Thursday, July 09, 2009

D'ya want to go to the seaside?

The setup:  Jason and I arrive in Wilmington at about 7pm on Thursday evening to start our Fourth of July holiday.  

This was not a bad introduction to the trip - the historic Taylor House B&B, our home for the weekend.

The very picture of southern charm and restful weekends spent on the front porch, mint julip in hand...

And our lovely room...

Allright, I'm going to be very forthright and rather blunt with you all right about now.  Jason and I went out Thursday evening and without meaning to, got rip-roaring, face-falling-off drunk and stumbled into the B&B at about 3:30 AM, staggering and giggling and "Shhhhh!" -ing my way up the 100-year-old staircase with a McNugget hanging out of my mouth and clutching a fist full of french fries.  

(Yes, we had our taxi take us through the McDonald's drive thru.  It was the only thing open that was on the route back to our B&B.  But that didn't stop me from yelling from the backseat for "IHOPWAFFLEHOUSEHASHBROWNS!" about every 30 seconds.)

It was supremely hilarious.

At the time.

The next morning?

Decidedly less so.

I woke up looking like the very vision of death.  And my mouth felt like I had licked the south end of a north bound mule.  But that didn't last long because everybody (beer, wine and vodka) was getting kicked out of the party in my tummy, posthaste.  

Jason put it best when he said "You know, sometimes you need to do this to remind yourself why you shouldn't do this."  Bingo.  My 32-year-old ass most definitely got the memo.

Somehow, someway, we managed to somewhat recover and by about noon, were on our way to the Fourth of July Festival in Southport.  (With a pitstop at Bojangle's, of course.)

Y'all?  Fourth of July is some serious business in Southport.


Attempting to soak up the alcohol...

But the smell of all that food and the heat of the cookers was making me feel a little like my Bojangle's cajun fries were about to stage a comeback tour so I grabbed Jason by the elbow and made a beeline for the waterfront.  

Only 3,271 miles to Southport, England eh?

Here we are trying to look not-hungover.  Successful?  

Jason wasn't sure whether there really was a sign for an enchanted forest or if he was just still drunk.

Southport is the epitome of quaint coastal living.  Lots of whitewashed buildings...
 

Back in Wilmington that evening, we had the pleasure of meeting up with a friend of mine from high school who I had not seen in about 14 years!  It was so nice to catch up and reminisce.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to meet his wife and brand-new baby this time but Jacob has kindly offered to get me over my kayakophobia next time we're in town.  He's got his work cut out for him but I'm willing to try.  

Some shots of the Wilmington riverside at dusk...  To the right - the USS North Carolina battleship, which was used in WWII, has been docked here in the Cape Fear river since 1961.

And to the left - the drawbridge.

The next morning, we awoke in much better shape and were even early enough to enjoy a cup of coffee on the front porch before breakfast.  (And I'm not wearing even a trace of makeup - not even moisturizer - so please try not to focus in on the general area of my face.)

Wilmington is such an eclectic little city and there are lots of totally different styles of architecture crammed next to each other.  It's a little bit Deco...

A little bit Federal...

A little bit Neo-classical Revival...

A little bit of this...

A little bit of that...

And of course, quite a lot of this...a typical old Antebellum residence.  But this one is the granddaddy of them all here in ILM - the Bellamy Mansion.

Those columns make me want to make a dress out of drapes and recite a rousing soliloquy about nevah going hungray ahgaihn.  I don't know why.

My attempt at fancy picture-taking on the iron gate surrounding the mansion:

Another thing I love about the city is its artsy feel.  There are public sculptures and works of art all around.

Back down to the riverside for an afternoon stroll...

The city put in this gorgeous riverwalk many years ago and along the way are lots of boutiques and restaurants.  In fact, one of our favorite restaurants in Wilmington is here - Elijah's.  Over the years we've had more servings of their crab dip than I could even begin to count.  And if you can get one of the river front tables, all the better.

The battleship and drawbridge in daylight...


After all that walking, a treat was definitely in order.  For Jason, this meant a fresh-made mini cannoli from the Italian Market.

Sunday morning, we checked out of the Taylor House bright and early and headed down to the riverfront to catch a walking tour of the city that we'd heard was really good.  (Later to be referred to as The Walking Tour That Would Never End.)  It's done by a 70-something year old man who has lived in Wilmington his whole life and knows A LOT about the city.  Actually, that doesn't even begin to cover it.  He knows EVERY DAMN THING about the city.  And EVERY DAMN BODY in the city.  You think I'm exaggerating.  I'm not.  Not even a little bit.

