Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Cruising North Carolina

Hurricane Florence dominated the news all last week. Initially, the forecast was for a category 4 (140 mph winds) storm, but thankfully it weakened to category 1 (90 mph winds) when it made landfall near Wrightsville Beach Friday morning. The storm surge and the relentless rain from the slow moving storm have caused catastrophic flooding in the region.

We know the North Carolina coastal towns well, having cruised up and down the East Coast twice. Even though the last cruise was in 2004 (fourteen years ago!), we remember some places vividly, thanks to our passion for writing, and taking pictures and videos. There were many first experiences: eating hush puppies and chicken n dumplings, listening to the thick Southern accent, and visiting Beaufort, Elizabeth City, New Bern, Ocracoke, Washington, Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach.
Mai Thai (middle) on the Dismal Swamp heading for Elizabeth City
Our trip's log to Ocracoke on the Outer Banks can be found here.

Cape Lookout was a destination on our cruising bucket list. We got there an hour before sunset. Unfortunately, the weather started to deteriorate; we spent an uncomfortable night rocking and rolling. So much for the protected anchorage. Alas, we never set foot on the island as we ran back to Beaufort the very next morning.

Passing by Shackleford Banks, we spied a bunch of party-goers frolicking on the beach. We decided to join in the fun. It's shallow here, so we cautiously sounded our way in.
Shoals appear at low tide at Shackleford Banks
Sometimes the best plan is having no plans at all. Shackleford Banks was paradise! We spent several blissful nights enjoying the calm waters and the peace and quiet. Beautiful sunrise greeted us every morning. Wild horses roaming the beach awed us, and shelling was the best (on the East Coast)!
Beautiful sunrise at Shackleford Banks, Beaufort
Wild horses strolling by was our morning scenery

Pamlico River as we headed towards Little Washington
And how can we forget Wrightsville Beach? It's a cruiser friendly beach town with amenities and a sizeable anchorage. Its vicinity to the Masonboro Inlet provides easy access to the Atlantic Ocean, so many cruisers like to stop here. The current flows in and out, easily turning boats around no matter what the wind direction, and at slack tide all the boats swing every which way. But the holding was good, and it's a great place to meet, or meet up with, other cruisers. In October, we stopped here for a few days on our way south. We hung out with friends we met in Baltimore and took a taxi to check out Wilmington.

Upon our return, we found a Canadian sailboat had dropped anchor kinda close to our boat. We have the utmost respect for sail boaters, especially since this one came all the way from Canada. We were concerned but didn't say anything. Around 6 the next morning, we heard a loud BAM! We jumped out of bed and clambered up to the deck of the boat. The Canadian sailboat had rammed into us. The captain apologized profusely. Turned out he did not let out enough line. How he managed to travel so far without mishap was beyond us. Luckily Mai Thai got away with just a minor scratch.

These were some of our cruising adventures in North Carolina.

Currently, many towns in the state are inundated by the rising waters. Some parts on I-95 is flooded. Wilmington is completely inaccessible. Sadly, Hurricane Florence had done quite a bit of damage. We pray and hope for the best for the people affected.

This post is shared on Through My Lens, Our World Tuesday and Weekend Reflections.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Have yard sale, will travel

I admit it. I'm a yard sale junkie. Our first house was furnished with many kitchen tools and knickknacks bought from a flea market in lovely New Hope (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. After years of reading about the Brimfield Flea Market in Western Massachusetts; we finally paid a visit several years ago. And when visiting Paris, France, we love to wander around flea markets, and one favorite is the marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen.

So when the longest yard sale came through Tennessee the first weekend of August, I was ready. Driving on Lookout Mountain Parkway through TN, GA and AL is very scenic with vistas of mountain and farmlands in the valley. This year, I went with locals who know the yard sale circuit well. Friday found us on route 28 and 127 in the direction of Dunlap. We stopped in private homes, barns and many vendors along the side of the road. The town of Dunlap is yard sale central. Many vendors lined both sides of the main drag. There were more vendors past route 111; unfortunately, it started to rain, giving us the perfect excuse to close our wallets and stop buying more stuff that we don't need.
This Louisiana couple found some furniture

A lovely drive through rolling hills to this house in the distance
Estate sale at this house. Teapots, anyone? 
I was on a roll. On Sunday, I rounded up another friend to go to Mentone, Alabama, about 45 minutes away. We had a blast shopping, chatting with the friendly locals, and eating at a popular restaurant.
Many vendors were set up in this campground
A hefty $50 for this license plate!
this Southern gentleman and his wife run a store in Summerville, Ga

Wildflower Café is housed in an 1800s log cabin. You have to be careful walking to your table as there are small uneven steps throughout the restaurant. A strolling guitarist serenaded the diners at their table. The café is famous for its tomato pie, but the polenta shrimp grits was to die for!

Prime rib sandwich, polenta shrimp and grits, tomato pie

How was your weekend?

This post is shared on Through My Lens and Our World Tuesday.
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