Saturday, July 11, 2009

(North) Carolina on my Mind

The past several days have been wonderfully fun and amazingly different - they really epitomize what cruising is all about!! Tuesday (I think) we were anchored in Thoroughfare Creek off the Waccamaw River in South Carolina in a beautiful, protected anchorage right off a sand dune beach (yes there was actually sand and not mud although the water still was that coffee shade of brown). After a morning of boat chores, we set off in Hobos to explore the many rivers and creeks that split off from the big creek we were on and the Waccamaw. The sky was looking ominous -after living on the water for a year, you really get to know the weather and everything about the sky that day was screaming rain, but we were determined to see the sights and a little rain never melted anyone anyways! What an amazing afternoon - we followed one creek after another, some of which led back to Thoroughfare Creek and others which led to yet one more creek - some of the creeks were no wider than our dinghy while others we could have brought Gypsies through. The one thing that did not change was their beauty - while different, each creek was bounded by unbelievably diverse vegetation - towering spanish moss strewn cypress trees, marsh grasses with blooming wild orchids, flowering yellow bushes, mangroves and so many more trees, bushes and flowers that I don't even know the names of!! The whole area is a national wildlife refuge so it is wild and pristine! The wildlife was spectacular - we passed floating turtles and otters (we didn't get to see any gators but when we are in the dink, that's OK by us!), osprey, hawks and herons circled high above us, while yellow and red songbirds sang to us from their perches in the trees along the creek banks, and butterflies and dragon flies of every hue dive bombed us as we slowly crept through their creeks (one dragonfly even hung out on Hobos with us for a little while)!!! What was the most amazing though, was the reflection of the creek banks and the sky in the waters ahead of us - trees and flowering bushes showed mirror images in the water as did the clouds - the lack of sun made our exploration of the creeks almost eerie in a way and certainly added to the banjo effect back there in the wilds! We came upon a sole fisherman down one tiny little creek - talk about alone time!! Occasionally we felt rain drops throughout the afternoon but often we were down a little creek with trees overhanging the waterway which prevented us from feeling the full effect - until one biblical burst of rain caught us!! It felt like hail coming down so we high-tailed it back for Gypsies but we were 5 or 6 miles away. After several miles, the rain started to slack off again so famous last words "let's do just one more creek" - we turned around and did!! Wrong answer - as we got back a ways into the creek, the rain started to fall heavy again - OK this time we figured it was really time to head back. The quarter-sized raindrops were so big and coming down so fast they pelted us like hail and by the time we got back to Gypsies, we looked like the otters we'd seen swimming in the creeks - but so what, we had one heck of a great afternoon (and we didn't melt)!
A Picture Taken Straight Down into the Water. All You See Are Reflections!
The Creek
A Side Creek with Many Reflections
One of the Many Creeks Branching Off from Thoroughfare Creek
Another of the Side Creeks
A Deadend on One of the Side Creeks
A Big Tree Reflected
Cypress Trees with Spanish Moss
A Wild Orchid
A Heron on the Side of One of the Creeks
A Dragonfly that Took a Ride on Hobos for a Little While

We wanted to do happy hour over on the beach so we could stick our toes in the sand at least - we anxiously waited for a break in the rain and when it came (OK it never really stopped raining but it seemed to lighten up to just a few drops here and there), we joined the September Song crew on the beach for a doggie swim break and a few adult beverages. We were joined by Ralph, an interesting local who lived on one of the surrounding islands and seemed to be in sore need of companionship. As the dogs played and we consumed our happy hour beverage, the rain decided to pick up again which soon enough (along with Ralph) drove us from the beach back to our boats! But we had stuck our toes in the sand - which was a major tease and just made me even more in need of a real beach day!! Soon....
The Beach

The next day we set off up the Waccamaw River - this is truly one of the most spectacular sections of the Atlantic ICW!!! The Waccamaw is bounded on either side by cypress swamp with the cypress trees covered in spanish moss and growing right out into the edges of the water - it being yet another overcast day with light fog and haze, the Waccamaw took on an almost surreal image.
A Large Cypress Tree at Waters Edge
Each foggy bend in the river opened up another beautiful vista of lush vegetation and teeming wildlife. We saw more osprey on this one stretch of river than I have collectively seen in my whole life and it was obviously just past the breeding season as each nest contained osprey babies as well as the proud mom or dad!! The osprey make their homes in the tops of usually dead trees and the ICW channel markers with twigs, reeds and spanish moss - some of the nests we passed were huge!!! Osprey are truly one of the most magnificent looking birds - brown and white ruffled feathers, an aquiline nose and a serious wingspan - they are gorgeous and so graceful to watch in flight!! What a treat - the pictures can't do these majestic creatures justice especially since it was so overcast and hazy!!

