Tuesday, December 30, 2014

North Carolina: Oriental

Six months later, I am FINALLY able to update my blog and begin to post some new pictures! These ones are from Oriental, NC, a little town at the mouth of the Neuse River about twoish hours east of Raleigh. I ventured to the "Sailing Capital of North Carolina" for the Croaker Fest in July.  The croaker is a little brown fish that is in season in the fall/winter, however, they have coincided the 4th of July festivities with the biggest festival dedicated to the fish (which is tasty, btw). I bunkered down in a B&B called The Captain's Quarters. An old blue and yellow Victorian, The Captain's Quarters proved to be in the best location in this tiny town where walking everywhere isn't out of the norm.

The festival was similar to other Southern style festivals: lots of amazing fried and fresh food, artisans from around the state selling their wares, and music every night with a street dance.  I partook in the festivities which kicked off a day late due to Hurricane Arthur.  The hurricane caused little to no damage in the area, and the rest of my stay was crystal clear and perfect.  Oriental is a beautiful little coastal town with extremely friendly people and a very large 4th of July/Croaker Fest Parade.  This year, the theme was "AARGGHH The Croaker!" On my last evening there, I wandered out to the pier and spotted a pod of dolphins had swum up the river.  It was my first time seeing dolphins in the wild, and it capped off the trip beautifully.

Hurricane Arthur as seen from the Captain's Quarters

Shrimping Boats

The Captain's Quarters

The black fin in the distance is a dolphin

Dragon nesting site. These are all over Oriental. 

Fish Market

Shrimp Boat

Shrimp Boat (note the fancy shrimp!)

Witt's End, the first drinking establishment in Oriental

Monday, June 23, 2014

North Carolina: Wilmington

Last weekend I made the drive to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.  It was the first time I had gone to the ocean since I left Madagascar, and it was so exciting to smell the salt air again and feel the sand between my toes.  Wilmington, too, was an exciting place to visit.  The Cotton Exchange reminded me of some of the shops in Pike Place Market in Seattle, and the whole downtown has a fun, funky vibe.  We stopped at The Black Cat Shoppe which apparently was featured in One Tree Hill quite often. We also ventured in the Serpentarium and watched a 400 lb crocodile get fed! It was pretty intense.  I enjoyed seeing some of the colorful snakes and learning more about the snakes in my new area.  Downtown Wilmington is on a river, and it's large enough that ships can come up into Wilmington from the ocean.  While we were there, a coast guard ship was making its way back out to sea.  Across the river, the battleship USS North Carolina sits, and tours are given daily.

The day ended with a clam bake and lobster dinner at Shucker's Oyster Bar followed by a sunset walk on Wrightsville Beach.  It had been a beautiful day, and a storm was rolling in off the Atlantic.  The clouds were incredible, and they just got more beautiful as the sun set.  With salty legs and smiles on our faces, we drove back to Fayetteville.

Water Street

USS North Carolina

Walking to Wrightsville Beach