Within three days of my retirement in August of 2015 Helen (adorable wife) and I took off on our inaugural retirement road trip we titled Easin’ Up the East Coast. The first stop we made on that trip was at the Fort Fisher AFB Recreation Area in Kure Beach, NC which turned out to be an excellent decision. As the name of our first trip implies we went north from Fort Fisher and eventually arrived in Great Pond, Maine. This year as we planned Bertha and the Beach, another late summer trip, going south along the coast this time, we knew we had to return to Kure Beach. A lot has changed in two years.
The most significant change is that we are accompanied on this trip by Bertha, our travel trailer. Bertha joined the family in late spring. We have made a few short trips since that time, but this would be our first extended RV trip and both Helen and I were looking forward to the journey as well as to the opportunity to become familiar with the RV lifestyle. We needed to get Bertha better organized and Helen’s skill at the art of organizing living space would rival those of anyone…she is a master.
Within an hour of arriving at Bear Creek Campground In Asheville, NC, we paused to view the solar eclipse. Glenda, the Bear Creek host gave us her last two pairs of eclipse glasses when we checked in. There were no glasses available in Knoxville and we felt fortunate to come along at Bear Creek at just the right time. Asheville’s location allowed for a view of 99% totality. With only a few small clouds in the sky, our view was perfect and we did not miss the other 1%.
On our first full day in Asheville, we took a tour of the Biltmore House, something we had never done although we live only an hour and a half away. The experience was extraordinary and we both came away extremely impressed with the largest residence ever built in America. Although I’m certain that many of our readers have taken this tour, I want to share our impressions of this magnificent structure so we will post an article and pictures of our tour on Easin’ Along at a later date.
While in Asheville we also planned to meet up with our friends Sally and Bill, who are living in Bear Creek temporarily until they find a home to purchase in the Asheville area. Easin’ Along readers will remember an article about this remarkable couple from a few weeks ago and their adventures in Rita, a compact trailer that has been their home on the road for a good portion of fourteen years. We were looking forward to having them share some of what they had learned about Asheville since they parked Rita at Bear Creek. Once we met up, they were generous with their time and gave us a tour of the area of Asheville where they were house-hunting, then accompanied us downtown where we enjoyed a lovely dinner at a brew pub.
The next morning we hooked up Bertha to Bert, our Dodge Ram truck, and set out for Falls Lake State Recreation Area near Wake Forest, NC. At five hours, the drive was a bit longer than we like, the traffic was heavy, and we missed several turns before arriving at our destination. Despite the somewhat arduous trip, we made it to the campsite and were thrilled to meet up with good fortune once again. Our campsite was secluded in a forest of heavy tree cover and only about 150 yards from a lovely lake and swimming area. The showers were about 100 yards behind us and separated by trees from our view. The weather was cool and extremely comfortable. We spent the next two nights in total relaxation mode taking walks, swimming, and reading…perfect.
By now, Helen was anxious to get her beach fix handled which meant it was time to hook up Bertha and make our way to Kure (pronounced curry) Beach, about 20 miles south of Wilmington, NC. We arrived on a Friday and it just so happened that a summer concert was scheduled on the grounds of the Rec Area for that evening. We were told by the very polite staff that greeted us that the summer concerts were held every two weeks and were free to the public. We didn’t think much about it until cars began arriving from every direction around 5:30 that afternoon. Helen and I prepared a quick dinner of salads then walked to the beach so she could quell her beach obsession somewhat and, by the time we returned, there must have been a thousand people (no exaggeration) sitting on the spacious lawn listening to the music of Liverpool, a Beatles revival group.
The concert was a blast. Every age group from toddlers to fossils made up the audience. I estimated that nearly 80 people covered the dance area in front of the stage having a large amount of fun. The band was phenomenal. The lead singer was a dead ringer for Paul McCartney and even played the guitar left-handed. Every song they played replicated the Beatles version perfectly. I walked through the large crowd singing along at the top of my voice while taking pictures. At around 8:30 when Liverpool began playing a stirring rendition of I Saw Her Standing There, followed by a perfectly sung I Want to Hold Your Hand, not one soul had left the area. The band played two more tunes for their curtain call, then thanked the crowd and called it a night. Helen and I can’t remember when we’ve had More fun. We had no idea that this experience awaited us…the best kind of surprise.
Up early the next morning, we grabbed our coffee and went to the beach to look for shells. The tide had not yet covered the picturesque Coquina Outcrop and it was alive with birds looking for a breakfast of the tiny creatures that lived within the moss covering of this structure along the shore. With her ever sharp skills, Helen found a shark’s tooth within minutes, soon followed by a few scallop shells for her collection. This was a lovely morning sunrise. Kure Beach looked good all over again. I’m so glad we returned. This morning and the next, were probably the best of our stay since a tropical storm was brewing to the south.
Before I close, however, I wanted to mention a few of the changes that have taken place at Fort Fisher for our Military Living readers since we were last here. When here before, construction of duplexes across from the beach was nearing completion. Those are now being occupied by visitors to Fort Fisher and are lovely. They feature large sitting porches, full kitchens, one, three, and four bedrooms, and full baths. In addition, there is a very nice laundry facility adjacent to the duplexes. The Beach House Grill and bar is open for breakfast and lunch daily and guests may eat on a lovely screen porch or deck overlooking the Cape Fear River. Be sure to check out Fort Fisher at MilitaryLiving.com. This is a wonderful and affordable vacation spot for veterans and their families.
Behind the duplexes are the RV park and shower facility. There are 19 hardstand sites with full hookups. Several overflow sites are located around the Recreation Area that has electric and water hookups. We were placed in an overflow site which worked out great and was very private.
As I write this post, I am happy to report that the tropical storm never developed, and we only had to endure some heavy rain. Our hearts go out to those in southern Texas. We pray for a swift recovery and that life as you know it returns soon.
With that, we’ll be Easin’ Along.