Category Archives: Food

Julia Belle’s Southern Restaurant

It’s getting cold all around the country, and my long pants had come out of retirement; that meant it was time to go south. From Fuquay (near Raleigh, North Carolina), where we were visiting friends, we headed to South Carolina, in order to see an aunt of mine who has a restaurant there (specifically, in Florence). It’s called Julia Belle’s, and is widely considered more than fantastic; even one of Guy Fieri’s friends was in raptures with my Aunt Fran’s macaroni and cheese.

The restaurant is in a large red barn, which is divided into many sections; it used to be used for animals, and so the rooms are small and slightly awkward. Despite this, Julia Belle’s  manages a homey, comfortable feeling, with many small dining rooms. The first room on one side of the building is the kitchen and main sitting area, and directly opposite is the bakery, where buns, pie, and things of that sort are made, with another space for eating. It’s a beautiful but difficult old building, and though many restaurants have attempted to make it work over time, it’s only Julia Belle’s that has managed to pull it off.


And now onto the food. I’m really not the best person for the job, being gluten-free (and also not a fan of eating in general), but I’m the only critic available at the moment, so I’ll have to do. Truthfully, the options for someone like me were fairly limited, but I settled on mashed potatoes, green beans, and a burger without a bun. Gordon, who could elaborate on his food for hours, got the chicken and waffles, which came topped with cinnamon-covered peaches. Mom got the same thing, but then she started to wish she hadn’t; what she’d really wanted had been the shrimp-and-chilli sandwich that Dad had gotten. But the moment she took the first bite of her chicken and waffles, her expression was beyond words. I can’t tell you what it looked like, but I can tell you that it conveyed a simple but clear message: wow.

Dad loved his sandwich as well, and by the time we were stuffed to the gills with wholesome food, we were also convinced that dessert could only be better. So Mom and Dad got a piece of White Russian Pecan Pie, Gordon got a small “fried pie” that looked like a strudel. Meanwhile, I asked what they had gluten-free. My options? Zip. Having nothing for me on the menu didn’t hold the kind folks at Julia Belle’s back, however. Before long, I had some banana pudding filling in a small bowl in front of me, and boy was it good. There was a strong yogurt base, with sweet, banana-y flavor throughout, and I found myself eating slowly to savor the taste.

The bakery.
The bakery.

Having eaten our fill, and hugged Aunt Fran goodbye, we waddled out of the restaurant to the motorhome. Dad got into his van, Gordon, Mom, and I piled into our house, and off we went. That day we would cross South Carolina, Georgia, and get a decent way into Florida. Then we would arrive at TTO (Thousand Trails RV Park, Orlando) and meet up with friends. We’ll all be here until early February, when the families will start to disperse. And that’s when Turtletells will leave, headed out West once more.

Un Viaje a México

Hola, amigos! Today I’ll tell you the story of a short trip to Mexico that resulted in a gallon of horchata, a tamarind popscicle, and some very cheap dental work. One of the previous is not true, and I’m sure you’ll figure out which by the end of this post. So the story begins.

We were driving aimlessly through the desert of California in the RV with an end goal of making it to Phoenix, Arizona. We decided to park for the night in the RV lot of an Indian casino very close to the Mexican border. We got to talking to some of our neighbors at the RV lot, and they said you could get in and out of this part of Mexico with just your birth certificate and driver’s license, so naturally we decided to check it out the next day.IMG_1130

After waking up and preparing for our escapade, we drove down to the border and parked the car along with all the Canadians who come down here to escape getting freezer burn. To get into Mexico you literally just walk through a turnstile and, BOOM, you have entered the land of cheap dentistry. (This is the part of the story where you find out which one of the three results of our trip to Mexico listed above is not true. ) We walked past the dental shops, determined to venture deeper into the town.IMG_1129

Just for the record, Mexico is exactly like it is in the movies. Exactly. People are always standing on the sidewalks beckoning you into their shops and restaurants. There’s always a couple guys who shout,  “Hey you with the excellent hair, check out this tamarind Popsicle. It’s delicious and I can tell you want it. Tell you what, I’ll sell you two of them for a buck fifty ’cause I can tell you’re hungry for something sweet!.” The Popsicle was pretty much just sugary so it wasn’t incredible, But the horchata (a spiced, sweet, milk drink) was so good. SOOO much better than the stuff you get in the states. Eventually, we felt that we had explored enough and we made our way back to the exit door.FullSizeRender (11)

To get out ,we just walked through some more turnstiles and showed a Border Patrol officer our birth certificates, and BOOM, we were back in the states, headed to our RV and then to Phoenix, Arizona.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a city full of life and culture. As you walk down the street in Old Town, you smell roasting chilies from New Mexican restaurants, and admire art made by the na`tive Indians, you notice that Santa Fe is different, special. Santa Fe is a capital city, much smaller than it’s neighbor, Albuquerque.

