2019 – Shortstop: Holly Point Campground – Wake Forest, NC


Our one night stop at Holly Point Campground in Wake Forest, NC was an unplanned one and it came just in front of one of the hardest weekends of the year to find a campsite: Memorial Day weekend.

Our motorhome was scheduled for a front windshield replacement in Winston-Salem (following my run-in with a tree in South Carolina). The replacement took longer than I had anticipated and by the time we were ready to travel it was too late to make the longer drive we had planned.

While we were waiting on the windshield repair I was searching the internet for a suitable spot for one night. This campground gets good reviews and, even though it is booked up starting Friday, we were able to pick from several vacant spots for a Thursday one night stay.

Honestly, I wanted to find an “interstate campground” that caters to people just wanting to stop for a night, but came up empty on my search. Holly Point is farther from I85 than I wanted for just a one nighter, but (1) not finding a RV Park along the interstate and (2) it being the lead in to a holiday weekend I decided to go for it.

My biggest mistake, though, was the route I took from Durham. I left I85 onto Highway 70 and then traveled Highway 98 out to the Falls Lake Recreation area which is where Holly Point is located. Bad choice. There was construction and congestion the whole way, making for a tiring and slow conclusion to a long day. I’m not sure what route would be better, but this isn’t a good one.

Now, the campground is quite good. The sites are generally long with good spacing and reasonably level. They are 30 amp/water sites. The roads are paved and the sites are gravel. There’s a big lake. One of the highest compliments I can pay a campground is this: it reminds me of a Corps of Engineers campground.

My Verizon signal was good. Didn’t try to put the satellite up but I’m pretty sure I would have struck out at least from the site we picked.

Tell you what, it would, indeed, be a nice place to spend Memorial Day weekend.

Click this for full screen photos

2019 – Forest Lake Thousand Trails, Lexington, NC

It has been a few years since we visited Forest Lake Thousand Trails, near Lexington, NC. I think we appreciated the campground more this time than we did before. That’s mainly because we are more seasoned Thousand Trails users and better know what to expect at these properties.

Here’s a previous review of this campground – honestly, there are few, if any difference for better or worse. The pictures I took then are still representative of the campground. With that in mind I’m only adding a few with this review.

Forest Lake has a wide variety of campsites. Some will only accommodate a smaller rig while others are big enough for even the largest ones. Recently, the campground has started making an effort to assign sites based on the size of the rig. This is counter to long standing Thousand Trails policy, but in a campground with such a variety of campsites it makes a lot of sense. In the past a person with a smaller camper could pick one of the most spacious sites. When the bigger rig arrived there was simply no place they could fit.

Now, having said that, let me add that if Thousand Trails would stop selling so many annual sites much of this problem would go away. Still, I noticed that there were vacant sites throughout our stay, although many spots that might be considered prime are permanently taken.

Although the temperatures were over 90 at times, the pools (there are two big ones) won’t be open for a few more days yet, over the Memorial Day weekend. Also, for some reason, the community buildings were left locked up until later in the morning – I’m not sure why.

All in all, we like this campground and will be happy to return when we travel this area again.

Click this for full screen photos

2019 – Sightseeing – Billy Graham Library – Charlotte, NC


I thoroughly enjoyed our visit the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC. The Library takes visitors on an audio-visual journey of Billy Graham’s life from the time of his conversion until his death in 2018. He attended Wheaton College where he met and married a missionary’s daughter, Ruth Bell Graham. One room is dedicated to his wife Ruth and her many accomplishments as wife, mother and writer. There are movie clips from various crusades and many personal items from his years of ministry including what looks like the sound room where he recorded his radio broadcast, The Hour of Decision, produced from 1950 to 2016! Near the end of the tour we saw a wall mural by Thomas Kinkade named “The Cross”. In the final presentation of the tour we heard a short video of Billy Graham preaching the gospel message. At the end of the sermon, as “Just as I Am” is being sung, his son Franklin appears on video, encouraging those of us in the room to respond to that invitation. The overwhelming theme of the library continues Graham’s lifetime calling of leading people to Jesus.

Click this for full screen photos

2019 – Sightseeing the North Carolina Piedmont area

2019 – Murray’s Mill Historic Site – Catawba, NC

As a lover of American history I was pleased to find Fort Dobbs since it actually predates the American Revolution. By the date of the Revolution the Fort had been disbanded and was in ruins. Construction of Fort Dobbs was begun in 1755 and completed one year later. It was designed like a British Fort by order of Royal Governor Dobbs in response to the French and Indian war that was threatening the Colonies. It was to be the area military headquarters and a safe place for settlers.

