We discovered a cool new hiking spot very close to home this weekend at Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve. We had originally planned on a hike at Duke Forest since it had been a while since we were last there. But due to a late start 🙄, we didn’t get to leave until almost 4 pm. 😆 I did a quick search and landed on this new-to-us location just a few miles down the road from where we live.
เมื่อวันเสาร์ที่ผ่านมาเราไปเจอเส้นทางเดินป่าแห่งใหม่ใกล้บ้านโดยมิได้ตั้งใจ ตอนแรกเตรียมการจะไปเดินกันที่ Duke Forest เพราะไม่ได้ไปมานานแล้ว แต่ด้วยความที่ตื่นสาย 🙄โอ้เอ้ไปมากว่าจะได้ออกจากบ้านก็ปาเข้าไปเกือบบ่ายสี่โมง 😆 เลยลองเสิร์ชหาที่ทางใกล้ๆบ้านดู ก็เลยมาเจอ Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve แห่งนี้เข้า ขับรถไปจากบ้านไม่กี่นาทีก็ถึง
This is a very short trail, less than 2 miles total. We started off on Swift Creek Loop, which took us along the said creek, then continued on Beech Bluffs Loop, where a series of steps, fancily named the Stairway to Heaven, took us up to the top of the bluffs.
เส้นทางนี้เป็นทางสายสั้นๆ แค่ไม่ถึงสองไมล์ เราเริ่มต้นกันที่ Swift Creek Loop ซึ่งพาเราเดินเลียบไปกับลำห้วยเจ้าของชื่อ จากนั้นจึงต่อไปยัง Beech Bluffs Loop ซึ่งมีขั้นบันไดที่เค้าตั้งชื่อไว้ซะเก๋ไก๋ว่า Stairway to Heaven ที่นำเราไปขึ้นไปถึงบนผาสูง
From there, we came back the same way, took a little detour to check out Creek Loop, before ending back up where Swift Creek Loop branched off.
จากที่นั้นเราหันหลังกลับทางเดิมที่มา แต่แวะไปดูทางแยก Creek Loop ก่อนวนกลับไปถึงจุดเริ่มต้นที่ Swift Creek Loop
Since this is a loop that put us right back where we started off from, we had to do both the ascending and descending twice. Needless to say, the steps felt a lot nicer on our tired legs on the way back down! 😅
All in all, we clocked in at 2.13 miles, which took us a little over an hour due to the elevation gain. I have a feeling this will become one of our frequent spots when we need a quick hike in the future! ☺️
We had such an epic fail on our hiking attempt a couple of weeks ago! 😆 We started off at the New Hill-Olive Chapel Road section of the American Tobacco Trail in Apex. Since it rained the day before and we remembered this trail to be nicely paved, we thought it would be a good choice. Plus, the path is wide, making it appropriate for our ongoing social distancing effort.
เมื่อสองอาทิตย์ก่อนตั้งใจจะไปเดินป่ากัน แต่เกิดการล้มเหลวไม่เป็นท่า 😆 เดิมทีกะว่าจะไปที่ช่วง New Hill-Olive Chapel Road ของเส้นทางเดินป่า American Tobacco Trail ในเมือง Apex เพราะฝนตกหนักวันก่อนวันที่ไปเลยพยายามหาที่ที่ไม่ต้องลุยโคลน จำได้ว่าทางที่นี่ราดยางเกือบตลอดสาย แถมกว้างขวางเหมาะแก่การเว้นระยะห่างทางสังคม
It turned out there were too many cyclists for our comfort on the trail… 😐 They kept zooming past us in close range on high speed again and again, none of them wearing any masks. Joel had read studies that said the virus could be more easily transmitted through airborne droplets especially from cyclists and runners. The theory, though subsequently debunked by others that came after it, made us pause and eventually decided not to take the chance. So we turned around and headed back to the car.