I recall an October evening in Santa Fe, driving down the canyon from our campground in the mountains, looking at the pueblo-style houses scattered across the hills, surrounded by sagebrush, appearing  like they had been there since Santa Fe began in 1607. This view reminds me of all the quirkiness in Santa Fe. It’s like seeing an old Pueblo village, but knowing, in the back of your mind that this is a modern city. Knowing that the people in those houses are cooking with microwaves, playing Xbox, and scrolling through Instagram on their phones. image

The houses here are something quite special, because the building code requires all buildings to be built in pueblo, mission or territorial styles. Even the Target is a big pueblo on the outside, with logs (vigas) sticking out near the top. The logo on the front looking as if it were exactly the same as any other Target in the country. This display of how history has survived through the centuries is a mystery that, it seems, no one can really explain.

Food is another part of this town’s eccentric personality. As you walk through Old Town you will see New Mexican restaurants, Mexican restaurants, American, and even French places. We ate at an amazing Creperie that was in an adobe building, as if this town forgot its old Indian-Mexican motif. I want to take a moment now to mention that some people insist that there is a difference between Mexican and New Mexican food. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to New Mexican fare, but in New Mexico they go crazy with the chilies. Green chile stew, chile rellenos, green chiles in stuffed sopapillas and enchiladas. They LOVE the chilies. Something else that sets New Mexican cuisine apart is the inclusion of Pueblo Indian foods, like Navajo tacos.image

Another insane thing that happened here in Santa Fe is the Manhattan Project, the A-Bomb project. In the 1940s a group of scientists were hired by the government to work on the atomic bomb. They were sent to the town of Los Alamos to work and live for the experiment. They had a ski slope, a community center, a whole town. Once they started work on the project they pretty much went off the grid. If a baby was born to one of the workers, the baby’s birth certificate address was that of the post office. The project was so secret that when workers went to the bar in Santa Fe there were guards making sure no one got too loose and let the secret slip. There were even scientists who were paid by Oppenheimer, the man in charge of the project, to pass around a rumor that they were working on building an electric rocket. The project ended in 1946.

Santa Fe is a town different than any other, the best way to describe it is to say: “This town is quirky.” Anyone who visits will agree, This town is quirky.

Food in Different Places

Since we’ve traveled, we’ve discovered new restaurants and places to eat that we love. For example, we ate at Bojangles a lot when we were in the south because it’s delicious, less bad for you than a lot of fast food, and an awesome southern experience.

Eating Cherry Garcia (My favorite flavor!) at the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Vermont.

When we were in North Carolina, we ate at 12 Bones a few times. The place has two locations and is known as the best barbecue in Asheville. We’ve eaten seafood in Pikes Place Market in Seattle, surf and turf tacos at a street taco stand in San Diego, and chicken and waffles in Kentucky.

A little cafe in Little Italy in New York.
A little cafe in Little Italy in New York.

In Cape Cod we had lobster a few times, and I found out that even though I tried to eat it many times, I’m mildly allergic to lobster. So sad, right? At least it’l save me some money. IMG_2760 (1)

The point of saying this is that when you travel, you try new things that you wouldn’t have been able to at home, and sometimes it’s amazing, like Bojangles or 12 Bones! And sometimes you find that it’s even better than amazing, like Pikes Place! So if you want to read more about travel and experiences, make sure to buy our new book coming out soon: The Kid’s Guide to Life on the Road!

TurtleTells as a Travel Index

Recently, a reader left a comment saying she wanted to use TurtleTells as a travel index to look for things to do in North Carolina.

We love getting requests from our readers.

We love getting requests like that. We are working on setting up a state-by-state index so you can click on a state and find a list of things to see, do, and eat.

