Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Recent Travels (Snorkeling and Baldhead Island)

Lighthouse on Baldhead
I got back from North Carolina a little before midnight last night.  It was a long ways to drive while arguing over music with a teenager who reminded me that next year, she could drive and I could sleep.  I told her that the thought of that will keep me from sleeping till next year and that I don’t think learner’s permits are valid out-of-state (I maybe wrong, but it was a good story).  We finally compromised on listening to a book and I was surprised that she was willing to listen to Wallace Stegner’s The Big Rock Candy Mountain.  We got through about half of the book.  In addition to seeing family and exploring colleges (did our guide at Davidson really wear a pressed Polo dress shirt with shorts and flip-flops), we spent lots of time on the beach.  One morning I went snorkeling with my brother at the jetty on the north end of Masonboro Island.  Another day, we went my brother, sister-in-law and niece to Baldhead Island, which sits at the mouth of the Cape Fear River.   It was a nice ride in the boat down the river and back.  My daughter and I also took in a movie, going to see The Hunger Games (a large part of the movie was filmed in North Carolina). 
Beach houses on Baldhead

Back in the late 70s, they started developing Baldhead (you have to take a ferry or boat over).  Before that, the only people who lived on the island were the lighthouse keeper, an occasional garrison.  In the Revolutionary War, the British built a fort on Baldhead to protect their fleet that mostly stayed moored in the mouth of the Cape Fear where they remained a thorn in the Colonies side.  What may have been the first amphibious operation by the American military occurred on the island when the colonies attempted to remove the British.  It was unsuccessful.    During the Civil War, Fort Holmes protected the main (south channel) of the Cape Fear, but when Fort Fisher (which guarded a shallower yet preferred channel used by blockade runners) fell, Fort Holmes found itself cut off and was abandoned.  
Marsh behind Baldhead
The point at Cape Fear
The barrier islands are shifting sand.  Much of Fort Holmes (as is much of Fort Fisher) is now in the Atlantic as the shoreline changes. Of course, those who build houses don't think much about the shifting coastline, but it's a reality and the island shape may change again, come another hurricane.  In front of Baldhead are the Frying Pan Shoals that extend out some forty or fifty miles and causing lots of shipwrecks.
The Fort Fisher/Southport Ferry (as we ran back up the river)
A jellyfish (from my snorkeling expedition)
One of the neat things of the little pocket camera that I got for my trip last year is that it's waterproof up to 25 feet and can be used to snorkel.  The water wasn't that clear the day my brother was out, but we did see a lot of fish (some sizable sheephead and black drum along with lots of pin fish and spot)
That's me on the surface
that's me, underwater
that Sheephead wasn't very photogenic

22 comments:

  1. I know you had a great time on this trip, and I'm so glad you could share it with your daughter.

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    1. It was great, sorry you weren't in Raleigh when we passed through

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  2. i really need to get an underwater camera...they are so cool...love the shots...and been there...sounds like you had a fun travel companion along too...ha...yeah that will keep me awake one day as well...smiles.

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    1. Underwater cameras like this one are cheap, it wouldn't be good for scuba but is great for snorkeling.

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  3. The beach house reminded me of the "Seasmoke" residence in the movie "Stealing Home". I had to laugh at the dress code of your guide!! Great post, Sage!!!

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  4. On the radio here that has been a skit running where people ring in about the stories told to them as kids by mostly their fathers. The very best one is the Ice-Cream vans bell. Parents told kids that the man rings the bell when he's empty. Anyway I'm certain you'll sleep like a baby while the kid drives you.

    Sounds like a good trip was had. But how coming from those environs can you stand the damp wet freezing cold of Michigan. And I don't think the genetic history of the Highlands dreach crosses that distance.

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    1. I have never liked hot/humid weather (unless I am on the water). Don't know, but there has to be something in my genes that makes me like the cooler climate. I have always thought it strange that so many from the Highlands headed to Cape Fear.

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    2. Can you still see the split in settlement with those from Ireland and UK with Anglo surnames and those with Scot/Native Irish ones. Or to put it another way. Those that went under their own steam and those sent or settled.
      I must do a snapshot on the census someday.

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    3. Vince, I don't think you can really see the split. Most of the Highland Scots came into NC at the Cape Fear (they either came to NC or Nova Scotia, two radically different climates). The Scot/Irish mostly moved into the western part of the Piedmont of NC as they migrated down from Virginia and Pennsylvanian. It has been a while since I read them, but I do have a book by Duane Meyer, "The Highland Scots of North Carolina, 1732-1776 and Billy Kennedy, "The Scots-Irish in the Carolinas"

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  5. dude that ME fish has to be the strangest creature in the ocean! Really wanna mess with your daughter make her learn to drive a standard shift and not one of those to easy automatics. One benefit for me was I knew none of my sons friends could drive a stick shift.

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    1. Good idea about the straight shift. That jelly fish is the only thing more bald on top than me in the water!

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  6. I like reading these posts just to hear the names. They seem so foreign and almost exotic compared to the names of things around here.

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    1. Thanks for not making a comparison between me and the island's name!

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  7. What a nice time! As much as I love North Carolina, I haven't been to that part of it. And some of my cousins went to Davidson - a great school. I can just see that kid and what he was wearing. :)

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    1. Davidson is a good school, but also very preppy. You need to get down east, Lynn!

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  8. Makes me think of a setting for a Stephen King novel.

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    1. An island with the only link to the mainland being by boats, storms and wind and the rustling of sea oats... that would be a nice setting for the revenge of the ghost of a long dead soldier or lighthouse keeper

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  9. It looks like a beautiful and relaxing place.
    Maybe I'll visit there someday...

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  10. Very cool.

    I'm sure you ate a lot of Spanish mackerel.

    I miss the ocean.

    Cheers.

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  11. I told her that the thought of that will keep me from sleeping till next year

    That was good. Also the part about when they started developing Baldhead got me to thinking about when I started developing mine.

    Enjoyed the pictures, too!

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  12. I drooled over your happy vacation. So excited to hit the beach this summer!

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