Saturday, May 14, 2011

North Carolina Breakdown

April 2011 - State # 33 - North Carolina

If you've been wondering, "Why don't she write?" 

Well, I had a "breakdown" over the loss of 209 photos from the first 2 days of our trip.  I have tried to recover these photos, but all is lost.  (Thanks Robb for your expertise.)  So, for me it's not just the title of the song you're listening to, but the North Carolina "breakdown" of our camera and compact flash!       

I guess we'll just have to return to Wilmington and re-shoot! 

During our 19 years of marriage we have visited the mountains of our neighboring state many times.  For our 50 state alphabetical tour, with the advice of the "best next door neighbors ever"...Anita & Stephen, we chose to visit the Cape Fear Coast.  The drive to Wilmington took 7-1/2 hours, and another hour for lunch in Augusta...the day before the MASTERS began!  The first weekend of April is a great time to visit.  We left the day the North Carolina Azalea Festival opened. 

This is why we like to travel during the "shoulder seasons." 
You can avoid crowds and save $$$.

You will have to trust me that The Graystone Inn was superb.
(Photos are from their website.)
The Bellevue Jr. Suite  Bathroom                               

Depending on our destination, we do enjoy staying in Bed & Breakfast inns.  Typically we choose an inn when we visit a historic city. 

Wilmington is just such a town and The Graystone Inn proved to be one of the finest accomodations we've ever experienced! 

We strongly recommend this inn when you visit Wilmington!

Located in the historic district, we walked to nearly every attraction and restaurant.  Our inn was even a scenic stop during our Segway tour!

And if you have visited my other blog... may have noticed The Graystone Inn at the TOP of the list for best breakfasts!

And here you can see why!  I'm sorry there is no photo of our Sunday breakfast:
Key Lime French Toast! 
Seriously...Guy thought it was divine and I had to agree.

You will also have to take my word for the fact that...
the battleship U.S.S. North Carolina
and Cape Fear Segway Tours of Wilmington are excellent attractions.

During World War II, NORTH CAROLINA participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations and earned 15 battle stars.  At the time of her commissioning on April  9, 1941, she was considered the world’s greatest sea weapon.  Armed with nine 16-inch/45 caliber guns in three turrets and twenty 5-inch/38 caliber guns in ten twin mounts, NORTH CAROLINA proved a formidable weapons platform.

Her wartime complement consisted of 144 commissioned officers and 2,195 enlisted men, including about 100 Marines...although she was built for only 1800 men!

After a short introductory film, where you'll see actual newsreel of NORTH CAROLINA sailing into Pearl Harbor (as she was the first new ship assigned there after December 7, 1941) you'll walk the gangplank to board the ship.

Once on board follow the arrows on a self-guided tour climbing ladders to explore parts of all 9 levels.  Guy loved this and I was right there with him shouting...

"Make a Hole!"
(I've wanted to do that since seeing "Crimson Tide.")

**Note:  The Ship is huge and not air conditioned so be prepared.** 
We took 2 hours to see it all.
And happily we took another Segway tour.  You may recall my enthusiastic endorsement of these tours in my Minnesota post.  Again, take my word for it...JUST DO THIS!  It is a great way to see a city and learn a new skill at the same time.

Our guide worked in Wilmington's film industry, so our tour included several familiar"sets" from movies and TV.  Did you know Screen Gems Studios is located here? In fact, some locals call their city..."Willywood!" 

Anyone ever heard of "Dawson's Creek" or "Sleeping with the Enemy?"

Oddly enough, and much to my relief, the movie "Cape Fear" was NOT filmed here.
(I still check under Guy's Tahoe to make sure Robert DeNiro isn't hiding under there!)

We even got a peek at a film crew.  Check out my photo of the "location shoot" for the pilot of a new show called "Hart of Dixie."  It's set in the '60's and stars Rachel Bilson (that's her in the doorway) and Scott Porter.  Look for this show in the fall on CW.
We spent 4 hours exploring the inspiring Airlie Gardens.  Commonly called the "gardens by the sea," Airlie is amazing with its breathtaking combination of formal gardens, wildlife, historic structures, walking trails, sculptures, views of Bradley Creek, 10-acres of freshwater lakes, and the grandeur of the 462-year-old Airlie Oak.

The Gardens are known for a collection of over 100,000 azaleas and countless camellia cultivars, which bloom throughout the winter and early spring.  Displays around the Airlie Oak, Pergola Garden, and other areas bloom with displays that are changed seasonally. caught me.
These last 3 photos are of our gardens!

Our last day in State # 33 was Guy's birthday!  So he chose the beaches: Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville.  Besides railroads and lonely dirt roads, my husband loves to explore abandoned beaches.  (Wait until you see State # 19 - Maine.)  A thunderstorm had passed through the Fort Fisher Historic site about an hour before we arrived.  In fact, you could still see the storm out at sea.  We had the beach all to ourselves!

And I believe that covers our visit to State # 33

North Carolina

(Except for our Dining Destinations.)

Next time...

North Carolina "Chow-down"

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