We got super lucky on our Oregon summer road-trip and stopped off at the Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint - or Neptune Beach as we call it. It's an awesome roadside beach on the Oregon Coast and has great sea life/tide pool viewing if you get there at the right time. Here's a quick photo tour to temp you into stopping by one day (get a tide app so you can get there at low tide like we did!).
~Paul, Amber, Mom ETC
Exploring the Seattle Aquarium
Jeez, it's been about 10 years since we've been to the Seattle Aquarium. We don't really have a good excuse, only that when you're a Seattle local you tend to stay close to your cozy neighborhood on the weekends. Who wants to drive down into the waterfront tourist trap?
Eventually the cozy wears off and we head downtown. When we're there, we usually say, "Man, why don't we come down here more often?".
We almost always feel that way when we explore the waterfront & the Pike Place Market. So many cool spots to explore and photograph. The aquarium has the super cool giant Window on Washington Waters tank with diver presentations throughout the day, a great Crashing Waves wave pool, cool jellyfish and octopus exhibits, a series of touch pools, a sea & shore bird exhibit, and tons more. Super cute otters and a newly renovated harbor seal exhibit top things off. Definitely worth a visit…especially if it's been 10 years!!!
~Paul & Amber ETC
It's finally time to start paddling regularly around here! First step, head out into Shilshole Bay as much as possible (pictures above and below from this week). Then, the planning phase. Be sure to check out the new Washington State Map section of the site to plot your next adventure. We'll be adding blue dots (a.k.a. kayaking/exploring) to the South Sound, the San Juans, and the Olympic peninsula soon!
Kayaking the Neuse River - Bridgeton Boating Access Area - New Bern, North Carolina
I took a quick trip to North Carolina back in September - with my kayak in the carry-on of course - and with only a few days to explore. If you haven't been to North Carolina, I like to think of it as a combination of Missouri (where I'm originally from) and Florida (where my wife's from). Woods, beaches, country-folk, a few big cities, farms, and most importantly, lots of paddle-able water.
Captain wifey's family lives near the town of New Bern. It's located at the end of the Neuse River, right where the river meets up with the Trent River and they both empty into the Pamlico Sound (which eventually leads to the Atlantic ocean). New Bern's a charming little town - we actually got married here - call it a truce between the Midwest & South Florida.
Our first order of business was to get our kayak in the water. We launched on the very end of the Neuse River from the Bridgeton Boating Area ramp on wildlife road - across the water from New Bern and just off US highway 17. It has a well-maintained dock/boat ramp/parking-lot. The dock was a little high (as usual) for launching a kayak, but we made it work (as usual). The river here was slow moving if moving at all - we paddled up and downriver against no noticeable current.
It's been awhile since I paddled on the East Coast. In photographer language this means I took way too many pictures. Every stick in the mud looks gorgeous. The textures are so different from my usual paddles here in the Northwest…I tried my best not to take too many pictures but failed…I got home with lots of pictures of sticks & mud (many I deleted).
We saw plenty of crankies and a few bald eagles on our paddle - which we are super used to seeing in the NW - "Oh look honey, another bald eagle". We also had a very interesting fish jumping sequence where we were surrounded by a large school of decent size fish, all jumping out of the water at the same time for some reason (expect to see video soon on our video page).
All & all, a nice little paddle on the amazing Neuse river. A little research revels that the Neuse is the longest river that is entirely in the state of North Carolina. It was once inhabited by (and named after) a Native American tribe called the Neusiok. Many other tribes once lived in this area of North Carolina too, including the Secotan, Weapomeoc, Coree, & the Tuscarora. The river begins North of Raleigh, near Falls Lake. It is about 275 miles long (with about 200 paddle-able miles below the lake and out to the Pamlico Sound), with the widest parts near the end at New Bern.
The river has seen better days as far as water quality goes - it turns out that factories and farms dumping who knows what into the river over the years is complicating things. Be sure to check out what the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation is doing to help protect this American waterway.
So, now it's time to pop the big question…not that question - remember, wifey and I already tied-the-knot here in New Bern a few years ago! Is there a longer Neuse River paddle in our future? Maybe all 200 miles? We hope so. Until then I will paddle vicariously through the many links I have provided below…
~Paul, Amber, Anna ETC
For more info, check these please…do it.
1. A great video from Source to Sea, a retired? blogger who paddled the whole thing - it took him 9 days!
2. Sierra Club Trails post with info about Neuse River put-ins.
3. An informative (yet dated) brochure on Neuse River Recreation Area campground.
4. An interactive user-created Google Neuse River paddle map…this thing is sweet.
5. Another paddle map used by the paddler from #1 on this list.
6. The Neuse River section from the Source to Sea website.
7. Boating in North Carolina official stuff.
8. Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation
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