An oldie but goodie from the archives. Belhaven, NC 2010.
Tag Archives: Small Towns
Almost (But Not Quite) Heaven: West Virginia
The primary purpose of our recent road trip was to meet up with our friends Jim & Lisa in Lewisburg, West Virginia. We had each visited Lewisburg previously, although not together. And because it is roughly halfway between our home in NC and Jim & Lisa’s in PA, it was a good place to get together for a few days. We had a blast wandering the shops of the town, and we visited the Smooth Ambler distillery. Kathy & I are distillery veterans, so we needed to show Jim & Lisa the finer points. 😉
Surprisingly, although I carried my camera around just about everywhere, I took very few photos with it. I actually took more photos with my phone, because it was simpler to hand off to someone and to share. We were just having too much fun to pay attention to photos!
A Treasure Trove Of Memories
As promised in a previous post, here is a selection of my photos from the Vermont Toy Museum in Quechee Gorge Village near Hartford, Vermont. The museum’s website is down, possibly due to the recent AWS issues, but I got the following from Atlas Obscura:
Nestled above a charming general store near the Quechee Gorge, the Vermont Toy Museum’s vast collection of dolls, action figures, lunchboxes, yo-yos, and matchbox cars is a hidden treasure right off the White River Junction. Around 100,000 toys are housed inside the museum.
The museum’s items largely came from members of the local community. They were collected and compiled decade-by-decade, which displays the evolution of toys and games from the 1950s to the present day. Though it’s unknown who operates and maintains the museum, it’s closely watched by the employees at the downstairs Cabot Cheese Store and the antique mall next door.
The museum also houses an intricate model train exhibit that takes visitors through the four seasons of the Green Mountain state for only a quarter. This museum’s tireless attention to detail, nostalgia, and cozy atmosphere make it a must-see for travelers on Route 4.
It was a fun visit. A place we might have spent a lot more time, but just like the camera museum in Staunton, Virginia, there is only so much time…. 😉 As it was, we spent a lot of time saying things like, “I had that!” or “I remember those” or “the kids had these.” Fun stuff!
Almost forgot! I have completed processing my photos from our New England trip and have posted them on my Adobe Portfolio site.
Mystic, Connecticut: More Than A Famous Pizza Shop
I’m not sure what attracted me to Mystic, Connecticut. It wasn’t ‘Mystic Pizza,’ the pizza shop made famous by the movie by the same name. I haven’t seen the movie, although I was familiar with the name. No, it had something to do with something I had once read or heard about ‘Mystic Seaport.’ And we found it to be an excellent home base for our short but busy exploration of Connecticut.
Mystic Seaport is the name of the Mystic Maritime Center, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading maritime museum.” I’ll write about our visit to the museum in a separate post, so for now I’ll just talk about the town of Mystic itself.
The town of Mystic itself proved to be a quaint, albeit busy, seaside town. The Mystic River flows through the town, and there is a drawbridge on Main Street that opens once per hour to let sailboats and other larger vessels pass through.
We stayed at the Steamboat Inn, a small B&B right next to the river and the drawbridge, and it was the perfect location to explore the town while still making it easy to get out of town to see other places. I loved being able to walk out the door and photograph in the early morning, while Kathy caught a few extra Zs in our room. I’d get back in time for coffee and breakfast before starting off on whatever we had planned for the day.
We’re not big shoppers, so a few hours wandering around the town on afternoon was all the time we needed. We did buy ice cream, and yes, I did take a few obligatory photos of Mystic Pizza. There were several good restaurants within walking distance, including one we visited twice. S&P Restaurant & Oyster Bar impressed us so much on the first visit that we went back a second time. Fresh fish, excellent service and a decent wine selection is what we look for, especially at the coast, whether it is the northeast or the southeast. It fit the bill nicely for us.
In addition to the Maritime Museum, we ventured over to Groton, on the Thames River, to visit the USS Nautilus. The Nautilus was the first nuclear powered submarine and, among other feats, was the first to complete an underwater crossing of the North Pole. I remembered reading about the sub as a kid, and at one time seem to recall having a toy or plastic model. That was a long time ago! Photos from that visit and from the Maritime Museum are included in the gallery 2021-09 New England Part II on my Adobe Portfolio page.
