By Joanna Grey Talbot
My favorite benefit to being a freelance writer is that anytime my husband has to work out of town I can easily go with him. It always means I have to go exploring by myself while he works but it gives me time to go at my own pace and pick things I really want to do.
Last weekend he was called to work on a project in Morganton, North Carolina, so I spent the weekend seeing what this beautiful town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains had to offer.
Whenever possible I love to get outside and see the natural beauty of the area. The Catawba River Greenway was the perfect place to start my day. It is a wide, paved walkway that runs along the Catawba River through town. It is 3.8 miles long and has five different access points with ample parking. I walked about 2 miles round-trip and early on a Saturday morning it was very peaceful.
A brisk walk helped me work up an appetite so the next logical destination was the local coffee shop. The Grind Café is located on a corner in downtown and I loved sitting at the bar in the window watching cars and pedestrians go by. The freshly baked blueberry muffin was delicious (way better than the made weeks ago and frozen kind found at that big coffee chain that starts with an “s”) and I give the mocha a strong four out of five coffee beans.
I am so glad I went there before the local history museum because little did I know I was getting myself into a two hour tour when I walked through their doors. The History Museum of Burke County, housed in the old city hall building, is filled to the brim with an amazing variety of artifacts. Some local museums have lots of information panels and few actual artifacts – that was not the case here. One of the museum volunteers kindly took me and a family that showed up at the same time on a tour of the two-story building. The exhibits are set out topically instead of on a timeline, which I loved. There was everything from the furniture and textile industries which used to be booming in Morganton to farming implements to Civil War artifacts and a wonderful military display. The current rotating exhibit is entitled “Burke County Courthouse to the White House” and displays a wide range of presidential memorabilia.
Needless to say, after two hours in the museum I was ready for some fresh air so I made my way to the Historic Burke County Courthouse. Situated in the town square it is a beautiful Classical Revival style building that was constructed of native stone in the 1830s and first put to use in 1837. In 1885 the exterior was covered with stucco and the simple cupola was replaced with one in the Baroque style. It was in continuous use until 1976 and now houses the Heritage Museum. The North Carolina Supreme Court used the building for its August sessions from 1847 until 1862 and returned again this year, 155 years later.
My last stop before heading back to our hotel was of course to pick up two freshly made cupcakes from the My Local Bakery for my husband and I to enjoy later. The “Death by Chocolate” and “Inside-Out Reese’s” were my choices and boy, were they delicious! After a long day of working and exploring I felt we deserved them.