Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Road Trip #1 - Day #2 - Elizabeth City to Wilmington, North Carolina

The day starts at the Elizabeth City Days Inn. The rate wasn't too bad, but a little higher than I thought it was worth for the quality of the room. The bed was not all that comfortable and the pillows were worse, but it served its purpose. Buddy Dave and I got on the road around 9:00 AM and headed south on Rt. 17. We decided to take the Blue Highway route to our projected destination for the day, Wilmington, North Carolina. With no agenda, other than whatever came along, caught our attention and peaked our interest, we decided to drive through as many of the small towns as happened to be in our path. If it looked interesting, we'd slow up and look around. If it really peaked our interest we'd spend some time and do some exploring. We programmed my Android smart phone GPS for Wilmington and took off.

The first thing we thought about was finding a Walmart to pick up a few things for the travel and also to eventually find a Subway to partake in a healthy late breakfast and keeping half the sub sandwich for lunch later in the afternoon during the travel to Wilmington.

The first small town we came to was Edenton. It appeared to be very quaint, a quiet, yet busy small town. 

We found the visitors center and watched a 15 minute (or so - seemed longer than 15 minutes) video presentation about the history of the town. Actually, it was quite fascinating as were some of the early citizens of the town who were involved in the Declaration of Independence signing and the first Constitutional Convention. Also, a group of women had their own "Tea Party" very much like the Boston Tea Party.

There were, of course, many historic buildings like St. Paul's Church. The cemetery surrounded the church and was filled with amazing grave markers that told a story just by reading them.  

Also, there were some massive magnolia trees that had to be quite old. Both Dave and I were fascinated by the massive root systems that were very evident above ground as you can see in the photo.

After exploring the church yard and cemetery for a while, we drove a few more blocks through the historic downtown Main Street to the harbor on the  Sound. It turns out that Edenton was the first capital of Colonial North Carolina and the harbor was one of the major ports for incoming and outgoing shipments from the North Carolina Colony.

The old Barker House, pictured here, was situated right at the harbor. 

Directly across the Albemarle Sound from Edenton are the barrier islands known as the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I've written about the Outer Banks before and included photos from my stays in Duck on the Outer Banks. The Outer Banks provide a shelter from major oceanic weather events. you can see the Outer Banks several miles across the Sound in the photo.

I also found this light house interesting. It stands just off the shore in the harbor. Today there is no commercial shipping at this formerly very important and strategic port. It doesn't appear to be a commercial fishing community either. So, I would say that sports and please boating are the only use for this protected inlet.

Interestingly, while Edenton was directly involved in the formation of the United States and declaring it's independence from England, there were never any revolutionary battles fought here. Additionally, Edenton was occupied by the Union Army during the Civil War, North Carolina being very steeped in the Confederacy, yet, again, not even a skirmish took place in this little, but important town.

It was a very enlightening visit to a town I had never heard of before and certainly had no idea of its significance in U.S. history. This is what I love about being a nomad and living free.

As we were leaving Edenton, we found that Subway sub shop and had our late breakfast. Then we were back on the road, we went through a number of smaller towns including Williamston, Greenville, Trent, New Bern and others. Finally, at Maysville, we turned onto Rt. 58 and headed east toward the Atlantic Ocean.

When we reached Cape Carteret we were at the bridge crossing over another sound onto Emerald Isle.

We drove a few miles onto Emerald Isle and remarked how it was similar to the rest of the Outer Bank islands, yet, it didn't seem as tacky as some parts of the Outer Banks like Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk (where the Wright Brothers first accomplished powered flight).

We found a nice parking are with beach access and Dave and I had our lunch at a picnic table overlooking the Atlantic Ocean beyond a sand dune.

A little afternoon walk on the beach on a glorious, sunny day with temperatures around 60 was a perfect way to get a little exercise and get rid of some kinks from a few hours of driving.

After lunch we, again, headed south toward our projected destination for this day of wandering and reached Wilmington and found a Red Roof Inn to call home for the night at about 5:15 PM. We moved into our room, checked and answered some email, relaxed for a few minutes and determined it was time to find some dinner.

We wanted to eat at some place that was local and not a national chain, so we found a couple likely possibilities and went in search of them. Ultimately, we arrived at The Diner at about 7:00 PM or so. Michelle, our friendly, young server took good care of us and provided the sustenance we craved after a "hard day" of aimless wandering. After dinner, back to the Red Roof Inn (a much better choice than the Days Inn last night) and I began editing photos and preparing this post. In a few moments this will be up on the blog and I'll have my eyes closed for a night's rest and a new adventure with a projected destination of either Charleston or Beaufort, South Carolina and learning more about the Gullah culture in that region. 


Rob said...

Ecity, NC... I remember it well. In 1977 I arrived there for USCG "A" school.

Over Christmas that year I saw ice in the Pasquotank river (the first time I'd seen ice in a river) while standing an outdoor 'fire watch'.
Over the next 20 years I was back in Ecity for a day or a month several times.

What I really remember about the 'area' is the little old graveyards scattered here and there & how old they were. I was from the west coast and we don't have much dating to the 1600-1700 out here.

Kill Devil Hill & the Wright brothers... they got the guys from the Lifeboat station (early Coasties)to help them out with that first flight...

Have fun!

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Hi Rob,

That's interesting about the cemeteries. I've visited several of them in other locations in the NC & SC region and it really makes one stop and think about the history. I used to enjoy standing in downtown Annapolis, MD by the old market square and think about the sailing ships that came into that port. I agree on your points about the West Coast except there are still a few Spanish missions that date back to the 1500's and 1600's - but certainly not like the East Coast history.

I grew up with frozen rivers and frozen lakes in northern NJ and once when I was living in the Annapolis area I witnessed the entire Chesapeake Bay freeze solid trapping large ships in ice that required Coast Guard ice breakers to open up. Your guys did a great job. Thanks for your service.