Postcard From Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Another early morning, another pretty sunrise. And more boats. We’ve been in Maine less than 24 hours and it is already as beautiful as I expected.
Now THIS Is Oatman!
Skipping ahead a bit because I’m processing photos faster than I can write about them. If anyone is interested in seeing more of my “vacation photos,” head to my Adobe Portfolio page, where I’ve been adding galleries with more photos from places we visited. I’ll keep adding more galleries as I go and will eventually have a whole album.
The first stop on our Route 66 adventure was Oatman, Arizona. We had no idea what to expect, but suffice it to say that we could never have imagined it! We were expecting a sleepy little place with old buildings, a shop or two and some tumbleweeds blowing through town. But no…. We got there late morning on a Sunday, and the place was jammed with people, cars, motorcycles and…burros! Turns out it is a pretty happening place.
Our first concern was – oh, crap. Is this what Route 66 is going to be like the whole way? But no, I think we actually came across more people at one time in Oatman than we saw anywhere else on Route 66. It was amazing!
We didn’t stay long, only long enough to walk up and down the street, take in one of the “gunfights” that happens several times a day, then join the parade of vehicles out of town. But once we left the town limits the road was deserted, pretty much from there to Kingman.
Postcard From Hye, Texas
Howdy from Hye!
We had an adventurous couple of days in the Hill Country of Texas. Headed tomorrow to the Rio Grande Valley region for some more scenery. Lots of photos, so little time for processing!
A North Carolina Ghost Town
We were only gone from home for a little over 24 hours, but I came back with a number of stories. This is the last one from our vaccine quest.
On our way home from Southport, we decided to stop for lunch in Whiteville, a town just off the main route. The Chef & The Frog, by the way, was excellent. On our way there we passed through the town of Fair Bluff. I had seen a billboard promoting their “Depot Museum” and wanted to stop. As we entered the town it was clear that the place was nearly deserted. The main street was almost completely devoid of shops. A former car dealership sat empty with parts of the building on the verge of collapse. Directly across the street was a building marked as being the Municipal Building, but it was boarded up and silent. Urns along the sidewalks contained plants that appeared to be reasonably well cared for, or as well as could be expected for late winter. Farther up the street a gas station was open, and a pizza shop showed signs of life.
So what happened here, I wondered? As it turns out, Wikipedia summarizes the events leading up to the situation we came across:
“In 1999, Fair Bluff experienced a 1-in-100 year flood event.
In 2012, the Police Chief of Fair Bluff Marty Lewis was arrested, tried and convicted for selling and delivering oxycodone and possession with the intent to sell and conspiracy to traffic while acting as police chief. He was sentenced to a minimum of seven years in prison and fined $100,000. On April 9, 2015 Marty Lewis filled an appeal of his case. On November 3, 2015 the verdict was unanimously affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, leaving in place the 90 to 117 month prison sentence originally imposed. Lewis will not be eligible for parole before November 2022.
In 2016, the town was devastated by flooding on the Lumber River caused by Hurricane Matthew, prompting the evacuation of hundreds of residents. As of June 2018 the rebuilding effort was still underway but several hundred residents who had fled rising floodwaters never returned and a number of businesses remained shuttered.
In September 2018 Fair Bluff was flooded again by the impact of Hurricane Florence, again forcing evacuations and leaving the downtown area under water again, and devastating the town for the third time in under 20 years. After Florence, many buildings in the downtown area of the town lay abandoned, with no plans to reoccupy or fix the buildings.
The population was 951 at the 2010 census but is believed to be lower following the two disasters, some estimates going as low as 450 people.”
That pretty much explains it – a town with a troubled past and cloudy future. But they do have a very nice train station.
New Shoe Syndrome and Other Thoughts on the Vaccine
I’ve gotten a few questions about our experience with scheduling and actually getting the vaccine, and thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts.
The Process: I’ve mentioned previously how frustrating the registration process is for many of the county and health agency websites. Kathy & I are fortunate to be registered with the two major health providers in our area, so we were able to use our login credentials to access those sites, which likely led to a slightly better experience. We ended up with the Moderna Vaccine through Novant Health.
