Saturday, May 27, 2017

2017-11 Windsor North Carolina


two tree house cabins out along the river and boardwalk
from my campsite

Windsor North Carolina
Kitty Hawk, Outer Bank

Windsor City park also known as Cashie River Campground
Campground: Windsor City park also known as Cashie River Campground. $20 per night 30 amp elec. full hookups. $15 per night if staying longer than 14 days. Two awesome new tree house cabins available on the river for $60 per night. 7 over the air tv stations/poor reception, excellent Verizon signal.

Distance traveled: 84 miles

This campground is tucked away off the main road into town. Looks like the bath house and half a dozen campsites are being redone. The bathhouse is brand new, though the showers weren't completed and I haven't seen any workers coming along to complete the work. Only one other camper was here yesterday, the 4 other Rv's appear to be here as weekend get a ways, though I haven't seen anyone using them. Basically, I'm the only one in the park. I did see the local sheriff drive through, which is always a good feeling when staying at a new place.

That evening, just before going to bed, I hear a loud cacophony of wild animal noises rising to a crescendo , yelping and howling,,,, then suddenly stopping. Only to begin again a few minutes later. Everything from what sounded like coyotes, wolves, wild dogs, hoot owls, as if surrounding my camper in the night... now that's a bit more excitement than I've had in a while.

When I took a walk out onto the long new boardwalk over the swamp and river I was surprised to see two tree houses. How cool. Though having the boardwalk attached to the two cabins did take away slightly from the fact that both cabins are in fact built up and around a couple of living trees. But it also would make them handicap accessible. I often think of my good friend Debbie who would have no trouble using a facility like this.

two new tree house cabins, what fun

Around the small town of Windsor, sitting on a corner is another one of the Confederate statues I've come across recently. This one was erected by the Confederate Veterans in 1896. I've learned recently that many new statues are going up, often erected by the Daughters of the Confederate Soldiers. Here in North Carolina 35 new statues have been erected since the year 2,000. A slightly skewed version of history as usual they never mention slavery as the reason for the war. It's as if by rewriting history they can accept the death of their loved ones and still honor their sacrifices. At the statue states, “we kept the faith, we fell at the post of duty, we died for the land we loved”. You may have seen a number of statues being torn down across the country like the ones in New Orleans. An issue that has not gone away, even after all these years. Do we learn from history, or just re-write it to fit our own perspective.

Crossing our country, as I travel the back roads, these are the things that I see and contemplate along with the beautiful scenery filled with deserts, mountains, waterfalls, oceans and fields of green.

Darkness descends on the campground as another evening finds me alone at my campsite. Tree frogs and crickets start croaking and chirping their mating calls. The previous night a truck with a topper over the bed of the truck arrived around this time and a guy climbed into the back of the truck for the night. A single street light illuminates the tree tops in the center of the camp circle creating shadows in all directions.

Hope Plantation 

The next day, I headed a few miles west of Windsor to the Hope Plantation where I would tour the Hope Mansion, 1803 and the King-Bazemore house, 1763. Both homes are original and have been lovingly restored. The King-Bazemore home was moved three miles to the Hope Plantation making for a convenient location for tours of both homes. The Hope mansion consists of only 8 main rooms on two main floors and the large hallway which would have been used for large gatherings. The tour guide was well versed on the history and the period furnishings were so perfect, even though only a few were original to the house that they fit in perfectly. Having been on many historic home tours, I can tell you, these two homes are truly exceptional.

The tour began in the basement, much of it above ground, raising the mansion almost a full story before one climbs up to the first floor proper. Before the mansion was purchased and restored, tenants lived on the main floor of the house. Refusing to go onto the second floor as they believed ghosts lived there.

the basement, much of it above ground

one of the library walls

main dining room on the top floor

daily meals were often served in the bedroom

The mansion was designed by Governor Stone in the Federal and Georgian style. Some of the furnishings are valued at a million dollars and unlike many house tours, I was able to walk through each room and even touch some of the furnishings, including the stunning library with it's tall wavy glass doors protecting the large collection of books.

house was moved 3 miles and has been completely restored
would have originally had full porches on both sides, this side
enclosed after a few years....

fine furnishings and paneling for a workers home

deep fireplace, the floor in front apparently
caught on fire at one time, as new floor boards
are in front of  fireplace

rare to have these small closet like rooms
for this time period

The second house I toured, though smaller, was the King-Bazemore house, built in the hall and parlor design, with wide porches and having a few odd small rooms on either side of a large fireplace each with a small window. Their purpose is unknown as closets were not built into homes of this period, though the small rooms are reminiscent of a shaker prayer room. The gray painted paneling in one of the main rooms was strikingly handsome. This area of coastal North Carolina has many of these historical homes for touring and I'm sure none would disappoint.

