Weather or Not, Here We Go! Midwinter Sound Sampler

Midwinter Sound Sampler of things to do around the Albemarle SoundSo far this winter, we’ve experienced a baffling pattern of weather. A series of cold, windy days gives way to near record high temperatures the following day. Just when you start to take advantage of a spring-like day, the weather changes. Regardless of the unpredictable forecast, we’ve designed a sundry list of things-to-do for the next month or so. This midwinter sampler of events includes a celebration of Black History Month and a state park rain-or-shine outing. We’ve also featured a local Mardi Gras fundraiser and a spring gardening workshop. As you all know, when February rolls around, we coastal plain dwellers optimistically predict that spring is only a few weeks away. Some years, that’s certainly the case so keep your fingers crossed and sync one or two of these events to your personal calendar. We tried to make it easy for you by including indoor and outdoor events. And just in case the fickle weather continues, we added a few more options under the quick-links listings.

Judging by the early display of flowering quince and daffodils blooming in my neighborhood, it looks like smooth (spring) sailing ahead!

Featured Events

Black HIstory Month events along the Albemarle Sound

Slave Voices in North Carolina
Creswell High School Auditorium
Saturday, February 18, 1pm

Somerset Place State Historic Site will share a Black History Month lecture “Slave Voices in North Carolina,” at Creswell High School. The free program will present words from the enslaved including the personal narratives of Moses Roper, Lunsford Lane, and Harriet Jacobs; and the poetry of George Moses Horton.

Lucinda MacKethan, Ph.D. will present the lecture drawing from these narratives and interviews from the Works Program Administration. She will discuss how these works offer an authentic picture of how NC slaves lived, worked, created families, worshipped, and sometimes escaped from bondage.

The lecture will focus on Somerset Place in Creswell, and Historic Stagville State Historic Site in Durham. A reception will follow the program. This project is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council. More info.

 

Programs at Goose Creek State Park

Wetland Wonders!
Goose Creek State Park
Washington, NC
Saturday, February 25, 2017 – 2:00pm

Spend the afternoon with a ranger while learning about the amazing animals that call our wetlands ‘home’.  This program will take place in the Discovery Room which is located in the visitor center. More info.

Goose Creek State Park's Discovery Room

 

 

Goose Creek State Park Trip tip ~ Plan on taking some extra time before or after the program to explore this natural treasure perched along Goose Creek and the Pamlico River. Check out the trails, enjoy a picnic and discover the coastal gem. Be sure to tour the wetlands along the .5 mile Palmetto Boardwalk or enjoy the family-friendly Discovery Room that includes interactive exhibits and a bird observation station.

2017 Mardi Gras Gala for the Outer Banks Children @ Play Museum

The 2017 Mardi Gras Gala for the Outer Banks Children @ Play Museum
Saturday, March 4, 2017, 7:00pm
Jarvisburg, NC

The event hosted by Sanctuary Vineyards features a traditional New Orleans style buffet, wine and beer, live music, dancing, a silent auction and more. Proceeds from the gala benefit the Outer Banks Children @ Play museum – a family interactive museum designed to encourage families to learn and grow together through play! Tickets sell out quickly. $65/person.

 

The Elizabethan Gardens Spring Annuals Workshop

Spring Annuals Workshop
Saturday, March 11, 10am – 12pm
Manteo, NC

The Elizabethan Gardens invites folks to come out from under the winter chill and join the staff for the hands-on workshop. Gardens and Facility Mgr. Jeffrey Wuilliez will discuss and demonstrate techniques in cutting, setting up and designing dormant beds, design layouts and the plantings of spring annuals. Advanced registration required. Limited to 12 participants. $15 for members. $30 for not-yet members.  Some events are subject to change and availability. Please call ahead to confirm details and interest 252.473.3234.

 

things to do along the Albemarle Sound

Midwinter Quick Links

Through February – College of the Albemarle’s Annual Jewelry ExhibitDare County Arts Council host this annual exhibit of jewelry and metalwork, featuring the talents of College of the Albemarle’s Professional Crafts: Jewelry Program.

The Historic Edenton State Historic Site celebrates Women’s History Month with Daily tours throughout March. The guided tours focus on the women who lived and impacted the town and beyond. Historic sites include the James Iredell House, St. Paul’s Church, Cupola House, Barker House and the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse.

