Monday, June 24, 2013

NC ferry trips

North Carolina's  DOT runs an outstanding ferry service. This year, we once again took the Cedar Island to Ocracoke and the Ocracoke to Hatteras ferries, on our way up to Roanoke Island and Manteo, and the Elizabethan Gardens.

But this year, rather than return by the Outer Banks ferries, we came around by way of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge, and then back down to Carteret County by way of the Bayview-Aurora and the Minnesott Beach-Cherry ferries.

We have a gallery up here:

NC ferry trips 06.04/05.2013

and here is one on the Sound-class ferries Swan Quarter and Sea Level:

NC ferries Swan Quarter and Sea Level

The Cedar Island to Ocracoke trip is by Sound-class ferry. These are the big ones, new ones, very nicely constructed, and manned by highly trained professional crews. All the ferries are well-maintained and manned by highly trained professional crews, but the Sound-class boats are truly exceptional. This trip we were on Sea Level again.

The run from Ocracoke to Hatteras is by Hatteras-class boats, older but hardly garbage scows. We were on Thomas A. Baum this trip. All the ferries we were on were freshly painted and more than clean enough to gladden the heart of the crustiest old US Coast Guard or US Navy chief.

The other crossings were over the Pamlico River and the Neuse River. These were on River-class boats. We were on Fort Fisher and Governor Daniel Russell.

We usually stop by Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on these trips, and we did on this one, but we didn't get any photos. We were on the beach when a number of gully-washers passed through the area, so we couldn't get any shots of the NWR. We were too busy keeping from being washed out to sea. Fortunately there was no lightning, so we walked the beach in the downpour, an experience we highly recommend. The heavy rain tends to flatten the seas, and you can hear the hiss of the rain as it hits the ocean. We saw a flight of five pelicans zooming along only a foot or two above the water, barely visible in the rain. Here is a gallery of Pea Island from a previous trip.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Smokey sunset in The Holy Land

The smoke is from the West Fork fire, combined with a bit from the new East Spanish Peak fire:

West Fork is at 107 longitude; East Spanish Peak is at 105; the thing at 104 is a storm. NOAA photo.

Lovell Gulch Trail, Woodland Park

We hiked Lovell Gulch Trail on 06.15.2013, as Leece wanted some wildflower shots.

Going into Woodland Park on 24, take a right at Baldwin, just before the McDonald's. Go 2.2 miles on Baldwin. You'll come to a 'fleet maintenance' building on the left side of the road. Park there. The trailhead is clearly marked, as is the rest of the trail.

We did get some great wildflower shots, which you can see in this gallery. Meanwhile, here are a few samples:




Monday, June 17, 2013

Elizabethan Gardens, Roanoke Island, 06.04.2013

We visited the Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island on June 4. This was the first visit for either of  us. A couple of years ago, we went to the Lost Colony play, but didn't have time to take in the gardens, which are next to the Waterside Theater.

We have a gallery up here:

Elizabethan Gardens

and here are a few sample images:

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Core Banks and Cape Lookout 06.01.2013

Here is a gallery from our visit to Core Banks and Cape Lookout National Seashore:

Core Banks and Cape Lookout

and a few images from the gallery:

Leece on the Davis to Core Banks ferry, on Core Sound

Leece walks down to the beach just in front of the NPS camp and cabins

Leece wades in, on the western side of the tip of Cape Lookout

Leece takes a shot of the lighthouse, inside the hook of the cape.

Brown pelican, contemplating the thisness of that, and the whichness of what

Young herring gull takes off

A willet wanders along the edge of the surf

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eastern NC June 2013

During our visit to eastern NC last week, we visited - among other places - Cape Lookout National Seashore; Cape Hatteras National Seashore; Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge; Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge; Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge; Rachel Carson National Estuarine Reserve; Willow Pond at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center.

Here are a few of the bird shots we took:

 White Ibis, Willow Pond

 Brown Pelican and Laughing Gull, Cape Lookout National Seashore

 Juvenile Herring Gull, probably a second-or third-year bird given the plumage; Cape Lookout National Seashore

 Glossy Ibis, Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge

 Heron, Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge

Blue Heron, Lake Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge