Thursday, June 9, 2016

We've Wandered to North Carolina!

With our motor home's oil changed, generator serviced, and new car tires installed, we are in great shape to cross another state line. The sign welcomed us to North Carolina, and we were surprised to see that it also read, "nation's most military friendly state."

After the bumpy roads of northern South Carolina, we are glad to move into a state that seems to have smoother roads. We are also impressed with the floral plantings along the highways in North Carolina. At an interstate overpass it's not unusual to see an acre of day lilies, or sweet peas, or poppies, or . . . These are massive plantings with thousands of plants that are very impressive.

Another unique feature of North Carolina is their county parks. We are used to state parks, and even some city parks. But it seems that the Carolinas have very nice county parks as well. We are camped at Dan Nicholas County Park. In Rowan County, we have 50 amp electricity and water hook-ups in a heavily wooded park. In addition to the campground, there is also a lake. The paddle boats were very popular this weekend.

For a nominal fee, a family can also come to the other attractions at the county park. The splash pad and the nature center are free to explore. Priced from 50 cents to a couple dollars, children can also enjoy a petting zoo, miniature train ride, gem mining, the wildlife zoo, and the carousel. Sometimes the riders on the carousel were pretty old children.

Dan Nicholas is a county park in Rowan County, whose county seat is Salisbury, North Carolina. Just a few miles down the road from us is the historic downtown area of Salisbury.

There is also an amtrak station downtown, where passenger trains can whisk travelers away to points up and down the east coast. After visiting Japan with all its bullet trains, it seems that the United States is certainly behind the rail system in other countries. That amtrak train stood still at the Salisbury station way too long by Japanese standards.

But Denisa's favorite part of downtown Salisbury is their piano project. Scattered all over the sidewalks throughout town are old pianos, decorated and inviting people to play them. Denisa doesn't carry piano music in the car, but she found a piano book at the antique mall. She opened up the book and started playing right there on the street.

If you can zoom in tight, you could see that the book included a song entitled, "Carolina Moon." What a welcome to our new state of North Carolina!

Besides playing the piano, we had great conversations with the women working at the local candy store and the pottery place. But we were in a two-hour parking place on Main Street, so we couldn't dawdle. We watched as a man on a segway rode by, putting a chalk mark on each car's front tire to indicate they had been parked here for an hour. We had to get out of downtown before we got chalked again!

So we drove to the national cemetery, still adorned with the Memorial Day American flags. Salisbury was the site of a Civil War prisoner of war camp. There are civil war soldiers buried here in mass graves. Since that time, countless war veterans have chosen to be buried in this peaceful cemetery.

We are always looking for local food, and we have been noticing signs for "Cheerwine." We had never heard of this soft drink before, but we learned today that it was invented right here in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1917. Also called "North Carolina Nectar," it is popular with the the locals. It is approaching its 100th birthday, and the company is launching a campaign to bring the cherry cola drink to all the states in the United States by 2017. We did our part to bring Oklahoma into the Cheerwine fold by purchasing a bottle right here in its birthplace. We bought it at the local Food Lion grocery store, finding out that this chain was also started in Salisbury. We finished our shopping with another gallon of those fresh-picked local strawberries. They would become freezer strawberry jam, strawberry cheesecake, and topping for homemade ice cream. We are loving our new state of North Carolina!

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