SA (3/11), 8am – Running of the Leprechauns, Nags Head, NC. The annual event offers a choice of 5K & 10K routes. Post race party with Irish Stew, Sweet Potato Biscuits & Beer. Packet pick-up will be held at Outer Banks Sporting Events from 4:30-7pm on Friday and race morning from 7-7:45am.

SU (3/12), 1:00-2:30pm – Merchants Millpond State Park invites you to Canoe the Pond in a canoe or kayak.  This is a good time to get a closer look at the mistletoe deformed water tupelo trees, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and various plant life. Meet at the visitor center located at 176 Millpond Road, Gatesville, NC. 27938.  Canoes and kayak provided by the park. FREE. For more information call: (252) 357-1191.

(3/23–27) – The Outer Banks Restaurant Association presents the Outer Banks Taste of the Beach which features four days of food, drink, fun and festivities. This year’s festival includes beer pairings, wine tastings, cooking classes, special multi-course menu presentations, brewery tours, tapas crawls, cook-offs, showdowns and progressive dinners. Over 30 participating venues and nearly 60 events along the Outer Banks showcase the innovative culinary opportunities and talents of the region’s creative chefs.

 

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Paddling Milltail Creek

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A group of Edenton paddlers recently traveled across the sound for an adventurous day exploring the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is home to black bear, deer, reptiles and a variety of waterfowl. Alligators and red wolves also inhabit the 152,000-acres of wild land, wetlands and water. Milltail Creek and Sawyer Lake are popular recreational areas within the boundaries of the refuge and a network of paddle trails is easily accessed from Hwy 64 approximately 15 miles west of Manteo, NC.

Milltail Creek Paddle Trails

Twelve of us caravanned from the Peanut Mill in Edenton, NC to the trailhead, which is located two miles off Hwy 64 at the end of Buffalo City Rd. Paddlers can choose among four paddle trails in the Milltail Creek/Sawyer Lake region of the refuge. Each trail has a color-coded marker along the route that directs paddlers to trail changes and/or trail intersections. Our group was excited to explore these designated paddling trails, which are also called water trails or blueways. Multi-agency coordination, non-profits and volunteers have developed hundreds of miles of trails throughout the Albemarle Sound. Developed paddle trails provide printed and digital information, convenient access, signage, safe parking areas and alternate routes that can accommodate a wide variety of user groups.

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Novice paddlers and families with young children can enjoy the 1.5-mile loop (red) trail that includes a paddle through a narrow canal and a strand along Milltail Creek. There’s also a 5.5-mile point-to-point option (blue trail) along Milltail Creek, which requires a shuttle or a vehicle drop from a canoe/kayak access point along Milltail Rd. The yellow trail follows Milltail Creek west for four miles to the confluence of the Alligator River. The round trip out-and-back is approximately eight miles. The green trail follows the small canal to a passageway that leads paddlers to beautiful Sawyer Lake.

Spirited Trip Leader

Allan, our group leader, always prepares well when he plans a group outing. He does his homework with the research, shoots us a trip summary and invitation. A few weeks later, a dozen or so local paddlers show up for the annual adventure. Allan also has a knack for keeping things fun and maintaining a “go with flow” attitude on each trip.

milltailcreeklanding

After we parked and surveyed the scene at this year’s outing, our energized group offloaded the boats and gear then shared ideas about which paddling trails we wanted to explore. A couple of others intuitively scouted out the launch options to various routes. Immediately from the launch area, boaters face a decision to paddle up a narrow canal (red trail) filled with alligator weed or sneak through a narrow passageway underneath a small bridge and escape into Milltail Creek. Since the wind was light in the morning, we opted for the wide-open space and methodically launched each of our boats, paddled under the wooden bridge, scooted through a weed-clogged barrier and eased into a panoramic view of Milltail Creek.

Even though we were only an hour or so from our paddling commute, we were now paddling in paradise on a gorgeous day and one filled with endless possibilities.