After a brief research, we set out to another trail nearby called the Eagle Spur Trail, which sounded like it would be nice and secluded… The trail supposedly ends at Jordan Lake after a little over 2 miles then we would turn around and head back. We drove past the trail head and found a small parking lot nearby, then walked back to it. Spoiler alert, we didn’t make it very far! 😂
จากนั้นเราไปลองกันอีกที่คือ Eagle Spur Trail ซึ่งอยู่ห่างไปไม่ไกล ฟังดูน่าจะไม่ค่อยมีคน เป็นทางเดินประมาณ 2 ไมล์กว่าๆไปถึงทะเลสาบ Jordan Lake แล้วกลับทางเดิม ไปถึงขับเลยไปนิดเจอที่จอดรถไม่มีรถซักคัน อุตส่าห์ดีใจว่าทางคงโล่งดีไม่มีคน เดินไปได้ไม่ทันไรถึงได้รู้ว่าทำไมไม่มีคน 😂
We discovered that the trail was completely flooded over just a few steps in. After we got home, I did some more research and found that apparently, this trail had been flooded for over a year now… Some people suggested wading through the flooded section with waders or trash bags since it was “just knee deep” and “only 30 feet” long. 😬
Still determined to hike that day, we looked at the map and pinpointed a road around the bend that could potentially let us bypass the flooded section to continue on the trail. Once there, we quickly realized that the vegetation was way too thick to wade through, especially with Joel in his hiking shorts. So, after this third try, we finally gave up hiking for the day. 😆
In the effort not to waste the trip entirely, I started spotting cool stuff along the road on Route 751. First up was this cute little garden center called For Garden’s Sake. They have this old blue truck parked out front with pumpkins scattered all over it. I can’t believe Fall is finally here! 😍
Next up was Old Mill Farm, where a pair of goats and sheep each were hanging out right by the road. This male goat was very loud. I initially thought he was friendly, but quickly realized he didn’t want us anywhere near them, so we obediently retreated once we got his message, loud and clear! 😆
Last but not least, I assumed this used to be a grocery store at some point, but had long gone out of operation. It’s cool that they preserved the place with such cool decor though. There was a house in the back and a gentleman in the garage was watching me when we stopped over. I waved to him and he waved back, so I think he was OK with me taking pictures of his place… 😛
After hiking at Cedar Point Tideland, we stopped by to check out the little town of Beaufort. Before we went, when I mentioned that we were going, Joel said, “Beaufort, weren’t we there at some point?” and I insisted that we hadn’t been there, or I would have remembered. 🤨 But he was right, I recognized it as soon as we got there! We had taken my parents there on their Outer Banks tour when they came to visit, back in 2016. 😝
Beaufort is North Carolina’s either 3rd or 4th oldest town (depending on which source you refer to 🙄), established in 1713, and was once ranked as “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel Magazine. We could definitely feel the effect of the ongoing pandemic there. The Beaufort we saw this time was a lot quieter than the last time we were there, despite it being in the middle of summer, usually peak tourist season. There was barely anybody walking on the streets. Many stores were shut down with closed signs out front.
This is such a quaint little town, full of historic homes lining the now quiet streets. Each has a plaque displayed out front along with the date it was built. Most have been beautifully kept and maintained.
One of the main tourist spots in town was Beaufort Historic Site, where nine historic buildings had been restored to show life in the 18th and 19th centuries here. These include an old jail, a court house, and an apothecary shop.
Nearby in the same historic district was the Old Burying Ground, the town’s oldest cemetery. Many of the graves there came with very interesting stories. There was a captain who was buried with a cannon from his ship mounted on top of his grave. A lady whose husband was thought to have died in a shipwreck so she married another man before her first husband returned alive and agreed to her living with the new guy under the condition that she be buried and spending eternity right next to him. Another little girl was buried in a rum barrel after she died at sea on a voyage from England.
Before we left, we walked past this large boat yard with a big sign out front. Apparently they were working on refurbishing a replica of this historic boat from Colonial time called The Periauger. This very boat was used to film the 2019 movie ‘Harriet‘ where Harriet Tubman, the famous American abolitionist and activist, led the Union army into battle that ended up freeing over 700 slaves in South Carolina.
The first day on our Inner Banks trip, we went hiking at Cedar Point Tideland. The trail is located at the mouth of White Oak River, and alternates between a salt marsh and a coastal forest. This was a completely new terrain for us. Even though it was a short hike, which we were thankful for, given the heat index that day, we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!
