Autumn Events Happening along the Albemarle Sound Sneak Preview

AutumnEventsalongAlbemarleSoundThe dog days of August are upon us and some folks are eagerly looking forward to fall adventures. Autumn along the Albemarle Sound transitions well from the summer tourist season along the coast. Cooler temps, clear skies and a refreshing breeze beacons all of us to continue our outdoorsy ways and celebrate whatever season blows our way. Here’s a fall sampler of serious fun and excitement. Take advantage of the “coastal comfort” and check off a few of these outings on your fall calendar. There’s a little something for everyone – from the artist to the outdoorsman to the wine and craft beer enthusiast or history buff. How about a challenging hundred-mile bike ride through the countryside or a point-to-point foot race along the Outer Banks? We may have to weather a few hurricanes or tropical storms in the near future so get ready for an active autumn and cheers to an endless summer!

2017 Pocosin Arts Annual Benefit Auction

Pocosin Arts Annual Benefit Auction
September 23, 2017
Columbia, NC

Pocosin Arts welcomes you to an exciting evening under the stars to view and bid on more than 100 handcrafted works of art in their silent and live auctions. Great food, fellowship, arts and crafts and local craft beer!

Proceeds help support the arts center’s scholarship programs. These scholarships allow countless students to participate in the workshops, classes and weekly programs at Pocosin Arts. Béatrice Coron is this year’s featured Artist. The local culture, flora, fauna, and wildlife inspire her art. $

 

Cotton Country Century 2017

2017 Cotton Country Century
September 24, 2017
Greenville, NC

Welcome in the fall season with your two-wheeled friends and cycle along scenic country roads through the flat countryside of Eastern North Carolina. The Cotton Country Century offers three routes and distances — a 30-mile route, a metric century (62 miles) and an English century (100 miles). The routes are on lightly traveled country roads in the heart of cotton country USA. The 2017 CCC will start and end in Greenville, NC at Trollingwood Taproom & BreweryRegistration is required by Thursday, September 21, 2017. $

 

The Lost Colony Wine & Culinary Festival

The Lost Colony Wine & Culinary Festival
September 30, 2017
Manteo, NC

Fine wines, food, and craft beer and highlight this year’s fest held at the Lost Colony. Entertainment and seminars will compliment the event. The Roanoke Island Historical Association presents the inaugural two-day event. $

FR (9/29); Vintners Dinner at the Duck Woods Country Club. Tickets and more info.
SA (9/30) The Grand Tasting takes place at the Sound Stage Theatre surrounded by the beautiful views of Roanoke Sound. Local restaurants will pair their fine foods with a variety of wines from Virginia Dare Winery. More info.

2017 Duck Jazz Festival

2017 Duck Jazz Festival
October 7 & 8, 2017
Duck, NC

Enjoy live music from a variety of jazz performers at the beautiful outdoor town green. Food and drinks will be available to purchase from local restaurants. Festival participants are invited to bring food, coolers, chairs, blankets and pets.  Beach umbrellas and tents are prohibited. Click here for an updated line-up of performers and more information. FREE.

 

canceledevent

Elizabeth II Sails to Edenton
October 13 & 14
Edenton, NC

In celebration of the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse 250th Anniversary, the Elizabeth II will leave their Festival Park port in Manteo, NC and travel up the Albemarle Sound to Historic Edenton. On Friday, NC students will tour the boat. The boat will be available for touring by the public on Saturday. More info. FREE.

Event Update: Due to the shallow waters of Shallowbag Bay, the Elizabeth II will not sail to Edenton this year.

 

Sound Rivers

31st Annual Oyster Roast for Sound Rivers
November 11, 2017
Washington, NC

Come out and join the non-profit organization to celebrate the lowly oyster and the beautiful Tar-Pamlico River. Steamed oysters and chili served under the stars with The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery on tap. Soft drinks and other beers will be available, with a silent auction for your bidding pleasure.

