South of the Sound Autumn Fundraisers

pocosin arts columbia, NC albemarle soundHere’s a couple of special fundraisers to help welcome the fall season. These exciting opportunities feature two unique sound side centers. One event includes a benefit auction hosted by a regional arts center. The other fundraiser presents a family friendly paddling tour which benefits a local environmental/sustainable agriculture organization. Get out and support these organizations, which help promote a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural and natural resources of eastern NC. Have fun, plug-in and get involved!

 

Pocosin Arts Albemarle Sound

Annual Benefit Auction at Pocosin Arts
Columbia, NC
Saturday (9/26)
5 – 9 pm

Come out for an exciting evening of art, music, local seafood and fun! Pocosin Arts has been promoting the arts of the Albemarle Sound region with classes, workshops and retreats for more than 20 years. The non-profit center is located on the historic waterfront in Columbia, NC along the Scuppernong River.

Pocosin Arts

Circle Jar by Matt Repsher
2015

Several established and emerging artists have generously donated their mixed-media works of art. Featured artists include resident ceramic artist, Matt Repsher and renowned North Carolina artist Robert Johnson. Johnson’s work blends surreal landscape paintings and ‘field guide’ inspired botanical sketches. His paintings have been exhibited in the North Carolina Museum of Art, The Eno Gallery, The Asheville Art Museum and The Morris Museum of Art. All proceed benefit Pocosin Arts.

Click here to register and to view the complete schedule of events. $

 

Paddling Albemarle Sound

Fall paddling along the Albemarle Sound
Photo courtesy of Susan Johnson

Spruill Farm Fun Paddle
Roper, NC
Saturday (10/24)
7am – 3pm

Enjoy a fun full day of paddling, food and adventure along Kendrick Creek and the Albemarle Sound. The 5–7 mile excursion benefits the Spruill Farm Conservation Project, a 110-acre farm that engages in sustainable farming, environmental research and education.  A light breakfast and full lunch will be served.

To guarantee a commemorative t-shirt, register online by Friday (10/16), 2pm. Registration day of event 7–8:30am. Participants may bring their own boats or kayak/canoe rentals can be reserved in advance at Roanoke Outdoor Adventures. $

 

 

 

Cycling Around the Albemarle Sound

Views of Croatan Sound reward cyclists along Manteo's multi-use path.

Views of Croatan Sound reward cyclists along Manteo’s multi-use path.

My wife and I recently moved to the land along the Albemarle Sound. Cycling the area has been a great way to discover the coastal region. I’ve always enjoyed exploring a new place while I’m running, hiking, walking or riding. You instantly get a ‘feel’ of the topography, smell the fresh tilled farms and develop a muscle memory of the landscape. There’s something about cycling that causes me to reflect upon a pleasant nostalgia of distant journeys, dirt-ball adventures and happenstance encounters. So whenever I clip in, saddle up and ride along the white line of the highway, I eventually contemplate the past, present and future. If you’re planning your own cycling adventure along the Albemarle Sound, here’s a few pre-trip planning resources that might assist you with your next ride.

Albemarle Sound Advice

North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Division of Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation designated a system of bicycling highways. They publish free maps of each route. The state system of bike-friendly routes offer nine different routes that cover over 3,000 miles of lightly traveled highways. Several years ago, I traveled the 300-mile Ports of Call Route (NC Bike Route 3) from South Carolina to Virginia. The route leads cyclists along a historic colonial-era rendezvous of the Tar Heel state’s historic port cities and towns.

bike route

The Division of Bicycle & Pedestrian Transportation also publishes regional and local maps. One of the ‘go-to’ guides I suggest for cyclists of all levels is Bike Albemarle. The guide offers more than a dozen local loop routes, several connector routes and additional state and extended routes. The resourceful guide showcases interesting towns, points of interest, bicycle shops, restaurants and camping facilities. I’ve found the map the perfect planner and companion guide for local day-trips to weeklong outings. All of the maps provide a section of bicycle safety and NC state laws, which are useful for both novice and experienced riders.

Cycling the Outer Banks

There are several cycling options along the OBX albeit summer months may not be the best season for cyclists due to the increased traffic and visitation to the coast. The Dare County Bicycle Map offers a series of contiguous rides along wide paved shoulders, multi-use paths, and other longer routes including a section of the Mountains to Sea cross-state bicycling highway. The 7-mile side-path option along Roanoke Island offers a perfect outing for families. A number of historic sites and parks can be conveniently accessed along the trail including Roanoke Island Festival Park, NC Maritime Museum, NC Aquarium and Fort Raleigh Historic Site.

Part of a rewarding and successful cycling experience begins with a detailed map and a trip checklist. So order a free set of maps to help you navigate the scenic backroads along the sound. Be safe and invite a friend along for your next ride!

cyclingalbemarlesound

Craft Beer, Small Batch & Big Rewards!

Weeping Radish - craft beer on the Albemarle SoundA fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.