Milltail Creek

Our colorful kayaks provided a delightful contrast with the tannin-soaked water and green alligator weed-choked shoreline. Milltail Creek appeared more of a lake than a creek in some areas. We chose to hug the eastern shore where we soon noticed a trail marker with multiple colors that indicated the intersection of the green Sawyer Lake Trail. We continued along Milltail Creek and paddled approximately 1.5 miles into a beautiful cove. Once out of the cove, we noticed a significant headwind blowing from the south. We paddled another half mile and crossed over the expansive creek then continued along the west bank. A few of us noticed the blue markers along the trail as we completed a circuit on Milltail Creek.

redtrailmilltailcreek

Returning back to the landing, we took advantage of a restroom and snack break then forged ahead up the small canal trail. This section parallels the Sandy Ridge Wildlife Trail – a half-mile footpath that heads out of the parking lot. The narrow passage proved to be lots of fun as our train of boats zigzagged through alligator weed thickets, over downed trees and under outstretched limbs. After twenty minutes, we reached the same intersection that we had scoped out earlier and picked up the blue trail leading to Sawyer Lake.

Sawyer Lake

As we entered Sawyer Lake, OBX Kayak Adventures was leading an Alligator River NWR tour with approximately ten paddlers. The refuge offers licensed commercial outfitters special permits for guiding activities. Several outfitters from the Outer Banks conduct paddling tours to the area.

The lake is surrounded by wetland forests of bald cypress-gum, cedar, loblolly pine, and a variety of bay forest species. Remnant stands of Atlantic White Cedar can be observed throughout the refuge’s forests. We noticed several cavities hammered out by woodpeckers in a number of snags lining the shore. The shoreline is quite deceptive and really isn’t defined by solid ground. A few of us stuck our kayak paddles into the water as depth finders near the islands of alligator weed and lily pads. In most cases, we didn’t hit bottom.

fragrantwaterlilymilltailcreek

In a secluded cove, we instinctively huddled into a rafting group on the northeast corner of the lake and simply let the wind direct our course of travel. We seemed quite content drifting along as we marveled at the natural landscape and mirrored reflections of the lake, forest and sky. Conversations of the historic past were casually discussed. Days of moonshining, dodging revenuers and Buffalo City memoirs were tossed around as we unconsciously shared the natural wonders of wild space.

Reluctantly, we slowly paddled our final leg of the day’s journey. Combining the various trails, our group covered approximately seven miles while utilizing three different trails. Even though we didn’t observe any bears or alligators, the Milltail Creek paddling trip gifted us with a “taste of the wild” and a greater appreciation of the region we work live and play in. Our paddling experience in the Alligator National Wildlife Refuge reminded all of us how good it can be when we successfully balance conservation, education, research, and wildlife with nature, recreation and wilderness. Paddle on!

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waveLINKS things to do…

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As the dawn of the traditional New Year approaches, it’s time to start the year anew and scout out some options for winter’s long voyage. Here’s waveLINKS’ 2016 first quarter roundup of things to do – from a first day hike of the year to a beer fest and more! Indoors or out in the wild, there’s plenty of events, outings, art exhibits and winter workshops going on along the Albemarle Sound and beyond!

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First Step into the New Year

North Carolina State Parks will be hosting 1st Day Hikes to start the year off right. Join the staff at Merchant’s Millpond State Park for a 2.5-mile hike along the Lassiter and Bennett’s Creek Trail. Hikers will be rewarded with hot chocolate, cookies and natural treats like bird watching. What a great way to start the year off on a healthy note! Friday, January 1, 2016; 12pm. Pettigrew State Park will also bring in the New Year with hikes along the trails at Phelps Lake. Click here for more info on First Day Hikes.

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jollybeerandwinefestival

Road Trip! Eastern NC Brew Fest & New Craft Brewery!

Grab a friend and take the year’s first road trip to the 6th Annual Jolly Skull Beer & Wine Festival in Greenville, NC. Sample over 125 craft beers and regional wines. All proceeds benefit the Beer Army Foundation. January 23; 2:30 – 6 pm at the Greenville Convention Center. Online tickets.

trollingwoodtaproom&brewerySpeaking of Greenville, for years it was one of the largest cities in North Carolina NOT to have a brewery. Not any more thanks in part to two childhood friends and an East Carolina brewer who recently joined forces to open Trollingwood Brewery & Taproom. The guys preserved a 90-year old building on Dickinson Avenue. The restored building features 2000 square feet of brewing and taproom space including a brew house floor and long bar with plenty of open seating. Other amenities include convenient on-site parking and a roomy outdoor patio. According to their website, Trollingwood’s brewer, Grayson William’s “brewing background is geared towards developing traditional yet innovative American style ales while using local ingredients whenever possible.” He has perfected four staple brews as well as a lineup of rotating seasonals.