All buildings are reproductions based on historical information. As was the original the Fort is built of local white oak. The rebuilt Fort will be complete and opened to the public in September. There’s a garden, brush arbor, and an outdoor bread oven. In the gift store/museum there are many artifacts that were found on site, along with other items representative of those used at the Fort.

I also enjoyed visiting Murray’s Mill Historic District near Catawba NC. The centerpiece of the area is the Mill and Murray & Minges General Store. The Mill was built in 1913 and operated until 1967. The store was built in 1890s and relocated to the area.

The mill has the original one ton millstones that ground corn and the roller mills used for grinding wheat. On the main floor we saw carts, scales and other equipment used in the daily operations. Down a flight of stairs the big gears are being turned by the water wheel just on the other side of the wall. Outside, I was impressed with the beauty of the water flowing over the dam and turning that big mill wheel.

Visiting the Murray & Minges General Store is a step back in history with dry goods, stick candy and other candy in jars along with local honey for sale. On display are examples of handmade lace and quilts made from original flour sacks. We enjoyed sitting on the porch swing while sipping bottled soft drinks from the antique Coca-Cola machine.

With my love of Chocolate I enjoyed the tour and tasting at the Black Mountain Chocolate Factory in Winston-Salem, NC. On the forty minute tour we learned how they make their chocolate from “bean to bar.” This is a small factory and much of what is done is hands on. Our guide showed us a cacao pod and explained the process needed before the beans could be shipped for making chocolate. We saw the bean roaster, the machine used to process the ground beans, with other items that combine to make the chocolate. The bar molds are filled by holding the mold under a metered stream of chocolate, settled on a shaking table, and moved to a cooling rack. I enjoyed a peanut butter cookie from the shop where various chocolate items, pastries and coffees as well as other gift items can be purchased. This is a fun and tasty place to visit in downtown Winston-Salem.

Click this for full screen photos

2013 – Mountains of western North Carolina and vicinity

Leaving the National Park we took the Blue Ridge Parkway.  There were more stunning views and interesting tunnels to drive through.  At one point we turned off of the parkway a little too soon and almost immediately realized our mistake.  We turned around headed back to the Parkway and, to our delight, saw a male elk with a large rack right beside the road we had driven down just minutes earlier!

This is such a wonderful area and we are looking forward to future visits here.

Click this for full screen photos

Campground Review: Pride RV Resort, Maggie Valley, NC

As you can tell this place is quite a mixture of very nice and rather frustrating.  I think I’d return here simply because I love the area so much and because I think it would be easier on the budget than paying the rack rate would be elsewhere.  At the same time I’d lobby big time for a site away from the highway.

Click this for full screen photos

North Carolina Piedmont Region

The Candy Factory is just down the street a few blocks and can be recognized by its red and white striped awing.  There was also an Art Pig out front; a great place for a photo op. The store is full of seasonal candy and various candies from the 50’s and 60’s.  They make and sell their own fudge.  I bought the dark chocolate caramel with sea salt but was very tempted by the pumpkin fudge that tastes just like pumpkin pie.  There is a small room in the back with antiques and antique books for sale.  On the book shelf were early readers, Trixie Beldon and other books published in the fifties.  A fun place to look and shop.

Lexington bills itself as the “BBQ Capitol of North Carolina” so we went to one of the many BBQ restaurants in the city.  We enjoyed the meal.  The pork barbeque with the vinegar based “Lexington-style” sauce we had is very different than the beef barbeque with tomato based sauce that we usually enjoy in Texas.

It was rather warm through most of our stay in the Piedmont and that discouraged us from doing as much sightseeing as we might have.  Still, we found this to be an interesting area with a lot to offer.

Click this for full screen photos

Campground Review: Forest Lake Thousand Trails, Advance, NC

We’ve done some sight seeing – Jackie will write about that shortly – but mostly we’ve tended to projects  “at home” and taken life easy.  Had we ended up in one of the more distant camp spots (several weren’t especially level or roomy) I think we would have been dissatisfied with our stay here. However, since we opted for the more expensive campsite right at the heart of the campground and with the 50 amp service, I give this place a thumbs up.

Click this for full screen photos