We were fortunate to find any locations at all on the very first morning of our eligibility. The fact that the one we found was 200 miles away was no big deal for us. We have the flexibility to go wherever we need to, and it was easy for us to make the trip.
The vaccination site was in the parking area of a community college near Wilmington, NC. The approach was well marked, there were National Guard personnel directing traffic into several lines, checking to confirm appointments and providing forms for completion. The one glitch was that we had pre-filled everything online, but they still had us manually complete paperwork with the same information. Taking the paperwork pre-filled and printed would not have helped.
We arrived at about 10:40 for an 11:00 appointment, and although the lines looked long, we queued up and were directed to the actual vaccination line promptly at 11:00 (not due to any process on their part, it just happened to work out). We sat in our car until someone came around, asked us a few more questions, explained the process and handed us each a card with confirmation of our follow up appointments for the same time and day of the week in four weeks. Shortly thereafter two nurses came up with the vaccine, plunked each of us in the arm, wrote the time on a paper stuck to the windshield, and told us that after the prescribed waiting time we would be released. We rolled out of the parking lot at 11:30.
The Vaccine: Did we have any concerns about getting the vaccine? None. We feel strongly that the vaccines have been adequately tested, we trust in the scientific validity of the data and believe that getting the vaccine has a much lower level of risk than not getting it. Everyone makes their own choice, but we feel that in order to do the kind of travel we want to do, more states, countries and companies will require a vaccination than not and we don’t want to be left out when the time comes.
Side Effects: None really, but it surprises me how hyper-aware we become when we’re looking for something. I call it “new shoe syndrome” because of how when we buy a new pair of shoes we spend days paying attention to every little twinge or pinch. We recently bought new tires for the car, and for the first few drives I paid close attention to the sound, feel and ride. After a while you forget about it. We stopped at a restaurant for lunch, and while there a guy came in wearing a really strong cologne. Strong odors like cologne and smelly air fresheners always bother me, so when my throat got a little scratchy I wrote it off. No big deal. Our arms hurt for a few days, especially while we slept. But my left hip is often sore anyway, and since I got my shot in my left arm, I just spent more time on my right side!
Eligibility: We’ve read about people gaming the system by falsely answering the questions, crossing state lines to states with more favorable rules or otherwise getting the shot before they should have. Kathy & I waited for our group to be called, answered all the questions truthfully and lucked into an early appointment. Could we have waited? Sure, but why? Everyone who wants a shot will eventually be able to get one, so it really doesn’t matter when we go. Could we have gotten an appointment closer to home? Perhaps, but once we got our appointments I stopped looking. I read somewhere about local appointments now booking out into May or June, but it doesn’t matter any more. The owner of the restaurant we had lunch at told us that someone called him the other afternoon to say that they had 15 Johnson & Johnson shots that were going to expire at the end of the day and to send along anyone who needed them. That happens too, you never know.
I don’t really have a lot to add. If anyone has questions I’ll be happy to answer them as comments or emails. Ultimately everyone is going to make their own decision and have their own experience, but I’ll help where I can.
The Photos: These photos are from the town of Rowland, NC which is on the NC side of the NC/SC line near South of the Border. They are in-camera JPEGs taken using the Kodachrome 64 recipe from Fuji X Weekly. The conditions were less than ideal for Kodachrome and look a little warm/brown for my taste, but I’m not sure I got the white balance right. I’ll try them again under sunny skies and see how they look. I also shot in RAW and will process those my usual way for comparison. It’s an interesting look and I’ve been enjoying playing with them.
The Murals of Lake Placid, Florida
I did a postcard from Lake Placid a few weeks ago but wanted to share a few more of the photos. I know 25 seems like more than a few, but there are a lot of murals!
Small towns these days have to work hard to attract tourism, and these murals are a testament to the pride of the community and the hard work required to see the project to completion on such a grand scale. It was an enjoyable day, we had a good lunch and enjoyed a few hours walking around this pleasant town. Thanks to our friends Bill & Cathy for sharing it with us! 🙂
I have a number of “non-mural” photos too, and will save them to illustrate some future post.