Writers transport us with their words, but where do N.C. writers like to transport themselves for a day or a weekend getaway? Here’s a few of their personal suggestions.
|Carolyn S. Peterson
Winston-Salem native Carolyn S. Peterson is a senior staff writer for Forsyth Woman and Forsyth Family magazines. Her first children’s book, Fishing for Memories, is about a little boy and his grandpa who has Alzheimer’s disease. She’s doing a reading at McIntyre’s Books at Fearrington Village in Pittsboro Sunday, June 12, from 2 to 4 p.m. www.carolynspeterson.com
When I need a sense of peace, inspiration and to get away for the day, I take a jaunt down to Davidson and enjoy a little college town with a big heart for the arts. From the moment I exit I-77, I feel differently and know that I am going to meet some nice people and have time to take a breath from the stressors of life. Although Davidson is a growing college town, you can go back to yesteryear by having a bite to eat at The Soda Shop — I recommend the grilled cheese, curly fries all topped off with a milkshake.
But don’t let the somewhat slow pace of Davidson fool you, this is a great town to enjoy art, live music and food, especially during the event Art on the Green. This art festival features many of our region’s top artists when the streets and college grounds come alive with an appreciation of arts from canvas to culinary. Even though this event draws thousands from the surrounding areas, the nice thing about Davidson is that there is always a place, a park or just a bench where you can get back to the real art of life, that’s called Nature.
Artist William Mangum has spent 32 years traveling and painting memorable views across N.C., from Cape Hatteras to Linville Falls. Each fall he opens his Greensboro studio for a two-day meet the artist open house, which draws 3,000 fans.He’ll describe his painting technique and show images from his latest book, North Carolina Beautiful, which benefits six N.C. preservation groups, at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh Sunday, July 10, at 3 p.m. williammangum.com
Inspiration for me lies around every turn and bend in our great state. As a matter of fact, I find inspiration even when I’m at leisure playing a friendly round of golf. That was the case this Memorial Day when I was playing at Bryan Park in Greensboro. This amazing golf course is nestled along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Townsend.
Just as I was preparing to hit my second shot into the 14th green, I saw movement along side on the lake. It was two sailboats racing alongside one another. It was a glorious day with a Winsor blue sky and ultramarine water. The color and contrast of the sailboats framed by the shade of the sap green trees in the foreground had me running back to the golf cart to pencil down my impressions of that inspiring moment. Once again I was reminded to never take any outing for granted, you never know when the perfect inspiration will simply appear and leave you in “ah!”
Young adult novelist Alan Gratz lives in the high country of western N.C.He’s also written plays, magazine articles and episodes of A&E’s City Confidential. Gratz will read from his latest novel, Fantasy Baseball, at Asheville’s Malaprop’s Books, Tuesday, July 12, at 6 p.m. alangratz.blogspot.com
How can I recommend a great North Carolina weekend getaway without talking about Penland School of Crafts, right here in my own backyard? Halfway between Asheville and Boone in the western North Carolina mountains, Penland makes a terrific day trip, particularly when the summer sessions are in full swing.
Grab a map at the Penland Gallery and wander the campus. You’ll see blacksmiths stoking forges, potters spinning bowls and glassblowers…well, blowing glass. Students and teachers from around the world come to do letterpress, textiles, bookbinding, drawing, painting, jewelry, photography, woodworking and more. Penland’s the perfect place for inspiration, no matter what your passion.
When you’re ready to shop, there are half a dozen artists’ galleries within walking distance, and a hundred more within a half-hour’s drive. Again, the Penland Gallery can hook you up with a map. For dinner, head over to downtown Spruce Pine about 15 minutes away and grab a pizza and microbrew beer at The Pizza Shop, our favorite haunt.
A native of Durham and a recipient of the 1997 N.C. Award for Literature, Clyde Edgerton is on the teaching staff of UNC Wilmington. He’ll read from his latest work, The Night Train: A Novel at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh Thursday, July 28, at 7:30 p.m. and at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham Friday, July 29, at 7 p.m. www.clydeedgerton.com.
Umstead State Park is between Raleigh and Durham with entrances off Highway 70 just on the Raleigh side of the airport or off I-40 at Harrison Avenue. It’s about five thousand acres big, and throughout there are piles of stones and remnants of old buildings and building sites. There’s the old mill site, with nothing left but part of the dam that was built around 1810.
Much of the park was once a thriving community called Cedar Fork. My great-grandfather was the millwright before the Civil War. The place is full of art for me because of all the stories. A friend named Tom Weber collected many of them, soon to be published by the Umstead Coalition in a book called Stories in Stone. You can read some stories about Aunt Sarah here (Truma Warren Edgerton was my mother): http://umsteadcoalition.org/news/uc0600.html#History.
I heard stories about Aunt Sarah all my life — now I’m trying to pass them to my children. I’m lucky that the land of Cedar Fork has been preserved and that someone like Tom Weber, recently deceased, became obsessed with collecting those stories, that art.
Plus, Umstead Park is a great place to hang out — it inspires creativity.
Georgann Eubanks is a 1985 N.C. Arts Council Literary Fellowship recipient (1985) and directed the Duke University Writers’ Workshop for 20 years before launching the Table Rock Writers Workshop. She is the author of two literary guidebooks written on behalf of the N.C. Arts Council and published in partnership with UNC Press: Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains and Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont. She’ll be presenting a creative writing workshop and discussion at the On The Same Page Festival in Ashe County this September. www.georganneubanks.net
Ashe County is known as the “Lost Province” and the northwestern-most county in N.C. It is only an hour’s drive from Winston-Salem, and the mountains there are a gentle green — pastoral, not rocky. They serve grazing cows and buffalo. The landscape is most dramatically viewed from the Blue Ridge Parkway starting on Highway 16 and heading north.
There are a number of places with fantastic food tucked away in these hills: there’s classic fried chicken, country ham and seven vegetable feasts available family style at Shatley Springs. For lighter fare there are a number of little cafés in Jefferson and West Jefferson.
The New River, which is very, very old, is a wonderful sight as it meanders all through the county. Canoe trips are available from at least two vendors. Bring a bike or rent one in Todd and take a perfectly flat ride on the railroad grade road alongside the New. It’s 20 miles round trip — from the Todd General Store to Fleetwood and back. A great place for breakfast is right along the route there, too, at the Riverside Restaurant in Brownwood.
Ashe is a place that inspires poetry. I saw a fox one morning last week and started writing…
What’s your favorite summer day trip in N.C.? Share yours in the comments and we’ll enter you for a chance to win one of three guidebooks produced by the N.C. Arts Council and published in partnership with UNC Press: Cherokee Heritage Trails, Blue Ridge Music Trails and Literary Trails of the North Carolina Piedmont.