Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pinehurst NC and a hike at Raven Rock State Park…


With Katie still in school here in North Carolina we decided to take a road trip to one of our of our favorite destinations, Pinehurst. We love this little village and all that it has to offer. Our first stop was to play a round of disc golf at Reservoir Park. Reservoir Park is a really great little county park that has a great disc golf course along with a wonderful hike and bike trail around a very scenic lake.


We played the 18 hole disc golf course and really enjoyed this somewhat easier course. Easier only in that the holes are a bit shorter but there are still plenty of trees that tend to get in the way of our discs. There are lots of nice views of the lake through the woods while playing this cool course. After we finished our round we walked around the lake a bit.  Despite the fact it was a mostly overcast day we had a great round of golf as well as a great walk to boot.


When we left Reservoir Park we headed to town and walked around the quaint little village of Pinehurst. We haven’t visited in over two years but virtually nothing seemed any different. We walked from the center of the village over to our favorite historic hotel, the Carolina Hotel. This is such a neat old hotel with lots of southern charm and history. We feel it always is worth a stop to admire the landscaping, the beautiful lobby and of course to sit in one of the rocking chairs on the wrap-around porch. After leaving the hotel we ended the day with a cold beer at a newer brewery in the town of Southern Pines. We found Southern Pine Brewing Companies beers to be average but still enjoyed the ambiance. Next time we will likely head south over to Aberdeen to revisit the Railyard Brewery and have their Mastiff Oatmeal Stout.


The next day was still overcast but we took a chance and drove over to a cool state park called Raven Rock State Park. There is a really nice 2.5 mile loop hike winds down a lot of steps to the edge of Cape Fear River and all the nice eroded cliffs along the river’s edge. It is starting to look more and more like fall with the winds pushing the trees around and the leaves showing signs of color. We were fortunate to be able to get the hike in before any rain The scenery was great and we also had a nice chat with some locals alongside the cliffs and rocks of Raven Rock.


Well it looks like the weather wants to get nasty here so we are not sure what we will get to do our remaining days here but hopefully we will still find some fun on the road of retirement…

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Disc Golf and Visits to Carrboro and Pittsboro NC…


20150918_154118Now that we are back in the Raleigh North Carolina area we plan to visit some of our favorite spots whenever we aren’t visiting our daughter. Katie is in the last part of her second year in her Doctorate program for Physical Therapy so we know we won’t be seeing her a lot during the week. We will see her plenty during the weekends though.

The first place we wanted to revisit was the Carrboro Weaver Street Market. We simply love visiting the quirky little co-op on the main drag of Carrboro as we spent many an afternoon there when our daughter was still playing collegiate softball. It was our favorite place to go buy a bottle of wine along with some fresh made bread, cheese and maybe some olives. Customers are able to consume alcohol on premises and they have a great outdoor seating area under lots of large deciduous trees. We bought our customary bottle of wine and broke some bread while sitting under the trees and people watching (it is a great spot for this activity). We always feel it is a great way to spend a late afternoon…


Another day we drove over to nearby Pittsboro NC to play a round of disc golf at Rock Ridge Park. What a nice park this turned out to with its excellent hike and bike trail as well as one of the best laid out disc courses we have encountered. The holes are long and tight with lots of trees which normally we don’t care much for. However, the signage on this course was the best we have ever seen. There was never a doubt as to where your the next tee box was and all the excellent signage was easy to follow. I wish more courses were as friendly to out of towners as this one was. I even managed to score a couple of birdies and we had a good workout as well since Sharon's phone app reflected we logged nearly 3 miles while playing!


Pittsboro is a neat little town as well as a county seat. The town is similar to some of the small Texas towns in that the courthouse sits in the center of town with a square around it (in this case it wasn’t a square but a roundabout). Just outside of town we found a nice brewery called Carolina Brewery. We came on a Tuesday to take advantage of their $3 pints for happy hour. However the day we got there they had just tapped their Oktoberfest and were selling pints of it for a dollar, that’s right, only a buck! Needless to say we stayed for a while and had a few very tasty Oktoberfests. We are continually amazed at our good fortune in this lifestyle!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Stopping by for a visit to our daughter…


imageWe sure enjoyed our brief stay at the North River Campground in Shawboro, NC. This great little Passport America park was the perfect location for us to explore the Outer Banks. We really didn’t do much on our last day other than relax and enjoy the afternoon. The park is set up such that all the RV sites are parked around a large pond in the center. They have a big fountain in the center of the pond making it quite relaxing to sit outside.

As the next day rolled around we packed up headed south. Our next stop will give us the chance to visit our daughter Katie. There really aren’t many good RV parks around where she lives. One place we like to stay is the Raleigh fairgrounds but they have not only increased their price, all of the weekends were full due to events. Therefore, we selected another Passport America park as close as we could get. Dickens RV Park is a no frills park where most of the RV’'er’s here are working at one of the nearby plants but it is quiet and close to Katie so it is where we will be for a while.

imageThe drive over to the park was uneventful (just the way we like it) and we set up in short order. We drove over to watch a fall softball game at Campbell University. It was fun reminiscing about the days we came to watch our daughter play at Campbell. Katie and her roommate met us at the game and we really enjoyed the day watching us some softball. One of Katie’s former teammates was also in the stands and we chatted with her as she is pregnant and due in about 6 weeks.

We had packed a few items to spend the night at Katie's so after the game we drove to her house. Katie had a request for me to make her favorite “all fried” dinner. Although it is not really a healthy meal it sure is a tasty one! The “all fried” dinner consisted of panko fried zucchini, mushrooms, onion rings and our stash of sweet Louisiana shrimp. We were also set to meet her new boyfriend for the first time so I also made some Texas toothpicks (fried strips of jalapeno peppers). Her boy Brooks didn’t care too much for the jalapenos but everybody got plenty full before the end of the evening.


We will be here until the 28th and then move either toward the NC mountains or south if the weather gets too chilly…

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

OBX, Kitty Hawk, NC and Moving On…


Boy did we have a blast at the beach house and OBX was everything we imagined and then some. We can certainly see why so many people rant and rave about the Outer Banks. We would have never enjoyed it like we did without the gracious invite we received from Larry and Missi, thanks to them again one last time!


Not far from their beach house is the famed Kitty Hawk site. We stopped to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk NC. This is the site that the Wright brothers made the very first controlled powered airplane flight from the Kill Devil Hills. The date was December 17, 1903 and the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, after many failed attempts made history.  The first powered flight in the air was done by Orville at 10:35 am after flying a distance of 120 feet in a mere 12 seconds, at a speed of only 6.8 miles per hour. On this day Orville became the first human to fly with in the air under power. The world hasn’t been the same since…


Also nearby is the place known as the “Lost Colony” which I would have never heard of if we hadn't visited the historic towns in Virginia. Fort Raleigh is the lost colony. It was actually the first true settlement (not Jamestowne) and England's true first home in the New World. This place on Roanoke Island was where in 1584 several English explorers landed whom were sent by Sir Walter Raleigh.This was the first of three voyages undertaken because England wanted to colonize America. The colonists who finally settled here made friends with the Carolina Algonquian Indians at first. However, after three years when ships returned to the colony the 116 men, women and children, including two that were the first born English in the New World had all but disappeared. The mystery of their disappearance remains today..


Lastly, before heading back to our RV park we drove down the Outer Banks to about the mid-point to check out the scenery , the small beach towns and of course the beaches. Most of this drive was along what is known as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Out first stop was to check out the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. This stately lighthouse was built in the 1870s to warn ships traveling along the Outer Banks of the dangerous shoals along the islands.


Further down Cape Hattaras which was the nation’s first national seashore established in 1937, we passed through little beach towns that were quiet now that labor day has passed and all the children are back in school (yay!). We did stop and walk along a few of the beaches. The most interesting find (we found some earlier with our friends) were these weird looking black sea pods. After doing some research it turns out that they are actually egg casings commonly called a mermaid's purse or devil's purse. These particular egg casings are from a skate and are made of collagen protein strands. They almost look like giant beetle carapaces…


After exploring the OBX we made one last stop for a late lunch and a beverage at the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery and Butchery. It caught our eye on the way to the OBX so we simply had to check it out. The beer was only average but the burger was outstanding. After lunch we made it back to the park only to pack up and prepare to leave the next morning. We will stay for several day at Dicken’s RV Park which is near our daughter in North Carolina…

Sunday, September 20, 2015

OBX–We finally got to visit the NC Outer Banks…


Sometimes we are the beneficiaries of true serendipity.  A recent example of this occurred while we were making our way south towards North Carolina.  While in Newport News we made arrangements for our next stay at a really pretty Passport America Park called North River Campground in Shawboro, NC.  We chose it because of its proximity to the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina.  Our previous attempts at visiting the OBX were thwarted by bad weather or something else so we were determined to visit this time as the forecast looked to be simply perfect.


