What’s a “Piedmont?”

piedmontmap

The piedmont (shaded area) extends along the eastern U.S.

You can’t be in the Greensboro area long before you hear and see the word “piedmont.” Pronounced “peed-mont,” you’ll hear it on every local TV weather report and see it as part of the names of many local businesses. Greensboro is in the heart of the piedmont, North Carolina’s most densely populated section. The “Piedmont Triad” (or simply the Triad) refers to the three city area of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point.

The word was new to me when I arrived in central North Carolina. “Piedmont” must have been one of those geographic words that they didn’t dwell on back in Missouri, where I grew up. My teachers must have been discussing the Mississippi River basin while North Carolinians were pondering the piedmont.

Here’s what I have since learned: The piedmont is a plateau region located in the eastern United States between the Atlantic coastal plain and the main Appalachian Mountains. It’s not exclusive to North Carolina but stretches from New Jersey to central Alabama. Geographically, the piedmont has gently rolling terrain often broken by hills or low mountain ridges. There are a few low mountain ranges and peaks found in the North Carolina piedmont, such as Pilot Mountain near the town of Mt. Airy.

The piedmont occupies about 35 percent of North Carolina. (To the east, taking up about 45 percent of the state, is the coastal plain. To the west, occupying the remaining 20 percent, are the foothills and mountains.)

Of the three regions, the mountains are the coldest part of the state with the greatest snow accumulations and mildest summers. The coastal plain has the mildest weather with its climate influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean has less influence on the piedmont, which has hotter summers and colder winters than the coast.

You now have a working understanding of the piedmont! To learn more about all the things to see, do and enjoy about the North Carolina piedmont, visit http://www.visitnc.com/piedmont. Better yet, come visit. You’ll find the best in piedmont hospitality at the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed & Breakfast in Greensboro, NC.

Blandwood: The Oldest Standing Example of Italianate Architecture in the U.S.

When Reverend Sidney Bumpass built the home that is now the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed and Breakfast, a visitor would find few homes in the immediate area. One home, however, was only a third of a mile away, and it was already more than 50 years old when Sidney and Frances Bumpass moved into their home in 1847. That house, known as Blandwood, still exists today and is a national historic landmark that is open for tours.

Blandwood Mansion

Blandwood Mansion, considered the the oldest standing example of Italianate architecture in the United States.

Originally Blandwood was a simple two-story farmhouse constructed by Charles Bland. The earliest part of the home was completed in 1795. The house was later purchased by North Carolina Governor John Motley Morehead. In 1844, toward the end of the governor’s term in office, he commissioned renowned architect Alexander Jackson Davis of New York to build significant additions to the house in the Italianate style. A central tower, stucco walls and symmetrical flanking dependencies were added. The additions were completed in 1846.

Today, Blandwood is considered the oldest standing example of Italianate architecture in the United States. The restored mansion operates as a museum and provides visitors a look into 19th century art, architecture, furnishings, and landscape. Some of the Morehead’s furnishings are on display.

Vistors to the mansion learn interesting aspects of the homes architecture as well as information about the governor and the Morehead family. Morehead earned the nickname “the father of Modern North Carolina” and was a strong supporter of statewide rail and water transportation systems; free public schools; and more humane treatment of deaf and blind children, prisoners, and the mentally ill.

While we are not certain, it seems highly likely that Frances Bumpass and her family were acquainted with their neighbors, the Moreheads.

To learn more about this treasure of architectural and historical significance, take a look at this video created by Preservation Greensboro Incorporated, the non-profit organization that operates Blandwood. Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday. An admission fee is charged. Guests at the Troy-Bumpas Inn can receive a discount coupon that offers one free admission with a paid adult admission (valid during 2014).

Checking out? Have you left anything behind?

Unmade bed

Have you ever left something behind at a hotel or bed & breakfast?  As an innkeeper who has cleaned a lot of guest rooms, I’d guess it was a charger cord, an article of clothing, or a toiletry item. Fortunately, few guests leave things behind, and of those who do, very few follow up in order to retrieve the lost article.

