In order to decompress a bit in the period after the official start of retirement, we decided to do some extended travel and take a few deep breaths. What better place to do that than at the seashore?
We also wanted to visit some places that we had never been before so we planned a route that would let us do that as much as possible and, looking at a map, we spotted the name Kure Beach, NC–never heard of it. We were aided in our search by the Temporary Military Lodging guidebook published by Military Living Publications. We found the phone number for Fort Fisher Air Force recreation area and gave them a call. As a retired officer in the Army Reserve, I am able to use that privilege on a space available basis. Luck was with us and we were able to book a room for two nights.
What a treat! Kure Beach is about 20 miles south of Wilmington, NC and sits alongside of the Cape Fear River. The town itself is almost an extension of Wilmington with Carolina Beach in between the two. There are shops and restaurants much like a typical beach town and rows of beach houses and inns scattered along both sides of the highway running through the town.
The focal point of Kure Beach is a large pier that functions as an activity center and gathering place for both tourists and residents alike. We strolled along the pier on both nights we were there and loved seeing the families, fishermen, and old folks (like us) gathered to visit and watch the waves roll in. We were there to walk off our meals (more later).
The true gem of Kure Beach (pronounced curry) is the beach itself. No large crowd to fight with, we were able to pick our spot and enjoy the waves while sitting in our chairs and letting the weariness from hours of driving go by. At the Southern end of the beach is a large outcropping of rocks known as the Coquina Outcrop. At first glance, it looks like a large rock covered in algae when, in fact, it is actually an ecosystem of aquatic life of all varieties. Birds like Sanderlings and Gulls were scattering about to see what they could find for breakfast amongst the crevices in and around the rocks and it was fun to see the small sea creatures dive and resurface as the waves rolled in and out. The picture at the top of this post is the Outcrop at low tide.
On our second day we took a twenty minute ferry ride across the Cape Fear river to the town of Southport, a charming old city that had an abundance of small shops for browsing. We enjoyed it very much, but the weather was a bit iffy and we wanted to get our car back across the river in time to see Fort Fisher before dark and before the ferry filled up. We had really planned to take a second ferry to Bald Head Island and do some exploring there, but we’ll have to save that for another day.
Fort Fisher is located on a State Historical area and is the site of the largest Naval Bombardment of the Civil War. The Visitor Center had a large display of photographs and relics of the period as well as a theater where a moderator explained the details of the two bombardments that took place there in December,1864 and January of 1865. Here is a link to this historical center’s website.
On day three of this journey we packed up and headed north. We wanted to do some sightseeing around the Outer Banks so we booked a room at Cherry Point Marine Aviation Station for one night, again thanks to Military Living’s publication. After checking in to an exceptional room at the Devil Dog Inn on post, we lit out for the town of Beaufort, NC which is about twenty miles away. By the way, this Beaufort is pronounced “Bo-furt”. Like Southport, Beaufort is small and quaint with a nice Boardwalk along the riverfront. We ate dinner at the Front Street Grill and watched many sailboats come into the Marina from our table on the deck. Delightful! Please go to the Picture Gallery for more.
From Cherry Point we packed up and headed to the Outer Banks to visit Nag’s Head and Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers Memorial–the highlight of the trip so far! (click here) I’m running out of time for this post, so come back and I’ll tell you all about this inspiring experience. For now, we’ll be Easin’ Along.