Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Motorhome Item Up-Date

With this three month stay at Horseshoe Cove RV Resort we needed to make a few improvements to the coach. 
1. First we have ordered the Magne Shade System for installation on the Main Front Window of the coach. This should help block about 90% of the sun light and heat from coming inside of the motorhome. We should have them by middle of December. 
2. Next I have upgraded all of the inside light fixtures with new LED lamps. We had to replace total of 21 incandescent lamps. Plus total of 16 fluorescent lamps. To change the fluorescent lamps I had to remove the light fixture and rewire the light system in each fixtures (8) and reinstall back into the motorhome. We purchase the incandescent replacement lamps from M4Product.com and fluorescent replacement lamps from Fulight Optoelectronic Materials, LLC on Amazon Marketplace. 

3. Next we have purchase a Tire Pressure Monitoring System to monitor the motorhome tire's as we drive down the road. But to install the system we needed two value extension and two stem extension stabilizer for the front wheels. Found the items at "AlwaysShinyWheels.com".

4. Next I found at a garage sale within the RV Park a Winegard Trav'ler Dirctv HD Antenna cost new about $1500.00. This one was 3yrs old and I got it for $75.00. So later this spring we will be going to Tiffin Factory in Red Bay, AL to have the antenna installed and motorhome's TV cable system up-dated. 

5. Ok next item, I made a "Sun-Shade" to install on the sky-Light above the shower. This helps block the sunlight and heat from coming inside the coach. 

6. Last ltem, I'm always worried about small animals getting in sewer/water compartment of the motorhome. Due to a hole at bottom were the sewer hose pass thru. Well we found from one of our feller camper a product called "The Sewer Sock" so we went to www.sewersock.net and purchase one for our motorhome. This device blocks the small hole/opening around the sewer hose. So hopefully no animals (snakes) will get into that compartment. 

Now time to relax and enjoy camp time. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Von Kessinger's Express at the Florida Rail Road Museum

A member of the General's staff.
The Florida Rail Road Museum has several special events each year. We were lucky enough to be near Parrish Florida for Veterans Day Weekend when the Von Kessinger's Express came to town.
Dozens of re-enactors moved into the train depot late that week to set up camp in 1944 occupied France.
There were two camps actually. One for the German forces under the command of General Von Kessinger was in the train yard. In the woods beyond the station was the camp of the Allied Forces.
"Let me see your papers" screamed the German soldiers
We got to the train station just in time to be issued travel papers from the German Army. They hurried us to board the train with the general, his entourage and a cadre of French citizens traveling to Paris.
The General is in possession of important information that must not fall into Allied hands. Allied troops have parachuted behind enemy lines have cut off his normal lines of communication. The German soldiers are in control of the train but they are running for their lives.

The General's wife and his secretary were seated in our car.
The train left the station as the conductor warned us to keep our papers in order and not to argue with the German soldiers.
The Generals wife and his "secretary" were seated in our car. Their weepy friend accompanied them. She had recently lost her husband and was searching among the passengers for a new one.  Their banter kept us laughing as we traveled through the "French" countryside. It was necessary to use the imagination as we passed orange groves, palm trees and moss draped oaks.
The German soldiers patrolled our car frequently demanding that we hold our papers in the air.  They questioned us about our destination. Those that did not answer to the soldiers satisfaction were arrested as spies and taken away. One gentleman in our car was taken into custody because the General's secretary admired his muscles.

The Gestapo?
  A tall thin man in a black leather coat walked through the car several times. He stared fiercely at us but didn't say a word. We could only imagine that he was part of the dreaded Gestapo looking for spies.
Their were several German aviators on board. They were having a wonderful party as we traveled but would not share their wine. One of them held a lovely brown dachshund. He enjoyed allowing people to pet the dog with the line "Would you like to touch my wiener?"

The train stopped suddenly. There was debris on the track. Allied troops arrived in authentic WWII vehicles to capture the train. A battle ensued but the allied troops were beaten back at the ride continued.
A roughed up American soldier was paraded though the car at gunpoint having been captured.  He taunted the German soldiers, telling them that the Allies were closing in but they laughed at his suggestion to surrender.

