Off the Beaten Path: The Planking Traveler

Recently, I was invited to collaborate with Emily Adams on her fabulous and informative travel blog, The Planking Traveler.

https://theplankingtraveler.com/

Emily Adams demonstrates her signature plank pose

The theme of the collaboration— 12 Unique Off The Beaten Path Destinations For Your Next Adventure.

My favorite “off the beaten path” destination instantly came to mind— The Inner Banks of the Pamlico River, North Carolina— my native Eastern North Carolina coastal home.

Sunset capture by my mother, Julia Austin Paul, at hers and my father’s home on the Pamlico River

Take a look at the blog post here of the twelve worldwide destinations featured:

https://theplankingtraveler.com/2019/07/27/12-unique-off-the-beaten-path-destinations-for-your-next-adventure/

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Cape Fear River Trail: Part of the East Coast Greenway

Fayetteville, NC:

While North Carolina is enjoying a dip in sultry July temps, head out to the beautiful Cape Fear River Trail in Fayetteville, NC (conveniently located near I-95) to take in some fresh air and natural scenery.

https://fcpr.us/parks-trails/trails/cape-fear-river-trail

Map of CFRT

The shaded, paved trail is perfect for walking 🚶‍♀️, biking 🚴‍♀️ , and running 🏃🏻‍♀️ anytime of year— and is part of the East Coast Greenway.

https://www.greenway.org/

My son and I, along with dear friends, hit the trail this morning and had a blast.

With the exception of a couple of minor meltdowns toward the end of our hike from tired little people— the affects of video game 🎮 detox setting in.

Poor Things. 😂

Overall, the hilly trail provides lots of outdoor fun, and challenging hiking and biking.

Not to mention the lovely scenery to include a waterfall!

Dragonflies, lizards, butterflies, caterpillars, and salamanders met us at each curve in the wood’s edge.

As well as a pretty pond decorated with seasonal blooming lily pads inhabited by birds, turtles, frogs, and all types of other wildlife.

CFRT is a great place to walk your dog!

Our canine companion for the day, Major, sniffed out all the sights and scenes 🐕.

We even got to meet an officer with Fayetteville Police Department 👮 monitoring the trail to ensure the public’s safety. Thanks #FayPD ❤️!

According to the Cape Fear River Trail Website, here are some things you should know before you hit the trail:

I will note you should probably bring along bottled water 💦, a small backpack and a cell phone in case of an emergency (and/or a camera to take pictures 📸).

CFRT will be expanding into Historic Downtown Fayetteville in the near future— and connect with Linear Park. This will be an exciting update highlighting the many charming and picturesque sights and scenes in Fayetteville.

Get outside and enjoy this FREE Fayetteville treasure.

Then, treat your sweaty self to a delicious burger and milkshake at Freddy’s across from the Jordan Soccer Complex entryway to the park off Ramsey and Tree Top Drive:

Enjoy your adventure to Cape Fear River Trail!

-Alison Paul Klakowicz

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Carolina BBQ… Beach Road Pit Stop Heaven

Kenansville, North Carolina-

When traveling through historic Kenansville, North Carolina byway of NC Hwy 24 just off I-40 East make sure to make Carolina BBQ your lunch or dinner destination!

Wonderful Eastern North Carolina style BBQ and Seafood Buffet

My husband and I were recently traveling through on our way to the Crystal Coast of NC, when our tummies started rumbling and we made it our mission to seek out a good ole Eastern NC barbecue spot to quench our soul food Sunday craving.

Well, I can tell you we were thrilled to happen upon this awesome restaurant.

It has all the makings of your grandparents’ Sunday dinner table— pork barbecue, fried chicken, fried shrimp and flounder, chicken and pastries, collards, lima beans, Brunswick stew, sweet tea, banana pudding, hush puppies— you get the drift.

If you are in need of comfort food, this is your spot.

Not to mention, the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and satisfied with your visit.

Ample seating in the spacious dining room

This kind fellow, Jimmy (pictured below), went out of his way to greet two unfamiliar faces and make them feel a part of the Carolina BBQ community.

He instantly connected with us and took time to learn of the new folks wandering in on a late Sunday afternoon.

