I met Rachelle at a farmers’ market in Frisco, Colorado a few years back. We bartered Shea Butter Body Whip for magnets. This is my current favorite. She’s got more on her website, www.rachelleart.com. Rachelle, I think you are great – did I ever tell you?
There is so much I want to share with everyone…but it’s going to have to wait another week or so (thankfully, you are readers of the understanding sort). In the meantime, Happy Fall, Y’all! That’s me, practicing for our Southern Sit in November : )
All I really cared about with regards to North Carolina was finally getting to see the Outer Banks for ourselves and maybe hitting Asheville, of which we have heard so much about. Somehow our plans changed and Wilmington took the place of Asheville on our itinerary.
CW Worth House
I wasn’t too disappointed, knowing we will get to Asheville at some point in the next several months (we are heading south for our next sit come November). And when we drove up to the CW Worth House , Asheville was all but forgotten. This Victorian beauty was built in 1893 and has been impeccably preserved, inside and out. It is the longest operating B&B in Wilmington. I highly recommend you stay here if you get the opportunity.
Boardwalk along the Cape Fear River
And walking distance from the Worth House is downtown Wilmington, along with its fantastic boardwalk full of restaurants and shops and college students and dogs out for their evening walks.
Romantic dinner at The Pilot House
Food tastes better when riverfronts, boardwalks, candles and sunsets are involved. I think so, anyway. We enjoyed every minute at The Pilot House. And, although I don’t consider myself a city girl, I do love being able to wander around town and back to our digs on foot.
Mind you, there are things you don’t notice so much at night. Things like spiders.
Big Garden Spider. Very Big.
I know there are some of you who don’t like spiders and would rather I hadn’t posted this pic. However, they are everywhere in Wilmington and therefore worthy of mention. According to a gardener we happened to meet on the way to the B&B, this spider is not poisonous to humans. Excellent news. It is also known as a Writing Spider, owing to the webs it weaves. Interesting, I know! Right. Time to move on.
Downtown Wilmington, NC
August in the South is hot. I am guessing this is why you don’t see many pedestrians in this photo. There are some funky little shops and bars. This is my favorite Wilmington storefront…
No, I don’t have any tattoos. Do you? Tell us about it via the comment link, won’t you? And while we are on favorites, this is my favorite building in Wilmington:
St. James Parrish
And I don’t go to church. I just think this is a magnificent piece of architecture. Especially against summer blue. If you enjoy architecture, I am sure you will appreciate Wilmington.
Brick & Iron
To keep the “favorites” theme going, guess what one of my favorite southern dishes happens to be?
Fried Green Tomatoes at Circa 1922
Circa 1922 is in the heart of downtown Wilmington and has heavenly tapas. Our meal was, however, briefly interrupted by a patron who fell off her bar stool. Oopsy. It helps to drink water (instead of booze) if one is dehydrated on a 100+ degree day, methinks. Anyway, my Circa 1922 refreshment of choice? Pear Cider. So refreshing.
The Battleship North Carolina
We didn’t tour the Battleship North Carolina, nor did we see the Wilmington coastline. Alas, we had to keep movin’. A fun aspect of cross-country road trips is figuring out what parts of the country you want to see more of; spend more time in. I’ve fallen for North Carolina. Couldn’t you see me sitting here with a pint of lemonade and my lappy, writing the next Great American Novel? Sigh.
Front Porch of the Worth House
Guess what you’ll want to do first thing when you get off the ferry to Ocracoke? (Hint: see below).
Ahhh, Ocracoke sand...
Paul was extra excited about Ocracoke because he had found a place called Pam’s Pelican Bed & Breakfast. Their tagline is “Peace, Love and Bacon Grease”, so Paul felt it absolutely necessary that we stay there. I was a little wary, but the place was popular…
Casual and friendly...that about sums up Ocracoke
Pam made great big delicious breakfasts (with bacon on the side, every morning, naturally), and Mike is a musician and local DJ (bonus points).
What? No Redneck Radio Show in your town?
My only complaint was that smack dab in the middle of the living room was a genuine poker table, and nobody, but nobody would play with me : (
I wasn’t that upset, as island living is really all about sun, surf and sand after all. Still – would have been fun!
Meanwhile, back at the beach...
If you like to plop yourself on the beach with a good read, a cooler and an umbrella, then this is the place for you. The water feels lovely and there are miles and miles of pristine beach with not nearly as many people as you would find on the east/west coasts. And if you have kids…
How fun is this?
Separate pools form, depending on the tide. So the kids can play in the water without giving the ‘rents agita. Seriously, the Outer Banks come with some fierce rip currents – nothing to mess around with.
"Run for your lives! It's Blackbeard!"
Speaking of fierce…we couldn’t resist Teach’s Hole . Fun if you are into pirate history. Strange really, how popular pirates are, considering they were (and apparently still are in some parts of the world) a bunch of criminal a-holes.
I wanted to wait for these people to come out but Paul wouldn't let me
However, I am fairly certain these particular pirates are of the friendly sort…these are the kind of people that would be fun to interview for the blog, I bet.