A captured American soldier
The General and his officers walked through our car gloating about their victory.
The trip continued, more battles were fought and we enjoyed every minute of being participants.

Allied forces fight to capture the German train
The train traveled about 13 miles and the entire trip took about 2 hours. We reversed course at a train yard in Willow where the museums vintage engines and cars are stored. It was interesting to see what else the museum had to offer.
General Von Kessinger 
We learned that the car we were riding in was a former Jim Crow car. It had a divided wall and separate bathrooms where riders were once segregated by skin color. The conductor was very knowledgeable about the museum and the cars that were part of its rolling exhibit. It would have been interesting to talk with him longer but this event was not the place for that conversation.
The Florida Rail Road Museum is a unique experience in that the cars are the exhibits.
Rides are available twice a day on weekends. The museum gift shop and static exhibits are open Wednesday- Sunday from 10-4.

Florida Rail Road Museum
12210 83rd St East
Parrish, Florida
(941) 776-0906

Friday, November 18, 2016

De Soto National Memorial

Conquistador Hernando De Soto was an experienced explorer by the time he landed in Florida's Tampa Bay in May of 1539. He had spent years under the governorship of Pedrarias Davila exploring and plundering areas of what is now Peru and Central America.
He had set sail from Cuba with 9 ships containing an army of 600 soldiers, craftsmen and 12 members of the clergy to conquer a portion of the new unexplored world called la Florida. The vessels also brought horses, war dogs and pigs to the new world. De Soto and his crew are thought to have made landfall at Piney Point and set up camp at Uzita, a native American village on the Manatee River.
Piney Point, where the expedition is said to have come ashore is where the National Memorial is today.
The park is located on the river, just beyond a residential neighborhood. You will know when you are getting close because the street signs have the image of a conquistadors helmet on them.
The De Soto National Memorial has a Visitor Center with plenty of parking. Near the Visitor Center you will find Camp Uzita, a recreation of the Uzita Village that De Soto and his troops occupied after landing. In the Winter months Park Rangers and volunteers dress in period costume to demonstrate daily activities of life in that time period.

Fred the Conquistador
During the off season you can see exhibits of armor and weapons inside the Visitor Center. It was very interesting to try on armor and helmets. The helmets were huge. We thought that the Spanish explorers must have had very large heads, but then realized there was a fabric hat that went underneath the helmet and a neck piece that held it up.  It must have been unbearable in the Florida Summer to wear heavy European clothing covered up by chain maille and solid armor. Those shiny metal helmets would have been like an oven.
Fred enjoyed a long conversation with the Park Ranger on duty about the halberd weapon and its similarity to a current fire fighting tool. It was interesting to learn that the halberd is still in use by the Swiss Guard at the Vatican.

Boardwalk through the mangroves

We watched a 20 minute film at the Visitor Center that described De Sotos fruitless search for gold and other material riches through what is now Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas.

The National Memorial site includes a 1 mile Nature Trail. The trail begins to the right of the Visitor Center. As you approach the water you can see across the Manatee River to Tampa Bay with the Gulf of Mexico in the distance. This is a lovely spot for picnicking and boat watching.
The Nature Trail is very easy walking along the water and through a forest of black, red and white mangroves on packed sand and boardwalk. The Spanish moss and ball moss hanging from the trees are like lace curtains as you walk along the trail.

There are points of interest along the way that include native plants labeled with their names as well as how they would have been used by indigenous people.

The nature trail
We also found a shell midden, a tabby house ruin (tabby is an old kind of concrete made of burned oyster shells), a cross, and the Holy Eucharist Monument.  The Holy Eucharist Monument is also called the Hernando De Soto Catholic Memorial. It was originally exhibited at the World's Fair in New York in 1969 before finding a home at Piney Point.

Henando De Soto Catholic Memorial
The cross was erected as a memorial to the 12 catholic priests who traveled with De Soto.  The cross and Holy Eucharist monument are owned by the Catholic Diocese of Venice who used to own the land where they sit. That land called Riverview Pointe Preserve is now owned by Manatee county. It has been registered as a National Historic Place and is administered by the county and the National Park service. There was once a 9 foot bronze statue of De Soto here but it was removed due to vandalism. It is currently on display at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton.

Memorial cross
Near these monuments is a nice stretch of sandy beach. There were many party boats anchored here. Boaters had grills out and were cooking an afternoon dinner, flying frisbees and playing with their dogs. There was a nice selection of Caypso music drifting over the water. We stopped to speak to a couple whose poodles were enjoying the sand and water but nobody offered us a beer so we continued our walk.  Next trip we will remember to bring the picnic basket.

We found the party beach. Every waterfront National Park seems to have one.

The De Soto National Monument is the start of The De Soto Trail, a 34 stop Florida driving tour of locations connected to the expedition.
De Soto's quest for riches and personal glory was devastating to many of the native peoples his expedition encountered. The spread of disease and superior weaponry killed many. Although his dream was never accomplished and he died on the journey Hernando De Soto is remembered as the first European explorer to travel and document what is now the Southern United States and to cross the Mississippi River.

Ball moss in the mangroves

The De Soto National Memorial
8300 De Soto Memorial Highway
Bradenton, Florida
(941) 792-0458

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bradenton River Walk

The Bradenton Riverwalk is a multi-use waterfront park that showcases much of what the city has to offer. The 1.5 mile paved trail  begins behind the Central Library and follows the Manatee River  to its bend at Manatee Memorial Hospital.
We like to park at Rossi Park and walk through the butterfly garden to gain access. 
There is an exhibit of large rectangular art pieces here and scattered along the walk that are called postcards. They were designed  artists Jea Blackburn and Don Brandes.  They used the research results of  local school age children to create works of art that represented the history of the city.  The colorful postcards are painted in a primitive style. They represent Bradenton's ties to boating, farming and baseball.

The postcard art piece titled To Cuba.
My 2 favorite postcards are both night scenes. Million sunsets pays homage to the Tocobaga the original settlers of the Manatee River area. To Cuba depicts a whimsical cow in a rowboat reminding us that farmers in this region once shipped live cattle to Cuban markets from the Manatee River docks.
There are usually a few people casting nets for mullet in this part of the river. Florida is the only place we have seen this kind of fishing and it seems to be a lot of hard work to cast the net and then pull it closed and to the surface without losing your catch.
The waterfront includes a day dock for sailors visiting Bradenton and a fishing pier for anglers.
Following the walk to the left will take you past Pier 22 and the South Florida museum complex. 
Walk to the right  and you will find the recreational areas of the Riverwalk.

Fred experiencing the parabolic dishes.
Sculpture near the Fun Zone.
There are 19 colorful and interactive sculptures along the walkway. They include a metal drum garden, a pair of parabolic dishes that you can stand between to experience the river sounds in a different way and the mosaic designs that adorn the amphitheater.
The path follows a garden of sea grasses and other water edge plants called the Tidal Discovery Zone. It was built as an educational program explaining the rivers ecosystem.
You will find benches for sitting and concrete couches for lounging.
There are shaded spaces called living rooms where this sturdy weather resistant seating is arranged in formations that encourage interaction and conversation.
There is a beautiful playground here with a splash pad for cooling off after a strenuous workout on the pirate ship and monkey bars.

A small amphitheater provides space for concerts and plays.
There are sand courts for beach volleyball, a great lawn that is a perfect place for picnics and lawn games, a smaller lawn for yoga and Tai Chi, and a paved plaza for organized activities.

Outdoot seating with a view.
Our favorite spot and one of the most active is the Skatepark built under the route 41 overpass.  Fred and I always stop for a while to watch and admire the acrobatic skill of the scooter and skateboard athletes on the ramps and rails.
The far end of the river walk has a small launch for kayaks and canoes.
Bradenton's Riverwalk is a dog friendly park.
It's paved surface and well placed curb cuts make it accessible to strollers and wheelchairs.

Purple Fountain grass along the river walk.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

What do you want to do today Honey?

Traveling is a joy to us. We love exploring cities and whole regions of a state that is not familiar to us. It is exciting to enter a new place and to get ready to explore.
Destinations are the easy part. The United States and Canada are so vast that we will never run out of ideas. The trick, we have found, is to slow down and make the journey as much fun as the accomplishment of reaching the end goal.
We have gotten pretty good at mapping our routes and picking out stopping points. Those decisions are guided by our desire to drive only 200-250 miles in a day and to be off the road and set up in a site before dark.
We use paper maps, an Atlas, the Motor Carriers Truck Atlas, Google Maps, a web based program called RV Trip Wizard and the Allstays app to help us with the route planning and to find RV parks to camp in.
Recently we have started a practice of staying a minimum of 3 nights once we do make a stop. This routine allows us to explore towns and cities that we might otherwise have just driven past or ignored.
Once established we pretty much stick to the route. We do sometimes make minor adjustments in timing due to weather, illness or just because there is a great concert coming to town the next day.

Route planning done we board the Behemoth and drive to the first stop on our current journey.

While drinking our coffee the next morning, Fred will inevitably turn to me and say "What do you want to do today Honey?"

That's where my love of collecting interesting bits of information becomes an asset to our travels. Tourism takes a bit of planning and it is helpful to have some regular sources to refer to. Let me share with you some of the ways we find interesting places to visit and explore.

It's fun to have our Passport stamped at each lighthouse we visit.

Fred and I enjoy climbing lighthouses and learning the history of their intrepid keepers. Whenever we are planning to be near the ocean, a major river or enormous lake I check our lighthouse maps or the Lighthouse Friends website to find out if there are any lighthouses nearby. They are always an interesting stop and we have found that the docents on duty often give us ideas of their favorite local places. The US Lighthouse Society offers a passport book that allows you to collect rubber stampings that represent the lighthouses you visit. We enjoy collecting those tiny souvenirs of our visits.

The National Parks Passport book is a great resource and if you are and old enough to qualify for the park systems Senior Pass it will allow you access to all of our National Parks without paying an entrance fee. The Passport Book and a related i-phone app called Passport to your National Parks tell us if there are any National Parks, Monuments or Historic Sites nearby. The book is organized by region. The app is searchable by park, state or "nearby". National Parks all have stamps that you can use to mark in your Passport Book when you have visited. It makes me happy to find those stamps and to fill in another page of the book. The Passport book has become a sort of scrapbook of our National Park adventures.

Our NationalParks Passport book with recent 2016 additions.
Follow the railroad tracks. Railroad history tells the story of our country and how it was built. Railroad museums all over the US and Canada have given us insight into the past and a glimpse of the courage and back breaking effort it took to build our nations.

Blogs are like diaries. They chronicle personal journeys as well as physical ones. I read a lot of blogs, most of them travel blogs, many by fellow RV travelers. When we following the travels of other adventurers i make note of places that they mention that we might like to visit. If you are reading this post on a computer you can see a list of the blogs we follow on the lower right of this page.

We receive a weekly newsletter from Do It Yourself RV that shares a variety of blog posts and news articles written by RVers for RVers. Many of them share travel information about interesting and out of the way places. As an example a recent article was titled Camp at these 5 Bigfoot, UFO and Mothman Hotspots.
I made a note of them.

The i-phone app Roadside America catalogs thousands of attractions, many of them odd and wonderful to look at. This app has led us to find the hauntingly beautiful 9-11 Memorial in Atlantic Highlands New Jersey and the weirdly wonderful UFO house in Pensacola Florida. The searchable app has a nearby feature that makes it easy to use while driving.

I just found a great cache of old magazines in the RV parks laundry. Escapees, Motorhome, Midwest Living, and Family Motor Coaching.  We let all of our subscriptions go since they cost so much to forward and I have a hard time reading the digitized versions. These gems are full of great places to travel and even feature some Park Reviews. I am making notes while reading so that we will be able to find these wonderful places at a future date.