After a beautiful day on the water we tucked in to a marina on the side of the ICW at Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach for the afternoon/evening. Soon enough we were off to explore the various shops/bars of Barefoot Landing which is a fairly touristy section of Myrtle Beach (but then again what section isn't touristy??) - we did a little window shopping at several outlet stores before requiring sustenance!! We successfully avoided the numerous chain restaurants that dot the landscape in Myrtle Beach to get some local flavor - Joe's Crab Shack seemed to fit the bill! For desert we walked through the peanut store where there were tons of free samples - OK we made a small pig of ourselves at the chocolate and toffee covered peanuts, but not too bad!! After so many peanuts, we were parched once again so found Bully's - a great bar with 31 beers on tap, happy hour and pool tables!!!!
Bully's Bar
While not sampling all 31, we did partake of a few tasty beverages before the pool tournament got under way (and then a few more during!) After several solo games we picked teams and I do need to brag a little here - the girls kicked some serious boy butt!!! but fun was had by all!!!
Tammy, the Pool Champion
Doug Does His Best
Bob Racks so Stephanie Can Break in Girls Against the Guys
Afterwards we headed to TBonz for another happy hour and several appetizers which turned into dinner! There's something about playing pool and having app's in a bar that makes for a great afternoon!

We left Myrtle Beach the next morning early (along with about 100 or so jet skis!!!)
September Song Being Passed by A Few of the 100 Jetskis
and passed one of our favorite bars from the trip down - Key West Crazy (we'll see you next time through Mike!) Doug could almost taste those cheese grits as we passed - the best he's ever had he claims and that's saying something!!!
Key West Crazy
The morning was overcast again and down right nippy so out came the sweatshirts for the first time - light ones, but long gone was the 100 degrees we "enjoyed" in GA!! We passed into North Carolina right as the rain started to fall and we headed down into the pilothouse to run from there - but the rain didn't last long (at least that time) - for the rest of the day we were back and forth between the pilothouse and the flybridge - just when we thought we were out of the woods, another storm burst would come through. Of course the worst of the rain was when I took the helm going through the Cape Fear River!!! But no worries mon! We finally pulled off the ICW and anchored off of Wrightsville Beach, NC!!!

Instead of heading out with September Song the next morning for Moorehead City/Beaufort, NC we decided we were in desperate need of a beach day!!!
September Song Heads Off Toward Beaufort, NC
From where we were anchored, we could dinghy into a municipal dock and walk a block and a half to a huge beach on the Atlantic Ocean with white sand and clear water!!! That was just an opportunity we couldn't pass up - we haven't been on a real beach since the Bahamas!! So yesterday we did nothing but chill and relax - no boat chores or projects, no blog, no steaming - nothing!! We dropped the dink first thing in the morning and hopped over to the dinghy dock to scope out the beach and check out town!! Wrightsville Beach is the quintessential surfer, summer party town which was just what we had in mind!! We checked out several surf shops and funky bars and then headed back to the boat to pack up for an extended beach day - towels, chairs, books and a cooler of lunch and coldies. It turned out to be the perfect beach day - not a cloud in the sky, a nice sea breeze so it wasn't too hot, warm, clear Atlantic Ocean water and kicking waves!!! We stopped on the way to the beach for a boogie board and proceeded to have a ball all day - I rode some pretty great waves, some pretty huge waves rode me and net, net I swallowed enough salt water to last me a lifetime, but it just made the cold beer taste even better!!! We finally left the beach around 4:00 pm feeling wonderfully tired and yet refreshed - there's nothing better than that feeling of salt and sun and sand after a truly decadent day on the beach!!
The Wrightsville Beach
Tammy Goes Boogie Boarding
Doug Does What He Does Best - Sits and Drinks Beer

Last night we started our countdown to the new Harry Potter movie, Half-Blood Prince, by having dinner while watching the Sorcerer's Stone (the first HP book/movie) - each night we plan to watch one of the prior Harry Potter movies to get us really psyched and then wherever we are on the 15th, we'll have to find a movie theater and "get our fix"!! OK we're still addicted to the whole Hogwarts crowd!! This morning we left bright and early from Wrightsville Beach to head up to Morehead City where we will meet up with not only September Song but Rick and Lynnie from Rickshaw who we traveled with for awhile over in the Bahamas!! We can't wait to catch up with those guys - and where 2 or more DeFevers are gathered, a party is sure to ensue!!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment