Recently, on a spur of the moment trip towards the NC mountains (I was supposed to go to Wilmington but Tropical Storm Ana decided to vacay there instead), I wandered towards Mount Airy, NC from my home in Raeford. In more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of trip, my friend and I started our jaunt at the farmers market in Raleigh. One of my favorite places to visit, I bought some veggies and we looked at plants, drifting in and out of the vendor’s booths. It was strawberry time at the market and the sweet smell of juicy, ripe strawberries wafted through the air. Famished, we grabbed lunch at the restaurant across the street. We ordered up a cured ham biscuit and pork chop special with deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, and mixed berry crumble. So delish!
The biscuit was larger than what you would expect with a savory slice of ham on it. Dense, yet airy, the biscuit melted in my mouth. The pork chops were sliced thin and fried, and served piping hot with a side of homemade mashed potatoes with gravy and deviled eggs. I always get a side of deviled eggs at the State Farmers Market Restaurant. They are simply too yummy! We shared all the deliciousness we ordered, yet by the time they brought dessert we were stuffed. Not that being full kept us from enjoying the mixed berry crumble! On the contrary! We dove into the bowl full of blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries and it was worth every single burn-the-taste buds-off-your-tongue bite! The only thing that might have made it even better was if it was topped with vanilla ice cream.
We stopped by Lassiter Mill Park in a neighborhood along Crabtree Creek in Raleigh. Once the site of an old mill, now the only evidence left is a waterfall, and a few old mill gears and parts on the far side of the dam. There were several people, mostly college kids, at the park. Some sitting in the soft grass, others climbing on the dam, and yet others casting in hopes of catching some fish. My friend pulled out his fishing rod to fish for a bit and caught a pretty brim. I took a few photos, including a pic of the brim. I was surprised at how colorful and pretty he was! We decided to get back on the road after fishing for a while and watching some college kids next to us set up to try their hand at catching catfish.
Back in the car, we meandered along the back roads and visited small towns as we made our way towards our new destination in Mount Airy. We stopped at one of my favorite places in NC-Maple View Farms-where we enjoyed a few scoops of ice cream while sitting on the porch in rocking chairs overlooking the Maple View Farm and their cows off in the distance. There is something relaxing and nostalgic about eating ice cream at a diary. The chocolate chip ice cream I was eating transported me back to my childhood when my dad would take us to get ice cream at Tanner’s. We would sit on the tailgate of his green Ford pickup and eat it in the parking lot and watch the dairy cows. It’s something I haven’t thought about for years, but the chocolate chip ice cream tasted so familiar I guess it unlocked that memory from long ago.
Our journey continued and we drove slow, taking in the old, abandoned houses, farms, and small towns along the way. I usually navigate on our trips since I tend to drive like a racecar driver and I’m good with maps. We didn’t have any hotel reservations for the evening so when we stopped to grab some dinner around 8 that night we called ahead to see if the Hampton Inn (rated #1 on TripAdvisor) had any rooms for the night. Fortunately they did and the hotel was a good value for the money and was very clean.
In the morning we ate breakfast at the hotel, which was probably one of the best free hotel breakfasts I’ve ever had, and got on our way. We decided to start in the north at the Mabry Mill in Virginia and work our way back to Mount Airy (Mayberry) and Pilot Mountain (Mount Pilot) of the Andy Griffith Show fame. Mount Airy is a quaint town and the basis for the Andy Griffith Show’s fictional town of Mayberry. Ironically, there is a town by the name of Mayberry nearby in Virginia.
Mount Airy is the classic small town with a Main Street lined with shops and restaurants. We really wanted to try the Snappy Lunch, but they have odd hours, so we ate a late lunch at McArthur’s on Main. The restaurant was spacious and clean. The friendly staff told us to pick our seat and when the server brought the menus he recommended sandwiches, which were a hit along with an icy cold Sun Drop!
So what was in the basket? We sampled the Reuben and the Inside-Out Ham and Cheese and each ate half a sandwich. The reuben was served on a swirled pumpernickel bread with corned beef. Delish! The Inside-Out Ham and Cheese gets its name from the crispy melted cheese on the outside of the grilled cheese. Need I say more? It was golden grilled and slightly crispy filled with ham, cheese, and a dijon mustard. It was heavenly!!!
If you ever watched The Andy Griffith Show as a kid, you would know that a stop by Floyd’s City Barber Shop is a must. Russell Hiatt, the inspiration for Floyd the Barber on the Andy Griffith Show, is happy to greet visitors and have his photo taken. Now in his 90’s, he is a local celebrity known for cutting Andy Griffith’s hair as a youth, and on the day we visited he was snapping photos with groups of tourists. The walls of his shop are covered with photos of Andy and others that sat in the chairs in his shop for a good ‘ol barber cut. Walking about town you will also see old police cars giving tourists a ride around while sharing all there is to know about “Mayberry.” There are many more things to do in Mount Airy, and one day I would like to return to see the rest. However, we wanted to get to “Mount Pilot” before the park closed for the evening. Before leaving we stopped in Bear Creek Gifts & Fudge along Main Street and bought the most scrumptious chocolate fudge and maple nut fudge ever! I don’t even like maple (other than on pancakes at breakfast) and this fudge was out of this world!!! Fudge in hand we were on our way to Pilot Mountain. “Daylight’s precious when you’re a youngin'” so we hopped in the car on our way to the next adventure. The sun was high in the blue sky with fluffy clouds over head. With Mount Airy growing smaller in the rearview mirror, I’ve got Mayberry on my mind.