This man gave us a history lesson on the city for AN HOUR AND A HALF before the walking part of the tour ever even started.  He was surely entertaining and I found out a lot of stuff I never knew, but AN HOUR AND A HALF, people.  Then, we started walking.  On every corner, he stopped and introduced us to someone he knew.  Half a dozen or more cars stopped dead in the street to say hi.  He took us into people's YARDS and I'll be damned if one couple didn't invite us all inside to see their historic home.

What made this whole experience even funnier was that this gentleman was most certainly "a confirmed bachelor" ifyaknowwhatimean...  Do ya?  Hmmm?  He told us that he used to be a decorator.  He is on most familiar terms with the young gay couples in town.  Or as he affectionately called them, "the queers".  Hilarious!  He was as flamboyant as the day is long.  At first, I thought it was just an exaggerated coastal southern accent (very different from the inland southern accents in the Carolinas) but as the tour went on, it dawned on me.  Holy crap.  This old man is gay gay gay!  Or queer queer queer as he would probably say.

Anyway, THREE AND A HALF HOURS later, The Walking Tour That Would Never End finally did.  Don't get me wrong here.  The tour was fantastic.  I've never seen someone so passionate about preserving the integrity of their hometown.  His mantra is "Don't change the structure.  Don't tear it down.  Work with it.  Create something new with something old."  And he constantly and tirelessly fights the city developers for his cause.  The man is a crusader for historic preservation and every historic city needs someone like him.  I highly recommend the tour to anyone visiting Wilmington.  Just know that it will go on for ages and plan accordingly.  Bring a snack.  
 
Sunday afternoon, we decided to go out to Bald Head Island, even though the weather was less than cooperative.  It had started to downpour towards the end of The Walking Tour That Would Never End But Finally Did and the sky just never recovered, remaining an icky shade of grey that is decidedly not optimal for photography.  Or, in my case - less "photography", but moreso "Oooh pretty!  Snappy snappy picture times yay!"

Anyway.  Bald Head Island.  Some of the most beautiful and architecturally interesting beach houses I've ever seen are on BHI.  We golf carted around and gawped over them for a while.  Luckily for us, we found one we can afford!  What do you think?

Jason and I determined that there are basically a total of four things to do on BHI:

A visit to Old Baldy, NC's oldest lighthouse...


Exploring the natural beauty of the island on a golf cart - the only mode of transportation allowed on the island except bikes...

Beaching...

And the number one most popular activity on Bald Head Island:

Perhaps you can understand why I was loathe to leave.

Alas, real life awaited and we figured we should probably go back to Raleigh at some point.  But there was one more treat to be had.

One of my favorite things about leaving the coast via Wilmington is this awesome sign at the start of Interstate 40.  In case you don't know, I-40 runs pretty much smack across the middle of the USA - almost coast to coast - ending in Barstow, California.  I've always wondered if there's a sign in Barstow that says how many miles it is to Wilmington...  

6 comments:

Peaches N Curry said...

I had no idea Wilmington was that artsy. And that's really brave to eat bojangles after all that booze... wow.
-shaloot

stepharoofoo22 said...

Actually there IS a sign!

http://www.interstate-guide.com/images040/i-040_wt_05.jpg

Funny because there is also a sign in Sacramento that says how many miles it is from Maryland (http://www.route50.com/sacramento-sign-new.jpg)

Gotta love how funny we Amurrricans can be :P

Suze - Cheshire, UK said...

This makes me want to go to America, something shocking.

Heather said...

shaloot - Brave, maybe...but it was almost a crucial mistake...

stepharoofoo22 - You have no idea how happy that picture made me! I love that! :)

Suze - You have a very fluffy guest bed right here anytime you want it! We'll take y'all on a little weekend trip to the beautiful NC seaside...

Caitlin said...

You and Jason always seem to have such a good time together - you're very lucky! NC looks better and better every time I read your blog.

Jacob said...

Well said.

Glad to know Bob's walking tour lasts that long. I'll be sure to pack a bag if I ever decide to take it.

The offer stands to rid you of your kayakophobia next time ya'll are down.