North Carolina

From The Car

Bob snapped this photo from the car as we were driving to downtown Wilmington our last day there. I cropped it and added the sepia tone.

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Strolling on Carolina Beach

Like I mentioned in a previous post, my first time on Carolina Beach was in 1998, when Bob and I visited his parents and stayed at their beach house. It was my first time experiencing a beach in the south. I grew up in Los Angeles and spent many, many summer days on Santa Monica Beach – freezing in the cold Pacific. The first time I stepped into the the Atlantic ocean I was shocked at how incredibly warm the water was. Like bathwater! I was also amazed at how close the ocean was to the beach (I had to trek quite a long way on the beach to reach the ocean in Santa Monica). And I loved how I could find shells, shark teeth, and sea glass on the beach.

Bob’s parents sold the beach house years ago, but I have fond memories. It was on a very warm Thursday morning that Bob and I drove down to Carolina Beach, parked by the old beach house, and took a long walk along the beach.

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We also saw a dolphin fairly close to shore. Not sure you can see it in the photo above. It always makes me smile to see dolphins. We also watched clams dig their way back into the sand, and Bob found a skate egg case. We might have stayed longer, but by 11 AM the temps had warmed to the point where I was uncomfortably hot. Still, it was a perfect morning on the beach.

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Southport, NC

On Tuesday, Bob’s brother David drove out from Raleigh with his adorable dog Suzie to hang out with all of us. We took the ferry from Fort Fisher over to Southport for the afternoon.


Bob, Dad, & David on the ferry

The ferry ride was perfect – very little wind (I get seasick) and clear skies. I enjoyed watching the Bonaparte gulls flying along side the ferry and landing precariously on the railing. I marveled at their accurate landings (if I were a gull, I’d have slipped and fallen).

Once over on Southport, we headed to Fishy Fishy Cafe on the water. I did not take pictures, I’m very sorry to say because my soft crab sandwich was outstanding! From there, we went to the North Carolina Maritime Museum where a docent shared some fascinating facts. My favorite tidbit was that not all pirates were men! I bought a book that had a bit about the women pirates. I’m thinking I may have to write about girl pirates in a story someday! The only disappointment was not being able to peruse this book –

How To Abandon Ship by Phil Richards and John J. Banigan. It was a book that had enough pages to make me wonder, what were the rules? What steps did one have to take to abandon ship? Maybe I can find it in a library somewhere….!

All in all it was a perfectly lovely day. The ride back was much cooler, but I was just as happy to be coasting along the waves on a perfect afternoon.

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North Carolina Barbecue

(Disclaimer: I am not a food blogger/reviewer. I just love eating good food and sharing pictures and my impressions.)

To this California girl, barbecue was barbecue – ribs basted with a tomato-based sauce. Since marrying Bob (14 years ago), I’ve learned that this is not so at all. There are regional differences when it comes to barbeque. Tennessee barbecue is dry rub pork.  Texas barbecue is tomato-based sauce on beef ribs. South Carolina barbecue is mustard-based pulled pork. And finally, North Carolina barbecue is vinegar based pulled pork and Oh! I do love it! We’ve tried many barbecue joints in the Wilmington area. This time we tried a new place that Bob’s dad recommended – Jackson’s Big Oak Barbecue in Wilmington, NC.

The first thing we ordered were drinks, and as I learned during my first visit to NC in 1998, if I ask for iced tea, it’s going to be very very VERY sweet. I prefer my tea unsweetened, and so I ordered “unsweetened iced tea.” Mmmmm! The South definitely makes the best iced tea! The kind and very friendly waitress brought us a basket of hush puppies, which I absolutely love! What are hush puppies? Deep fried corn meal “fingers”. Mmmmmm!

Slathered with honey butter, they are amazingly delicious. Crisp on the outside, soft and corn-bready on the inside.

Next, the waitress brought us something I’d never had before: corn sticks. Bob’s dad doesn’t love them and I could understand why, because Bob’s dad loves sweets. Corn sticks are a much blander version of hush puppies and much crunchier. They were okay.

Next came our meals. This is what I ordered:

A small plate of barbecue, collard greens and fries. I loved the barbecue. I do love vinegar. While in NC, I was on a hot sauce kick and ended up slathering the barbecue with hot sauce, too. The collard greens were fabulous – tender and flavorful and I’m sure, cooked in pork fat. Mmmmm! The fries were fine, but I ended up saving my tummy room for the barbecue and collard greens. I also ate more than my share of hush puppies.

Bob ordered this:

The barbecue with fried chicken and sides of baked beans and potato salad. He thoroughly enjoyed all of it, but as we discovered with potato salad in NC, it tends to be on the sweet side, which neither of us greatly cared for. The fried chicken (I was able to sneak a little nibble) was perfectly crisp on the outside and tender and moist on the inside, with no overly greasy residue. Outstanding!

All in all a fantastic barbecue lunch!

Here’s Bob with his Tasty Salted Pig Parts Boccalone shirt (Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore’s Oakland-based company).  Interesting factoid about Bob – he has a very large collection of pork-related t-shirts. 😉

Here I am standing in front of the “big oak” from the name of the restaurant.

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North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Being without internet on vacation is tough! But, hubby and I are back from Wilmington, NC where we spent a week visiting hubby’s dad. The weather was amazingly gorgeous and warm and the food was outstanding (so much better than what we found in The Netherlands). We kept ourselves busy playing tourist and eating out, ending the week with a perfect morning on the beach. Stay tuned as I post all we did in NC, this week!

I first visited NC in November of 1998, a few months after Bob and I got married. We stayed at his parents’ beach house on Carolina Beach and it was just lovely. Since then I’ve been back several times, but this was the first time we visited the aquarium since they renovated it. My first visit to this aquarium back in 1998 ended up being free because I was still a member of AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), having just left a job as Associate Curator of Education. The Fort Fisher Aquarium was quaint and I enjoyed it.

Since the renovation, though, it’s become quite fantastic with great educational signage, fabulous exhibits, and informative docents ready to share information. My favorite exhibit was the sea horses. I do love them!

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Wilmington, North Carolina

Visiting my father-in-law who has no (gasp) WiFi! Stopped by Panera for a quick fix. I promise more detailed posts and more photos very soon. In the meantime, enjoy some of the sights I’ve taken in so far this week:

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