Here are links to some of the North Carolina posts. If you want more you can type “North Carolina” in the search bar at the top right corner of the home page.

Asheville Architecture




The Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate pt2

We hope this post is helpful and hope more people are interested in using TurtleTells as a travel index. If you have a suggestion or feedback, please leave a comment. We would love to hear from you.



Cape Cahd and Bahston

We had a wicked good time in Cape Cahd with our grandparents a few days ago. You may wonder why I’m tahlkin’ like a Bahstonian but its becahs I had too much chowdah and have developed an ahccent. Buht do not feah foh me; I had the time of my life in Bahston and Cape Cahd!



A few days ago we went to Philadelphia, home of the cheesesteak and Ben Franklin. I will give a short history of both.

Ben Franklin was our ambassador to France in the Revolutionary War and the inventor of many things including the armonica (an instrument made of glass rings on a spinning bar), bifocals, and the lightning rod.

He left home at about thirteen years old and tried his hand at many jobs, including: printer, candle maker, and writer. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

The cheesesteak was born in Philly, invented by Pat and Henry Olivieri, who originally owned a hot dog stand and were experimenting with putting thin-sliced steak on an Italian bun with onions.

While pat was eating one, a cab driver pulled over and asked for what Pat was eating. After eating the sandwich, the cab driver told Pat to quit with the hot dogs and focus on these sandwiches.
The sandwich became more popular than the hot dogs and eventually Pat opened up his own restaurant called Pat’s King of Steaks which is still in business today.

Other restaurants have opened since, and you can find cheesesteaks of all different brands all over the city of Philidelphia.

Sadly, when we were in Philly we were kind of clueless about cheesesteaks, so we went to Geno’s which is said by the locals to be second only to Pat’s.

Halloween at Chesapeake Bay

Photos by Mike Burrell

Every year in Chesapeake, there is a Halloween party hosted by the park. Of course, Cali, Emma, and I all made our costumes. Molly’s mom had made her costume. Cali was a witch, Emma was Elsa,  I was Belle (in her blue town dress). At 4:30, all of us RVHS kids gathered at the Burrell’s house for a group photo. Then we set out to trick-or-treat. All of us had pillowcases, and we had had a pillowcase decorating party a couple of days before. There were a lot of RVs to trick-or-treat at. In fact, every single site was full! Two hours later, our feet ached and we dragged our heavy candy bags on the ground. We were glad that it was time to go home, and we gathered at the Burrells’ house to trade.

All the RVHS kids in costume.

After a while everyone decided to go to the haunted houses set up around the park. Emma, Cali, and I went to the first one (which wasn’t scary), but then Emma went home and Cali and I stayed at the clubhouse. Our parents were there, and there was a dance. We tried to do each line dance, copying people around us, until we had memorized one or two, and were able to copy nearly everything. It was really fun. After a while, Emma joined us for a bit, and then went home again. Cali and I danced till ten o’ clock, when the party stopped. Then we went home exhausted, ready for a good night’s sleep.
– Lillian.

Grammy and Grandpa’s Visit


With Grammy and Grandpa at The Mellow Mushroom, an Asheville pizza place.


On August 6th Grammy and Grandpa came for a week-long visit. We hadn’t seen them for over a year, and it was great to hang out again. Gordon and I stayed at their hotel for all 6 nights. The night that they got here it was pretty late, so we didn’t do anything, but the next few nights we went to
* Farm Burger.
* Lab Brewery.
* Jack of the Wood.
* The Wok.
* Oyster Shack.
* The Thirsty Monk.
* Mayfel’s.
* Mellow Mushroom.
* French Broad Chocolate Lounge.
* Double D’s Coffee Bus.
* Kilwin’s Ice Cream.
and Trader Joe’s, for picnic food.

One day we decided to go to Graveyard Fields. It’s a hike to waterfalls that you can wade in… and slide down. It was really fun and we saw our friends Stephanie and Maya, who we met last summer and who live here in Asheville now. We even got Grammy to wade a bit with us. The water was COLD, but it was fun.PhotoGrid_1408031995499

It was really fun to hang out with Grammy and Grandpa after not seeing them for so long. Grammy’s birthday was on August 4th, so we brought her to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge to celebrate. PhotoGrid_1408032955029

Post: -Lillian.
Photo Art: -Lillian.