Oysters served from 6:15pm until about 8:30pm. Music begins at 7:30 for dancing and fun.

Sound Rivers monitors and protects the Neuse River and Tar-Pamlico River watersheds, which cover nearly one-quarter of North Carolina. Through partnerships with concerned citizens, members and three riverkeepers, the non-profit organization strives to preserve the health and beauty of the river basin through environmental justice. More info. $

2017OuterBanksMarathon

12th Annual Outer Banks Marathon Weekend
November 10-12
Outer Banks, NC

A full weekend of competition, fitness, fun and running events for the entire family. Choose your flavor from a full-fledge marathon to a family fun run with a number of options and distances sprinkled in between.

Here’s a summary of races and information to get you started. Click here to register and more info. Please check the event’s website for specific times and dates of the various events. $

SU (11/12), 7AM- Towne Bank Outer Banks Marathon & Southern Fried Half Marathon

Running Swag
Relays
Custom Medals For All Finishers
Free Shuttle Service (26.2 & 13.1)
Event T-Shirt
Free Runner Food & Beer (21+)
Runner Expo – Open To The Public
4 Challenges
5k & Full | 5k & Half | 8k & Full | 8k & Half

 

Adventure is what you make it… More tales of kayaking and camping

camping platforms on holladay Island

Camping platforms on Holladay Island – Photo courtesy of Tom Carmine

Adventure is self-defining. You don’t have to risk your life for an adventure. You do have to get off the couch and push yourself into an unknown. I have never paddled the Amazon nor climbed Everest, but I have gotten off the couch. I have gotten hot and sweaty, wet and cold.  I have been uncomfortable for days at a time. Did I risk my life? Probably not. Did I have fun? Yes.

In 2010, four of us stood on the banks of the Chowan River and looked over at Holladay Island, our scheduled camping spot for the night. To the left of us the sun was dropping ever so quickly. To the right of us was a northerly wind blowing in our face at around ten mph. Before us was a mile of river, cold and choppy. The forecast for the night was continued windy conditions and a drop in the temperature to the upper thirties by morning.

I plan my adventures as carefully as I can, but when the weather changes you have to change. Steve and I are experienced kayakers, and we have dry gear and skirted sea kayaks. My other two friends were far less experienced with no dry gear and paddling sit on tops kayaks that provided no protection against the cold spray that the river would be throwing at us. Then there was the uncertainty of a very cold wet paddle in the morning.

Reluctantly but wisely, we decided to drive north to Merchant’s Millpond so Holladay Island would have to wait six more years for me to get there.

Paddlers exploring Merchants Millpond State Park

Canoe and kayak rentals are available at Merchants Millpond State Park – Photo courtesy of Tom Carmine

Merchants Millpond

Merchants Millpond State Park, located in Gatesville, NC features a canoe-in campground with ten camp sites. This proved to be a perfect plan B. I had been to the millpond nine years earlier with new plastic kayaks. Steve and I drove down with another friend from Newport News, Virginia to paddle through this enchanted cypress swamp. Paddling the pond is scenic from the put in point to the other end. On the east side we ran into lily pads so thick we could not go any further. Personally I love paddling in and amongst the moss draped trees better than any open water paddling. I was happy to be back.

We followed the kayak trail in near darkness through the cypress trees which was well marked with buoys. The trail ends on the banks of the other side of the lake. There is no dock to greet you so at least one person is going to get wet feet when they get out of the kayak.

There are ten tent sites in the family camping area nestled among trees and a pit toilet, but no running water. A short paddle distance away there are three sites reserved for small groups. By the time we set up the tents, it was dark and well past dinner, but I pack for quick meals so we were eating in minutes.

We were happy with the change of plans, and we looked forward to paddling around the lake in the morning. The weather forecast was correct. The morning air was frigid and there was frost in places so I had to start my day sticking my feet into cold and wet neoprene boots before I even got into the boat. Because it was so cold, we did not paddle beyond the trail back to the ramp and we never saw any of the resident alligators.

