Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Little Adventure

In this city, you don't have to go far to find your own adventure. At least what I consider an adventure. That's what I did recently. It happened to be a gorgeous day, and I wanted to find a spot somewhere on the west bank of Cape Fear River where I could take some photos of downtown.

First, I looked on Google Maps to find out what roads might get me to the best spots. I decided to explore Point Harbor Road. (It's noteworthy to mention that I had not yet visited the Battleship or USS North Carolina Road and the perfect downtown views to be found there.) In addition to a view of downtown, I was also hoping to find something old and historic to explore. I found a dirt driveway that went around what looked like an old workshop or storage building. I took some photos from there, but wanted to go further.

I'd seen on satellite imagery that there was a driveway that stretched out to the riverbank a little further down the road. When I got there, I didn't see a 'No Trespassing' sign. However, the driveway was blocked by debris that had been dumped there, behind which I saw the driveway had somehow collapsed into a ditch. Not to be deterred, I parked my truck to the side of the road and determined to check it out on foot.

After making it to the edge of the river, I decided to walk southward along the edge. I wanted to find something, even though I had no idea what. I did see the ruins of an old wharf, which I found somewhat picturesque. But the view of downtown was not what I was hoping for. I knew there were better views. I'd seen it evidenced in many photos online and I was determined to make my own.

So I moved on. This time, across to Battleship Road on Eagle's Island. But I didn't even have to go that far to find exactly what I'd been looking for. I felt a little ridiculous for not having started here. Of course the best view of downtown is near the Battleship. Over the next hour or so, I took photos of downtown that were even better than I'd hoped, as well as some of the landscape near the Battleship. I even added one of them to the Wilmington article on Wikipedia. If you live in Wilmington -- especially if you're new to the area -- get out and explore! Have an adventure. It's not likely you'll ever be disappointed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Late to See the Mann

I had to take two buses yesterday evening to get to the Warwick Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. I was going to see the lecture by Charles C. Mann, bestselling author of 1491 and 1493, who was scheduled to speak on "Uncovering the New World Columbus Created," at 7:30pm. I'd read the first of those two books, and history is one of my loves. So you can imagine my excitement.

I was late to catch the first of the two buses, which automatically put me thirty minutes late getting there. To make things worse, I'd never taken that bus, and it was my first time visiting UNCW. I had only a vague idea of how far it was from the bus stop to the Warwick Center. That it was night only compounded the issue.

Finally, at 8:05pm, I arrived at the Center with sweat trickling from my head from the walk. All I could do was hope they'd actually let me in. When I walked in though, it was strangely quiet and I only saw about four people. But then, in front of the empty ballroom, a sign was posted explaining that the lecture had been cancelled due to inclement weather in Philadelphia, which prevented him from making the flight to Wilmington. Are you kidding me?!

Of course I was disappointed. But the sign indicated the possibility that the author may be rescheduled. So it's still possible that I might be able to see Charles C. Mann speak. Even better, lesson learned, it's possible that I'll be on time for it!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lunching with the Dead

My wife and I wanted to try something new for a lunch date we had on Friday. We like going to places and doing things that are unique or adventurous. Some of the best dates we have are spontaneous excursions. In Wilmington, there is no shortage of places or opportunities for that.

First we decided to pick up sandwiches from the deli at the Carolina Farmin' grocery store on Market Street, and some coffee from Port City Java. The sky was clear and the weather felt more like May than February. It was a gorgeous day to be outside

We drove over to the historic Oakdale Cemetery on 15th Street. I remembered a particular spot next to a Camellia tree next to which sits an old iron woven bench. Flowers had bloomed and many had already fallen and strewn all over the ground nearby.

There was no better place to have lunch that day than right there. It was mad romantic. Not to mention our company, who were as interesting as they were deceased. I poured some coffee onto the ground so as not to be impolite.

A man who worked at the cemetery came over. "We don't have people do this very often," he said.

"We're a peculiar kind," I replied.

"No! Not at all. It's what people used to do all the time," he said. He wasn't kidding. This was true of many old cemeteries in past decades, and even in ancient history, as explains the cemeteries website:
The residents used mid-nineteenth cemeteries as parks, places to stroll, enjoy nature and the company of friends. Such a custom goes back to ancient Egypt, where in Alexandria, tombs were a place where families gathered, picnicked, and socialized...
"You've got a beautiful spot on a beautiful day with a beautiful woman. It's the perfect setting for enjoying lunch," he says to us. My thoughts exactly.

Apart from the exquisite time we had, I felt like we were doing a good thing. A continuation of a lost tradition. More people should do this on the regular, for serious!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Living in Wilmington

About four weeks ago, I moved from the Houston area to Wilmington to be with my family and begin a new chapter in my life. With a population of just over one-hundred thousand, this quaint, coastal city on the banks of the Cape Fear River is quickly growing on me. I've come to appreciate this city on many levels, the foremost of which is its history. Although much smaller in terms of size and population, Wilmington is older than Houston by a century, and nearly forty years older than the country it's in!

What is even more impressive, in my opinion, is the city's enduring effort to preserve that history. In the last few decades, the city has invested heavily in preserving its historic buildings. The result is an alluring, vibrant downtown area that, unlike many other cities across America, remains the beating heart of the city.