"Of all the paths you take in life make sure a few of them are dirt" US Forest Sevice

Friday, May 5, 2017

Southport, NC

 The ferry from Fort Fisher to Southport was a pleasant 30 minute ride across the Cape Fear River. We hopped on our bikes and headed over for the day.

Southport stole our hearts. But that could have been due to the perfect sunshiny day with a mild breeze, 70 degree temps and we had arrived before tourist season. A perfect day for a bike ride after riding the ferry.

Passing the Southport Ferry while crossing the river.

Old Baldy Lighthouse built in 1817

We came upon the Old Burying Ground as we entered Southport.
Not long after the English began building Fort Johnston at Southport in 1745, a
small community began to develop around the military garrison near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Ships coming into the river needed pilots and the protection of the fort
offered an ideal place for harbor pilots to settle. They were joined there by traders and

The little village at Fort Johnston needed a place to bury its dead and it was not long before the
first graves were prepared in what is the Burying Ground. By the time
the community was designated the town of Smithville in 1792, the little cemetery had
already been in existence for a number of years.

Monuments in the cemetery honor some of the most notable individuals in American
history, among them Governor Benjamin Smith, for whom Smithville was named. Born in 1756, Smith served valiantly in the American Revolution under the command of General George Washington.

Another notable monument in the cemetery honors General Robert Howe. Also a noted officer of the American Revolution, Howe served in both the Deep South and under George Washington in New York and New Jersey.

The Old Smithville Burying Ground is also a place to gain a true sense of the often tragic
relationship between Southport and the waters of Cape Fear. On a Friday the 13th (April 13, 1877), the pilot boat
Mary K. Sprunt disappeared into a severe storm and was never seen again. Five men lost their lives in the wreck, three of them related by marriage. Monuments stand to their memory in the ancient cemetery.

The old Burying Ground also contains the graves of Confederate soldiers and others who lost their lives in the service of their state, country and community. The local community treasures the cemetery and it is an important part of local history and legend.

A great day for a farmer's market with music.

Boat pilot tower
For more than 250 years, the tower served as a watch tower for river pilots. The tower watchman was responsible for sending river pilots out to help ships navigate the entrance of the Cape Fear River.
Modern communication systems made the tower obsolete

More historic homes

A place to ponder
 We spent some time at the State's Maritime Museum. The maritime history of the lower Cape Fear River, and contains a detailed collection that covers shipwrecks, piracy, the Civil War, commercial fishing, hurricanes, and a number of other natural and manmade events that have left a permanent mark on the North Carolina coast

This periscope went through the top of the building allowing us to see across the bay.

Lunch at the Provision Company was suggested by the visitor's center lady. We sat and watched the boats entering Cape Fear River from the Intercoastal Waterway as we enjoyed our seafood. Over our days along the coast, we had some great shrimp and grits, shrimp and crab cakes and other tasty seafood.

On our drive to Virginia, we stopped in Asheboro, NC at a cute RV park. We only wanted electric and water since we were only there for one night. They placed us all alone on the lower end of the campground near the creek. It was nice to walk along and listen to the water but I knew there was a storm predicted and was a little leery even though we were above the water. In the night the heavy rain waxed and waned. At one point, I couldn't tell if the swooshing sound was the water or wind in the trees. Mike actually took the flashlight out and checked the creek when the rain eased to make me feel better. At 3am our phones got a text for a tornado warning.  The next morning, the creek was 3 times fuller than the night before but we were good and bid our adieu before the next predicted round.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lexington,SC and Willimington, NC

We made it to Lexington, SC to visit with Mike's grandkids and get some downtime from moving so frequently. Of course, they are growing up.

The area where we were staying didn't have good walking or bike riding paths or roads. Also, the heat and humidity will make a person want to sit in front of the air conditioner. The first day we drove over to Lake Murray and walked along the dam. The next, we went to the local gym and asked to pay for a day pass. The fellow at the desk gave us a day pass. It was good to get some exercise.  

The strawberries at the little market were in season and tasty.
We had a good time visiting with the kids and got to watch Mia play soccer. It was a 1pm game and very hot and humid. I wasn't sure how those girls kept going.

Bryceson is 17 and taller than Mike. TJ managed to avoid my picture taking.

 Our last morning, we headed to Columbia's zoo and botanical garden. We seemed to have beat the rush. As we were leaving the crowds were arriving.

Feeding the Rainbow Lorys

Peyton was enthralled with the birds.

Mia had to hit the Climbing wall before we left.

 We were fortunate on the day we left that the predicted storm was delayed. There were mostly tailwinds but fortunately for me, the side winds came when Mike was driving.
We stayed on Pleasure Island at Carolina Beach State Park and rode our bikes around the island for 20 miles of flat riding with plenty of oxygen. Even the ride south into some heavy winds was doable. The 10 returning was at 16mph coasting with the wind to our backs.

The beach homes were painted in bright and pastel colors.

The southern portion of the island is Fort Fisher that has many places to stop and learn about the Civil War.

The boardwalk on Carolina Beach.

The evening on Cape Fear River along side Carolina Beach State Park.

The maritime underground railroad was quite active here helping the 22 Wilmington slaves escape to the north. They hid along Orange Street on the banks of Cape Fear at night waiting for the Union ship to take them past Confederate Fort Caswell for a thirty mile escape. The story was lost until a former slave's diary was found in 2002.

 There are stories of the ice from Vermont being brought south by boat before refrigeration. It was stored in building with sawdust and 16 inch block walls. The stories go on and on as we walked the boardwalk along Cape Fear River.

Cobblestones from the Revolutionary time had to be used for building because there is no bedrock only sand.
Since our time was limited in the historical downtown, we decided to take a tour. Our guide told us stories as we rode around the streets.

Wilmington's boardwalk

 Driving over the intercoastal waterway. Our campground in the background.
Is this really our life?