Welcome back to the coast of North Carolina. We are moving northward from the Cape Fear river today, covering the stretch from Kure Beach up to Wrightsville Beach.
At the mouth of the Cape Fear River lies the remains of Fort Fisher, a civil war defensive position built by the Confederacy. Today, the area holds a number of treasures for those that are willing to take the forty five minute drive out from Wilmington. There is also A Ferry that runs between here and Southport.
The North Carolina Division of Parks maintains this area, which constitutes about six miles of fine sand beach on one side and tidal estuaries that abut the Cape Fear River on the other.
There is a large visitor's center with ample bathrooms and a lot of picnic area. Indoors there are some exhibits of local wildlife.
This is the first place since Amelia Island in Florida where you can drive your car on the beach.
Next door is Fort Fisher and the Fort Fisher Museum.
This fort was built to protect Wilmington's shipping interests, and served that purpose from 1861 to 1865. Huge mounds of dirt were built up which gave canon operators a great field of view and good range to fire on ships trying to enter the river.
Between mid December 1964 and mid January of 1865 the fort came under Union attack. The fort finally fell on January 12th. However, the greatest loss of life was yet to come. On January 16th, drunken Union soldiers who were wandering around with lanterns and randomly firing off weapons accidently set ablaze the main magazine, killing a total of 200 men.
There are a number of civil war related articles in the museum - the most interesting to me was this prosthetic leg.
Someone went to great lengths to hollow this out and even provided a somewhat flexible ankle joint. Reminds me of Amputee Sam Campfield in Savannah who told me that when his prosthetic leg was stolen he was hopping mad.
And just up the street lies the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
This is a beautiful facility whose exhibits focus on local river and marine life.
They even have a live albino gator here, but in spite of waiting for an hour or so I never could get a clean photograph of him.
Numerous large tanks mimic local ecosystems. The displays are all well light and easily seen.
I think these are the invasive Lion Fish - I don't know my marine species that well and I forgot to take a picture of the sign.
But the jellyfish display was really striking. It is a circular tank about twelve feet tall with black lights that highlight these odd creatures as they do their graceful underwater dances.
After six uninterrupted miles, the public beach ends abruptly.
The properties are typical of beach development in the 1960's and 1970's.
This stretch of land is known as Kure Beach, whose last census listed it as home to about 2,000 residents.
A lot of the houses seem to be set up as seasonal rentals, but besides a small convenience story there isn't much commercial property.
It has a bit of an idyllic look - the houses are pretty uniform in style. I love the variety of colors that are used in these beach communities.
Sometimes the colors and the architecture combine to look a bit like a piece of art.
Immediately adjacent is Carolina Beach, with a few condo high rises and a number of smaller hotels.
I didn't see anything too far out of the ordinary here - but the high vantage point of one of the hotel's top floors allowed an interesting photo of some pelicans on the wing.
The last mile of Carolina Beach is Freeman Park, with ample camping sites right along the beach.
Masonboro Sound is the next geographic feature, the then there is Masonboro Island, an atoll that is a nature preserve and runs along the next six miles of the Atlantic.
Which brings us to the third and major beach that serves the Wilmington area - Wrightsville Beach.
Wrightsville Beach has a large variety of shops and restaurants, but isn't too over-developed either.
There are a few high rises and hotels - this view is of the pool at the Holiday Inn on Wrightsville Beach..
We have moved about fifteen miles off the river now, and behind the beach is some tidal estuary. This is home to numerous marinas and a thriving community. An early morning photo of the tidal marsh just before a rain shower looks a bit surreal.
Construction is continuing here - it won't be too long until this area is fully developed.
A big thanks to Jim Batey and the fellows at Zulu Discovery that helped me get these photos on the water.
If you missed it last year, you might want to read the article about Jim's Discovery just off the coast here. It is one of those things that has the potential to re-write the history books.
And that brings us to today's "Faces in the Crowd" photo.
And today's parting shot(s) are of some of the newest models in the fast growing golf cart business. I guess this is a luxury model?
And I am not quite sure how to classify this one . .
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Have a great day !!