State and County parks are a great source of local history. We have found that many states have apps that direct you to their State Parks. The Florida State Parks Pocket Ranger has lead us to a number of great finds in the Sunshine State. The nice thing about the Florida State Parks app is that you can search by activity. Want to swimming look for parks with beaches, ready to peddle, click on the bike.

We also carry several books with us that guide us to interesting places.
1000 Places to See Before You Die.
The Most Scenic Drives in America.
Off the Beaten Path

Good food and restaurants can also lead you to some interesting parts of a town. We use the book Road Food as well as the Flavortown USA website that lists restaurants featured on Food Networks Diners Drive-ins and Dives.

The information and travel tips are all great information but they do us no good unless we can access them in a timely manner. A notebook full of places to visit quickly becomes difficult to use.

Pinterest tRaVel boards
Pinterest has proven to be a great storage option for this kind of information. The program is basically a giant bulletin board where you can drop information and return to it later. Called "pins" these bits of information are photo based so they are easy to recognize when you go back to them. Each pin has room for a text description defining it for future reference. I have made it a practice to find and add the address of the particular attraction into that text box.
The beauty of the program is that you can sort your pins into boards like chapters of a book. My personal Pinterest account has over 3500 pins so organization is important.
When you "pin" a website or photograph you are given the option of putting it on a specific board.
Our travel boards are organized by state and sometimes broken down into regions of a state. We are currently adding to 57 uniquely defined travel boards.
For example we are currently in Bradenton Florida. The pins we are referring to are in a board titled  tRaVel: Florida: Gulf Coast South.

Now when Fred turns to over morning coffee and says "What do you want to do today, Honey?" I turn on the computer, open Pinterest and we discuss a list of possibilities.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter with our tour boat at the dock
Fred and I enjoy visiting National Parks and Monuments in our travels.
Fort Sumter in Charleston South Carolina has been on our must see list for a number of years now.
The historic fort sits atop a 2.4 acre man made island in the mouth of Charleston Harbor so can only be reached by boat. We started our tour at the Liberty Square Visitor Center where tour boats dock to take you out to the fort. The Visitor Center has a museum like atmosphere that provides a history of Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor.

We learned that construction of Fort Sumter was begun in 1829 as part of the Third System, a 50 fort coastal security strategy demanded by Congress after the War of 1812 revealed weaknesses in the country's defenses.
Fort Sumter was still not completed in December of 1860 when Major Robert Anderson abandoned nearby Fort Moultrie (considered indefensible) and stealthily took possession of the fort with a complement of 85 men.
South Carolina had voted unanimously to secede from the Federal Union 6 days earlier.
The South Carolina Declaration had been prompted by the election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the Federal Union in November of that same year.
The day after Major Anderson's occupation of Fort Sumter South Carolina Volunteer forces strengthened their occupation of the other 3 forts in Charleston and began to fortify the rest of the harbor.
Tension escalated in January when a merchant ship attempting to resupply Fort Sumter was turned away.
By March of 1861 the Confederate States had been formed, Jefferson Davis had been elected president and most of the other forts in those states had been seized by the Confederate volunteers.
The standoff between inflexible opposing forces in this Southern city became a symbol for the countries division. Lincoln took office in April of 1861 with a declaration that the country would not be divided.
One month later his order to resupply Fort Sumter pushed the confederate Army to demand the surrender of Fort Sumter. When Major Anderson did not comply Fort Sumter was shelled for 34 hours destroying the forts defenses, ammunition and living quarters. Major Anderson negotiated a truce and abandoned Fort Sumter to the Confederate Army. The Civil War started with this battle that injured only 5 Federal soldiers and killed no one.  Unfortunately that cannot be said of the wars other engagements.
Fort Sumter remained under Confederate control aiding ships providing supplies from Europe to enter the major port city and ships loaded with cotton to leave. It was not until 1865 that Federal troops captured Charleston and recovered Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter during the Civil War years.
Our boat arrived and we enjoyed a 30 minute ride to the island. The tour boats are large with a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. We enjoyed great views of the cable stayed bridge that takes Route 17 across the Cooper River, Fort Moultrie, The USS Yorktown and dolphins swimming and feeding in the wake of the boats passing by. A ranger on board the tour boat gave us a brief description of what we would be seeing at the fort. We were free to explore on our own for an hour so quickly walked up the ramp and entered the gate on the forts left flank.

