Thursday, October 29, 2009

Off the Beaten Path....

First, our location: New Bern, NC..........

We're about 25 miles off the Intracoastal Waterway up the Neuse River in North Carolina. This is a cozy little town that is growing very fast--something different form a lot of other towns along our southerly route. It's clean, has good medical facilities, shopping and tons of history. We have not checked out the housing situation yet. New Bern was founded in 1710 by the German Baron Christopher DeGraffenreid. He was from Bern, Germany, hence, New Bern. In German, Bern means Bear, so the bear is the towns mascot. Just like Bern is the capital of Germany, New Bern was North Carolina's first capital. Retirees are the principal new inhabitants here. Fishing and sailing are also very popular here, being located at the juncture of two rivers--the Trent and the Neuse. We're currently docked at the New Bern Grand Marina located at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center. It used to be a Sheraton property, and all the tourist info still labels it as such. But it's not.

Steve and Di Koch were aboard for a couple of days. We always enjoy having them aboard--loads of fun and laughs. And, Steve completed a few maintaince items that have been nagging Norm for a while, including the installation of a digital TV antenna. Here's Steve crawling out of the bilge--he was not doing anything related to the TV here. But, with the new antenna, Vicki is now assured that if ABC is receivable, she won't miss her favorite show "Dancing with the Stars". We found a great Thai restaurant last night. It is called "Thai Thai". It was unaminous amoung the four of us that it was truly the best Thai food we have every tasted.

We got some time today to do a bit of touring. We saw the Firemans Museum. It was great. At one time, just after the Civil War the northern's that settled here started up a volunteer fire dept. Not to be outdone, the southerner's started one two. So, at one time there were two. When a fire broke out they both would respond and get into fisticuffs to see who would actually put the fire out. Of course, the place was burning down while this skirmish took place.
Did you know that New Bern is the birthplace of Pepsi Cola? It is and we visited the pharmacy soda fountain where it all started.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Inside the "Outer Banks, NC"

Friday, October 21, 2009
Manteo was great! Next time we’ll stay longer. Manteo is on Roanoke Island in Pamlico Sound between the North Carolina mainland and the Outer Banks. We’ve seen so many struggling port towns – it’s nice to see one that’s prospering. We hooked up with Dave and Penny Stormont, friends of Bob and Steph, who keep their DeFever at the Manteo Waterside Marina. We had a wonderful time at dinner with them, they loaned us a car to tour and run errands, and Dave gave us filets of the striper (rockfish) that he’d caught that morning. We’re hoping to spend more time with them when they travel south later this year.

We went to the Monument to a Century of Flight and the Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk. Both were very

But the real thrill was lunch at “Bob’s, Eat and Get the Hell Out” Grille. Yes Folks, you can’t make this up. In the end, the name of the restaurant was the real attraction—not the food.

If you have been following our blog, you know that Norm has been under the weather the last couple of weeks. He hasn’t had much of an appetite and lost a few pounds. We really didn’t notice it till we took this picture of him. He has since gained a couple back and is feeling much better.

Ocracoke was our next stop. Ocracoke is 66 statute miles south of Manteo and not far from Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks. It was another crisp, cool, sunny day with calm winds and seas less than 1 foot in the Pamlico Sound. The Sound is quite shallow (averaging 15 feet) and easily stirred up in a blow. So, we were lucky to get such beautiful cruising weather. We saw tons of cormorants migrating. Look at this shot.

In Ocracoke, we docked in Silver Lake at the Government Docks where Norm’s U.S. Parks Senior ("Geezer") Pass got us dockage for $32/night, including electricity and water. Another great geezer deal! Norm grilled up the striper Dave gave us and it was scrumptious. We owe Dave, big time!!!

Ocracoke is “Blackbeard the Pirate” country. He anchored often just off the Ocracoke inlet in Teach Hole, named after him (Edward Teach). After a few years of pillaging and plundering, with a fleet of ships and a crew of over 700, he was killed just outside Silver Lake after a bloody fight with English war ships led by two Admirals. He was decapitated and his head hung from the halyard. (No subtlety in the piracy business.) His booty was never found; but, his sunken ship “Queen Anne’s Revenge” has been located, according to experts in the salvaging business. Thousands of artifacts have been recovered—but not the “mother lode”.

The pirate flags were not very subtle either… The most common designs included an hour glass (your time’s running out), a downward arrow meaning imminent death, a heart (again, death), a skeleton like figure, and the ever-popular skull and cross-bones (death, death, and more death). Blackbeard wasn’t content with only one symbol – his flag showed the skeleton figure thrusting the arrow downward into the heart (lots of death there). And, the skeleton figure was depicted with horns meaning that he was in league with the devil. With all that mojo going for him, Blackbeard often didn’t even need to fire a shot to capture his prey.

We were hoping that Ocracoke would be a good place to pick up a scary pirate Halloween costume, but no such luck. Could have bought an eye patch, but not a peg leg or hook to be seen. Too bad.

The more we walk around town, the more this reminds us of Key West. So, we have renamed her O-key-croke. No, it’s not the same but there are some real similarities. For example, one of the old historical streets, Howard St., is a dirt road that is lined with small bungalows on heavily treed lots. It was there that we found Zillies. Zillies is almost a duplicate of the “Taste” store we visited in Urbana, VA. It has all those really neat coffees, beers, spices, wines and gifts. Then there is Howard's Pub. Howard's has 200 beers in stock at all times. We can’t forget the Flying Melon Cafe. We stopped there for brunch on Sunday. Great sweet potato pancakes, grits, crisp bacon and also a smoked salmon omelet. We shared, of course. We asked the waitress how the name of the cafĂ© came about. She said that the owner/cook has a big head that is sometimes referred to as a melon. She doesn’t know about the flying part. Norm doesn’t have a big head, but it’s been flying a couple of times. He “beaned his melon” twice snowboarding. Now he wears a helmet. (We've been know to digress a bit.) O-key-croke is also similar in that it has a strong fishing history, tourism, surfing, beaches, lighthouses and all the great folks that like that stuff. Another thing reminds us of Key West--the grave yards. Again we did not see any stones that said "I told you I was sick", like in Key West, but we did see very old graves of seafaring men and women, including the British Graveyard of several seamen that went down with an armored trawler that was torpedoed by the the Germans right off the coast here. One observation we did not see in Key West. It appears that here, the pickup truck or SUV with the most fishing rods attached to it---WINS! I counted sixteen of them on one truck sitting in rod holders attached to the front, rear or both bumpers sticking straight up. If they are on the front, the driver has to look through the rods to see where he’s going. Sometimes these holders are attached to one of those extended platforms (again either front or back or both) that campers use to carry extra bikes and coolers. Weird!

So, if you are ever in the mood for a cooler (temp-wise) Key West, head for here! And don’t forget the rods.

Monday, October 26, 2009
It was our intention to leave for New Bern, NC today. But conditions are such that…well, it would not be safe for our mental states. NOAA says winds are 15-20 MPH with frequent gusts to 25; seas 2-3 ft; slight chance of rain. That forecast has been repeated for the last 3 days. Actually, those conditions aren’t that bad, but, it feels much worse than that and we are getting periods of horizontal rain. So, our instincts tell us to stay snug as a bug in a rug. A fellow boater left yesterday morning—got out just beyond the tricky, shallow, skinny channel and returned. He told us this morning that his anemometer read 25-30 with higher gusts and seas much more severe and getting worse the further he went in Pamlico Sound. So, maybe our instincts are correct; we’ll stay here another night and see what tomorrow brings.