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 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! 🤣