Have you ever had one of those days? At the end of the day you just feel like going somewhere, not too far away, but just far enough to qualify as a trip? Well, when you do McDowell County, NC is not a bad place to go. (If you live in Asheville or Hendersonville or Charlotte or Johnson City. If you live in Knoxville it may be too far away. Unless of course you like what you see in the blog.)
We’d enjoyed a good day so we left Asheville late in the day. It was a very warm day, but an intense thunderstorm cooled things down. Boy, that was a cloudburst. For thirty minutes solid between about, oh, four forty five and five thirty-ish, it hailed and thundered and poured. I couldn’t even get out of the car for most of this. (This is why you keep a couple of magazines in your car.)
We took Exit 90 off I-40 to get to Nebo. It was getting dark but I got a few good photos.
This is sunset over Nebo, NC.
And this is the truck stop and diner at Nebo.
Downtown Marion, NC
First Baptist Church Marion
Then we took Stacy Hill Road then turned left on Highway 70 to Marion. I may have mentioned it before but there is a certain charm to driving into a Southern town at night. Marion is a very good sized city, the county seat of McDowell County. It has a wide variety of shopping, restaurants and attractions.
Later I’ll do an entire blog about Marion. Their downtown is quite impressive because of the variety of architectural styles. They’ve got buildings that range from the turn of the last century to the turn of this century. The first time I rolled through downtown Marion was a Sunday morning after an early church service. That was good. I stopped and roamed up and down the main street taking photographs of the buildings. It is a truly unique town.
I believed I mentioned it was a rather large city and I want to emphasize this again. Some towns and cities you could miss if you bent over to pick up something you drop. Marion is not one of those. From the time we drove in from the east on Highway 70 to the time we rolled out of town heading west on Highway 70 was about twenty to thirty minutes. (And not because of traffic.)
Another reason I like Marion is the mix of progress and nostalgia. It is a Southern town with churches, shops and a courthouse. But its also a modern city with a really impressive city building, police station and a wide variety of shopping. Of course nearby is Lake James, which is a lot bigger than I had thought it would be.
Marion is also strategically located travel wise. I’ve been through the town many times before for this very reason. Highway 221 runs through it on the way from Rutherfordton to Banner Elk and Linville Falls. Now that is a very good, very straight road. Great way to get to Rutherfordton. Highway 226 runs south to Shelby. Its a bit more wooded, but still a nice drive which I’ve enjoyed. Of course I-40 runs just south of Marion, which is a great advantage. You can stay in Marion, be close to the interstate and not have the feel of a town right on the interstate.
Even if you don’t stay there stop by on your way through. Love’s Travel Stop is on Exit 86 out on I-40. Marion exits include Exits 81, 83, 85 and 86 off I-40. Now that the days are longer this would be a great place to drive out to one evening. Get there about seven, have dinner, then go window shopping in the downtown’s small town atmosphere. Or you could leave earlier, have a mid-afternoon snack and shop all afternoon. Then have dinner and be able to get back home almost before the sun goes down.
Either way, put Marion, NC on your list of places to visit this summer.