So, we've been a little distant lately. There was a reason. A big one: Flo. A direct hit from hurricane Florence here in Eastern North Carolina. Luckily, we (along with our family) are safe. Here's how it went down for us.
I've been working part-time at a local marina in a nearby town of New Bern, NC. The salty sailor liveaboards had their ear to the ground (ear to the sea?) long before anyone. They knew the storm was coming. I had spent the summer prepping the marina for hurricane season - and here it was. I finished up some work and headed home to prep my place.
We were going to stay, then we decided to evacuate, then reconsidered...in the end we decided to pack up the house and evacuate inland to Raleigh. We took the most important stuff, and battened down the hatches before we left - putting lots of stuff in plastic tubs and getting things off the ground level in preparation for flooding in our town. It was a little tricky because putting things upstairs risked putting them in harm's way if the roof blew off. Yikes.
Things we did right. We stocked up on gas, water, and food. These are the things that run out quick. We always have a hurricane stash of food and bottled water, we just added to it a bit when we knew the storm was 100% coming. Plastic tubs (for storage) & camping stoves/fuel are the next to sell out - we had those too - phew. I have two rain barrels in my backyard - I opened them up before we left to collect rainwater from the deluge of 20-30+ inches that were coming. We could use this water to flush the toilets after the storm.
Our time in Raleigh was boring, but it was nice to sit out the storm with power, restaurants, and water. The storm hit the hardest on Thursday, and we returned home Monday. We had to navigate several closed highways and interstates to get back - I was constantly checking DOT and Facebook groups to chart a safe and successful way home. We made it. Gas was scarce along the way. Nowhere had power.
Once home, we started moving tree branches and debris from our yard and helping neighbors. Luckily, our house sustained no damage from the storm. It took the whole week to restore power - so it was camping at home. Town water ended up on a boil order for another whole week.
Our town sustained lots of wind damage but luckily, no flooding.
Some of the Worst
After the rivers blocking my way receded and camping life at home ended, I ventured into nearby New Bern, NC. The marina I work at had some issues (above) but actually fared much better than others around town. I helped demo a townhome in the town of Riverbend (video below), they got hit hard. The recovery continues. It's going to be a long road for many.
Later in the week I was asked to look at a grand piano that had been damaged in the storm. I wrote a little piece about it - my final thought about the hurricane and it's effects. We were lucky and thankful and are excited to get back to normal around here. We'll be back to posting regularly on Sundays!!! ~Paul EVERYONESTRAVELCLUB.COM
"Today I learned I could never be a doctor. I was asked by a friend to take a look at a hurricane Florence piano, to see if it could be salvaged. In college I worked a few summers with a piano tuner and rebuilder. We rebuilt a few pianos from what seemed like complete ruin. I learned a lot.
This piano is a beautiful 6 ft-ish Baldwin. It is owned by a woman in her 80s. She remembers playing this piano as a little girl, with her mother.
As Florence hit New Bern, the windows in this room blew out and (as you can see in the torn wallpaper) flood waters rose and swept into the house. They eventually drowned a lot of the piano - first the pedals, the key-bed. The water maybe even reached the action, pin-block, the soundboard, and the strings.
Today the piano stood proud though, even as it somehow straddled giant holes and missing planks in the floor. I stayed to the remaining floor joists as I inspected her, imagining my added weight causing us to fall through the floor - imagine the piano sound that would make! What a finale! I almost wished she would have gone out like that. As you might guess, my final prognosis was grim.
I’d already been thinking a lot about how precious time is. It’s not that physical stuff really matters that much, it’s more a reminder to do the best you can with what time you have. One week you’re playing Debussy on your mom’s piano, gazing out your front windows at the water. And just like that, it’s all washed away."
Eastern North Carolina has a lot of barrier islands. After paddling to a few of the protected ones (Rachel Carson, Dudley Island), I (with pooch) set out to knock another off the list.
On the edge of Onslow County, in the town of Holly Ridge, is a nice mainland boat launch called Morris Landing. This area is actually part of a 52 acre shoreline restoration project managed by the NC Coastal Federation. The boat launch here is a little elusive when you're searching for it online - it's not a State Fish & Wildlife launch like you may be used to (like the launches at Emerald Isle or Cedar Point). Morris Landing is the closest kayak/canoe/boat launch to the Permuda Island Reserve, my destination for this trip.