The Outer Banks, North Carolina

the Outer Banks, North Carolina

Well before I begin my tour today, I must mention that this has been an area that's been on my bucket list for easily the entire time I've been full-time camping if not many years prior to getting on the open road. And today I get to explore it fully.

The drive would take over an hour and 40 minutes much of it on secondary roads. Through rural landscapes a 50/50 mix of forest and low land farms that have been created after North Carolina drained much of the swamp lands around here. I can assure you there is still lots of water in this area. The roads, often built up by digging a canal along one or both sides of the roadway, using the dredged earth to raise the road bed. I travel past numerous bays and inlets before reaching the inner coastal waterway and finally the outer banks. A long stretch of sand dunes along the Atlantic Ocean, creating a holiday paradise for many folks.

awesome presentation by a young Park Ranger
very inspiring

Manteo, Nags Head and finally my destination Kill Devil Hill and Kitty Hawk the location of the first manned flight by the Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright. The bad news first. After waiting well over 13 years to get here, the visitors center is under construction and obviously closed. The good news is I'm standing on historical ground where the Wright brothers, after researching and building their gliders and finally their motorized plane in Dayton Ohio, transporting it by train and boat to North Carolina's outer banks, to this spot called Kitty Hawk.

I enjoyed two young park rangers tell the story of the first flight occurring here, with the just right amount of excitement, awe, and inspiration leading up to the final climax of describing the first “heavier than air powered flight”. Orville won the coin toss and climbed aboard the plane on December 17, 1903. Orville would get off of the ground after traveling along a flat rail before rising into the air for 12 seconds and a total of 120 feet, crashing after over compensating on some of the controls. A total of four flights would be made that day, each one going a longer distance each time. With the final flight of the day by Wilbur going 852 feet in 82 seconds.

the new visitor center, not quite ready for visitors

such small distances

each flight going further down the sandy runway

Orville and Wilbur taking turns with each flight made

the final flight of the day, 59 seconds, 852 feet

the plane hanger and workroom, monument on Kill Devil Hill

all glider and plane flights made on the sand dunes
expecting many crashes before success

After the last flight, safely on the ground, a gust of wind would flip the plane and pretty much destroy it for any further flights. Much credit is given to all of the other inventors and researchers who were attempting to do the very same thing. Wilbur and Orville used much of that research before building their gliders and finally the engine powered plane that would lift off the ground. Their extensive research with over 1,000 flights in gliders off of Kill Devil Hill as they continually improved their fly machine. Each change proved their concepts of the proper wing design, tail rudder, would work. They would eventually build their own wind tunnel to correct errors others had made in developing a planes propeller and other aspects of the planes design. Even building their own engine as no manufacturer could build one as small and light weight as they required.

our only chance to see items from the visitor center
inside the temporary bldg and gift shop

Here at the sight of the Wright brothers first flight, hidden at the time from prying eyes as there were many others attempting to be the first to fly, I am able to walk along the original path the Wright brothers plane first took off. It was once all sand and sand dunes. Today, it is covered in grass and ground cover blanketing Kill Devil Hill. Each milestone marked by a granite marker.

Climbing up Kill Devil Hill to get a closer look at the monument to Orville and Wilbur Wright and contemplate the Day December 17th, 1908 when man was freed from the bounds of earth. It sure would have been nice if the visitors center with all it's displays and video's were available, but it just means I'll have to come back here one more time. Lots of emotions for me as I leave this historic site. As well a highly inspirational visit.

It never hurts to ask.

We have had quite a bit of rain over this past week and with me getting ready to head out to my next destination on Sunday, I've been concerned I might not be able to pull my camper out of the sloping campsite. After all, my truck is only a two wheel drive, not a 4 wheel drive. The soil around here has gotten soaked and my truck has been slipping and a sliding coming and going from the campsite. It never hurts to ask, so I called and voiced my concern to the person in charge and they said they'd have someone available if I needed to be towed out Sunday morning. But today, they went the extra mile and actually brought a truck load of gravel and dirt and put it down in front of my camper. I should be good to go Sunday morning.

adding gravel on a very soggy site
before I attempt to leave on Sunday

Edenton North Carolina

moved from it's original location
now a part of the waterfront in town

There are many historical towns in this area of NE North Carolina. One I was told about is Edenton. It sits on the wide Roanoke River front and it has a vibrant downtown. Not only does the town have gorgeous historical buildings, it's the little things that add up to making a great town to explore. No parking meters. Brick lined sidewalks. Not a single telephone/electric pole throughout the main street downtown area. And at the end of main street is the Roanoke River marina including a light house. Imagine sailing your boat right up to the marina and being able to visit the downtown area not even a half a block away. Trolley tours only cost $10. A great coffee shop. What more could you ask for.

even an old theater showing current films 

the Cupola House

visitor center, house tour, river front

Well there's lots more, including one of the oldest courthouses in the country, 1767. The Cupola House is 250 years old. I'm told their mayor has been in office for over 25 years. Why you ask. Because he promised to ensure the downtown area would remain active and vibrant. He's done a great job and still does.