Like most B&Bs, if we locate an item that was left behind at the Troy-Bumpas Inn, we will mail it back to the guest if that guest requests it. We keep items left behind for at least a month. If they are unclaimed, we donate them. If a guests asks that we send the item back to them, we charge the cost of shipping to the guest’s credit card.  The relatively high cost of shipping probably explains why so few guests follow up about a lost item. It usually isn’t worth the expense.

How can you avoid leaving something behind during your next trip? Here are easy tips to follow as you pack up to leave your room:

  • First, collect all your charger cords, computer mice, flash drives, ear buds, etc. These are the most commonly left items, so put them first on your list of things to round up.
  • Check the shower. That’s where many people forget toiletry items. Of course, if you don’t intend to take them home, just toss them in the bathroom waste can.
  • Things hide in a messy bed. Pull up the bed linens and quickly smooth them. If you’ve left something in the bed, you’ll probably notice a lump. Please note: I’m not suggesting you make the bed! That is not necessary!
  • Lastly, take a quick peek under the bed and into any closets or drawers you may have used.

If you follow these easy steps, there’s a good chance you’ll never leave anything behind in your guest room again! And that makes travel less stressful and more fun.

Etiquette at a Bed & Breakfast

Place setting

First-time guests staying at a B&B sometimes are a little unsure what is considered proper. My best advice: Use your common sense. If you’re still unsure, ask the innkeeper. Even if you’re afraid you may be asking a silly question, this is the time to remember that there are no dumb questions and ASK! Chances are good someone else previously has asked the innkeeper the same question.

This video is a helpful guide to B&B etiquette. It gives good tips about booking and ensuring that your dietary needs are met. The video also discusses noise concerns.

At the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed & Breakfast, we are fortunate that none of our guest rooms share common walls. And, since the house was built in 1847, the walls are quite thick. That typically translates to quiet rooms, even when we have a full house.  It’s one of thing many of our guests appreciate and comment on. They like not hearing a bunch of party goers laughing and giggling as they stroll down the hallway outside their hotel room at the wee hours of the night. If you happen to be a night owl and are likely to return to your B&B guest room late or simply like to stay up into the early hours, I recommend asking the innkeeper if you have concerns about noise. Depending upon the date of your stay, you may learn that not all the guest rooms are occupied, thus reducing the likelihood of disturbing others.

Enjoy the video. I’ll discuss more considerations about staying at a B&B in future blog posts. Please stay tuned!

Is a B&B Right for You?

B&B Sign

If you have never stayed at a Bed & Breakfast, you might wonder if a B&B is right for you. If so, you may find this independently produced video helpful in making your decision.

The two most valuable tips in this video are to:
1) Book your room once your travel plans are stable, and
2) Contact the B&B with any questions you may have prior to booking.

Before phoning the innkeeper, check the inn’s website. Good websites have an abundance of information including photos of the guest rooms and clearly stated policies. You can usually determine if an inn accepts children and/or pets in a matter of minutes by checking their website. If the website doesn’t answer all your questions, pick up the phone. Innkeepers are happy to provide details about their guest rooms, describe the inn in general, and clarify any policy concerns.  They also can give you advice about nearby restaurants and attractions.

One observation I would add about this video: The dining room shots are taken at extremely large inns. Many B&Bs throughout the United States have five or fewer guest rooms.  At the Troy-Bumpas Inn, we have three guest rooms, so the largest number of guests you’ll ever see in our dining room is eight! The video remarks that the prospect of meeting fellow travelers is a benefit of staying at a B&B. It’s a great way to meet other people and find out what sights they have seen. But don’t let the prospect of a communal breakfast table stop you from booking! Most B&Bs, including the Troy-Bumpas Inn, can easily seat guests at separate tables if they wish to dine on their own.  Guests need only ask!

I’ll discuss other considerations of staying at a B&B in future blog posts. Please stay tuned!

