Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Last Friday, we left our house in the hands of a contractor working in the kitchen and headed down Linglestown Road for coffee and a bagel at Dunkin' Donuts -- the first stop on our four-day trip to Winston-Salem and back.

Three or so hours later, we were stopping for lunch in the Wayside Inn (1797) in Middletown, Va., which bills itself as the longest-running inn in the country. Not much later we stopped for gas outside Staunton, Va., birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson. After that short break, we hopped back into the Box and cruised through the valleys and hills of southern Virginia and North Carolina to Winston-Salem, site of an 18th century Moravian settlement, like Lititz and Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. The settlement at Bethlehem, in fact, had sent believers down to North Carolina in 1759 to begin communities there.

We checked into the August T. Zeverly Inn, right on Main Street in Old Salem. Today, the town's preserved and reconstructed buildings, staffed by living-history interpreters, present visitors with a view of Moravian life in the 18th and 19th centuries. We were greeted by the innkeeper and shown to our room, a comfortable garret room on the top floor of the inn. The steps were a killer, but the room was nice and well-decorated.

During our visit, we saw the visitor center exhibits (including the famous David Tannenberg pipe organ) and visited shops in the village, which is very beautiful. We had good breakfasts at the inn (French toast one day and egg casserole the other) and some great chow at restaurants in the area.

On Saturday, we drove our faithful friend Mr. Box over to Jamestown to visit Furnitureland South. We have been looking for a table to use beside the new Shaker-style bed we bought. We found a very nice one and placed an order for it. We also stopped in the French Heritage section, which had lots of interesting stuff with a French flair. We felt the highboy sitting out in front of the store might be too high for our ceilings to accommodate, so we passed it up.

We returned to Salem and did some more sightseeing. I photographed a large number of the buildings. In the evening, we joined Susanne's sister Robin and friends for a charity event in Greensboro, about a half-hour away. About three hundred people milled about a large exhibition hall, tasting appetizers, entrées, and desserts -- all made by men to help the local women's resource center, a place where women receive information about services available in the community.

Robin's friend (and ours, too) Andrew had prepared shrimp for the event, and everyone seemed anxious to taste his creation. For some reason, I kept drifting to the other side of the room, where the desserts were being offered.

On Sunday morning, Robin and her friend Ellen and I went to Home Moravian Church, the center of religious life in Salem. There we encountered the Moravian Lovefeast, a way of commemorating events in the history of the church or certain days of the church year. During the service, teams of "dieners" or servers passed through the congregation, passing out sweet buns. This was followed by coffee with cream and sugar. After a blessing, the congregation listened to choir music while enjoying this friendly meal. It's one of many ways in which the Moravian Church points out its own unity in diversity.

After church, we checked out of the inn, had lunch, did some shopping at Susanne's favorite southern store, Steinmart, and then headed a few miles west of Winston-Salem to Clemmons, where we checked into the Manor House at Tanglewood, a mid-19th century mansion-turned-bed-and-breakfast in the center of a huge county park.

Our room was spacious and beautifully appointed, everything being "done up" in blue and white. It seems we were the only two people in the place, a fact that we found out in the morning when we reported for breakfast! Robin and Ellen had come along, and we spent the evening having pizza in Winston with Andrew meeting us there, and then an hour or so of conversation in our room.

The morning brought breakfast, including the best grits ever, then check out and departure, heading north through that gorgeous countryside under blue skies (well, part of the way, anyway). We stopped in Virginia at an antiques mall, where Susanne added to her collection with a milk strainer and an electrical insulator. (Don't ask!)

We were home by dark, eager to see if our kitchen project was completed. It was, and almost to our satisfaction. But that's another story.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Perry Hall is a suburb of Baltimore, and we drove there yesterday to visit our son Matt, his wife Marylee, and their two-and-a-half year old, Ian.

At 8:30 a.m. I had played the piano for an early worship service at Market Square Presbyterian Church in downtown Harrisburg. I came home and goofed off a bit, and then we jumped into the Box and headed toward Ian, er, I mean Perry Hall.

As we drove past the Perry Hall welcome sign, I wondered where the name came from. Here's the skinny:

"In 1774, Baltimore businessman Harry Dorsey Gough purchased a 1,000-acres estate called The Adventure. This estate included much of northeastern Baltimore County, and Gough renamed it Perry Hall after his family's home near Birmingham, England. He completed a mansion that became known for its great gardens and distinctive architecture, rivaled only by Hampton House, [down the road] near Towson." (

When we arrived, Ian was waiting for us at the door. We enjoyed seeing him and Matt while Marylee was at a shower. Ian showed his trust in his dad by leaping off one of the steps in the house into his dad's arms. It was almost time for Ian's nap, so Meemaw read him a story, and then he fell fast asleep.

Matt, Susanne, and I retreated to the coolness of the basement and chewed the fat while watching the food channel. There was a Baltimore bent to the shows we watched. One was the Baltimore- based Ace of Cakes, and the other featured a visit to Baltimore's Broadway Diner by the diners, drive-ins, and dives guy.

Soon Marylee arrived home, and our conversation continued. It was determined that Ian had slept long enough so Matt went upstairs to wake him.

Earlier, I had constructed a little building from Lincoln Logs so that Ian could have the pleasure of knocking it over, which he seemed to enjoy doing. Susanne and Ian played with a railroad set, Ian tackled an inflated football player, and he built a fort with cushions from the couch.

Soon it was time to eat, so we ordered out and had some great dinner treats. The pictures tell all. Ian and his mom and dad wished each other "cheers!" as the meal commenced.

The after dinner show included Ian singing his version of "Ding, dong, the witch is dead," which he has heard being sung by the kids at his babysitter's house, and then did a turn on the cool wooden European bicycle that teaches kids to balance and prepares them for the big time.

As we left for home, Ian was preparing to ride his bike around the court with Mommy close at hand, and Matt was heading into the house for a well-deserved snooze.
 Ian gives my log building a good whack.

  Matt had a shrimp melt.

Marylee had a crab cake sandwich.

Ian had Ian food.

Susanne had a quesadilla.

  John had a panini.

 A future Tour de France winner
gets his start.
 Father and son.

 Matt looks on as Marylee and Ian wave goodbye.

  The Box prepares to pull out as Marylee and Ian
start their trek around the court and Matt heads inside.