ทริป Inner Banks เที่ยวนี้เราได้มีโอกาสไปเจอประสบการณ์เดินป่าแปลกใหม่แบบที่ไม่เคยลองกันมาก่อน Cedar Point Tideland ตั้งอยู่ที่ปากแม่น้ำ White Oak ทางเดินที่นี่ลัดเลาะข้ามป่าชายเลนริมฝั่งแม่น้ำ ถึงจะเป็นทางสั้นๆ (ซึ่งพอเหมาะพอดีกับระดับความร้อนในวันนั้น) แต่วิวสวยแปลกตาคุ้มค่ากับหยาดเหงื่อ
I could never get tired of this beautiful landscape! 😍
Even the wildlife here was different! This time we saw several tiny crabs scrambling in the mud flats, a few herons hunting for prey, and tons of fossilized shells. Also colorful mushrooms!
On the way back, we stopped by to check out the Salty Air Open Market in Cedar Point. We love the easygoing ambience they got going but we must have gotten there way too early or something… Even though we spent almost an hour nursing our beer and kombucha, the food truck never opened up (they had been “getting it ready” the entire time 😒). We finally gave up and went to grab lunch at a different place instead.
หลังเดินป่าเสร็จเราไปแวะกันที่ Salty Air Open Market ซึ่งเป็นตลาดนัดเล็กๆกลางแจ้งในเมือง Cedar Point บรรยากาศดูดีอยู่ แต่สงสัยว่าเราจะไปถึงกันเช้าเกิน อุตส่าห์นั่งละเลียดจิบเบียร์กับชาหมัก kombucha อยู่ตั้งนาน ร้านอาหารก็ยังไม่เปิดซักที (คือเห็นเค้าจัดเตรียมกันอยู่ตั้งแต่ตอนไปถึงใหม่ๆ แถมบอกเราว่า “อีกแป๊บเดียวเดี๋ยวเปิด” 😒) รอจนสุดท้ายรอไม่ไหวเลยได้ไปหาข้าวกินกันที่อื่นแทน
Last Friday was my birthday. 😊 We celebrated it COVID style by going on a hike at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. This is a familiar trail, very close to home, and one of our favorites in the area. We have been here several times, but I just realized I never did a post on it. So I figured this is a good opportunity to do so!
There is a visitor center that houses many facilities, including a restroom, a nature center, a recycled garden, and a little outdoor playground area for kids. I imagine this would be a great place for families with little ones.
The trails here are short and nice, very well paved with plenty of mulch that feels pleasant and cushiony when you step on it. We like to come here especially after it rains because we don’t have to worry about the mud.
This time we started off on the East Hemlock Bluffs side, which leads to Swift Creek Trail. The steps leading down to it didn’t seem like much on the descending portion, but were pretty brutal on the way back up! 😓 There were a few lookout stops on the way for you to rest though, if you need to catch a breath or two. Parts of this lower loop section were these long boardwalks that look harmless but can be very slippery after a downpour. 😅
คราวนี้เราไปเริ่มกันที่ฝั่งตะวันออกกันก่อน ซึ่งมีบันไดยาวนำไปสู่ทางที่มีชื่อว่า Swift Creek Trail ตอนลงไปก็ไม่เท่าไหร่ แต่ตอนขากลับขึ้นมานี่สิ ปีนกันลมแทบจับ 😓 แต่เค้ามีที่ชมวิวให้พักเหนื่อยอยู่สองสามจุดระหว่างทางถ้าขึ้นรวดเดียวไม่ไหว ทางเดินด้านล่างมีส่วนที่เลียบไปกับลำห้วยเล็กๆปูด้วยพื้นไม้ ใบไม้ที่ตกอยู่ตามทางเหล่านี้ดูสวยก็จริง แต่เวลาฝนตกใหม่ๆต้องคอยระวังมิฉะนั้นอาจจะเกิดการก้นจ้ำเบ้าได้ 😅
After climbing back up the steps, we headed over to the West Hemlock Bluffs side to do the Chestnut Oak Loop Trail. Since this is a short one, we did it twice, first counter clockwise, then the other way round.