I laughed when I walked in the pub and read the quote inscribed on the chalkboard. Down near the bar, a couple was test-driving a flight of small batch beer crafted on site at Weeping Radish Brewery Butchery & Pub. Over the past decade, North Carolina has quickly sprouted into one of the top craft-beer states in the nation. According to the NC Craft Brewers Guild, “The state boasts the greatest number (132) of craft breweries in the American South.” Weeping Radish can claim fame as being the Tar Heel State’s oldest operating brewery and one of three microbreweries located within the Albemarle Sound corridor.  The Currituck County brewery has “proudly brewed on the Outer Banks since 1986.”

The unique brewery-farm-pub often surprises travelers making their manic drive to or from the Outer Banks. The brewery is located on the Caratoke Hwy. which straddles a narrow strip of rural mainland bordered by Currituck and Albemarle Sounds.

My wife and I scheduled a brewery visit while looping the sound on a 180-mile driving tour. I wanted to sample the “handcrafted 100% natural beers” so I set off on my own flight plan which included a chance to taste the microbrewery’s signature brews and a couple of their seasonal ales. The friendly waitress delivered us a paddle of seven, gently brewed beers. I reviewed the laminated beer cheat sheet which was placed below the paddle and in the same order as the flight of craft beers. Perfect!

 

Weeping Radish's flight of craft beersThe Bitter Bee was first choice in my flight and definitely the one which sounded the most intriguing. This was the brewery’s version of an American IPA but distinctively brewed with locally sourced honey. My wife & I took turns sipping on the golden-colored ale. We both noticed a subtle yet lingering taste of honey. The IPA was light on the “hoppy” side and it had a  ‘creamier’ texture than most traditional IPA’s. My first take: A refreshing summer IPA with a slight hint of citrus.

The flight guide described their Ruddy Radish as a “bright ruby colored, well-balanced dry hopped with strong malt character.” The medium body ale had a slight but pleasant buttery aroma and mild notes of caramel. The OBX Kolsch may have been my favorite! The crisp, light and fruity flavor and medium carbonated beer paired well with the pub’s soft baked pretzel — so well, that I treated myself to a 4-pack of OBX Kolsch to share with my friends back home. Oh yeah, and a mixed pack of Ruddy Radish, Bee Bitter and Corolla Gold.

On your next outing to the Outer Banks, be sure to stop by the brewery or search for the fine local craft beer at this location.

Common Bond in Edenton

 

Edenton BrickworksThe sun baking on the bricks grabbed my attention as my wife and I walked into town. “Edenton Brickworks” was stamped into a few of the bricks adorning the building that now housed a local law firm. It felt a little bit like an archeological ‘find’ embedded in a modern structure possibly laid many years later and most likely, long after the brick making company had fired its last brick.

I’ve only lived in this historic colonial town for a few months but I already know a thing or two about Edenton Brickworks. Maybe that’s because our cottage home and surrounding neighborhood is steeped in the brick maker’s heritage.

We live in the Historic Edenton Cotton Mill Village, which sprouted up in the early 20th century. The mill was built in 1900. J. A. Jackson of Hertford, NC was awarded the bid on the project to make one million bricks. Edenton Brickworks leased their brick making machine to Jackson during the construction of the expansive cotton mill. Some of the bricks were purchased in Hertford but the bulk of the bricks were made on site. After the building was completed, Haywood Cullen Privott, director of the cotton mill purchased 20,000 bricks left over from the project to construct his lovely Queen Anne Style home on 205 East King Street.

Haywood C. Privott House, 1900

Haywood C. Privott House, 1900

The W.O. Speight House, located on the edge of town, is another Queen Anne Victorian style brick home in Edenton. It was built and designed by the founder and owner of Edenton Brickworks. Oscar Will’s company made all the bricks for the home, cotton gin, and surrounding outbuildings. The home includes three floors, seven fireplaces and solid brick walls 18-inches thick. The plantation house and property was once the center of a large cotton and peanut farming operation.

W.O. Speight House, Edenton, NC - 1900

W.O. Speight House, 1900

17th Century Brick Architecture

Northeast NC was one of the earliest regions in the state to build homes constructed of brick. Early settlers from the northern colonies and particularly from Virginia first introduced brick-making techniques to the region along the Albemarle Sound.

As early as the mid-1600’s, wealthier residents began using brick in the construction of homes and buildings. By the next century, the coastal area was known for its brick and tile making. A fine example of 18th-century brick architecture still standing is the Newbold-White House in neighboring Perquimans County. It was constructed in 1730.

Edenton’s Walkable History!

My wife and I have been impressed with the area’s passion toward preservation, history and promoting the region’s heritage. We’ve found this enthusiasm to be quite contagious.

We enjoy taking walks through the historic town and isolating various architectural components so that we may learn more about the town’s fascinating world of old homes and buildings. Some days we focus on windows and doors. On other outings, clapboard or weatherboarding give us clues to a particular era. Domestic brick architecture can be an interesting feature as well. The manner or pattern it was laid often reveals the work of different bricklayers and various sequences of brick bonds used in the construction of a home or building.