The pond scum there clings to the hull of your kayak leaving a noticeable bathtub ring. When you take your canoes and kayaks out of the lake at the boat ramp, the park conveniently provides a cleaning station for cleaning your boat. Bring a little soap and a brush and you can save yourself some time when you get home. The park also rents canoes for overnight camping.

Holladay Island Platform Camping

Inside looking out –Platform Camping on Holladay Island – Photo courtesy of Tom Carmine

First night out at Holladay Island

Having spent most of my winters from January to April behind a desk, loading up the kayak and paddling away on the first Friday night after April 15th is always exceptionally refreshing. When you push off from the bank and take those first few paddle strokes, you enter a new world. You dip your paddle from side to side and quietly head upstream as one with nature. You might see beaver lodges and bird nests along the bank as you slowly pass by. Turtles wait a little longer on their logs. The bird songs are not lost in the noise of an outboard motor. You feel the warmth on your face of the sun reflecting off the water. It is magical.

We arrived at the boat ramp at Cannon’s Ferry later than we planned. It also took us longer to pack our kayaks. Packing the kayak the first night is always a race against time. Now the sun was setting as we left the canal leading into the Chowan River. My heart was racing as we turned north for our second attempt at camping on Holladay Island. As with our first attempt six years earlier, the wind was again in our face and the river sent some waves over our bows.

We had reserved the east side platform, but as we neared the island, we decided to turn to the southern platform, which is actually three platforms, instead of risking arriving after dark at the east platform. As we entered the grove of cypress trees we knew we had made the right decision.

When you arrive at a platform you should expect to do some housekeeping before you set up camp. We found the decks were covered with fall leaves and sticks, but a broom in the privy area helped us to clean off the deck. The next night we took a $3 broom to the site which was fortunate because there was no broom to sweep with.

With a swept deck and the tents erected, we sat down to enjoy dinner. In the nearby darkness an annoyed great heron voiced his displeasure with our encroachment on his territory by letting out a long scratchy discourse of discontentment as he flew to another tree. The evening then became silent of wildlife. There was just the occasional distant rumble of trucks on Highway 32.

Holladay Island has now moved to my first or second favorite place to camp while Barred Owl platform tops my list. It’s an interesting place. Even though it is an island, the ground is too wet for pines and other deciduous trees. It’s just black soggy floor of roots and cypress knees.

The next morning, the sun broke through the trees and you could see water on three sides. When you wake up to 40° temperatures, the sleeping bag is the coziest place in the world. Our intent was to skip breakfast on the platform and eat later in Edenton, so we packed our gear and circled the island before paddling back to the ramp.

The west side of Holladay Island was beautiful because you could paddle in and around cypress trees for most of the length of the island. It also blocked the northern wind. On the east side, there were no trees to paddle among and with the wind behind us it was an easy paddle to the ramp.

When we left the ramp the night before, we were the only vehicle in the lot, but we came back to a parking lot full of trucks and trailers. Some were fishing, but others were out fixing blinds for the duck season. Two of them were at the south end of the island at work on their blind when we left the platform.

Kayaks along Edenton, NC waterfront

Kayaks along Edenton, NC waterfront – Photo courtesy of Tom Carmine

Lunch and a change of plans in Edenton

Edenton is a great little town to hang out especially since I found they serve orangeades in several of the restaurants. After Holladay Island, we had planned to drive on to Barred Owl, but as we ate a late lunch, Steve asked, “Why don’t we camp here tonight?” It was like a V8 moment. Great idea!

Chowan County has three camping platforms on the south side of Pembroke Creek on John’s Island, which is actually a large peninsula just across from downtown Edenton. Sitting in the restaurant I went on line and reserved the platform for the night. The change of plans saved us an hour of driving so we set off to walk around the Cotton Mill Historic District before launching.