เสร็จจากนั้นเราก็ไปต่อกันยังฝั่งตะวันตกซึ่งเป็นทางเดินที่เรียกว่า Chestnut Oak Loop Trail ด้วยความที่ทางสั้นมากเลยได้เดินวนกันสองรอบ
Half way through the hike Joel noticed that his Apple Watch did not seem quite right. 🙄 We put ours next to each other to compare and realized the abnormally large elevation gain shown on his. (Mine does not have it because it’s an earlier series.) I know we climbed those 100 steps, but there was no way that was a 140 million feet, even though it might feel that way! 🤣 A full reset once we got home appears to have fixed whatever issue there was, for now!
This is another series I am introducing as the new-normal alternative travel format we had adopted during this ongoing pandemic. Since we cannot travel freely and safely like we usually do during this time of the year, I forced myself to tap into my creative outlets 🧐 to try to come up with trip ideas that would allow us to leave the house and unwind for a few days while exploring interesting spots closer to home. To minimize our risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus, I have established a few rules…
Destination must be within no more than 4 hour drive from home.
Overnight stay must be in a non-hotel venue, where we do not have to share the ventilation system with other people.
Activities must be limited to outdoors only.
If eating out, it must be at a restaurant with outdoor seating.
For our first trip, I chose a much quieter counterpart of the otherwise well-known Outer Banks area of North Carolina, a.k.a. the Inner Banks. This is where the Neuse River meets the Pamlico River at Pamlico Sound, which is the largest lagoon along the US east coast, and is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the infamous Outer Banks.
I found a really cool airbnb property in Arapahoe, which sits right at the bank of the Neuse River. It was such a perfect location, quiet and away from the crowds, yet equipped with its own private little beach and a small pier that gave us the illusion of being on a beachfront property without the usual exorbitant price tag! 😉 Despite being one of the eight identically looking houses on the same property front, we barely saw anybody during the entire time we were there. The house itself was clean and cozy, apparently with a lot more room that we needed, not that we are complaining! 🙄
Apart from sunrises and one sunset we were able to catch on the way home one day, night time there provided an (almost 😝) equally pleasant view of the moon reflecting on the water by the pier. There were a few nights when it was windy enough that we didn’t have to worry about getting eaten alive by the mosquitoes 😓 so we could sit out sipping on glasses of wine, listening to the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore and pretending that there wasn’t a worldwide pandemic going on… 🥺
Besides a few evening walks along the private beach, we were able to fit in a couple of unique hikes and a few excursions during the trip, each of which I will cover in its own separate post. With the location of the house being in Arapahoe, most of our ventures involved taking a ferry across the river to get to the other side. We could have driven around the sound but that would mean covering twice the distance in approximately the same amount of time which seemed like a total waste of gas. 😣
The Minnesott Beach-Cherry Branch Ferry was nothing like what we had imagined… 😆 First of all, it was completely free, which is almost unheard of during this age and time! Second of all, it was teeny tiny! We were picturing a large ferry like the ones we use to take to visit the Outer Hebrides in Scotland… But when we got there, the only thing we saw was this tiny little thing that didn’t look like it could hold anything other than just a few cars, despite the long lines of cars waiting to board. We could barely see it from our vantage point at the front of the very last line. We first thought the actual ferry hadn’t arrived… But before we knew it, the cars ahead of us started to move, onto the very tiny platform! 😱 They just kept cramming us on, until everybody, all the waiting cars and trucks, at least 30 or even more, are packed tightly on both sides!
