My July schedule this summer had a little break, so I took full advantage of it and made a trip back to North Carolina to visit family and share some more about where I grew up with my girls. Unfortunately, Josh is busy with nursing school so he couldn't join us. But we made the most of our mother-daughters road trip!
Yes, I said road trip. My girls and I loaded up in the car and hit the road for the 15 hour drive back to the area I grew up. It was so much fun! Even the drive wasn't that bad. The girls stayed busy with books and screens. I stayed busy with a couple good audiobooks (I introduced my girls to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and I think they enjoyed it, I sure did!). We made it to North Carolina, not quite our end destination as we didn't want to drop in on family a day early at 10PM, in one day! I totally didn't expect to make it that far. So I regret not getting photos of my great-aunt and my dad's cousin while we spent time with them, but it was so great seeing them and catching up that I didn't even get my camera out. My great-aunt will be 98 this December and is still full of spunk and sass. We had a great time visiting with my dad's cousin and her husband. My girls were absolutely thrilled to spend two days playing with their dog, Denver, and exploring the Museum of Life and Science with them. After we left Gibsonville, we headed over to a place I remember fondly, Old Salem. It's a historic village in Winston Salem and they make fantastic Moravian ginger cookies. We got there a little before the shops opened, so we enjoyed wandering around the empty streets and seeing the village. The girls took turns taking photos, but I can't remember who took what, so some of these street and flower shots are their creations. I asked her for a photo...just one nice photo... and this is what I get. Ha! She liked that the wall matched her shirt. Her favorite color is coral. Yep, that cheeseball is my child. Ha! Gabby wanted a picture by the fence and I'm pretty sure the only reason she requested said photo is because she wanted to show up her sister. "See, Mom. Look, I smile nicely for photos," was most definitely the unspoken message here.
After wondering a bit, the bakery opened and we went inside to get cookies. The amazing thing was, since they weren't busy early in the morning, one of the workers, a sweet little old lady in period costume, invited the girls back to see the wood-fired ovens and how they baked when the town was founded. A little bit of Old Salem I hadn't had the chance to experience before! The girls got to sample a ginger cookie from her and insisted we buy a bunch. I guess they love them as much as I do! I know it doesn't look like much, but the house above was my grandmother's and, many generations before her, my family lived in this home. It started out as a little four room farm house in the late 1700s, but has had several additions through the years. Dad sold it not long before he passed, which was hard since through all our moving around growing up, this was always a consistent "home." It's on the market again and there is a little piece of me that really would love to keep it in the family, but honestly I don't see myself living in North Carolina again and if we vacation there, Mocksville is pretty remote. I'm glad I can still drive the old, familiar roads and find it again to touch base.
It was extra nice that the neighbor who has lived across the street since well before I was born, was sitting out on his porch so I stopped by to say "hi!" It was so great chatting with him again.
Then we stopped by the graveyard at the Episcopal church in Fork to lay flowers on my grandmother's grave and visit with my dad where his ashes are laid to rest in the church memorial garden in the woods. This old curmudgeon (I say with the utmost love and respect) is my godfather. He served on the police force with my father for many, many years and was my father's dearest friend. I have such fond memories of visiting him my whole life. I am so thankful I was able to see him when I was back in North Carolina. We couldn't leave the area without stopping into my hometown of Lexington. I had to introduce my girls to Red Bird candies and the best barbecue in the world (yum!!!). They agreed whole-heartedly about the barbecue and were quite happy to pick out some candy to take back home. After our adventures in Mocksville, Coolemee, and Lexington, we headed to Asheville. Last trip to North Carolina, we introduced the girls to the Outer Banks. This time, I thought it only fair to head to the mountains. I love Asheville. Growing up my grandfather had a cabin outside of Asheville, near Mt. Pisgah. We would visit there every other year or so and briefly lived at the cabin between the time my dad finished seminary and getting his first call to Northern Minnesota. One fond memory I have in Asheville is mining for gems. So, there's no real skill to it. You go in and buy a bucket of sand and rock. Then you sift through it like a prospector and check out the gems and minerals you find. It is so much fun! I loved sharing that experience with my girls. They were so excited with each stone they found. We even found a star sapphire for my September baby and a citrine for my November baby! We explored downtown Asheville and enjoyed seeing shops filled with local art. Then we headed onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, because I love the mountains and didn't feel that driving through them on the interstate allowed my kiddos to really appreciate them. I love Iowa. It is where I met Josh, where we have made our home, raise our girls, and I adore my friends there (couldn’t imagine life without them!). But there is something about driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains that warms my heart and fills me with peace. It’s not “home” anymore, but it will always be my roots. Feels good to reconnect with it again. After several days of driving and more driving, I decided to split up the trip back home. We spent the night in St. Louis and decided to visit City Museum while we were there. Last time we were at City Museum, the girls were pretty little and it was raining out, so I don't feel like we were able to take full advantage of our time there. We made up for it this time! It was a blast! While we were there, Laurelin wanted to get some new laces for her Converse at the shoelace shop in City Museum. There were so many to choose from! After City Museum, we hit the road back to Iowa. I was so glad to sleep in my own bed again, but so very thankful to have been able to go on this grand adventure with my girls. It means so much to take them back to somewhere dear to my heart growing up and offer them fun new experiences that I loved when I was young.
There are a few more trips like this I'd like to take with our family, back to places I've lived, but those will have to wait for now.