Yeah, Connie’s Feeling Better

And about time too…it’s Wednesday and she started feeling bad 2 weeks ago tomorrow. What started as a chest cold shifted into her head/sinuses about a week into it but Sunday she finally started feeling better and has continued to improve a little each day. She finally actually feels pretty good although her sinuses and head are still stuffy but even that is getting better slowly and the coughing fits are spacing out so even she thinks she’ll live. 

We went over to Mass at a nearby parish Saturday evening…tried to go on the base at first since it’s only 300 yards from the RV sites but found out that it was closed for construction for the weekend so we quickly regrouped and found another parish we could go to so we headed over there. Found out that it was completely packed to the rafters and had to stand in the back…turned out that it was First Holy Communion day for a portion of the second grade class. No worries there but a little more difficult since Connie had to stand the whole time and her improvement didn’t start until mid afternoon Sunday.

So…on Sunday she decided she had been sitting at home long enough and we were going out to do something…so we headed off to the first of our 3 Fun Stuff© destinations, two of which were NWRs and the third was a pair of lighthouses nearby. Sunday was the Back Bay NWR and they had a short 1 mile boardwalk that was our intended destination. She decided she could handle a mile…and it was a good thing it wasn’t a mile and a half or Neil woulda had to carry her at the end but she just kept at it and we had a nice walk through the marsh. Here are a few shots from our walk.

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Grey Catbird.

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Osprey with lunch.

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Yellow Bi-bird.

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Connie was getting tired after this so we came home.

Monday we headed off for our second visit…this one was a lot easier as it involved practically no walking. Our destination was to visit Fort Story which is on the south side of Hampton Roads, which is where the James River and Chesapeake Bay empty into the Atlantic…Norfolk’s harbor and several Navy bases are up the James River just a bit. Fort Story is located on Cape Henry which has both the old and new Point Henry Lighthouse which guided mariners around the northern end of the NC/VA Outer Banks islands and shoals into the harbor at Norfolk. Hampton Roads played a pivotal but largely unknown role in the Revolutionary War…in 1781 General Washington was desperate for a major victory over the British after 6 long years of war. He left the New York City vicinity with his army and headed toward Yorktown where General Cornwallis was fortifying the city. Simultaneously Admiral de Grasse sailed from his anchorage in the West Indies to challenge British naval supremacy in the Chesapeake Bay…and Admiral Graves sailed the British fleet from New York to Chesapeake Bay. Admiral Graves arrived after the French fleet and had the advantage of both wind and tide…but failed to prosecute these advantages and instead depended on the standard British naval tactics at the time. Graves allowed the French fleet to escape the bay and late in the afternoon of Sep 5, 1781 the fleets exchanged fire for several hours. The fleets sailed on parallel courses into the Atlantic for 4 days and then the French slipped away in the darkness and returned to Chesapeake Bay, joining up with additional French warships that came independently from Rhode Island. British Admiral Graves decided his ships were too damaged to return for another fight with the French so he returned to New York. This action…which involved no American forces and with relatively light damage or casualties on both sides…gave the French fleet control of the Chesapeake Bay and allowed General Washington to surround and eventually force General Cornwallis to surrender…which effectively won the Revolutionary War. Strange how we never learned this in school…I vaguely remember that the French blockaded relief for Cornwallis from the sea but had knew none of these details. 

The original Point Henry lighthouse was built in 1792 and is both the first federally funded lighthouse and the first federal construction project after the adoption of the Constitution. It is a 90 foot stone octagonal tower 26 feet in diameter at the base. In 1881 it was replaced by a slightly taller structure about 350 feet to the southeast after it was struck by lightning and damaged in the 1770s. The original lighthouse was left standing as a day marker and unlighted navigational aid. The new light is 157 feet tall with a more powerful light…but since the original was built on a small hill the new one is only 20 or so feet higher effectively.

Fort Story was established in 1916 and used as a coastal defense artillery station through WWII…originally with a 16 inch howitzer battery and then in the late 1930s with 155mm mobile artillery, 6 inch naval cannon and 16 inch naval cannon…the latter two being repurposed naval guns and the 155mm being the standard Army artillery piece for shorter range coverage across the Hampton Roads while the longer ranged naval artillery covered the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. The artillery was replaced by a Nike antiaircraft battery for defense against potential Soviet bombers in 1957 and the missiles were retired in 1974. In 1946 the Fort was converted to a Navy base despite but retained the Fort designation and was used as an amphibious forces base until 2001. The base is today a subsection of the amphibious forces base at Little Creek and houses primarily EOD, logistics, transportation, and naval reserve units. 

Interestingly enough…Fort Story is right next to First Landing State Park here in VA Beach…First Landing is the original landing spot on April 26, 1607 of Christopher Newport and the Virginia Company colonists. They stayed here for just a few days before moving another 40 miles or so up the James River where they established the Jamestown colony on May 14, 1607 since Newport decided that a location more sheltered from the ocean would be a better spot.