In the picture you see above, we were at the very back of the line, at the edge of the ferry on one side, so you can see there wasn’t much in terms of room in front of us… 😅 Each trip took approximately 20 minutes. The whole process was very efficiently run by just a few crew men directing traffic on and off the ferry. We were very impressed and grateful! One tip we can share is to make sure you check the ferry schedule before departure, otherwise you can be stuck there waiting for the next one for up to more than an hour! We did learn the hard way. 😆
Since our choice destination wasn’t located near any big tourist attractions, our options in the food consumption department was pretty dire… 😓 Fortunately, we found The Friendly Market! This chic venue in Morehead City was responsible for more than 75% of our meals while we were there. We visited twice to stock up and came back very happy with pretty much everything we got. The staff were super nice and ‘friendly’ as the moniker proudly attested! 😍
The few superstar dishes worth mentioning include their tomato pie (which we got both times!), blue cheese collard dip, and shrimp & grits. Make sure to try at least some of these if you get a chance to visit in person! 😉
This section is a little embarrassing to share but I’ll go ahead with it any way. 😆 So, I’ve seen plenty of photos of pretty blogger ladies posing in beautiful dresses by the beach on their vacations (pre COVID-19) and I’ve always wanted to recreate something like that… I’ve packed my prettiest beachy dress for this very purpose! 😊 I don’t know how they all got their dresses and their hair to blow so perfectly in the wind like that! 😅 After several dozen different takes, I have come to a conclusion we either need a better model, or a better photographer in order to make this happen properly! 🤣
We are back again with another Pandemic Pit Stop installment. 😊 I wasn’t really planning on having another one this soon… But then I accidentally came across an article about this rather famous sculpture currently on display not too far from us. When I learned that it would be leaving town at the end of August, I decided that we should go check it out while we still could! 🤔
This tour took us about an hour west to Burlington, and other small towns surrounding it. First stop is a 50-year-old barn located in a quiet little windy road in a little town called Whitsett, brightly painted with a larger-than-life Mickey Mouse. It was in such great condition we could tell that it had been maintained with tender loving care 😍 throughout the years. According to the page I found it from, the barn was built in 1971 by a gentleman by the name of Tom Kleeburg. I couldn’t find any other information about it online, unfortunately. 😔
Next stop was the tiniest church I have ever seen in my life! This miniature Friedens Lutheran Church in Gibsonville was constructed with the logs from the original church, which was built in 1745, after it burned down in 1939. There was an old well right next to it, and a set of benches surrounding some cross-shaped stone plaques with beautiful religious quotes.
I happened to notice that there was no lock on the door…so I nudged Joel to go and try see if it would open. 🤔 Two unhinging maneuvers later and voila, the doors did indeed open to reveal a fully functional church, with a carpeted aisle flanked by two rows of tiny little pews, leading to the front podium with a small wooden cross, two candle holders (one with a candle still in it), and an opened book of bible. Needless to say, our minds were completely blown! 😳
Glencoe Mill Village is located in the town of Burlington, North Carolina. It gave us a glimpse into the time when textile production was booming here in the late 1880s. The Glencoe Mill textile factory stood right next to the bank of Haw River and was operational until the 1950s. A little village sits nearby to provide housing for all the workers. The beautifully preserved homes, 38 of them restored by the National Register of Historic Places, sit on a neat little street, in a row of pastel-colored lineups. We spotted a few folks lounging on their front porches, just like in the old days.
This little lady appeared to be the town ambassador of some sort. 😻 She promptly came to greet us as soon as we stepped out of the car, and proceeded to give us a private tour of the village for a bit. That is, until some creature came scurrying by and captured her attention, so she had to excuse herself to go tend to the more urgent business at paws! 🤣 We spotted her again on our way back, chilling on a porch of one of the houses with whom we think was her mama (since they looked like carbon-copies of each other, except for the sizes!). As soon as she saw us, she came running right back over, followed closely by her mama. Turned out, the uber-friendliness does run in the family!
We walked over to check out the remnant of the textile factory complex, just across the street from the village. The beautiful brick structures featured several buildings, all shut down but look to be in great shape. According to their web site, some of these are available for lease as art studios at pretty reasonable prices. There was a sculpture with a label calling it “Weaver’s Tools” which is meant to commemorate Glencoe Mill’s history. At the far end, we also found 2 rusted pieces of large propellers that likely were used to power the mill.
เราเดินแวะไปดูตึกโรงงานทอผ้าที่อยู่เยื้องๆกันกับตัวหมู่บ้าน ส่วนใหญ่ตัวตึกทำด้วยอิฐและปิดตายไว้หมดแต่ยังเดินดูรอบๆได้ web site ของที่นี่บอกว่าตึกบางหลังเปิดให้เช่าเป็นสตูดิโอสำหรับศิลปินในราคาค่อนข้างย่อมเยา ที่หน้าตึกมีรูปปั้นกระสวยทอผ้าขนาดยักษ์ที่สร้างขึ้นเพื่อเป็นอนุสรณ์แด่สถานที่ประวัติศาสตร์แห่งนี้ นอกจากนี้ยังมีใบพัดอันโตจากกังหันที่เคยนำพลังงานน้ำจากเขื่อนมาสู่โรงงาน