The last but arguably most epic thing we did before returning home from the beach was a visit to Shackleford Banks to catch a sight of the infamous wild horses that live there on this otherwise uninhabited island. This island was first discovered by John Shackleford in 1713, and used to be home to the Shackleford family, and later several hundred other residents until the frequent hurricanes persuaded them to all move back inland. The population tally was down to 0 by the early 1900s. Since then, it has become part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore area.
กิจกรรมสุดท้ายของทริปชายทะเลเที่ยวนี้คือการไปตามล่าหาม้าป่าบนเกาะ Shackleford Banks เกาะร้างแห่งนี้ถูกค้นพบโดยคุณ John Shackleford ซึ่งมาตั้งหลักปักฐานสร้างบ้านอยู่กับครอบครัวตั้งแต่ปีค.ศ.1713 หลังจากนั้นมีเพื่อนบ้านตามาสบทบอีกหลายร้อยราย จนกระทั่งต่างคนต่างทนพิษพายุเฮอริเคนไม่ไหว เลยย้ายหนีกลับแผ่นดินใหญ่กันไปหมด ทิ้งที่นี่ไว้ให้เป็นเกาะร้างตั้งแต่ต้นคริสตศตวรรษที่ 20 ปัจจุบันเกาะแห่งนี้กลายเป็นส่วนหนึ่งของอุทยานแห่งชาติ Cape Lookout National Seashore
We woke up early to catch the very first ferry out with Island Express Ferry Service in Beaufort. Not only did we want to beat the crowd, but we were also hoping to beat the heat from the sun 🥵, knowing that there was not going to be much shade on the island. And just for the record, I do know how to properly wear a face mask – the reason why my nose was showing in the picture above was entirely because of the strong ocean wind! 😝
วันนั้นตื่นกันตั้งแต่ไก่ยังไม่โห่ไปขึ้นเรือรอบแรกของ Island Express Ferry Service ออกจากท่าที่เมือง Beaufort เพราะกลัวว่าถ้าไปสายเดี๋ยวคนจะเยอะ แถมแดดจะแรง 🥵 อีกด้วย เพราะรู้มาว่าเกาะนี้หาที่ร่มหลบแดดยากมาก ขอออกตัวว่าในภาพข้างบนที่หน้ากากอนามัยหล่นมาอยู่ใต้จมูกก็เพราะว่าลมทะเลพัดแรง ตีซะหน้ากากเกือบหลุด ไม่ใช่ว่าสักแต่ว่าใส่อย่างบางคนเค้าทำกัน 😝
Our first glimpse of the island from the ferry.
It was only a short 15 minute ride from Beaufort, but felt like an entirely different planet when we disembarked! We had only a handful of fellow travelers on the way out with us that day. The captain kindly gave some tips on where to find the horses and seashells. For some reason everybody else went towards the western shore where she said the seashells were abound. We were the only people heading inland in search of the horses.
We spent about an hour walking around one end of the island. The first half was pretty rough. The intense morning sun was beating down on our backs. We went up sand dunes after sand dunes, with no horses in sight. And, just when I was about to give up, we found our first group of horses! 😍
From then, they just kept on coming. We’d be rounding a turn and coming up with more, weirdly all of them were in groups of three. In the end, we counted 12 horses in total – pretty impressive in a relatively short amount of time on this 1 x 8 square mile stretch of land! According to the National Park Services, who keeps a close watch on them, there are supposed to be over 100 of them roaming around. These were believed to be descendants of the Spanish mustangs, brought over to these shores by shipwrecks in the late 1500s.
We called it quits after getting our fair share of free ponies entertainment and realizing that we had circled back to the north side of the beach, not far from where we started off from. We found the only shade in sight to set out our picnic lunch, which happened to be this lone structure just steps from the only restroom on the island. 🙄
After our beach hike, we drove over to check out the town of New Bern. Not only is this our very first state capital, it is also the second oldest city in North Carolina. This town was established in 1710, by Swiss and German immigrants. ‘Bern’ is apparently an old Germanic word that means ‘bear’ – that’s why there are bear statues and signs everywhere in town!
Like every other towns we visited on this trip, there weren’t many people around, even on a Sunday afternoon. 😔 A quick stroll through the downtown area took us from one historic structure to another. Overall, a very lovely place! This is also the birthplace of the infamous Pepsi-Cola drink. Oh, and did I mention all the bears? 😆
To celebrate the town’s 300th anniversary in 2010, the city commissioned local artists to paint more than 50 life-sized fiberglass bears and installed them all over town for public enjoyment. These are the ones we found from about an hour of walking around the downtown area. The full list can be found in this map.
The highlight of this particular tour for me, was Cedar Grove Cemetery. It was a beautiful space near the edge of town close to Neuse River. The grand entrance on Queen Street features a triple-arched gateway known as ‘The Weeping Arch’ following the legend where people witnessed liquid droplets that inexplicably materialized whenever a funeral procession passed through. Notable graves include those of several local congressmen, artists, and authors, but the most famous of all was none other than the Pepsi inventor Caleb Bradham‘s.
