Monday, September 24, 2012

Barefoot Landing to Wilmington, NC

We left Barefoot Landing on Sept 10th, heading further north to St James Marina.
The part of the ICW  that we are now in is called the "Rock Pile".  This section of the ICW is narrow and cut out of the native rock, it is about 16 miles long.   Boats are damaged along this section almost every day. We travel this section at low tide so that we can see the rocks, it also let us get some pretty good pictures.

Yep those are rocks!

More Rocks

Entrance channel to St James Marina

 St James Marina is part of the town of St James, NC. You've heard of gated communities, well St James is a gated town!  From what we learned it is about 6000 acres with about 3000 residents, the mayor is also the chief of police, I think.  If the marina area is an example of what the rest of the place is like it must be really nice.  They have a very nice and reasonably priced restaurant with good food (excellent burgers and fries) and service.  Several shops and a little store which doubles as the local 7-11. We left St James the next morning heading for Wilmington, NC.

Paula spotted this Bald Eagle, our first NC Eagle

We arrived in Wilmington, which is about 25 miles up the Cape Fear River, on September 11th. We had all of our flags flying and of course a lot of our thoughts went back to 9/11/2001.

One of our Great Blue Heron friends.

These are some views that caught Paula's fancy as we traveled.  Paula takes hundreds of pictures but you guys have to put up with the ones I think you will find interesting in the blog!

We couldn't resist this picture!  There's just no accounting for taste!

Driftwood always makes an interesting picture

Some of the landscaping along the way

Very nicely done house!
Must not be a good place to park!

Cool Heron picture

This tug is towing (pulling) his barge. (They usually
only do this on the open water)

As he starts getting into the more narrow areas
of the Cape Fear River he has to change over
and put his barge on the "hip" or get in
back and push.  That way he
can steer the barge. Notice the guy on the
ladder going from the tug to the barge to recon-
figure his cables.

Two brand new boats heading out!!

Some one got really artistic with this tank.

Lift bridge in Wilmington, 90' lowered, 130' raised!

We docked at the Wilmington City "Hilton" docks.  We could look out one window and see the Hilton Hotel and out the other side, across the river sat the Battle Ship North Carolina, which has been there since 1961.  Visting the battleship was the one thing we wanted to do but never got to.  Even though we rode the dink over to look at it we couldn't go to the little dock because it is private.  We would have had to get a ride in a car to visit it.  

Our view out the port windows.

Sea Eagle in front of the Hilton

A better picture of the Battleship
North Carolina

Wilmington is a really great town.  The river front/downtown is very nicely done, with a lot of things to do and tons of things to see. During our week long stay we ate out way too much and ate too much ice cream.  But we did pretty good trying to walk it off.

Here are some of the sites that caught our attention as we walked around Wilmington!!

The Federal Building

One of the many houses that just amaze me
that they look so good.

We are dying to know what the deal is with the keys.
This was about 8' high by several hundred feet
surrounding a construction area. The fence was
covered with keys as pictured here!
I know, you think we were at Walmart!
Nope.  She? was just sitting along the

You can never tell what you might see while wandering the streets of a new town.

We took a nice long dink ride and got some great pictures of old boilers from steamships.  These are boats that sank or just were abandoned and the only thing left of them is the boilers.  They are still there only because the iron was so thick.

Another old boiler!

Saturday is Farmers Market.  All the produce and products are required to be manufactured or grown locally.  We found a lot of nice veggies as well as baked goods.  Below are some more walking around pictures.  What a beautiful town!
One of many beautiful churches.

Paula posing in front of the Federal Building fountain

Fountain in the center of town

Part of the 1 mile of river front board walk

These are all pictures of a really nice Veterans Memorial.

It seems like every town we visit has a river boat that does dinner cruises

This is a small part of all the runners in a 5K marathon

V-22 Osprey, one bad boy!

We met and visited with our facebook friends Charles and Pam Taylor. We went to a really great Irish Pub and had Shepard's Pie. (So much that we had leftovers the next night for dinner!) What a great couple they are. They took us to the store for re-provisioning and really made us feel welcome. 
We visited the Cape Fear Museum.  They did a really nice job of covering the history of the area.  Every 4th grade school child is required to go to the museum.  The museum spent a lot of time making the displays child friendly without making it too simple for adults.
Is this guy not beautiful??

Wilmington Railroad Museum - lots of trains to play with!

I really hope the detail in these can be seen.

There was a lot more action other than just trains
moving around.  Bridges going up and down
cars pulling into restaurants, train cars
filling and dumping coal and
people everywhere!

The more you look at these pictures the more
you will see.

A beautiful sunset over the Cape Fear River

I think Paula's favorite spot was the Rail Road Museum.  They had not only real trains and equipment but rooms full of model trains and towns set up with every imaginable house, hotel, restaurant, rock quarry, forest, lumber mill, etc, etc, you could imagine.  Paula really loves all that kind of miniature stuff.  The detail on everything from the trains to the people is fantastic.  They even had tiny cows and chickens.
We visited the Post Office that has some really cool architectural features.  We also walked down to the St James Church and walked through their cemetery.  We found graves with dates back to the early 1700's. We had planned on leaving  Wilmington on the 18th but the weather was really crappy with rain and wind all day.

There were three of these on the front of the Post Office

These two pictures of the grave stone and the plaque go together. This town has tried very hard to keep its history intact and keep it available to the public.

I've seen Salvation Army stores all my life, but this is the first
 Salvation Army church I haveever seen

I have never seen a statue like this
before, as I said people in the
Carolinas are proud of their

We left Wilmington on 9/19 and that was sad, but we WILL be back!

We decided to go a little further north and went to Carolina Beach.  They have a new mooring field and we thought it would be fun to be on a ball for a few days and then go check out the beach etc.  We put the dink in the water and went to a nearby marina to check in and pay for our ball. We also got a little information about the area.  We are planning on doing some beach walking and swimming.  Although with the cold front that just came through I don't know if we will be doing much swimming.  It is 70 degrees right now but with the 14mph wind it is 62 degrees!  We waited till the next day to go check out the beach and boardwalk. 

The beach is really very nice, but it was pretty chilly to do any swimming although we did see two people (out of about a hundred) who were playing in the water. The boardwalk reminded us of Daytona Beach in the 1970's, junky T-shirt stores separated by  bars. Most of which are only open on weekends since it is after Labor Day.  After two nights we decided to leave and go to St James Marina, one of our favorite stops when we were heading to Wilmington.  We went to St James and spent the night. We had a great burger and fries with an ice cold Bud Lite for dinner.  The next morning we were up early for a long day going all the way to Osprey Marina in South Myrtle Beach, SC.