Most of the techniques were imported from the Old World and include Common, English and Flemish bonds. The 1767 Chowan County Courthouse was raised in English Bond for the foundation and laid in Flemish Bond brick above the water table. Understanding these ‘bonding’ methods and physics of brick laying gives one a better perspective on the construction and detail of a particular structure. For example, a common bond technique may consist of one course of headers on top of six to eight courses of stretchers. The longest dimension of the brick would tie or “bond” into the wall creating more strength.

Flemish diagonal bond observed on 1767 Chowan Co. Courthouse

Flemish diagonal bond observed on 1767 Chowan Co. Courthouse

Sloping cornices of gables, segmental arches, decorative end gables and corbel lintels are other brick architectural details to look for in southern colonial architecture.

I’m always treated to new treasures and discoveries while strolling the historic streets of Edenton. It seems like a story unfolds around each corner whether it’s a visit to the Roanoke River Lighthouse, a guided tour of the Cupola House or a casual walk with the dog. To learn more about Edenton’s 300 years of history, come by for a visit and discover some architectural gems of your own!

 

Stretch the legs and take your family and dog for a lovely walk through Edenton’s Historic Cotton Mill Village. Visit the Edenton Cotton Mill Village Museum of History to learn more about its history and Preservation NC’s successful model to repurpose the mill and village homes.

Roanoke Island Paddling Excursion

 

break along Roanoke IslandSugar sand beaches, calm waters and Carolina blue skies welcomed us on our paddling group’s first summer outing. Allan, our trip leader, had sent us three wonderful options along the Albemarle Sound corridor. The group’s top choice was a half-day circuit on the southern shores of Roanoke Island. The paddle trail description showcased a variety of interesting features including views of Jockey’s Ridge, open waters, beaches, tidal creeks and numerous areas to observe wildlife. Boaters often see dolphins playfully swimming and feeding around the Roanoke Sound Channel.

We put in at the convenient Washington Baum Bridge landing east of Manteo which dropped us directly onto the channel. Since the wind was light, we opted to paddle the open water section first then complete the loop through a series (maze) of tidal creeks, ditches and cuts. The total distance was approximately seven miles.

The five of us never saw any dolphins in the sound. However, as we paddled around Broad Creek Point, we spotted a sweet little sandbar perfect for our first snack break. The water was so clear that we observed several crabs in the shallow waters. Blue Herons and Great Egrets were feeding in the marshes and we sighted an armadillo scurrying along the banks.

We looked over the large creek and noticed the secluded fishing village of Wanchese, NC. Allan said he had heard of paddlers who paddled directly up to the marina for cold beer and delicious fresh seafood. But today it was P & J sandwiches, a banana and lots of water. The first summer heat wave had come early this year and today’s forecast predicted mid-90’s. With this on all of our minds (and cold beer) and the fact that we would have zero shade for the rest of the day, our group packed up and launched the boats back into the water.

Using a primitive map of Roanoke Island, we navigated our way up a diminishing creek. I’d been stranded at low tide on tidal creeks before so I was a bit anxious about finding the correct cut through the island. The map revealed several dead-end waterways so I continuously checked the map and looked for telltale landmarks. Unfortunately, there were no trail markers so we were now on a discovery tour – or scavenger hunt as it turned out.

Most of the land surrounding the creek is managed and owned by the NC Wildlife Resource Commission. According to the Nature Conservancy, this tract of 1,766 acres includes one of the most undisturbed black needlerush marshes remaining in North Carolina. Smooth cordwood grass is also common along the brackish waters. The marshlands and associated waters offer a rich biological soup of nutrients and habitat for wading birds, shorebirds, mammals, fish and crustaceans.

After a few hours in direct sunlight, some in our party were beginning to second guess our current route and the “biological soup” metaphor wasn’t exactly the best choice of words since we were slowly starting to “stew” ourselves in the blazing sun. We ventured into a couple of smaller creeks only to have to turn around and search for another outlet. This created a chain reaction of boats having to reverse their course, sweep their paddles wide and turn back toward the larger opening. Finally, just when we were getting close to a modern day mutiny of the bounty, we found the opening to John’s Ditch. More importantly, a motorboat full of enthusiastic teenagers assured us that we were back on track. Allan and I knew it all the time. Sure thing!

The final couple of miles of paddling turned out to be some of the best as we meandered through the waters of Sand Beach Creek to the beautiful beaches at Johns Creek along the Roanoke Sound. Just beyond the point we discovered safe haven and the expansive bridge above the take out. A few of us took a break on the sandbar and I finally ate my delicious sandwich, swam in the refreshingly clear water then tanked up on more water for the last section of the trip.

Back again on the sound, the wind was still light but the increased afternoon motor boating around the landing created lots of chop within the wake zone. Tough day out in the sun but a great trip and one which I’ll do again and again!

 

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