Fort Sumter's massive walls are 5 feet thick
When the Civil War ended this left flank was part of the fort that was recognizable. Most of the rest had been decimated by bombardment during the war and was nothing but piles of debris falling into the water. The Army did  reconstruct the fort as a military site and it was used as a defense during the Spanish American War, WWI and WWII.  In 1948 Fort Sumter was transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service and was declared a National Monument.  There are  11 100-pounder Parrot guns placed in the gun embrasures of the forts right face. The casements of the second level have been bricked over and are unarmed.  You can see divots and projectiles from mortar fire embedded in the walls of the left face casement. The walls today are only half of their original 5 story height. We could only imagine how impressive that original fort had been.

We walked the path through the 5 foot thick walls and entered the parade ground. There are 2 memorials on the parade ground a Confederate defenders plaque and the Union Garrison Monument. The Union Monument lists the names of all who served during the battle. We found the name of Abner Doubleday, a career Army Officer and also a home town hero on that roster. Doubleday was born in Ballston Spa, NY near where we raised our family and lived for 30 years. He is also widely recognized as being the inventor of the game of Baseball. We learned that Captain Abner Doubleday fired the first shot from Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.

From the parade ground you can climb to the top of the battlements to get a view of the harbor.

Battle scarred wall of Fort Sumter's left flank
My favorite part of the tour was learning about Fort Sumter's American flag.  In December of 1861 when Major Anderson and his Federal troops took possession of Fort Sumter they flew an American flag over the fort.  April 14th of that same year they surrendered Fort Sumter to the Confederacy. That American flag was carried by Major Anderson on the ship that took his garrison to New York when they left Charleston. On April 14th 1865, exactly 4 years after the surrender, Major Anderson returned to Fort Sumter with that same flag.  It was smoke stained and torn by bullets and mortar fragments but provided a poignant symbol of the end of a conflict that tore the nation apart when it was once again raised over the fort.  That original flag is currently in the Visitor Center at Liberty Square. It is kept in a controlled environment to keep it from deteriorating any further. You can see a view a small portion of the flag and a replica hangs near by.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


The Behemoth takes a ride on the North Carolina Ferry System.
Kure Beach behind us we headed south to Charleston South Carolina.
Fred had visited this beautiful port city while in the National Guard but I had never been there and he was certain that it would appeal to my love of all things old and southern.
First, though, it was time for the Behemoth to take a ride on the North Carolina Ferry system.  We drove through Fort Pickens and once again boarded the Southport Ferry this time with our home on wheels. The load master placed her on the inside row where she towered above the other vehicles but road like a champ. The scariest part for me was watching the beast on the metal ramps that bridge the space between the dock and the boat, but Fred handled them like a pro.
Once disembarked we hooked up the truck to continue our journey together.
Charleston was charming. We visited on a 92 degree September day but even the heat could not crush our enthusiasm.
Gate at Liberty Square handcrafted by blacksmith Phillip Simmons
We left the truck in a parking garage near Liberty Square and set off down East Bay St. past Market to walk through the French Quarter of the city.
I was thrilled to see all of the garden spaces secreted behind beautifully crafted black iron fences with ornate gates. Most were shady and looked welcoming. They were obviously well tended yet the warm humid climate of Charleston allowed the vines and blooms to spread profusely.
One of Charlestons many secret gardens
The wrought iron work was repeated in architectural details like light posts and balconies. We were told that one of the most well known wrought iron craftsmen in the world, Philip Simmons  lived in Charleston and that he is responsible for more than 500 of the iron gates and other works in the city.
We moved west onto State Street to find a shady sidewalk and were rewarded with glimpses of some of Charlestons churches. We walked through the Old Slave Market. Once a shed for the purpose human trafficking, the building has been reborn to provide local artists a sheltered place to sell their varied wares. We saw baskets woven from sweet grass, spices and herbs, leather goods, and a woman representing Sudanese artists that wove small ornamental dishes from  colorful reclaimed wire. The market is open daily and there is a separate night market open on weekends.

