Journey for Pure Life

That we may be overwhelmed by the wonder and beauty of it all.

Tag: day trips for families

A Day in Edenton

Please read the very first 100 NC Counties post for background info on our quest here.

We hadn’t planned on spending the day in Edenton. We drove two hours north of home to Bertie County to deal with some family matters, but literally the second we arrived plans shifted and we were left with nothing to do but turn around and head directly home. Um, no.

I began to rack my brain for what was in the area. At the time all I could see was corn field after corn field, with a tobacco field thrown in here and there. Then I remembered Edenton, rumored to be one of the South’s prettiest small towns and a place I couldn’t remember ever visiting. We headed about 15 more miles northeast into Chowan County, across the Chowan River and made a day of it.

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We started on the waterfront, at the Barker House. Built in 1782, it was owned by Penelope Barker, one of the 51 women who were a part of the Edenton Tea Party. The women didn’t dump any tea into the Albemarle Sound, but they did let the British know they would be having no more of their tea. It was a big deal for the little town.

The house is a welcome center and it was there that we picked up information on the trolley tour, the lighthouse and other activities.

It was also there that we saw our first mayflies. As the day progressed we saw hundreds of these bugs, maybe thousands. My little bug-lovers were captivated.

We headed to Colonial Park, steps from the Barker House, to burn off some energy. The park is waterfront and has showers and bathrooms for those who dock their boats in Edenton’s harbor. The gnats fly pretty thick here; bug spray will be premeditated next time!

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After leaving the park we did a little shopping on Broad Street. It was a hot day and we soon found ourselves inside an old-fashioned drug store that advertised ice cream and orangeades on their sidewalk sign. We’d never been inside one and I was fascinated. At the back of the small building was the pharmacy for prescription pick-up, at the front was an old-style soda fountain, and in the middle you could find everything from perfume to toilet paper to Little Golden Books. I was in The Andy Griffith show and loved it! Walgreens has nothing on a quaint, friendly, family-owned store.

We picked up a few things at a cute little children’s shop called The Silly Monkey before heading back towards the water for our trolley tour.

I was a little worried about how my nine, seven and three-year olds would do on the hour tour. The stars must have been aligned just right because we had no problems, even though it was mid-afternoon.

We saw the home of Joseph Hewes, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. We saw graveyards, each with interesting stories of their own. One had been moved, all the bodies dug up and carried to a new location, save three or four. One had people buried under the church and one on top of the other.

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We saw what was recently discovered to be the oldest house in the state, a tiny little thing near the old cotton mill village.

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We even saw one of the old Sears catalog houses. Ordered in 1900, it cost $400.

Our tour didn’t last the full hour and each of my kids left the trolley happy. Whew.

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We walked a short distance to the Roanoke River Lighthouse, originally built in 1886 and moved to its current location over Edenton Harbor in 2012. It is now the last standing original screwpile lighthouse left in North Carolina. For a small cost we toured inside, which had a parlor/living room, a kitchen, two bedrooms, and the actual lighthouse light, which was not available for viewing.

After our lighthouse tour we stopped at a few cannons placed along the waterfront for my youngest to see. He pretended to fire cannons at the enemy. It was after we left that I learned a civil war battle was fought precisely where he was firing. Hence, the cannons.

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We headed back to Bertie County, where we were staying for the night. We picked up some southern cooking at Heritage House in Windsor (“best place in town,” Grandaddy B told me) and took it back to a cottage on the Chowan River, a place where some of my most vivid childhood memories were made.

The cottage hadn’t changed one bit since I had been there many, many years ago. The kids got to see the place they had often heard about…the place where I would catch fireflies in a jar and sit them beside the little bed I slept in at night….the place where I would lay in the screened-in porch hammock for hours with a book…the place where I stepped into a wasp nest while exploring the hillside woods and then screamed my head off until Aunt B came out with tobacco from her cigarettes to put on my multiple stings…the place where I swam, at the very bottom of a steep, winding road, in the river with my sister and whatever other children were visiting the other cabins at the time…a happy place where there was always family and perfect pancakes on a griddle and sips of coffee and love. I just called it The River, and if I knew we were going then all was right in the world.

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And that’s how my children and I spent the evening, in The River. Clothes and all, because you can’t miss out on memories made just because you didn’t pack a bathing suit. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.

The next day we spent a lovely morning eating blueberry pancakes and exploring forts and fields and attics with precious family that we see far too little of. Sometimes life requires that you surrender your plan, go with what’s in front of you, and let the blessings pour out.

A Week-Long Quest to Find Local Fun for Free! (or almost): Day 1

After two weeks of busy, busy, busy at camps (that I signed up to help with at 8 months pregnant in the middle of summer for some reason), we decided to take it a bit easier and have fun at our own pace. We are spending plenty of time at home with inexpensive, local thrills thrown in. Call it Mama’s Day Camp, if you will. Particularly since the baby will be here in four weeks or less, I feel the need for fun times now. Once #3 arrives, those times may be put on hold for several weeks!

All this week the kids and I will look for a few hours of fun each day out in the community, and we will share our adventures with you! Our goal is little to no cost.

DAY 1:  Cedar Point Trail

 

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On Monday we hit the spot where we recently went camping, Cedar Point Trail in the Croatan Forest, not far off of HWY 58. This time, we knew just what to bring! Water shoes, bottled water, snacks, and bug spray are a definite plus if you plan to spend any time on the trail or at the water’s edge. Only one viewpoint has a decent place for the kids to play and chase the thousands of fiddler crabs that live there, but there are also shells and larger crabs in the shallow water. Watch your step!

Also, unless you want to end up carrying a hot and tired toddler on a miles-long trail, stay to the left when you first hit the trail. NEVER, EVER go right!

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Obviously, the trail is totally free. The kids spent about two hours running along the shore trail, collecting fiddler crabs (even finding one that was as tiny as a “piece of dirt!”), swimming, and identifying poison ivy and poison oak (a recently learned skill from Boy Scout camp).

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For those with more time and energy, take the scenic long trail. Plenty of dog walkers and runners do. Or, bring some kayaks and take the ramp that’s just left of the trail. Pack a lunch and hit the picnic tables afterwards.

Sometimes the simplest trip down the road can turn into the best day. I’m currently reading Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, which states that my generation didn’t grown up in the outdoors. That may be mostly true for some of us. But I did. And I remember my outdoor times more fondly than most others. I didn’t move to Morehead City, NC and an actual neighborhood until I was about 4. Before then and during those growing-up years I spent a lot of time at my grandparents, which was out in the country, surrounded by fields and woods. I played for hours, alone, in a creek I called “Cow’s Creek.” I’m now pretty positive I was also playing in cow’s poop, but hey, what’s done is done. I’m still alive. I ran through tobacco fields. I pretended I lived in the Hundred Acre Wood with Winnie the Pooh. I tamed kittens, fed goats and chickens and rabbits. I walked the paths and made new ones. I found places behind the usual fields and trees I had never seen before. And I had the absolute best time.

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We think our kids need more stimulation. They don’t. Monday I gave my kids a bucket in a salt marsh and set them free. Their growing minds were free to explore, become curious and creative, and gain knowledge and appreciation for the world around them.

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I still remember what it felt like to be a kid in a corn field. Free, with the natural world and endless possibilities all around you, places and creatures to explore in every direction, one-ness with something much larger than yourself, peaceful, content, full of wonder and awe.  I want my kids to know that very same feeling, and as often as possible.

 

For more information on camping and hiking at the Croatan National Forest Cedar Point Trail, please visit http://www.forestcamping.com/dow/southern/crocmp.htm.