8/10/2011 - Scrapbooking N.C.: Family visits all 100 counties
by Gerri Hunt - The Caswell Messenger
CUTE STORY about bonding with kids - and getting a North Carolina history lesson in the process!
Margaret Hyler smiles from the front porch of her little blue house, waving over the top of a Chrysler PT Cruiser parked in the long dusty circular driveway, a stone's throw from Prospect United Methodist Church on Highway 158.
Leading the way inside, she perches on a recliner, next to an immense bookcase covering an entire wall. The shelves are lined with scrapbooks, their spines neatly in rows.
"These are filled with one of my grandsons, and these are of my other one," said Margaret. "This one is for Earl and I," she continued, pointing at one displayed on an easel out front. "We're celebrating our 50th anniversary this month, and are taking the family to Hawaii."
But that's not the trip - nor the scrapbook - she's so excited to talk about. That one, about five inches thick, sits on the sofa beside her 14-year-old grandson, Grant.
Margaret, Earl and Grant spent the last year traveling the state - visiting every single county and seeing the sights. They began last June, took a break from December to February when Margaret landed in the hospital, but picked up where they left off. By this June, they had colored all 100 counties on the North Carolina map that sits in the front of the scrapbook.
The idea for the whirlwind tour came after Margaret learned that eighth graders studying the state's history make a scrapbook about it throughout the school year. Even when she found out Grant's teacher wasn't having her students do one, she decided that shouldn't stop them.
"I thought we'd do it so he would know about the state," she said.
Earl was hesitant. He figured they could visit about 30 counties, a few at a time. But Margaret was adamant.
"We would visit eight to 10 in a weekend. In just a day, we could see two to three counties," she said.
The trio began their trek in Mecklenburg County, on their way home from her sister's wedding nearby. It was the day the NASCAR Hall of Fame opened.
They drove under a waterfall in Macon County, saw their ancestors' graves in Madison County, hiked up the Chimney Rock Trail in Rutherford County, and entered the Old Baldy lighthouse in Brunswick County.
"We learned that Cherokee is not in Cherokee County," said Margaret. While they were in Cherokee - which is in Jackson County - Earl and Grant took pictures with an Indian.
"And we found out the Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County is the oldest gold mine in the country," said Margaret. Grant added that he found some gold there - a small flake.
Some of the counties were so small, they couldn't find anything to do. Instead of pictures of them visiting a site, there's maybe a McDonald's receipt - just to prove they were there.
"We want to go back to some and find out what's there," said Margaret.
And in some counties, the local restaurants were their destination - like Sanitary Fish Market in Carteret County and Snappy Caf/ in Surry County.
The Hylers stood in covered bridges in Catawba and Randolph counties, ferried across the Neuse River in Craven County, and took pictures at the Yadkin River in Wilkes and Yadkin counties.
"I learned a lot of stuff," said Grant. "My favorite part was going to the beach."