A Wedding Photographer’s Travels: West Virginia and North Carolina


I was on the road for a week, over Thanksgiving break, and I had the opportunity to visit a lot of interesting locations and spend some quality time with my family. My aunt turned 70, so we decided to all meet in Raleigh, North Carolina, to celebrate her birthday and Thanksgiving. I wanted to take a different route than I would normally take, and I did just that, driving through Ohio, West Virginia, and into NC. The first night, I was headed to the Mountain Lake Lodge, in Pembroke Virginia, right over the border from WV. On the way, I spotted a beautiful domed building, from the highway, and decided to stop off and see what it was. Come to find out, I was in Charleston, the capital of West Virginia. I didn’t stay long, but I did some quick sight-seeing along the river and downtown.

West Virginia-Charleston CourthouseI got back on the road pretty quickly, because I had timed things so that I would arrive at the Mountain Lake Lodge, before sunset. It is situated in the mountains of  Virginia, and I prefer to drive through the mountains while it is still daylight out. What I didn’t know, when I booked the lodge, was that it was one of the main filming locations, for the film, Dirty Dancing. It’s a favorite movie of mine, so it was pretty awesome to see it in person. I love seeing filming locations, as I travel! Most of “Kellerman’s” aka Mountain Lake Lodge, is exactly the way it appeared in the movie. The only thing that is missing…is the lake! Not due to global warming, the lake dries up and refills, over the years, and it is said to leak one million gallons of water a day, when it is full. Lots of interesting data can be found HERE.

Even without the lake, it’s still a beautiful location and their restaurant, bar, and overall service, was phenomenal. Besides the lodge itself, you can see the gazebo and even baby’s cabin from the movie. There’s also a nice memorial to Patrick Swayze.

The following morning, I woke up before dawn and hiked up to the top of the mountain to see the overlook.  Although it was a relatively short and mild hike, I certainly felt it, between the elevation and carrying both my camera bag and drone case up. It was a gorgeous view and well worth it! After taking a quick shower, I got back on the road, headed for Raleigh. Mountain Lake Lodge WeddingWest Virginia Dirty Dancing LocationsWest Virginia Sunrise Dirty DancingMountain Lake Lodge PhotographerMountain Lake Lodge PhotographerMountain Lake Lodge PembrokeWe celebrated Thanksgiving and my aunt’s birthday, back to back, and it was a lot of fun.  I had not seen my one cousin, for about twenty years, which is bizarre, because we basically grew up like brothers.

I stayed with my sister, her husband, and my nephew Dillon, at a cool little place in Raleigh. We had a little free time one afternoon, so we headed downtown, and visited the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  I also really enjoyed the North Carolina Museum of Art, which had a very respectable Rodin exhibit. After going to the Musee Rodin, in Paris, earlier this year, it was cool to see some work in the United States. One of the cool things about bronze casts, is that you may see the same sculpture, in multiple places. I had never realized this before I saw Rodin’s “thinker” on display in Copenhagen. After a little research, I realized that I needed to pay a little more attention in art school. Raleigh North Carolina MuseumNorth Carolina PhotographerNorth Carolina TreesNC State PhotographerRaleigh North Carolina in the FallNina Simone RaleighRodin North Carolina Museum ArtWhile I was at the Museum of Art, I fell in love with this painting, by Dutch painter, Jan Miense Molenaer. It’s called, “The Dentist.” I find it hilarious and so fabulous to look at. I can’t imagine what dental practices must have been like three hundred odd years ago, but I’m sure the rosary beads, were very much needed!On my way home, I decided to stop in Mount Airy, North Carolina, to visit the Andy Griffith Museum. I must be the biggest nerd, and about 100 years old, but I just recently finished watching The Andy Griffith Show on Netflix and I wanted to check it out. I also checked out Mount Pilot, as they call it, in the series. It’s actually called Pilot Mountain. It was pretty awesome. I shot a lot with an old Russian 58mm lens, which I also happened to drop on the cement in Raleigh. Wow…things were made so much better back then. I’m pretty sure it took a chunk out of the cement and didn’t have a scratch on it.

My last overnight stop, was in Marietta, Ohio, right after you cross over the West Virginia/Ohio state line. It was just a stopping point, but I woke up early and did about an hour of sight-seeing. It was a beautiful, calm morning, and I decided to fly my drone over the Ohio River. I shot a little video and then got back on the road. Since I was driving through Ohio, and I knew that I would pass Springfield, I made one last detour, to see the Frank Lloyd Wright designed, Westcott House. It was a Monday, and it was closed for tours, but I still got to walk around the outside and check it out.

Thanks for following along.
Andy Griffith Mount Airy NC