Edenton Harbor’s Colonial Park  has a floating dock for kayak launching. Since the park also caters to boaters, the park also has shower facilities should you need to clean up after a night of camping. There is also ample overnight parking.

Reaching the platform was a short paddle across Pembroke Creek and the location was well marked with a large sign. Although we were secluded in the trees, the route 17 bridge was not far away and we did notice more highway noise than we expected during the early part of the evening. It seems getting away from cars and planes is getting harder and harder to do now.

The County’s platforms feature a counter for cooking or other tasks that the platforms owned by the Roanoke River Partners do not. This is a nice luxury and made reheating my grilled steak and accompaniments much easier than sitting on the deck and cooking.

Morning bought cold temperatures, but a beautiful view through the trees looking across the creek. We paddled around to the group three platform site which is more secluded back in a smaller feeder creek.

Reservations* (see footnote below) may be available through Roanoke River Partners, but you get more information at the Edenton-Chowan Recreation Department.

Hertford's S Bridge Perquimans River

Hertford’s iconic “S” bridge spans the Perquimans River Photo courtesy of Tom Carmine

Under the S Bridge in Hertford

When Route 17 took a detour around Hertford it left behind a swinging draw bridge built in 1928 locally called the “S” bridge because of its two curves. I have driven across the “S” bridge, but I never thought I would be paddling under it.

We were on our second night of camping in 2009, and it was one of the most picturesque settings ever.  As we left the municipal boat ramp, the Perquiman’s river was a mirror reflecting the bridge in the distance. There was no urgency to our quest, the glassy river seduced us into leisurely pace soaking up the awesome scene. Our destination took us under the “S” bridge, and up Mill Creek low bridge that was also part of the old Route 17.

The Mill Creek camping site is a double platform operated by the Perquiman County. Its tucked way up Mill Creek where the creek is barely wider than our sea kayaks. When we visited them in 2010, they were nearly new with fresh looking deck boards and the raised counter for cooking that I like so much.

The County has a second triple platform on the Perquimans River west of the “S” Bridge. Recently I visited the Perquiman’s Chamber of Commerce tourism webpage and found they have also added three nice kayak launching sites. On the webpage are the coordinates and directions for each and downloadable paddle trail maps. The Perquiman’s sites do not have a link to any online reservation system, but according to their Chamber of Commerce office you should contact Steve Burkett at 252-426-3817. For more information about their water trails and camping visit the Chamber’s web page.

As Good as it Gets

Down in the Everglades you can paddle and camp on raised platforms called Chickees. They are in high demand by campers. Here in the Albemarle Sound basin, we have camping opportunities that rival the Everglades and almost anywhere else in the world. Come see for yourself, reserve your camping platform, and make your own adventure.

Publisher’s note: All campsites on Holladay Island and Johns Island are temporarily unavailable due to maintenance and repairs. 

10 Outings around the Albemarle Sound

passport to 10 albemarle sound outingsWe’ve assembled a collection of outings that circumnavigate the region of the Albemarle Sound. Most of these explorations have been featured in our blog posts, digital guides and maps. Others are recommendations from some of our soundside friends, local guides and park rangers.  Sample a few of these destinations on your next day trip or create your own Albemarle Sound Passport and visit each of the ten locations listed below. You’re sure to develop a better appreciation of our beloved Albemarle Sound! Check out the interactive map to help guide you effortlessly along your next journey through the area. Some of the links direct you to more in-depth information that we’ve showcased in our articles while others land you directly onto a map or website. Either way, we’d like to point you in the right direction and encourage you to get out and explore the enchanting region of land and water.

If you discover other hidden treasures along your journey, please let us know and we’ll add them to our growing list of special places along the Albemarle Sound. Our “Things to Do” map includes over 200 regional listings devoted to those who travel with adventure in their hearts and a guide in their pocket!