 

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Art for the Ages and All Stages!

The 38th Annual Frank Stick Memorial Art Show is one of the Outer Banks most established fine art exhibitions. Frank Stick was a national renowned illustrator who produced work and cover art for Field and StreamOutdoor America, Colliers, Sports Afield and The Saturday Evening Post. His influence on the Outer Banks as a preservationist and artist made him an obvious choice for the arts council’s first full-fledged, annual exhibition – and one that remains the longest running visual arts exhibit in Dare County.

The exhibition reception will be held Saturday, January 30, from 6p.m. – 8p.m. The exhibition, sponsored by the Dare County Arts Council in Manteo, NC runs through February 27.

Pocosin Arts Albemarle Sound

Share the love of art with younger students at the After School Arts at Pocosin Arts in Columbia, NC. The Session Three series (February 23rd – March 31st) features two exceptional classes.

Ceramics class for all grades meets every Tuesday from 3:30-5:30 pm. Students will have fun learning to work with clay with resident artist, Matt Repsher. Techniques in constructing sculptural objects and fundamentals of wheel throwing will be taught. Participants will use color and surface decoration through texture, glazing and firing as their final steps to create their own unique piece of work.

The Jewelry/Metals Class (Grades 6th – 9th) meets every Thursday from 3:30-5:30 pm. Resident artist, Phil Ambrose will introduce students to the fascinating world of working with metal.  Students will learn introductory skills using a jeweler’s handsaw; create texture with a hammer, rolling mill and other tools. They will also learn to connect elements together with rivets and soldering.  Finally, they will learn how to patina copper in a range of colors from a rich brown to black to enhance their unique sculptures and jewelry.

Food, Drink, Fun and more!

outerbanksrestaurantassoc

Taste of the Beach

The Outer Banks Restaurant Association presents the popular event which features four days of food, drink, fun and festivities. This year’s festival includes beer pairings, wine tastings, cooking classes, special multi-course menu presentations, brewery tours, tapas crawls, cook-offs, showdowns and progressive dinners. Over 40 participating venues and nearly 50 events along the Outer Banks showcase the innovative culinary opportunities and talents of the region’s creative chefs. March 17 – 20, 2016. Info & tickets.

wavelinksthingstodorunning
Kelly’s Running of the Leprechauns 10K

No excuses! Now is the time to jumpstart your training and get back in shape just in time for the Kelly’s 8th Annual Running of the Leprechauns 10K. The 6.2-mile race will be held on Saturday March 12, 2016. The course begins at Kelly’s Restaurant at 2316 S. Croatan Hwy. (10.5 Milepost) in Nags Head. All net proceeds benefit the Outer Banks Community Foundation. March 13, 2016

Here’s to a happy and healthy New Year from all of us at Connecting Corridors!

 

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North Carolina Guides to Craft Distillers & Breweries

wavelinkscraftdistillerstrail

Two new guides have recently been published just in time for the holiday season. The publications conveniently package their products into a resourceful map and guide that showcase the Tar Heel State’s craft spirits and brews. One leads the adventurer along a Craft Distillers Trail while the other entices folks with a comprehensive tour of North Carolina’s 181 breweries and 43 craft beer festivals.

North Carolina’s Craft Spirits

No doubt about it, from early colonial days to prohibition North Carolina has always had a rich heritage in the culture of making spirits. But instead of the bootlegging or moonshiner reputation, today’s legal craft distillers are often described as artisans, scientists and entrepreneurs. The state’s recent craft distillery business is beginning to blossom. Across the state, from the mountains of WNC to the Outer Banks, distilleries are creating spirits crafted from family recipes, locally sourced ingredients and lots of l-o-v-e. Some craft spirit enthusiasts refer to the growing trend as the farm-to-flask movement.