He was congenial, kind and quite the conversationalist— told us stories of days long ago when he served in the US Marine Corps, his retirement from the state of North Carolina as a probation officer and his pride of his wife and daughter who are both doctors.

Southern hospitality at its finest.

Thanks, Jimmy. You made our visit even more of a delight.

If you find yourself near Kenansville, go ahead and set your GPS to direct you straight to the door of Carolina BBQ and Seafood.

Good news… there is a second location of Carolina BBQ in Wilmington, NC too!

You will be living high on the hog if you give this barbecue joint a try.

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Podcast: anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Old Mill of Guilford: A Step Back in Time

Old Mill of Guilford— an HISTORIC FULLY OPERATIONAL, WATER-POWERED, 18TH CENTURY GRIST MILL— has become a favorite pit stop of my family when traveling through quaint Oak Ridge, North Carolina on our way to visit my brother, a North Carolina State Park Ranger at Hanging Rock State Park.

Once we leave the beaten path of the interstate behind us, we are eager for a hiatus and there is no better place than Old Mill of Guilford.

We love to seek refuge on the grounds of Old Mill of Guilford and tour the mill that allows its guests a peak inside the treasured North Carolina historical landmark and business.

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a rustic, covered porch lined with rockers, a handmade wooden, plank bench and a few charming antiquities….

as well as a resident calico cat.

The front door of the mill stays ajar during spring and summer to welcome a stray breeze and visitors to enter the heart of the small mill of yore’s daily operations.

My seven-year-old son is fascinated by the idea of water funneled in from a nearby watershed powers the machinery.

For parents seeking educational opportunities for their kiddos during the summer months, this is a great way to share a lesson on engineering, food production and North Carolina history.

Off to the right of the mill’s main floor is a glass window paned, white, wooden framed door, decorated with hundreds of handwritten names of previous customers to the onsite mill store.

Visitors can peruse the cache of Old Mill of Guilford Stone Ground products as well as other locally made goods.

We’ve grown quite fond of the Buttermilk and Apple Cinnamon Pancake Mixes which are perfect for a weekend, family breakfast. 🥞

My son (and friends) enjoy putting their tooth fairy money to use by purchasing bars of local, handmade scented soaps 🧼 and a piece of candy 🍬 or two.

The mill store uses an oldtimey cash register which is a great conversation starter, and endearing relic of days gone by.

The mill’s grounds are a perfect stage for an al fresco lunch while overlooking the old sky-high footbridge over the creek, and bright, red-painted carriage wheel fencing.

According to the company website: https://oldmillofguilford.com/

“Mill of Guilford was founded in North Carolina on Beaver Creek in 1767 to grind grain for the early settlers of what is now Guilford County. Today, the mill continues to produce all-natural, stone-ground, whole grain foods, just as it has for over 240 years.

The Mill produces all natural corn meal, grits and flour along with a wide range of mixes including:  Gingerbread Mixes, Muffin Mixes, Pancake Mixes, Cookie Mixes, Scone Mixes, Biscuit Mixes and Hushpuppy Mix.  The Mill’s signature mix is the Sweet Potato Muffin. Visit the Old Mill Store for these products and other fine foods and crafts from North Carolina.”

If interested in visiting Old Mill of Guilford, look here:

Old Mill of Guilford is a wonderful byway stop worthy of your time, rich in history and peaceful landscapes of which my family has come to love.

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Let’s Stroll Downtown Fayetteville, NC

I’ve been out of the stroller business for several years now as my son is approaching second grade. Before I know, he will be able to carry me around.

But today, I had the opportunity to spend some darling moments with a dear friend’s precious three month old daughter, Little Miss Aurora, and we took to downtown Fayetteville, NC to pass the time and enjoy the sights and scenery.

https://visitdowntownfayetteville.com/

If you are a mom of a small, stroller age child, look no further than our town’s downtown area for perfect paved and accessible sidewalk escapes to entertain your tot— and, provide you with a relaxing and peaceful outing outside of your home.

Downtown Fayetteville has so much to offer to include restaurants and shops as well as museums, but there are so many nooks and crannies to explore outdoors.

There is nature.

Lots of natural scenery spanning across Festival Park, Cross Creek Park and Linear Park:

https://fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks/cross-creek-linear-park

https://fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks/festival-park

Calming sounds and views of rushing creek waters are perfect to soothe a baby’s mind as well as weary parents in need of a “Calgon moment” away from daily stresses of home life.