When is a Toboggan Not a Toboggan?

tobogganWhen is a toboggan not a toboggan? When it’s on your head. If that sounds confusing, let me explain.

To me, the word “toboggan” has always meant “sled.” If you search Google Images for “toboggan,” you’ll see what I mean. Pictures of long, narrow wooden sleds used for coasting downhill over the snow will appear. Toboggans typically curve upward and backward at the front.

So you can imagine my confusion as a transplant to North Carolina when I started hearing the word “toboggan” used to refer to a knit pull-on hat. I’m not alone. One of our recent guests at the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed & Breakfast (who had also recently moved to the region) described her utter bewilderment when teachers at her child’s school said that all students going on an upcoming field trip should be sure to pack a toboggan. How, she wondered, were dozens of wooden toboggans going to fit onto the bus?

I’m told you’re most likely to hear “toboggan” used to describe a knit cap in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The origin of this usage is uncertain, but it seems likely that knit hats worn while tobogganing were “toboggan caps.” At some point the word cap was dropped… and the rest is history.

So, the next time you head out into the cold, think of us here in North Carolina and grab your toboggan – it will keep you warm.

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A New Home for Community Theatre of Greensboro

Theater Seats

This year is an especially exciting year for the Community Theatre of Greensboro (CTG). The organization, founded in 1949, accomplished a goal it has dreamed of for more than 60 years – having its own theater building. This fall CTG performances will take place at the Starr Theater, 520 S. Elm St., Greensboro.

The CTG purchased the 160-seat facility, formerly known as the Broach Theatre, for $1.24 million. The organization had raised nearly $2 million to purchase the building and create a permanent endowment and fund to enhance operations and programming.

The Starr Theatre is less than 2 miles from the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed & Breakfast. We’re looking forward to seeing the renovated facility and will be happy to assist guests who wish to attend plays with obtaining tickets. The 2013-2014 season features three musicals, a classic drama, and an CTG tradition.

Smokey Joe’s Café, a musical revue featuring the songs of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller, runs Oct. 4 to 13.

Nov. 16 to 24 marks the return of The Wizard of Oz, the musical adaptation of the motion picture screenplay that was based on the book by L. Frank Baum. This is the 19th year CTG will present this much loved story. More than 200 talented children and adults work on stage and behind the scenes to bring the story to life. (The Wizard of Oz is presented at the Carolina Theatre.)

To Kill a Mockingbird, based on the novel by Harper Lee and adapted for the stage by Christopher Sergel, will be performed Feb. 14 to 23, 2014.

Legally Blonde is a musical adaptation of the novel by Amanda Brown and the MGM motion picture of the same name. Shows run from March 28 to April 13, 2014.

The season concludes with 9 to 5, The Musical. With music by Dolly Parton, the show is based upon the screenplay by Patricia Resnick and Colin Higgins. The show runs April 25 to May 11, 2014.

For more information about the Community Theatre of Greensboro, including descriptions of the plays; specific performance dates and times; and ticket information, visit the CTG website or phone 336-333-7470.

Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight! at Carolina Theatre in September

Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain

I don’t know if famed author Mark Twain ever visited Greensboro, NC, during his lifetime, but next month Mark Twain, as embodied by actor Hal Holbrook, will appear at the beautiful and historic Carolina Theatre. Holbrook has been presenting his one-man show Mark Twain Tonight! for more than 50 years. The performance has won Holbrook, acclaimed as the best Twain impersonator, a Tony award and an Emmy award nomination. It’s said that Holbrook knows Twain as well as he knows himself. The show goes beyond simply quoting Twain’s most memorable lines. Holbrook updates the show regularly to reflect the way Twain would likely have viewed contemporary events.

Mark Twain Tonight!, part of the United Arts Council of Greater Greensboro’s 17 Days Arts and Culture Festival, will be presented on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at $47.50, $37.50 or $22.50. A $2.50 theatre restoration fee will be added to each ticket.

The Carolina Theatre, located at 310 S. Greene St., in downtown Greensboro, is about a mile from the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed & Breakfast. It’s one of Greensboro’s gems. The theater originally opened in October 1927 as a vaudeville theater. It was considered to be the finest theater between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. It was the first commercial building in North Carolina to be air conditioned. Today, 86 years later, the beautiful Carolina continues as an exceptional place to see classic movies, live touring acts, and local talent. (Be sure to ask innkeeper Larry about his experience performing on stage at the Carolina!)

To learn more about Mark Twain Tonight! and the Carolina Theatre, visit their website or phone 336-333-2605.

The Greensboro Coliseum

Coliseum Complex

Greensboro’s largest entertainment complex is the Coliseum, a multi-building complex that offers a range of activities including athletic events, cultural arts, concerts, theater, educational activities, fairs, exhibits, conventions, and trade and consumer shows.

The Coliseum is just two miles from the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed & Breakfast, so we frequently have guests who are in Greensboro for a Coliseum event. In recent months, guests have attended a major convention, participated in a regional diving competition, checked out RVs at a large exhibition, and attended concerts staring Rascal Flats and George Strait. Upcoming guests will be attending the Taylor Swift, Rod Stewart and Bonnie Raitt concerts and plays presented as part of the 2013-2014 Triad Best of Broadway series.

I was surprised to learn that this modern complex is 54 years old. Greensboro voters approved a bond for the project in 1956. Ground was broken in 1958 and the original complex opened in 1959 with a capacity of 7,100 seats, making it then one of the largest arenas in the East Coast.

Numerous expansions and updates later, today’s Coliseum complex includes a 23,500-seat arena, the 2,400-seat War Memorial Auditorium, the Greensboro Aquatic Center, the White Oak Amphitheater, the 300-seat Odeon Theatre, a 167,000-square foot special events center with three exhibition halls, a 4,500-seat mini arena and the 30,000-square-foot Pavilion.

The list of celebrities and performers who have appeared at the Coliseum during the past 56 years is too long for a single blog! The Coliseum has played host to Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Jackson Five played the Coliseum in 1970, and Elvis performed there in 1972. The Rolling Stones were there in 1975 and the Grateful Dead in 1991. American Idol came in 2005.

For many of our “Coliseum guests,” staying at the Troy-Bumpas Inn B&B helps make the event especially memorable and convenient. After the event is over, it takes just a few minutes to drive back to the inn to relax and reflect. To learn more about the Coliseum and upcoming scheduled events, visit their official website.

Triad Farmers Market — Food, Plants and Fun

Tons of Tomatoes

If you love farmers markets, a visit to the triad area of North Carolina is not complete without a stop at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. Located near Greensboro off Highway I-40 at the Sandy Ridge Road exit, the market draws thousands of shoppers each week. They come to buy produce, plants, meat and cheese from North Carolina farmers. As their website says, “here you can talk to the individuals who grew it and you can buy any quantity you wish.” The market is a great place to buy interesting plants; choose your own fresh and locally grown produce; and enjoy loads of people watching.

The Triad Market is one of four Farmers Markets owned by the State of North Carolina and operated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service. The market has two enormous permanent farmers buildings plus a retail building open year-round that offers locally grown foods including baked goods, candies, jams, jellies, honey, eggs, cheese, meats, nuts, ice cream and wine.  A separate garden center is complete with a greenhouse.

If all this shopping makes you hungry, you don’t need to go far. The Moose Café Restaurant on the market grounds is open daily and serves delicious meals family style. Farm-fresh vegetables right from the market make the food fresh and delicious.

The market has plenty of free parking and is free and open to the public daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (The Moose Café Restaurant is open until 8 p.m.) To learn more, visit the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market website. Located at 2914 Sandy Ridge Road in Colfax, NC, the market is a short 20 minute drive from the Troy-Bumpas Inn Bed & Breakfast. It’s the Inn’s go-to place for locally grown and produced foods and wonderful garden plants.