Zillie's Island Pantry
Paul and I loved Zillie’s. The wine and beer selection was impressive, and they had tons of yummy cheeses and gourmet snack items that you could purchase for a beach picnic or, in our case, consumption on the patio. So, we made ourselves at home there one afternoon. Fun.
Shelves and shelves of beer at Zillie's
While we sat on the patio enjoying our Chocolate Box Shiraz and various cheeses including an especially yummy Stilton, a friendly woman said hello and the two of us started chatting away. And that is how we met our new friends, A.B. and Diane.
Another fun day on the water thanks to A.B. and Diane!
Next thing you know, we have been invited to go fishing on their boat first thing the next morning. And what a great day the four of us had. Paul managed to catch a couple of bluefish…
Paul's first catch of the day : )
Then we had lunch and enjoyed another afternoon in and on the water…
Paul loves this boat like I love Airstreams
Until a waterspout formed off in the distance (hard to tell but you make the pic bigger by clicking on it) and the weather turned from balmy to stormy.
Spout forming (to the left of the lighthouse)
Back just in time!
The spout actually hit land (taking an umbrella & chairs at Smacnally’s with it), then bounced off the water (if you click the pic you can just make it out). Even the locals were impressed.
Speaking of Smacnally’s – below is a typical scene at this great little outdoor bar.
Enjoying an afternoon with Willis Gupton at Smacnally's
By the way, if ever you find yourself listening to Willis Gupton, don’t let on that you don’t know who Alan Jackson is (Paul!). And don’t think that just because this fine establishment serves only beer and wine, the place won’t get rowdy. Cause it will.
We loved our time in Ocracoke. I kept an eye out for the wild horses (you know, like the ones in Nights in Radanthe) but it seems that now they aren’t so wild, due to increased traffic and the like. That was my only disappointment, really. Oh, and there are no laundromats on the island, so don’t hop on the ferry without doing your laundry first (Valynne!). Miss you already, OBX…
Settling in at The Roanoke (Manteo, North Carolina)
Paul and I have wanted to explore North Carolina (especially the Outer Banks) for years; how wondrous to finally be here.
Manteo boasts no “box stores” and no hard liquor. At first, I was a bit disappointed when I could not order my signature Bloody Mary at Poor Richard’s, but the deli sandwich made up for it. Didn’t miss those golden arches, that’s for certain.
We sat next to a park ranger named Tim at the bar, and thanks to him we ended up spending the next morning at Bodie Island Light Station #380.
John Gaskill signs my book in exchange for a hug : )
Tim had told us about John Gaskill and we were both eager to meet him and pick up a copy of his book, John Gaskill Remembers. Mr. Gaskill is the son of the last lighthouse keeper on Bodie Island and can be found signing books and answering questions at Bodie Island Visitor Center, which is located in the home he grew up in. This man is fascinating as well as delightful. Hard to believe he is ninety-four! Can’t wait to dig in to his book.
Mr. Gaskill with his "most favorite boss ever", Jami Lanier, USNPS
Tim told us all about John Gaskill, but didn’t mention that he himself would be leading a guided tour that day as well. He had recently transferred to Cape Hatteras, so I was pretty impressed at how much Tim knew about the local flora, fauna, etc. etc. Tim, thank you so much – you are great at what you do!
On a Marsh Discovery Walk with Ranger Tim Cassidy
My dinky camera does not do the marsh justice (camera is on the Christmas List : ) I tried to get a decent shot of the blue crabs skittering sideways through the water but no such luck. Believe me when I say this place is beautiful.
Cape Hatteras Heron
Bodie Island Lighthouse is in the process of being preserved; if you love lighthouses, you will want to see what this one looks like normally, and find out more about it here.
Preserving Bodie Island Light Station
We met a volunteer couple (Latta and Janice Johnson) while on our marsh walk who just happen to be from Chattanooga, Tennessee. This is so exciting to me, why? Because as of November, we will be on a six month sit just outside of Chattanooga! We are hoping to catch a fall cruise on their river boat, The Southern Belle before it docks for the winter.
Meanwhile, back in the town of Manteo…did I show you the view from our digs at The Roanoke? This is basically what you see from the porch…
Lighthouse at Shallowbag Bay
And a bit further down the boardwalk and you find yourself across from this beauty…
The Elizabeth II at dusk
Local Authors featured at Manteo Booksellers
As per usual, we found ourselves a great indie bookstore, Manteo Booksellers. I came across a Leonard Cohen book I’d never seen before, Beautiful Losers written in 1966. Mr. Cohen, I love your songwriting, your songs, and the artists you collaborate with. I have for decades now. But what is up with this book? Yikes…Right. My point is that this particular bookseller certainly knew his/her stuff – a truly unique selection.
Baskets for sale outside a Manteo shop
It is hard to get a feel for a place when you are spending only a night or two. I did feel very at peace here and would recommend it more as a romantic spot for couples (or a calming place to find oneself, or an educational spot for those who cherish marine life) than a place you would go to party. For that, you might go to, say, Okracoke. Which just happens to be our next stop.