows on a building along the Virginia side of State Street in Bristol Virginia
Sun and shadows on a building along the Virginia side of State Street in Bristol Virginia
Sun reflecting off windows onto the blank side of the building next door. On the Virginia side of Main Street in Bristol Virginia
Sun reflecting off windows onto the blank side of the building next door. On the Virginia side of Main Street in Bristol Virginia

Road Trippin’

Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina

Kathy & I like to get out of town on weekends, especially taking advantage of some long holiday weekends to stretch our meager PTO (Paid Time Off) allotment.  We did just that over July 4th, visiting (most of) our friends in Belhaven and Washington, NC.  The towns were dressed up in their patriotic best, and we even managed to take in a parade.  I’m saving the parade photos for another post and possibly even my SoFoBoMo project, but here are a few random photos from the weekend.

Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina

With temperatures in the mid to upper 90s here in Charlotte we’ll be taking off again this weekend.  The mountains are calling, as they say…. 🙂

Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Along Water Street in Belhaven North Carolina
Along Water Street in Belhaven North Carolina
River Forest Manor in Belhaven, North Carolina
River Forest Manor in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Belhaven, North Carolina
River Forest Manor in Belhaven, North Carolina
River Forest Manor in Belhaven, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Bath, North Carolina
Fourth of July in Bath, North Carolina

Day Trip to West Jefferson

Ashe County Cheese Company, West Jefferson, North Carolina
Ashe County Cheese Company, West Jefferson, North Carolina

We don’t get to do it as often as we might like, but Kathy & I enjoy taking day trips to places that are just an hour or two from home. We visited West Jefferson, NC a few weeks ago for the first time in several years, having previously visited to photograph the town for a magazine assignment.

Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina

West Jefferson is a nice mountain town, just busy enough to not be considered “sleepy,” but not as zoo-crazy as a place like Boone or Blowing Rock.  Needless to say, that was one of the things we remembered about West Jefferson, and was one of the reasons we wanted to go back.

Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina

One of the notable things about West Jefferson is all of the murals on the sides of the buildings.  The scenes are varied, but generally reflect the history of the town or are some kind of artistic or humanitarian expression.  There are a number of interesting shops and art galleries, and even a photography gallery.

Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina

I naturally had my camera with me, and while many of my photos would not be considered “Chamber of Commerce” shots, I had fun finding the things I like to find and capturing them with my camera.

Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Three Locks Are Better Than One?

We found it an interesting place to spend the day, and ended up coming home via the Blue Ridge Parkway which crosses nearby.  It was a nice place to visit and one we hope to return to again soon.

Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Impatient People May Not Park Here?
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina
Urban landscapes in downtown West Jefferson, North Carolina