Rainbow Row on East Bay St in the French Quarter

Lush window boxes adorned the shaded sidewalk of Rainbow Row

We couldn't get enough of the beautiful pastel row houses with gas lamps and hidden driveways.
We continued walking past the stables that house Charleston's carriage horses and turned back toward the river before heading south again on East Bay.  My goal was to find Rainbow Row, that lovely block of Georgian row houses that have graced Charleston with their presence since before the civil war. The buildings fell into disrepair after that war but between 1931 and 1945 were restored and painted the pastel colors that you can see today. The 14 restored homes were worth the effort it took to find them, the shaded street with lush window boxes, gas lamps, and hidden driveways were wonderful to see.
With tired feet we stopped  at Mac's Place to have some lunch and cool off before walking across the wharf and into Waterfront Park.

Fountain in Waterfront Park
The park along the Cooper River has great views of the harbor and the cruise ship terminal. We had a great view of Fort Sumter and Folly's Island. There were several buskars performing including a sax musician that could really play the blues. We stopped to watch several small children and a black lab playing in one of the parks many fountains then strolled back to the truck to find our way back to camp.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Cape Fear and the Oak Island Lighthouse

Fisherman on Kure Beach with pelicans waiting for the catch
Kure Beach North Carolina is a small paradise that we might never of found if it weren’t for the military campground at Fort Fisher. We chose the area as a convenient stop on our way to Charleston, not realizing that we would be surrounded by water and that the beach was a short walk from our campsite.
Kure Beach is a lovely expanse of white sand and exposed rock surfaces that provide a beautiful place to spend an afternoon and breath in the peace inducing salt air. We were happy to share it with a few intrepid swimmers, flocks of pelicans and morning surf casters.
It was a pleasure to be able to take our walks in the wet sand between the rolling surf and rainbow painted condos.
Morning and evening walks along the water were a pleasure
Kure beach is a peninsula sandwiched between the Atlantic and the Cape Fear river.  Fort Fisher a Confederate stronghold during the Civil War was here. The forts remains are part of the Fort Fisher State Historic Site that include a museum and an undersea archeology program.

Oak Island Lighthouse

The Fort Fisher ferry took us over to Southport one afternoon and we drove through to Oak Island to visit another North Carolina Lighthouse. The Oak Island lighthouse is located on Caswell beach. It was a lovely drive through a residential neighborhood with lots of beach access points. We easily found the 153 foot tower. Oak Island Lighthouse was built in 1957. The poured concrete tower is a uniform 16 feet 4 ¾ inches in diameter with 8 inch thick walls. We found it interesting that the daymark colors of gray, black and white were permanently cast into the cement as it was poured. It is possible to climb the tower but reservations to do so must be made 2 weeks in advance. Unlike the circular staircase of a traditional lighthouse tower you reach the top of this column via a series of metal ship style metal ladders. 131 steps to the top with a landing every 17 steps. We did not have reservations so saved the climb for another day.

Bald Island Lighthouse

We used the beach access across the street  to get a good view of Bald Island and Old Baldy, the island’s lighthouse. The Bald Island light once provided navigational aid to those ships passing the aptly named Cape Fear. This place where the Cape Fear River joins the Atlantic Ocean is marred by Flying Pan Shoals a 28 mile shifting sandbar that made entering the river a hazardous endeavor.

The beach was deserted except for 2 far away fishermen so we gave Rascal a bit of off leash time that made him a very happy boy.