October 5, 2012 – Carolina Beach State Park-Cape Fear River
We drove into Wilmington, NC this morning to visit the historic district and check out a possible launch site along the Cape Fear River. Wilmington is a town of contrasts; the beautifully preserved historic homes in an enclave on the hills above the Cape Fear River, the port and manufacturing areas seemingly in a constant state of construction and the seedier areas. The visitor center was not that easy to find but the folks manning it were nice and helpful as all of the southerners have been thus far. We walked along the riverwalk which was quite lovely and then had lunch at the Pilot House on the deck. The food was really good. I had the most awesome carrot and sweet potato soup and seared tuna which was also quite good. Bob had calamari that was incredibly good, southern sweet tea that was clear as a bell and a crabcake. The atmosphere was lovely with boats passing by along the Cape Fear River. The walk back to our car was via the historic homes district. Each house had a plaque describing the history of the house. Many were pre-Civil War homes but most had confederate connections. It is very interesting to learn about the history of the confederacy from the viewpoint of the southerners whose families and futures were irrevocably changed by the decision to secede. The confederate dead are venerated; not surprising of course, but much more emphasis is placed on the civil war events and its participants from the south than the revolutionary war dead. Interesting viewpoint and food for thought for us Yankees.
We drove to Carolina Beach State Park and launched the kayaks on the Cape Fear River at its intersection with the Intracoastal Waterway and paddled down the river toward the Atlantic. The water was salty but again, about 79 degrees. We were paddling against the current and with the wind on the way out and also against the tide but with the wind on the way back. Just didn’t time the tide right. Still, we had no difficulty as the water was not at all rough. Hardly any boats passed us by; they all seemed to be plying the Intracoastal waterway. The state park has a beautiful marina capable of handling almost any size boat and there were some very large ones there. Unlike the blackwater cypress swamp, this was a classic salt marsh environment with cordgrass as the anchor. The bottom was sandy and we beached to stretch our legs and take a swim as it was about 85 degrees, humid and just plain hot! Since we had no swim suits with us….well….we “made do with what nature gave us”. Enough said.