Recent NC legislation has made it a tad bit easier for distillers to sell their artisanal spirits on site with some mandated restrictions. The new law enacted October 1 2015, allows distillery permit holders, which offer guided tours, to sell one bottle, per person, per year.

Perfect Timing

About the same time the ABC Ominbus Legislation was passed, The NC Distillers Association and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services published a free Passport to the state’s Craft Distillers Trail. The handsome “Collector’s Edition” includes a 30-page pocket guide which features a map, an alphabetical listing of all of the distillers and detailed information about each craft distillery. Sticking with the passport theme, patrons can have their passports stamped at each distillery they visit and true to form, “Each seal is unique as its location.”

Our Albermarle Sound neighbors, Outer Banks Distilling are members of the NC Distillers Association and of course, they’re included in the Craft Distillers Trail. The local distillery is located in historic downtown Manteo and they lay claim as the first legal distillery on the Outer Banks. The small batch distillery creates Kill Devil Rum and Buffalo City Rye, which according to the guide are both named after local lore. I’ve personally enjoyed their delicious “molasses to glasses” premium white rum.

Speaking locally, Scott Smith, one of the four owners of Kill Devil Rum recently informed me that their Carolina pecan honey and seasonally spiced rum has hit the shelves at regional ABC stores. The premium dark rum was hand crafted in Manteo with pecans from Manns Harbor and honey from Wanchese. Can’t get more local than that! The seasonal rum can also be purchased at their distillery located at 510 Budleigh St. Come out and support the guys at Kill Devil Rum and pick up a bottle of rum and a copy of the passport. Last time I checked, the distillery was low on the popular passports. Also check for copies at all NC Welcome Centers. Click here for more info.

thegreatN.C.beer map

Photo courtesy of EDIA Maps

The Great N.C. Craft Beer Map

Charlotte-based EDIA Maps published this fun and clever guide in October. It is the brainchild of “map makers and adventure takers” Amanda Fisher and Paul Bright. In their original press release, the cartographers stated that, “The Great N.C. Beer Map provides detailed information on all the craft breweries in the state and can be used as a resource for planning a trip and tracking one’s travels. It is also an educational resource for understanding the art, science, and history of craft brewing.”

Over 200 breweries and beer festivals are featured on the map. Creative sidebars compliment the map and include information about the Science of Ordering, The Wild World of Beer and even an Illustrated History of Beer Games. Sounds like a spendid gift for those who love craft beer and boutique maps. Fisher suggested that The Great N.C. Craft Beer Map is the perfect tool for planning an excursion to various craft breweries in the state. She added, “We wanted to give people an idea of what the brewery experience would be like and what to plan for, while still leaving a few surprises to be discovered.”

Gift one of your friends, family or loved ones this holiday with a unique NC-crafted niche map or poster. Colorful folded maps are available online for $9.99 and unfolded NC beer memorabilia poster versions sell for $29.99. You can also pick up copies at the breweries and various retail locations.

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Americana Beer Fest Honors Veterans

Americana Beer Fest

Americana Beer Fest

Saturday, November 7, 2015
5pm – 9pm
Manteo, NC

Sounds like a great evening of local craft beers, live music, culinary samples and all for an honorable cause. The fest features over 20 styles of small batch brews from local breweries and five veteran-owned breweries. Proceeds will benefit the Dare County Veterans Advisory Council.

This is a new festival in an exciting lineup of Outer Banks Beer Fests. Come out and support our veterans, sample craft beers, learn more about craft brewing and hang out in the Game Zone. The event is held at The Pavilion at Pirate’s Cove Marina. All patrons MUST be over the age 21. Register soon, Early Bird tickets sold out! More info!

Tickets: $45/Advanced Sale
$35 /Veteran/Active-Duty Military Discount *(may only be purchased at Box Office)
$60/Gate Ticket *(if available)

More news about local beer festivals: Kegs will still fly at the OBX

OBX Brewtäg

The inaugural OBX Brewtäg has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 24 from 12-6pm at The Soundside Event Site located at 6906 S. Croatan Hwy. in Nags Head. The unique celebration of beer and flight features a team keg flight competition, locally crafted beer, music and more. Info.

 

 

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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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