Saxapahaw is a small town on the banks of the Haw River in North Caolina”s piedmont. For many years, the town depended on a single business, a cotton mill and dye house. The mill’s closure at the end of the 20th century left many people without jobs, but the town is now recovering. The mill has been replaced by residences, a craft brewery, a ballroom and a general store/restaurant, among other things. The brewery is a small operation, but the beer, which was available in dazzling variety, was quite good. The brewery also produces outstanding soda, whose flavor varies with the season and availability of ingredients. The general store is an actual general store, with all kinds of grocery items and other things that you’d expect to find, stocked in the crowded aisles. A surprise is the restaurant. The kitchen is behind and to the side of the checkout counter. Daily specials are posted on a blackboard. Place your order and pay and the freshly prepared food will eventually be brought out to you.
But for me, Saxapahaw’s main attraction was a kayak trip on the Haw River. The kayaks were rented from the appropriately named Haw River Canoe and Kayak Company, right in town. Our little group was guided by Matt, who gave us lessons in paddling safety, local history, geology and acrobatics (when he did a head-stand on his paddleboard in the middle of the river). The character of the Haw River varies with location and ranges from quiet, calm water to churning white water. We chose calm and, with great weather, had a wonderful afternoon on the river.