My stubbornness did not pay off

After my meeting with Charlotte Frye the previous day, I had no more meetings scheduled for the trip so, even though I actually met with more people the very next day, these meetings were not scheduled ahead. I had two items scheduled for the day, visits to Laurel Gray and Hiddenite.

Sign telling that speed will be reduced ahead


I had to return to Laurel Gray Vineyards to solve the problem of paying double on my purchase the previous day, because the credit card transaction that apparently was rejected had gone through anyway. I therefore set the course east on US 421 so I would be on site roughly around opening hours, and I actually arrived at 10.15 (they opened at 10.00). The lady who served me the day before had gone home and instead it was a gentleman who was responsible for the tastings and as I was the only one there he had plenty of time to help me. Of course, he did not know about the credit card problem from the day before, but when I showed him my bank statement with the doubled withdrawal and moreover, had explained to him what had happened, he understood that it was a mistake. He just didn't know what to do about it. He therefore phoned the owner of the winery, Kim, and got instructions from her, and after around 45 minutes, he managed to recover the amount on my credit card. Already when I reached the hotel that same afternoon there was also an incoming amount waiting beside the waiting payment. About a week after my return to Denmark, both amounts disappeared from the statement, so I ended up paying my purchases only once.


In the article Against Stupidity  ... I wrote that I had decided to postpone a visit to the Emerald Hollow Mine in the small Hiddenite settlement until later, and today was "later", so after solving the payment problem, I set the course for Hiddenite on my satnav. It was a 45 minutes or so trip, so just around noon I was at the gemstone mine where, like the year before, I would try to sluice some gems. When I arrived, there was a lot of children who at first glance looked like the were a couple of school classes, and maybe they were, but in that case it must have been "summer school" as it was mid-July. That is, I had to wait a while to get a seat at the flume and to get my bucket of gravel. I actually thought about buying access to the creek itself, so I could dig my own gravel out of the creek bed, but now I decided against it. Eventually, however, it became my turn, and I got a seat, from which I was later relegated, to make room for a family of five who wanted to sit together. That meant I had to move a few seats further down the bench which I did. This move unfortunately meant that the gentleman next to me by accident pushed my camera from the bench into the mud, but luckily nothing happened - even though the camera still has traces of mud that I have not been able to remove. The bucket that I had been given, or rather the gravel in it, was quite a bit more beneficial than the year before. I found some slightly larger pieces of semi-precious stones of various kinds, and in fact I actually found three pieces of rock with emeralds in them. These emeralds were large enough to be easily spotted as opposed to the one I found on my last visit which was the size of a pin head. However, they were still too small to be cut, so I brought them home as they were. After returning home, I gave Dorte and Tina one each and kept the last one. It is now on display together with the other stones I found. While I was sluicing, another group of children arrived, and unlike the first two groups, these were somewhat older - and noisier, so when my bucket was empty, I filled my findings into two plastic bags and left the place again.


The afternoon was still too young to return to my hotel, so as my next goal I picked Granite Falls, a small town in Caldwell County south of Lenoir, the county seat of said county. Here I wanted to see the falls that had given the town its name, but I never got to that, mostly because I didn't know where to look and they were not shown on my map. On my way to Granite Falls, I passed through Taylorsville, another county seat, this time in Alexander County. Here I took some pictures, mostly to confirm that I had actually been in town. To make sure I would be believed, I took a picture of the building that houses the local newspaper, The Taylorsville Times. Then there would be no doubt J. In Granite Falls I drove around for some time to locate he falls, but as mentioned unsuccessfully. This was mainly due to the fact that I thought the falls were on the Catawba River, which runs through town, but after returning to my home country, I discovered that this is by no means the case. In fact, the falls are actually granite shoals on a smaller creek that flows into the Catawba, so now I know this for my next visit, if I ever come back to town. Instead I passed and took some photos of a small dam on the Catawba River, which apparently delivered power to the city.


A small island in Lake James


When I found I had spent enough time looking for waterfalls, the clock had passed 2 pm, but it was still too early to return to my hotel. Instead, I headed north towards Lenoir. Just before I entered town, I stopped to get a picture of a traffic sign. Something I think might be relevant to introduce in Denmark. It is a sign of a type that warns of a coming speed reduction. Such a sign is placed between 200 and 300 yards before the speed limit is actually lowered, to give you time to slow down. These kinds of signs occur throughout the United States, but his was the first time I had taken a photo of one. Once in Lenoir, I decided to make another attempt to find Frankie Silver's grave, see the article A search in vain. I therefore headed south to Morganton and on to North Carolina Road 126, next to which I thought that grave was. This time I did not only look at the mileage counter, but set the satnav to show distance, and then I left. As I approached the distance I thought was where the grave should be, I slowed down almost to turtle speed, keeping an eye on the areas on both sides of the road. Unfortunately, I still didn't see anything that even remotely looked like a grave marker or a tombstone or anything like that, and when I had gone eight miles further than where I thought the grave should be, I turned around and drove back the same way but still without any luck. When I got about a mile past the distance from Morganton, where the grave was supposed to be, I turned around again and made two more trips of about 2 miles each way, but I still found no grave marker. I therefore decided to give it up and set the course back to Morganton. Once again I had been wasting my time looking for this elusive grave, and – as opposed to the time I looked twice for the mound in Franklin, see article My stubbornness paid off, my stubbornness didn't pay off this time. After returning to Denmark, I found out that I had been cheated. Or rather that the explanation of the location of the grave lay I had found online was wrong or at least very inaccurate. It turned out that the grave was only about 7 miles out on NC 126 from Morganton, not 12 miles as I had learned from the internet source. Then you have to go 3 or 4 miles down a small side road, followed by a walk through wooded hills for about a mile. So the total distance of 12 miles was actually correct, it just wasn't 12 miles on the highway as I thought.


On my way back to Morganton, I made a short stop at Lake James, which is a pretty little lake created by damming the Catawba River just north of the city. (The lake, however, is only small in a United States scale. In Denmark it would be the country's second largest lake, only surpassed by Lake Arresø when it comes to surface area.) Here I took a few pictures, and on my way through Morganton I also managed to get a few pictures of the city's natural landmark, Table Rock even it only from a distance and I didn't actually get a good view of the mountain. So my excursion to NC 126 wasn't completely wasted, even though I didn't find what I was looking for.

From Morganton I returned to Lenoir and onwards to Wilkesboro, where I relaxed at the hotel for an hour or so. I drove into the center of town to eat dinner at Dooley's Grill and Tavern in downtown Wilkesboro, where Tim and I had eaten in 2016, and it was also excellent this time. I walked around town for a while, looking at different buildings, before I returned to the hotel. The rest of the evening I relaxed at the hotel with the internet and a book, while I tried to make some plans for my last day in the area before I had to head north.


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