Friday, June 22, 2012

Swansboro, NC 06.11.2012

After our photo expedition to Tryon Palace's kitchen garden we pressed on down US 17 to Maysville. Maysville is a little larger than Swink. It's where US 17 intersects with NC 58, which runs south from Maysville along the east bank of the White Oak River. At Cape Carteret, NC 58 intersects with NC 24. Turning west on 24 took us over the White Oak into Swansboro.

I remember Swansboro as nothing more than a small fishing village, with not much more than fishing, and possibly some more fishing ... but that was, oh, forty years or more ago. Like the rest of such places, Swansboro has apparently felt the pinch brought on by shifting economies, changing fisheries markets, and outsourcing of supplies of seafood.

We stopped at the visitor's center, which was well-stocked with information; the fellow manning the place was friendly and helpful. The Swansboro downtown area is small enough that a walking tour is quite feasible and quite enjoyable. 

Whoever is in charge of economic development for Swansboro seems to have had their heads screwed on reasonably well, for Swansboro's small downtown area has been turned into a tiny but pleasant enclave of touristy shops and reasonably decent restaurants. Sadly, at least for Swansboro, we had stuffed ourselves at the Sting Ray Cafe in New Bern, so we had to pass on lunch.

We did, however, go for the coffee at Bake, Bottle, Brew. But before that, Leece had to try the ice cream.

The ice cream was excellent, as was the coffee. We chatted briefly with the owner, Jack Harnatkiewicz, who told us that he used locally roasted beans from an outfit called Green Truck Coffee. We liked it enough that we picked up a bag of Ethiopian for Louie. Bake, Bottle, Brew is well worth a stop. You can enjoy your coffee or ice cream - or both - on the pizer overlooking the White River waterfront.

It was an overcast, rainy day. One shop we tried, a quilt shop, was disappointing, as we noted that almost everything was hechoed in China. Sorry, but we didn't travel all the way to eastern NC to buy a made in China quilt, or made in China anything else, especially after the quilters' art we are used to from our Mennonite neighbors.

There are a couple of restaurants that have pretty good reviews. One of these, YanaMama's, received a good review from Louie. Unfortunately, they were closed so we didn't get to go in even for a small sampling.

We have a small gallery up on WritingPlace's galleries page:

Swansboro, NC 06.11.2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve 06.14.2012

We visited Carrot Island, part of the Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve, on June 14. We timed the visit so we'd be there during low tide, as we wanted to get some shots of marsh life, as well as Leece's primary interest, the plants and especially flowers.

We managed to get some very good photos of the horses, and some of the more common birds. We used our Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM, on a Canon 5D MkII for all the horse photos and most of the bird shots. At 500mm, the Sigma telephoto is a very good stand-off lens, especially when used not on the 5D, but on one of the cameras with an APS-C sensor. Macros were Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro or 24mm F2.8 EX DG Macro.

The gallery is up on's galleries page:

Rachel Carson Estuarine Reserve 06.14.2012

We did OK for a ... dare I say it ... 'a three hour tour ...'.

Actually, we spent four hours. Can you imagine the photo ops if we could go over more frequently? It near boggles the mind.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC

New Bern was the colonial capital of North Carolina around 1770. Tryon Palace was the governor's mansion. Built under considerable controversy, it actually was a pivotal point leading to the War of Regulation. To say that Governor William Tryon was unpopular would be something of an understatement.

The original palace was destroyed by fire in 1798. Like Bent's Old Fort, the modern site is a restoration.

The palace is renowned for its gardens, and we spent a few hours sweating like pigs, on a hot, humid day last week getting some macro shots. It was worth it, we think.

The gallery is up on the galleries page:

Tryon Palace Kitchen Garden

This gallery includes four shots of the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, which is usually the first place we stop, coming over the bridge from US Highway 70. There are also several shots of the palace, front and rear.

Cape Lookout, North Carolina 06.09.2012

We visited Core Banks and Cape Lookout on June 9. We went all the way to the point of Cape Lookout, as far as we could without having to swim to the next sand bar.

Core Banks and Cape Lookout, 06.09.2012

We got some good shots of black skimmers, royal terns, plain old terns, some of the flora, and quite a few of the lighthouse.

This year, we went over on the Cape Lookout ferry service, which is based in Davis, NC.  Susie and Louie had arranged for a fairly hefty diesel-powered ATV to use for getting around. This ferry goes over to the fish camps near Great Island, about the middle of Core Banks and about 7 miles, more or less, from the lighthouse. On other trips, we had used the Harkers Island Fishing Center's ferry service, which puts us right near the lighthouse. Previous years' galleries are on the same's galleries page, and here is a link to our visit last year.

Core Banks is part of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Cape Lookout is the central cape of the three "Carolina Capes" - Cape Hatteras being the northernmost; Cape Fear the southernmost. The capes, especially Hatteras and Lookout, have gained the reputation of being "The Graveyard of the Atlantic", because of the huge number of ships that have grounded and been lost on the shoals extending for miles out from the capes.

In addition to 'natural' losses, the waters off the capes were a shooting gallery for German U-boats during the opening days of World War II. A quick read of's summary of Operation Drumbeat will give you some idea of the terror wrought within sight of our coastal towns and cities.

Leece loves Core Banks and Shackleford Banks not only for the scenery, the pristine beaches and water, but also the shelling. She can't seem to take more than a few steps along the beach without stopping to root for shells. The first three shots below are actually on Shackleford Banks, which extends west of Core Banks, and is still part of Cape Lookout National Seashore.

While these are on Core Banks, near the lighthouse at the south end of the island.

Question: How many pictures can you take of one lighthouse?
Answer: As many as there are sides to the lighthouse.

And the fishing is magnificent.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Budsin Boats

Hand-crafted electric-powered boats, built in Marshallberg, NC.

Leece examines two boats being custom-built for the Broadmoor up in Colorado Springs.

Budsin Wood Craft