The Permuda Island Reserve is a NC Coastal Federation protected barrier island. It's long, narrow, and heavily wooded. It's 65 acres big with over a mile of shoreline. Among the multiple species of wildlife, there's also archeological evidence of human inhabitants from waaaaaay back (into the B.C.!). We read about this evidence online but did not see any signs ourselves.
Commercial oyster beds are scattered around in the adjacent waters (the Stump Sound). As you paddle around the island, you'll see these and beyond them to the beach houses of Topsail Island, pronounced "Top-sol" by the locals. If it's a still day you'll even hear the ocean waves crashing! Although Permuda Island doesn't have any trails (it's thick), you'll be able to bird watch many species right from your boat. There are a few places to beach your kayak and explore - but don't expect big sandy beaches on here. Look for low lying live oak trees, especially on the mainland facing side of the island, these are usually cool places to pitstop (see below).
We paddled, we stopped a few times, we took lots of pictures. It wasn't crowded at all on a weekday at the end of the summer, but I could imagine quite a few cars/trucks/trailers parked at Morris Landing on the weekends when the weather is nice. There's not an actual parking lot so get here early if you want a spot. I set the timer from the time we launched to when we returned - we took 2 hours and 24 minutes. I imagine you could cut that time down significantly if you didn't spend light years trying to get closeup video of ants on a tree like we did. The ants were giant and amazing, the video was not haha.
Also, since most of the cool stop points are on the mainland facing side of the island, probably better to paddle Permuda counterclockwise from the Morris Landing launch site to get more paddling in before you stop for a break. Watch the winds and the tide - this will (as always) impact your trip - which way and how far you wish to travel. It's a cool island, check it out!
~Paul & Eleanor everyonestravelclub.com
NC Coastal Federation
Brochure for Permuda Island
Have you checked out the NC State Parks passport? It's a great little book/guide leading you to all of the state parks in North Carolina. Grab a stamp for your passport at each park and feel the sense of accomplishment! (Luckily some parks have started offering sticker stamps too, just in case you forget your passport...like Captain Wifey does every time ha!).
We've been pretty successful knocking out the state parks around us - Fort Macon, Goose Creek, Hammocks Beach, Fort Fisher, Jockey's Ridge, & Lake Waccamaw. So, we moved inland this time, to Cliffs of the Neuse State Park near Goldsboro.
After checking out the visitor's center, we jumped down to the nearby lake trail and hiked through the woods, eventually making it to the 11 acre spring fed lake. We shall call it 'lake no-name'...'cause, like, I couldn't find a name anywhere.
Although you don't have to hike to the lake (there's parking right by it), the lake trail was a fun 2 mile-ish wooded walk with a few ups and downs but not too strenuous. How ever you get there, at the lake you'll find a swimming and diving area, a boathouse for paddleboat and kayak rentals, bathrooms, and a concession stand. Services and hours vary by season and you do have to pay to swim in the summer. We made a "I'll have two margaritas" joke to the concession attendant and I think we scared him.
One unfortunate thing for us is the fact that private boats (kayaks in our case) aren't allowed on the lake. It's clean, clear, and not very big so I can kinda see why...kinda. Also, you have to pay a fee to swim - that's also kinda strange - but I'm sure they have their reasons (hopefully good ones).
Finally, the cliffs! Or, rather the cliff overlook. Luckily I had searched for pictures of the park before we got there...because...well, you can't really see the cliffs unless you were down on the river. Although you can get down to the river via trails, you still really can't get a good view. I could get a great shot via my drone...but taking off/landing from the park is against the rules. Oh well.
The overlook is great, towering almost 100 ft over the Neuse River. Eastern North Carolina is so flat, so it's amazing to finally get a little height on the situation and look out over the forest and river.
Well, another stamp in the passport and NC state park explored. It's interesting to know that although the park is a little off the beaten path, there is a campground and cabins available for rent on site if you wanted to make a weekend out of it. Whatever you do, don't forget to bring your NC state parks passport (Captain Wifey!).
Paul & Amber (a.k.a. Captain Wifey) everyonestravelclub.com
Map of the park
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