A Day in the Real Mayberry

Mt. Airy, North Carolina

The trip to “Mayberry,” was actually the first day of my trip. Not only did my sister Julie meet me at the airport, but also my sister, C. as well.

We drove directly to Mt. Airy. I was surprised at the size of the town; it was much larger than I expected.

Many of us of a certain age, remember the Andy Griffith show. Mayberry, which was actually filmed in Burbank, CA., is a reflection of Mt. Airy. It is the real town where Andy Griffith grew up, ate at Snappy Lunch, had a hair cut at Floyd’s barbershop, and went fishing in the Ararat River.

If you lived those slowed-down years of a Mayberry-type community, it will give you pause. Things were simpler then. People enjoyed sitting a spell on the porch at night. You knew your neighbors by name, and sometimes knew too much about what was going on in town, about everyone. Their children went to school with yours and you did things like borrow tools back and forth, swing on the rope at the swimming hole, and fish in the river.

Wally’s Service
Sisters at Wally’s Service
This is similar to the car Barney drove. No AC in those days.

Wally’s Service Station was our first stop. In moments we were riding through town in a dated Ford squad car, complete with siren, which we heard at the start. Our tour guide told us some interesting facts and stories of Andy Griffith and Mt. Airy. One of the sites pointed out to us was the world’s largest open-faced granite quarry, which is still in operation today. As we drove around the town, we saw many examples of cut stone gracing lovely homes.

Quarry in Mt. Airy
Office building at quarry.

Back at the Station we found some postcards, and fun signs, stepped into the Court House/Sheriff’s office, and then headed to the Loaded Goat for lunch.

What a great sign!

The Loaded Goat had Angus burgers with fresh goat cheese and sweet potato fries. C. had a terrific tasting gluten-free bun. Be hungry when you go there; the lunches are so filling it can be the last meal of the day.

Our next stop was the free tour through the Gertrude Smith house. This home was owned by a prominent citizen and last lived in by his unmarried daughter. It was her wish to share her home with many people.

As you can see it has a foundation of odd-shaped granite.

At Gertrude Smith house.
A side view of the Gertrude Smith house.
My favorite room–the library.
One of several bedrooms.

Since I told you about the free tour in this house,  I would like to remark how refreshing it was to go down the main street of town and find free parking everywhere. What better way to attract tourists?

Of course we had to stop at several attractions: Sheriff’s Office/Courthouse, Floyd’s Barber Shop, Opie’s Candy, Walker’s Soda Fountain, and Snappy Lunch. All the folks were friendly, and you could chat all day.  Remember, this is the South.

Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff's office.
“Sarah? Get me Aunt Bea, please.”
Barber shop
Hundreds of photos of visitors cover the walls. Bill, son of the real Floyd was there to welcome you, but no haircuts.
Wouldn’t Opie enjoy this?
You bet we had sodas!
Ice cream sodas
The Snappy Lunch where Sheriff Taylor and Barney often had lunch. Unless Aunt Bea brought it by the courthouse.

 

Aunt Bea’s awful pickles. She may have been a good cook, but no one could eat her pickles.

If you ever have a chance to visit this town, be sure to take two days if you can. There is so much more to see: Andy’s playhouse, museum, and more shops.

If you don’t do anything else, take the ride in the squad car.

 

 

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A Day in Cherokee…or Hospitality in the Great Smoky Mountains

Julie and I drove three hours along the Blue Ridge Parkway towards our destination, Maggie Valley. It is a pleasant town with more hotels than restaurants. At least it seemed so–most restaurants were closed on Sunday. We drove on through to Cherokee, our destination for the day.

The folks at the welcome center, gave us a map, and greeted us kindly. One young man made it his job put a smile on every visitors face. We could have talked all day.

The Oconaluftee River flowed quietly behind, and there was a fine porch, with rocking chairs to sit a spell if you wanted a rest.

Oconaluftee River

We headed towards the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. On the way we found large, colorful bears lining the street.

Bear at the Veterans Memorial
Sequoyah

Cherokee Museum

Sequoyah
Mother and child on trail of tears

 

Trail of Tears

The history of the Cherokee was presented in a beautiful way and many art pieces were striking.  There’s a well-rounded gift shop with T-shirts, jewelry, and great collection of historical books.

We parked by the river and ate our packed lunch. Along the river was a bamboo forest. It was on Julie’s list of things to see. 

 

My sister Julie
Bamboo along the Oconaluftee River

Families cooled their hot feet in the river, while others sat in the water. It was a hot, lazy day and everyone enjoyed it.

Down river people sang a hymn as a young girl was baptized in the river. We stopped to watch and give a silent blessing.

Baptism in Cherokee

I heard there is great fly-fishing there, or if you don’t care to fish, there’s the Sequoyah golf club, and horseback riding. (If you are in need of ice cream, you can find several shops).

After our time in the bamboo forest, and shopping for T-shirts, postcards and gifts,we headed to our hotel in Maggie Valley. At this point I will say that to no fault of my sister, the hotel had given away our room (in the morning) before check in time.  We were deep in the area of N.C. for total eclipse the next day.

Where on earth would we find a room now?

My sister was so mad she couldn’t speak, but we headed next door to talk to a woman who “knew someone,” and gave us directions to a lodge where they were saving us a room.

This adventure was getting exciting. While my sister was upset, I could only wonder what God had in mind.

The next thing we knew was we were headed up a winding mountain road to Smokey Shadows Lodge. Bone tired and stressed from losing our hotel, we decided to stay two nights.

Porch overlooking the Great Smoky Mountains
Smokey Shadows Lodge, Maggie Valley, NC

Once I saw the lodge, the full-length porch overlooking the Smoky Mountains, I knew God saved something better for us. (Though we were glad for earplugs for the creaking stairs and floors). It was old, quaint, and just perfect.

This lodge was built from square logs taken from an old gristmill. As you can see, the lower part of the building is stone. I felt like I was sleeping in a barn, without the barn smells.

The room

Everyone raved about the meals, but we missed our breakfast because we left before dawn to see the eclipse. Tomato pie was on the menu and we tried it the next morning. The food was family style, healthy and great tasting.

View from the porch

Sadly, the only thing I missed was the elk coming out around 6:30 in Cherokee. If we hadn’t had the hotel to lodge change, we may have seen the elk. Even without the elk, we were having a fantastic time.

Elk…another time…

Of all places, this was in the restroom.