These trips, we knew would be day trips as there just weren’t any affordable parks closer and if we went out on the OBX we would have to take some pretty expensive ferries. That was until serendipitously our friends Missi and Larry contacted us because they rented a large beach house RIGHT ON THE BEACH in Nags Head in the OBX and one of the couples they invited was unable to come.  They wanted to know if we would like to join them for a couple of nights at the beach.  Oh my gosh!  We absolutely could not believe our good fortune especially after we drove up to the house.


This was an impressive place truly right ON the beach.  Up a flight of stairs to the first level were 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and laundry.  The next upper level had a master suite with an adjacent bathroom, an open concept living area with large picture windows and a spacious fully equipped kitchen.  Both levels had covered wrap-around porches revealing fabulous views up and down the beach.  From the living area full ocean and sky views dominated the landscape.


In addition to Larry and Missi we shared the house with their delightful daughter and her super fun boyfriend as well as Missi’s really fun parents.  As quickly as possible we unpacked so we could don our bathing suits, grab our beach chairs and meet them on the beach.  This beach was one of the top ten we have seen while RVing.  It was spacious with powdery sand and perfect water temperature for a frolic in the surf.  Yes. we were mesmerized and simply stunned at our good fortune…


Missi and Larry asked us only to bring our adult beverages but we bought a watermelon for snacking and on the second day I made the NY Times recipe for rye buttery hot pretzels.  The hospitality was so amazing and we were in full vacation mode almost immediately. The second day we welcomed Missi’s parents Mike and Shirley Sue to the house.  What an incredibly fun couple they were as well.  Our last evening was particularly entertaining as Larry and Missi pulled out a game we had never played called Cards Against Humanity (yes, it is pretty wild!).  The game provided many a laugh and I was especially entertained as I had beginners luck and won the game!


The beach, the house and the company were perfect.  We loved our time at OBX and cannot thank Larry and Missi enough for thinking of us.  Serendipity struck again and with such good friends it simply couldn’t have been better…

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fort Monroe and Newport News Park VA…


We left out nice location near Williamsburg, Virginia and moved about 25 miles south to a county park called Newport News Park near Newpark News, Virginia. We only stayed two nights but sure enjoyed our site which was right on a lake and in nice woods. No sewer and only 30 amp but still a great spot to explore the nearby area.


We droved over to see Hampton University which is one of the historically black universities. The university is lacking in interesting architecture so after driving through we elected not to stop and walk around. Not to mention it looked like it was about to rain anyhow. We drove not too far down the road is another place I wanted to check out which was a  National Monument called Fort Monroe.


DSCN4494Fort Monroe was a military installation in Hampton, Virginia on the southern tip of the Virginia Peninsula. As early as 1609 (as Fort Algernourne) there were defensive fortifications built to protect what had been identified as a strategic area. What started out as a wooden fort slowly became stone and by 1834 when it was finished it was known as Fort Monroe. Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort built in America and was named for President James Monroe.

Some interesting facts are that Robert E. Lee helped to build Fort Monroe but later had to watch the Union forces control it during much of the Civil War. Another neat fact is that this was where Jefferson Davis was imprisoned after the Civil War. The cell he was held in is featured in the museum. Although the fort is a national monument what you can see today is a place where many of the buildings are currently occupied as private residences. Nevertheless it was a cool place place for a walkabout even though we were chased back to our car during a rain shower.


Our second day in Newport News Park we stayed home to get caught up on chores such cleaning and laundry. We rode our bikes and enjoyed the beauty of the park and leisurely planned for our next stay.


We found a cool RV park which is also a Passport America park so we can save a few bucks. This next park will be near the Outer Banks of North Carolina and parks in that area are very pricey. We are excited to finally visit the Outer Banks beaches while staying there and it looks like the weather will be perfect.