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.

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