Final note. This is one of those oddities that occur to me more often than you'd think. I'm been reading a period piece called “Murder by Misrule”. One of the main characters is Captain Sir Walter Raleigh. The last two location I've visited here in North Carolina have a strong connection to Sir Walter Raleigh. The Edenton area was first visited by the Sir Walter Raleigh. And when visiting the tobacco museum, it was mentioned that Captain Raleigh was give a percentage of all tax revenues from tobacco by Queen Elizabeth. Now that's what I call a strong coincidence.   

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

2017-10 New Bern North Carolina

a favorite photo from this past week
Sharing a Moment

New Bern, North Carolina

Campground: Flanners Beach National Forest campground. Neuse River Recreation Area. $13 per night, senior discount. 30Amp. Central water and dump station. 14 over the air tv stations, average Verizon signal.

Now you know before I headed out from Pee Dee St pk I had too find a little something to write about. I could have gone to Myrtle Beach which is about an hour and twenty minutes from the park. But I'll have my share of shoreline adventures in the next week or so, so instead, I went into the small town of Mullins where they have a tobacco museum. The history of the spread of tobacco is most interesting. South Carolina was one of the largest producers of tobacco and the town of Mullins had numerous warehouses where tobacco would be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Today, the tobacco companies purchase the tobacco before it's even planted in the ground for the season. And many of the tobacco companies have moved off shore, due to all the lawsuits against them. My tour guide told me his family was given 7,000 acres of land in South Carolina by the King of England. Lots of history there. And the tour was filled with little bits of information. The tobacco seed is one of the smallest seeds of any plant and a small thimbleful would be enough to plant an entire field. My tour guide did not go into the history of the American Indian who gave the first samples of tobacco to the Europeans. It's interesting to note that there is no evidence that the Native American Indian was ever widely addicted to tobacco. Using it only for special occasions, the peace pipe ceremony being the most well known. The healer/shaman were the only ones who were addicted to tobacco as they would have used it most often for their various rituals and practices. Numerous examples of people who lived to be 100 or more and smoked were provided to show that tobacco isn't all that bad.

hanging tobacco to dry 

painting of the last tobacco auction performed in town

Distance traveled: 169 miles

from Pee Dee St Park SC to New Burn North Carolina, MAP

New Bern, NC

Traveling through North Carolina, along many country roads, as usual avoiding the major highways, it was a hopscotch pattern of roads that only a good GPS signal could navigate. Passing through the occasional swamps dotted with cypress trees, small farms and rarely a cross roads town. I would be driving for most of 4 hours before I got to my National Forest destination, not far from New Bern North Carolina and the Marine Corp Air Station, Cherry Point. One of the military bases I used to visit as a Logistics manager for the Water Survival Trainers.

down the road from my National forest campground
is the Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point

Flanners Beach National Forest campground
Not many National forests have campsites with electric hookups so finding this one is a real gem of a find. It's also close to the outer bank islands which I'll visit in the next day or so. My campsite isn't terribly large, but does have lots of vegetation surrounding it, providing me with as much privacy as I care to have. Besides, I'm directly across from the restrooms and showers which I'll take advantage of on this leg of my journey. Especially since I don't have a water connection at the campsite, instead using my on-board holding tanks.

New Bern

Tryon Palace

A fifteen minute drive from my campsite and I'm in the historic town of New Bern. It sits between two rivers and contains tons of historic homes, almost all of them well maintained and many available on tour. The Governor's Palace (Tryon Palace) is the highlight of the museum experience and is part of a $20 package to see it and a number of other historic buildings. I also took a trolley tour, another $20 for a 90 minute tour. I started my morning at the cafe in the Regional History museum where one picks up their tickets for most of the tours. Had to have a bit of breakfast and coffee before heading out to all the tours.

the guided tour begins

two wings off of main Palace, this is the only
original building remaining... no tours of inside

guest bedroom 

Tryon Palace library

all rooms are recreations of the original
as the building burned to the ground

Here are my impressions. The Tryon Palace, 1770, 1st permanently capital of North Carolina is an impressive looking building. Unfortunately it is a recreation of the original which burned down in 1798 and was rebuilt in 1959. none of the original furniture, wall coverings or even paint colors are true to the original. Overall a bit of a disappointment for me as I prefer to see the original bldgs restored....

