June 2010 Wild Dunes, SC - Bald Head Island - Morehead City, NC - Great Bridge, Norfolk, Yorktown, Jamestown,VA - Washington, DC #23

T'is June and the spirit of summer is upon us. Assume the attitude of a child again for this season to make you feel young again. We challenge you to run barefoot; learn to whistle; ride a wave; blow a dandelion; fly a kite; count the stars; pump on a swing; lie in the grass and watch the clouds; catch fireflies; let go of the rope; get rid of the training wheels; jump off the high dive; climb a tree. Despite the heat, remember the freedom of your childhood and recapture a bit of it.

Bald Head Island, NC
On the first day of June we sadly departed Wild Dunes on Isle of Palms. We so loved our stay there but our gypsy spirits felt it was time to move on to our next port of Bald Head Island. This was our first visit to this island that's accessible only by boat and what a delightful interlude! The distinctiveness of BHI begins with its fortunate position on the globe, being the southernmost of the cape islands of NC and marked by the legendary Cape Fear. It's also the northernmost semi-tropical environment on the East Coast, and the last point where sabal palms grow naturally. Beaches rim the eastern, southern and western shores of BHI and its geography boasts another remarkable phenomenon--the sun both rises and sets over the Atlantic Ocean.

Of the island's 12,000 acres, 10,000 are set aside as nature preserves. The Atlantic's beaches stretch for 14 miles and there are tidal creeks winding their way through the salt marshes in a serpentine fashion making it ideal for paddling. I think it would be difficult to resist the urge to lace on your hiking shoes to walk the trails through the maritime forest enjoying the captivating mix of palms, live oaks, dogwoods and cedars.

The architecture and design of each home is so unique and with a coastal New England flavor, making us feel transplanted far north of our actual NC location. Of course, we cycled and ran more miles here--it was just so conducive to that and we were magnetically drawn to the automobile-free roads and firm-sand shoreline. If you've not been to BHI, we highly recommend this destination for your "Bucket List".
                                            Morehead City, NC
Our next significant stop was Morehead City where we enjoyed another repast at the Ruddy Duck Restaurant and spent a delightful evening with my very recently widowed New Bern cousin, Debby. You guessed it! We again...cycled, walked, and ran.

Lest you think this is a 24/7 vacation for us, let me tell you that it isn't a bed of roses every day. North Carolina was so hot and buggy and absolutely miserable. There were 2 types of giant flies that came at us in droves, dive-bombing us kamikaze style and each leaving its burning, hurting, itching bite behind. If only we could've jumped in the water to cool off but, as much as I love being in the water, it wasn't even an option to consider--reason being that those rivers were absolutely teeming with snakes, jellyfish and gators. Despite stories we've heard of people not having phone service in the vicinity of Oriental, Verizon has never let us down regardless of where we were---Dismal Swamp, FL Keys, out in the middle of the Chesapeake--to add to our wretchedness along this stretch, not only did we not have phone service but we didn't have internet, either! I realize those go hand in hand but one just added insult to the other. Couldn't get a TV signal nor find a station on the radio so Ipods provided the only music. Our only contact with civilization was our VHF radio!!! Smoke signals weren't even an option. Bill wouldn't let me build a fire on the aft deck!!!
Those desolate miles and days felt like we were traversing the great state of TX on foot instead of up the north east coast of NC. Felt like I needed to share the bad along with the good so our blog doesn't read like the legendary and notorious Christmas letter! I must admit that I questioned the sanity of this "boating life".
At last we crossed into VA and it was slow going from Great Bridge to Norfolk--no-wake zones, locks and bridges and "authority" who exercised frequent changes in plans regarding bridge openings and closings precipitated by warships being waltzed around the area aided by tugs.

While we were in Great Bridge, Bill was absolutely beside himself when he found a little Mustang car that'll fit on the boat!

Norfolk was a refreshing pause in our cruising. More cycling, running, walking, live music, great food, and wonderful times spent with friends. And lest you think we sit around reading and sipping refreshing beverages all the time, there's lots of boat work and cleaning inside and out to be done...and lest you think we hire all of that out...the truth is, we don't!!!
                                       Yorktown and Jamestown
We refreshed our American History lessons from decades ago, immersing ourselves in 400 years of history with visits to Yorktown and Jamestown. 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, 3 merchant ships filled with cargo and passengers embarked from England on a 4 1/2 month voyage to the banks of the James River to form a settlement in VA that would set the course of American history.
Yorktown exhibits events leading to the American Revolution and interprets it from diverse points of view. Yorktown is most remembered as the site where Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington, bringing an end to the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. Historic Grace Episcopal Church has been an active parish for over 300 years and services are still held there on Sundays.

Quadracentennial Plaza in Jamestown
Generals Washington and Rochambeau in Yorktown

Here you can experience a sense of place that formed the character of our nation in the 17th and 18th centuries. Our nation began in Jamestown as the first permanent English settlement in North America. Its beginning was in 1607 with a lonely group of 104 men and boys the James River and 174 years later, was 13 British colonies . Archaeologists are on site at the original James Fort site excavating and finding ruins being unearthed for the 1st time in 400 years.

Yorktown's Historic Victory Monument
The museums are very well done and the guides in period dress were so authentic. Yorktown, Jamestown, and Williamsburg are in triangle connected by 23 miles of a breath-taking drive. After touring the first two, we felt so steeped in lives of our forebearers in the 1600's, that we'll skip Williamsburg this time and look forward to that colonial town on another visit.

Although it was a brief overnight stay, we enjoyed visiting friends at Olverson's Marina where we spent a month last summer. When we pulled into our slip it felt somewhat like "coming home". En route we had a bumpy ride on the Chesapeake akin to riding a bucking horse but smooth sailing once on the Potomac.

Our plans were to arrive in Washington DC on the 30th, anchor outside the marina and go into our slip July 1.  On the 29th, I called the dock master to ask if we could come in a day early. I explained that Bill's birthday was that day and we'd like to dinghy in for his birthday dinner that evening.  He said, "Happy Birthday and come into your slip today" which was 2 days early.  We had a most enjoyable dinner as we toasted another year for my sweet husband. 
We're staying put for the month of July so if you're in our nation's capitol, please let us know so that we can get together.

Bill and Laura Bender
Kindred Spirit III
Docked Washington DC
The Washington Monument as we approached our marina on the Washington Channel.


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