~Paul & Amber ETC
Well, I got a great pic of the sign...but none of the lake...let me explain.
After recently landing in Eastern North Carolina, it was time to find a job. Luckily I'm a teacher, and it wasn't too hard to find a good fit. But I wouldn't call it easy. It required us to leave the kitty relaxing at the farm & the iPad inside to cool down (see below), as we set off to the south for a few interviews.
Since we were in the neighborhood we decided to stop by Lake Waccamaw State Park. Located near the town of Whiteville, NC, the lake covers 9000 acres with 14 miles of shoreline.
The alligator on the entrance sign is legit - we saw gators in the water close to the park. Gators in North Carolina? I know right!?!?! Well, they're here, along with a myriad of other rare plant and animal species. Carnivorous plants anyone?
The reason we didn't put the paddles in the water to explore this little treasure? A combination of time (job interviews!) and no boat ramp access in the park (it's nearby). Oh well - we'll be back. Also interesting is the nearby Green Swamp Preserve, managed by the Nature Conservancy and home to more rare species...including more gators...chomp-chomp!
~Paul & Amber ETC
Let's take a break from North Carolina first impressions and go adventuring, shall we?
Welcome to Fort Macon State Park. Located on the Bogue Banks, basically an almost endless sliver of sandy beach protecting Eastern NC's coast, the park is historic, beachy, and popular.
We've been to similar beach forts and this one doesn't disappoint. There's lots to explore (with or without a guide), it's on the beach (so take a picnic!), parking and entrance are free, and there is a cool museum shop and welcome center on location.
Take in some history while you're there - the restored fort is the site of the historic battle of Fort Macon in 1862.
A little more research reveals the infamous pirate Blackbeard regularly passed through the inlet off the edge of the park...and even better - Blackbeard's once lost ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, is sunken near the park (it's currently being recovered on site and at a museum nearby...more on that in a future post)...need I say Arrrrr!?!?!
We were able to see so much in such a short time, we'll definitely be back for more!!!
~Paul, Amber, Anna ETC
Going to college near the white sandy beaches of Pensacola was amazing. Beach days for...days. The Pacific Northwest has beautiful beaches but most of the year they're cold. They're epic...but cold. If the air does get warm the water stays...cold.
The beaches of North Carolina are definitely more like Florida. The famous Outer Banks are close by, we're about 45 minutes from Emerald Isle (more beach). Touristy in the summer gives way to empty in the winter. An added bonus - 4-wheel-drive vehicles are aloud on beaches during the off-season for fishing (we don't fish yet but like the idea!).
Living in the Country.
It's nice to get a break from the city. Don't get me wrong, we love the city. But country stuff is cool. Cotton. Bug sounds at night. Mowing the jungle with a tractor. Tree frogs hitching a ride into the city in my passenger seat. Space for a big garden. Dried gourds for sale at the farmer's market. Country people that know how to do country stuff.
History...more specifically, pirates.
It's quite possible that fate has brought us to this area to retrace the footsteps of the Wright Brothers (First in flight in the Outer Banks) and the legendary pirate Blackbeard. His long lost ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, was discovered off the coast about 1.5 hours from where I sit typing right now...wait till I tell the pirates of Brick Sailboat...
I was fortunate enough to grow up in Missouri around country folk. Not rednecks. That's right, I'm drawing a line in the sand - people who live in small towns, know how to do lots of cool country stuff - build, hunt, fish, fix - and perhaps drive big trucks because they need them to do big truck things (and they usually have a cheap compact to commute in...because, duh, giant trucks use a lot of gas). They're on the one side. They're country. They have so much to share about the land that they love.
On the other side of the line are people who pride themselves in being uneducated, wasteful, litterbug, rednecks. City folk who haven't grown up around true country people probably haven't realized the distinction, but I'm glad I have. Although country folk & rednecks both claim epic American-ness, only one passes on a country that I'd want to live in. So far I've gotten a taste of both here in NC (P.S. The Jurassic Park giant truck transcends country/redneck labels due to its awesomeness).
I don't like okra, sweet-tea, or grits. But I do like Spanish moss, Bojangles, & Which Wich (technically from Texas but I've never seen one until NC!).
There you have it, a few first impressions from our new state. Next Monday we'll share a few more and then off to aquatic adventuring!!!
~Paul & Amber ETC
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