The trolley tour came next. We sat for about 15 minutes at the starting gate as our tour guide enjoyed telling stories and hearing her own voice. Traveling through the historic district stopping at a dozen buildings and a grave site where we got out of the trolley but never actually entered the grave yard. Our guide continued to tell her own personal story of discovering New Bern. The route only encompassed about 4 or 5 blocks and was a disappointment overall.

Taking a break from touring I enjoyed a good seafood lunch directly across from the history center, where I continued my tour. The museum almost feels like an afterthought as one walks through a large multi-story high, expansive entry space (filled with nothing except the reception desk) back through a wide hallway where I come across dark glass doors on either side of the hall. I finally pick the history museum door. The history museum consisted of a lot of static enlarged photos, board displays and multiple audio buttons of your choosing. Overall a disappointment.

house tours

historic house tour, ship-lap siding is original

the Tailor's House, part of tour 

Brad's Drink, original name of Pepsi-Cola
founded in New Bern NC
getting ready to celebrate the 150 yr anniversary
lots of different style homes

houses along the trolley tour

So many churches abound in the downtown area

Back outside I toured two more historic houses. The John W. Stanley House which had been moved at least three times and was one of the most original of all the homes on the tour. Though at one time the home was converted into the towns Library. Once again the furnishings were not original to the house but were period pieces. This is the home Washington slept in while on a tour of North Carolina in 1791. Walking on the NC pine floors and touching the banister that George Washington would have used once again brought me “in touch” with history as only a tour like this can do.

The last house was the George Dixon House, a local tailor. The story revolving around a successful tailor and his use of indigent children who were scripted to his service because families could not afford to keep them, or as training a program for a career as a tailor. All went well until Dixon overextended himself in building and furnishing the house, just as a depression took hold. Little was known about Dixon as almost no records could be found about his life. So what little has been gleaned through research helps to fill in the story surrounding this house.

New Bern is the town where Pepsi-Cola was invented by Caleb Bradham in 1898 and was originally called, “Brad's Drink”. Later, even though the drink was wildly successful, the enterprise would go bankrupt. No Pepsi-Cola manufacturing remains in town, however I understand once a year the board members of Pepsi arrive in town for a meeting. The board members fly in on their private or corporate Lear Jets and the town is very grateful that a large company still remembers it's beginnings here in New Bern NC. Ironically the restaurant that I have lunch in, has Coca-Cola prominently displayed on all of their tables.

New Bern, historic theatre, still in use

many buildings downtown appear to have apartments
still in use on the second and third floors

Brad's drink, before being renamed Pepsi-Cola

a wonderful downtown restaurant

a lucky bird has made his nest
in a pent-house setting

Even though I would have to rate the tours relatively low, the town itself has a vibrant downtown shopping area and overall it's a great town to tour on ones own. With lots of photo opportunities of historic homes, waterfront scenes and even a train passing through the heart of town.

Atlantic Beach

some were for sale

a beach-side restaurant

rarely seen along valuable ocean front beaches.
Atlantic beach still holds onto a simpler life

About a 45 minute drive and I've arrived at Atlantic Beach on a barrier island called "the Outer Banks" off of Morehead City on the mainland. I already like this beach-side community as it appears frozen in time back to the 60's and 70's. A mix of beach houses, festively painted mobile homes lined up like a Bahamian village and of course the miles of beaches. None of the tall high rises that one sees on more popular beach destinations. At the end of the peninsula is Fort Macon and public beaches, both are my destination for the day. A quick tour of the fort which should have been built earlier than it's 1826 date as the Carolina coast was vulnerable to Blackbeard and other pirates, successive wars with Spain, France and Great Britain. Beaufort was plundered by Spain and the British in 1747 and 1782. The fort would eventually be taken over by the Union soldiers during the Civil War. But enough of that, to me the best part was a romp on the beach. With umbrella for shade and lots of sunscreen I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day at the beach. Warm and breezy, walking along the waters edge, the water surprisingly warm for the end of May. Boats of all kinds traveling through the inlet, sailboats, cabin cruisers, fishing boats of all sizes and a few commercial sized vessels as well. The feel of warm sand on bare feet. What a life. Couldn't stay all that long, having had numerous skin cancer surgeries, but every moment was special in the sun by the sea.

Fort Macon

WWII soldiers in training at the fort

main entrance to the fort
and finally, a perfect day to be at the beach

Next stop: Winsor North Carolina

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