As you can see, Aurora was quite enchanted by the sound of the falls.

The cascading fountains in Cross Creek Park are so relaxing and beguiling. You must sit a spell and take it all in.

We came across a lovely “Angel of Hope” 👼🏻 statue that comforted us and brought a smile to our faces.

Just across the bridge, we happened upon a monument honoring the city’s namesake— Marquis de Lafayette.

Sitting sentinel behind the monument are the holy and tranquil grounds of First Presbyterian Church: http://www.firstprez.com/

We decided to take a closer look at the beautiful, old brick facade of the historic church’s chapel and grounds.

Such a lovely place to spend a morning in reflection with a sweet babe, and gaze upon the allure of the house of worship.

Not to mention, the multifaceted and reformed architecture of intriguing old buildings along downtown streets.

We worked up quite an appetite from our morning adventure in the Cool Spring Downtown District and ended it on a high note with an early lunch and tea at Reyhan— Sea & Mediterranean Grill: https://www.facebook.com/Reyhan-SeaMediterranean-Grill-952922134902997/

Gorgeous restaurant setting, excellent service and absolutely delicious.

I highly recommend the Grilled Chicken Shish Wrap. There was not a morsel left on my plate to take a lovely photo of. 😍

If you are feeling cooped up and need to get out of the house with your snuggly cuties, haul out the buggies and hit the sidewalks of Downtown Fayetteville, NC!

Here is a link to all of our city’s parks and trails to help guide you: https://fcpr.us/parks-trails

Enjoy!

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

https://www.amazon.com/Mommys-Big-Red-Monster-Truck/dp/1525530178

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

anchor.fm/jalisonpaulyahoocom

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Fun, Food, Festivity, Fine Arts abound in Fayetteville, NC @ Dogwood Festival: 4th Friday

This past weekend my family and I attended April 2019’s Dogwood Festival and Fourth Friday festivities in historic downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina. We had a BALL! So much to do. So much to see. Strong winds did not blow us away from enjoying all there was to offer in our gorgeous Cool Spring Downtown District.

Our first stop was to gaze upon the bright and brilliant artwork of Cecil Bernard at Concourse 107 art gallery, “Where your journey begins through art and travel.” My husband, Adam— Army soldier by day, graphic artist by night— is well acquainted with the gallery and has done signage for the new location downtown located at 107 Gillespie Street. He was eager to check out the art on display— so, we stopped in to take a look 👀.

The gallery’s mission is “to exhibit, interpret, preserve and promote the visual, travel, artistic, and cultural expression to educate and engage the public on local, regional and global creativity through the visual arts.”

We were immediately greeted by the charming Gerald McMillan, Executive Administrator of Concourse 107 and global Private Flight Attendant, who welcomed us with open arms to gaze upon the exquisite pieces being shown at Concourse.

Cecil Bernard’s prolific and poignant work is eye alluring to say the least. The abstract images and vibrant colors grab your attention and invite you to come in and take a seat in awe of the jubilant images displayed. I could hear the horn section and vibration of bass just gazing upon the pictures hung from the gallery walls.

Even my seven-year-old son, Mak, was intrigued. And that is saying a lot.

You must make Concourse 107 a stop on your downtown destination list. You will not be sorry. Tell them I sent you! If you’d like to contact Gerald or Desmond Latimore, Curator/Art Director, and Reddick Mack, Marketing Director, email them @ concourse107@gmail.com.

Next we found ourselves enjoying the adorable hand painted photo ops beneath downtown’s landmark Market House where my son and husband posed for a pic! Aren’t they cute?

The gusty winds picked up momentarily and blew us across the street to visit Sweet Goose Gourmet Brownies, a brand new Milspouse-owned, independent baker and crafter of THE BEST brownies I have EVER tasted!

The mastermind of the sweet, decadent, fudgie, mind blowing confections is Rachel Moore. I was already stalking her on Instagram @sweetgoosebrownies and was so stoked to find her downtown. You must follow her on Instagram and request a dozen or two of her Salted Caramel Brownies for your next shindig. YUM. YUM. YUM!