Choose Your Flavor

10 Outings around the Albemarle Sound

 

Tenkara Fly Fishing along the Albemarle Sound

tenkara fly fishing albemarle soundA gentleman fishing one of the local creeks last fall quickly caught my attention. I was returning from an afternoon of paddling and fishing on Queen Anne Creek. When I returned to the dock, the angler was enjoying one of many catches using a traditional fly rod. Colin introduced himself and then laughed as he joked that he had come out to test some of his hand tied flies. The combination of the angler’s joy, art and skill intrigued me. A few weeks later, I tried my own luck with fly fishing albeit a centuries old technique called Tenkara.

This simple form of fly fishing originated from Japan over two hundred years ago and is still one of the most popular Japanese fresh water angling today. Simple is fine with me especially when it comes to gear and equipment — think rod, line and fly – no reel! Here’s a quick Tenkara lesson for fishing fresh water streams on the fly along the Albemarle Sound.

Tenkara beginnings

Traditional Japanese rods are made from solid bamboo. Modern tenkara rods are constructed from ultra light, high-tech carbon fiber. Rods vary in length from 8.5 feet to 13 feet and anglers can easily cast lines from 12’–30′ or longer. One of the great advantages of the tenkara rods is that they are telescopic and conveniently break down into the rod’s butt section. The rod “telescopes” out of the largest section of the rod and quickly sets up in seconds. My Patagonia rod’s length is 10’6” but packs into its 20.5” base section. I can easily carry my rod and fishing kit with me while cycling or walking to local creeks.

Tenkara 101

Tenkara rods have a tag of line called a lilian that adjoins the tip of the rod. A level line (fly line) of various lengths (twenty-foot, twelve-foot, eight-foot) is slipped over and hitched to the lilian utilizing a turle knot. This allows quick transition to longer/shorter lines in the field. Finally, a 4’–6’ tippet is tied to the fly line and the fly. Lately, I’ve been averaging about 20-24 feet of total casting line.

Once I arrive at the stream, I simply unwind my desired length of line, gently pull out the tip section, seat with the adjoining section until I’ve properly set the entire rod. I chose the 10’6” model for it’s springy action and all-around length for fishing coastal creeks with dry flies, soft hackles and streamers.

Fly Fishing on Queen Anne Creek

Different strokes

Most folks who experience the rhythm of Tenkara use words like “intuitive, FUN and instinctive” when describing the feel of casting and setting the hook. I prefer to move the rod quickly back to a vertical point then release the rod forward to approximately 10 o’clock. This allows your line to move forward and present the fly toward your target. I place my index finger on top of the handle for better control. Instead of moving my wrist to create a twitching motion on the fly, I gently squeeze my smallest two fingers on the cork handle. The flexible tip gently reacts to the squeeze and transfers a subtle motion to the fly. The majority of my strikes emerge while I’m retrieving the line to make another cast.

Tenkara fishing Albemarle SoundCompared to conventional fly fishing, the tip of the rod is held relatively high after the cast. This keeps a tighter line making it easier to set the hook. When I land a fish, I casually raise the rod up higher and calmly reach for the line. Fishing with longer line requires one to tilt the rod back, keeping your arm low and close to the body when recovering the line. With larger catches, use the line versus the rod to lift the fish out of the water. After securing the line, I often lay the rod down on the ground or dock and use both hands to reel the line in. Again, this technique seems fairly natural after a couple of successful landings. Since November, I’ve been routinely catching bluegill, black perch and yellow perch in the shallow, grassy waters of Queen Anne Creek and Pembroke Creek.

While some traditionalists or fisher elitists may scoff at the Tenkara fly fishing method, I’ve found it very exciting and effective for anglers of all ages and abilities. When you combine elegance, art and recreation, it’s all good! Some guides are finding it to be a great introduction and teaching tool to fly fishing. Regardless of your preference, share the love of fishing and fish on!

 

 

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.

 

 

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

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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