ไฮไลท์ของทัวร์วันนั้นสำหรับเราก็คือสุสาน Cedar Grove ซึ่งตั้งอยู่ใกล้กับฝั่งแม่น้ำ Neuse River ทางเข้าหลักบนถนน Queen Street เป็นประตูโค้งสามชั้นซึ่งเป็นที่รู้จักกันในชื่อ ‘The Weeping Arch’ หรือ ‘ประตูโค้งร่ำไห้’ โดยได้สมญานามมาจากคำร่ำลือที่ว่า เวลามีขบวนงานศพเคลื่อนตัวลอดผ่านครั้งใดก็ตาม จะมีหยดน้ำรูปร่างคล้ายหยาดน้ำตาปรากฎให้เห็นทุกครั้ง ราวกับว่าใครกำลังร่ำไห้เสียใจกับการจากไปของสมาชิกรายใหม่ที่ย้ายเข้ามาสู่สุสานแห่งนี้ ที่นี่มีหลุมศพของคนสำคัญมากมาย ไม่ว่าจะเป็นบุคคลสำคัญต่างๆทางการเมือง ศิลปิน นักเขียน แต่ที่โด่งดังที่สุดก็คือหลุมศพของคุณ Caleb Bradham ซึ่งเป็นผู้ให้กำเนิดเครื่องดื่มเป๊บซี่ที่เรารู้จักกันดีนั่นเอง
Because we weren’t comfortable having a cat sitter coming into the house to take care of our fur babies 😻 while we’re gone on a trip like we usually do because of the pandemic, we decided to instead drive back home half way through to check up on them ourselves. It was not that bad, only a couple of hours each way. Totally worth the extra peace of mind if you ask me! 😆
After making sure our kitties were okay, we went back to the beach house and set out on another cool hike the next day. This time, a beach hike at Pine Cliffs Recreation Area, which is the beginning of the 20-mile long Neusiok Trail. It is also part of the infamous Mountains-to-Sea Trail, whose many sections we have hiked numerous times before!
หลังจากกลับมาที่บ้านน้อยริมแม่น้ำ วันรุ่งขึ้นเรากลับไปเดินป่ากันต่อที่ Pine Cliffs Recreation Area จะเรียกว่าเดินป่าอาจจะไม่ถูก เพราะดูแล้วจะใกล้เคียงกับการเดินชายทะเลซะมากกว่า 😆 ที่นี่เป็นเส้นทางเดินป่าที่มีชื่อว่า Neusiok Trail ซึ่งมีระยะทางกว่า 20 ไมล์ และเป็นส่วนหนึ่งของเส้นทางเดินป่าสายหลัก Mountains-to-Sea ของรัฐนี้ที่เราไปเดินกันมาหลายช่วงแล้ว แต่นี่เป็นครั้งแรกที่จะได้มาเดินช่วงใกล้ปลายทางติดทะเล
We drove to the trailhead at Pine Cliffs Recreation Area in Havelock. The area felt deserted. There was only one other car parked there when we got there. It was a little hard to figure out where the actual trail was. All we saw was debris everywhere, perhaps remnant from a recent storm? 🤔
เราไปจอดรถไว้ที่ Pine Cliffs Recreation Area ในเมือง Havelock ซึ่งตั้งอยู่ติดริมแม่น้ำ ไปถึงมีรถจอดอยู่แค่คันเดียว เดินวนอยู่นานหาทางไปไม่เจอ แถวนี้ดูแล้วรกร้างมาก มีเศษซากปรักหักพังระเนระนาดอยู่ทั่วบริเวณ ไม่แน่ใจว่าโดนหางพายุพัดกระจัดกระจายไว้ตั้งแต่เมื่อไหร่ 🤔
We finally decided to just descended down to the beach and started walking. It was amazing how the terrain here was so very different from what we had ever encountered before. This trail borders the Croatan National Forest right along the sandy beach of the Neuse River. Hiking in, we have forest to our left, and water to our right. It was such a stark contrast of landscapes, creating a very interesting ground for us to explore. 😍
สุดท้ายตัดสินใจปีนลงเนินไปที่ริมน้ำแล้วเดินเลียบชายฝั่งไปเรื่อยๆ ภูมิประเทศที่นี่เป็นอะไรที่เราไม่เคยสัมผัสมาก่อน ฝั่งซ้ายเป็นป่าทึบ Croatan National Forest ส่วนทางขวาเป็นแม่น้ำ Neuse River ที่กว้างขวางจนให้ความรู้สึกไม่ต่างไปจากทะเล เดินแล้วเหมือนกับได้ประสบการณ์แบบทูอินวันในทีเดียว 😍
Some of the tree stumps were polished by years of wind and salt water exposure.
There weren’t many blazes along the path. We managed to spot a few, but they weren’t very easy to locate!
We walked about a mile or so, before turning around and went back to the car. Even though there was a nice constant flow of sea breeze throughout the hike, the temperature was high in the 80s, and we were getting overheated. 🥵 All in all, we clocked in at almost exactly 2 miles, which took us just a little over an hour to finish. We met one family in the beginning, just done with the hike and heading back to their car. About half way through, we ran into another group of people setting up a tent and chilling on the beach, with their boat parked at the shore nearby. All in all, a very lightly-trafficked trail, perfect spot if you want to avoid the crowd, especially during pandemic time!
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
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! 😳