After taking in all of this culinary goodness, we found ourselves in the midst of Dancing in the Streets on Hay Street where we were entertained by the super cool breakdance and pop and lock movements of AniMatriXX. As my husband would say, “He’s got mad skills.” My son (a breakdance lover) thinks this guy is very COOL. You can follow him (as we do) on Instagram @_animatrixx 👏

Then we were greeted by the sultry moves of the Fayetteville Latin Dance Group 💃🏽 These folks can MOVE! If you want to learn to dance this fierce, follow them on Facebook @fayettevillelatindance

And what to my wondering eyes did appear, but the most adorable hula dancers bringing Polynesian cultural heritage to Fayetteville! I could not contain myself and joined in to learn the art of hula dancing from the experts with Aloha Ka’naka O Hula Halau, http://alohakanakaohulahalau.yolasite.com/

Such a fun experience! I got to imagine myself on the Hawaiian shores for a brief moment right here in downtown Fayetteville. 🏝

Also, I loved checking out all of the cool metals work, cute shop fronts and sidewalk dining that makes our downtown so unique.

Next up was a stop by the brand new Segra Stadium— home of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers Minor League Baseball team! My husband, a huge baseball ⚾️ fan— thanks to his rearing in Philadelphia and love of Phillies baseball— has been eagerly awaiting the stadium opening and got to attend their first home game recently. I had not yet visited the stadium so we wandered over to take a peek inside!

I cannot wait to attend a game very soon and purchase some of the above pictured Woodpeckers official merch!

We then set off to the main Dogwood Festival events in Festival Park! Food trucks, fair rides, and FREE concerts in the park were the highlight of the night!

We enjoyed Slices of Brooklyn Boys Pizza out of Cary, NC! So good!

We caught the very end of Lotus Sun’s performance— a super fun band out of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 90’s hip hop stars Pharcyde! My son was so proud to return to school this week to tell all his friends his parents took him to a hip hop concert! 😂

Overall, it was a fabulous night in downtown Fayetteville! So proud to be a Fayettevillian.

Y’all need to come visit our action packed city.

-Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Instagram: @alisonklak

Twitter: @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is a North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.

Visit Bookstores

I have always loved bookstores— especially the small, independent bookshops in little nooks and crannies.

The ones made with brick and mortar on downtown streets with glass window fronts with pleasant displays of books and more books that beg you to visit.

The sound of a bell’s chime 🔔 when you enter the door 🚪 with a smiling face to welcome you into the little world filled of whimsical fantasy and fiction, true stories of heroes and the woe begotten, survivors and foreign places.

There is also a smell of a bookshop that quenches my senses. The smell of timelessness and wonder.

Now that I am on my journey introducing the children of my home state of North Carolina to my book— Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck— I am getting to visit so many wonderful Indie bookstores and it makes my heart so happy.

The best part is meeting so many wonderful people… bookshop owners (living out their own dreams), beautiful children, parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles— and their friends.

I have made so many new friends across North Carolina in such a short time and cannot wait to make more!

I learn so much about them and the community where they live. It is rewarding and enriching to my life.

I love to hear, and see their reactions to my book when I have the honor of reading to them.

Joy surrounds me! It gives me hope and peace to be in their presence. What a blessing it is in my life. ❤️

The partnership of creating events at bookstores is a two-way street. Not only does it allow me to present my book to potential readers, but it brings people into bookstores. In a world of technology, it is so nice to unplug and spend some quality time reading, interacting, crafting, communicating, and getting to know the people of North Carolina better— and my city of Fayetteville, NC.

So, go visit your local bookstores!

Support local shop owners and authors. Feed your child’s brain with literature, and real interactions with your fellow neighbors.

The benefits of this ageless pastime are ten folds the rewards of not taking the thirty minutes out of your day to visit a bookshop.

Happy Reading!

And, come see me at the bookstore!

Alison Paul Klakowicz, BA, MS

Author of Mommy’s Big, Red Monster Truck

http://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com

Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Artisan, Milspouse

Follow Me:

Facebook @mommysbigredmonstertruck

Instagram @alisonklak

Twitter @KlakowiczAlison

Alison Paul Klakowicz is an Eastern North Carolina native, children’s book author, blogger, podcaster and creative writer. She is a military spouse who resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband, Adam, and son, Mak.