Here are a couple of HDR shots of the original lighthouse…Neil got a new version of Lightroom a couple weeks back and it includes a new feature to render HDRs directly rather than exporting them to an outside program like the older version. The good news is that it’s easier…the bad news is that there are essentially no options for how the HDR is rendered as opposed to Photomatix Pro which is what he normally uses for HDR rendering. The first shot is the new Lightroom version…the second is the Photomatix version which as you can see he varied the  settings to get a more vibrant depiction. Photomatix can do anything from minimal processing all the way through making it seem moody or stormy all the way to what is commonly called the grunge look where the image is heavily modified and starts to become more of an art thing than a photo thing…so he prefers to (mostly) stay away from heavy handedness with the HDR processing. What do ya’ll think…do you like the easy but no poetic license approach or the slightly harder but easier to get better results with approach of Photomatix Pro? The firsts one brings out the shadow detail a bit but the second one looks closer to what the sky actually looked like with the eye although the second one also has a little brighter green in the vegetation than the eye perceived. He’s leaning toward the latter because the eye will almost always give better results than automation, particularly as no two lighting situations are the same. Let me know in the comments and I’ll pass them along to him.

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Here’s a shot of both the old and new lighthouses…the two of the old one above were taken with the new one just behind and to the right of where he was standing.This one was also done in Photomatix Pro but with a different preset combination for a visually different rendering.

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We then walked over the dune that was behind and to the left of Neil when he got the above shot of both lighthouses and Connie got a shot of one of the breakwaters on the beach to prevent erosion along with a container ship that has exited the Gulf Stream to the east of the cape and is headed into Hampton Roads…but no idea whether it’s going to Norfolk or someplace further on up the Chesapeake…likely the former though. Neil got a shot of one of the amphibious forces ships tooling around as well but no idea what he’s doing out there but likely headed into the Navy Base based on his position and heading. He also got a shot of some flowers along the boardwalk over the dune that Connie liked.

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After that we headed home.

Tuesday Connie was feeling pretty good…so we headed out for a short hike and then a planned 3 or so mile bike ride around the dike at the Mackay Island NWR which is on the coast just south of here and across the border into NC. There were a couple of overlooks and a short hike around a pond that we planned and did…but the bike ride got truncated to just about a mile or so as Connie had a hard time breathing still once she started pedaling. Some sights from this mostly driving trip.

Tree Swallow.

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Juvenile White Ibis and and Osprey that flew by.

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A pair of nesting Ospreys…one of them is leaving to hunt while the other stays and guards the nest…it stayed sitting nearby for awhile then moved over to the nest to brood.

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And the one that went off hunting as it circled by us a little later.

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A Red Winged Blackbird displaying his epaulets to attract females and warn off other males.

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Some turtles sitting on a log…Connie got this one out the car window with the bird lens as they’re pretty skittish. Neil’s gotta learn her how to use a little smaller aperture to get a bit more depth of field for shots like this.

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The pond we hiked around.

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We then tried our hike after driving as far out the dike as we could…and after turning around due to Connie’s lack of being able to breathe we headed back in the dike towards the NWR entrance. We spotted this Osprey on the other side of the canal…he gave Neil the Stink Eye then flew off to another tree…then after hovering right over the canal caught itself some lunch. It flew about 10 feet from the car down the canal with the fish in it’s talons but we couldn’t get the camera up fast enough…so had to settle for some shots of it sitting in the tree eating…Neil likes the one with the bit o’ fish flesh hanging out of it’s beak. Pretty good sized fish though…looked like it was having some difficulties carrying it.

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As he got back in the car after the Osprey photos above Connie the Spotter spotted (naturally) this Nutria swimming in the canal…she had no idea they were as large as they are. Most are in the 30-40 pound range and probably 2 feet + long.

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With that our day was done…she was about of gas so we headed back to the rig. Neil checked the pressure in all of our tires on BAT and the rig and added a little air to most of them…then we had dinner and a shower.

Today Connie’s working and Neil ran over to the credit union branch to get some more cash and to the package store for more brews…we’re almost out and since this is the last base we’ll be on for awhile we wanted to take advantage of the slightly cheaper prices (albeit the slightly cheaper base price was partially offset by the slightly higher package store at the beach prices). Tonight we’ll have some leftovers for dinner along with some Italian sausage and a baked winter squash…Neil’s calling it fusion cuisine instead of leftovers and what-have-you.

Tomorrow is laundry day and probably more work for Connie then Friday we’re off to Fairfax where we’ll park at our favorite site in Bull Run Campground…one of the few that has satellite visibility and the utility connections in the correct location for easy hookup. Sunday we’re driving the Mazda down to Midlothian…Bryan is taking his mother out for Mother’s Day for the first time in recorded history along with Jen and Jen’s mom and step-dad. We’re going to the Melting Pot which is a fondue place…Bryan likes it and we’re easy. Most of next week we have things to do/people to see…dentist, financial guy, folks at the college. We do have a dinner scheduled for one of our favorite restaurants in the area…the Renaissance Cafe which is a small French place in downtown Vienna. Not cheap but we haven’t had a romantic, dress up dinner in quite awhile. We’ll be in Fairfax a week then it’s off to Midlothian where we’ll be at Pocahontas State Park for 5 days to visit grand baby Alex and offload some stuff from the basement that we won’t need on the trip to Alaska.

Before I go…a couple of funny ones for ya. First two is apropos for our upcoming trip to Alaska…this one is “What’s a bear gotta do to get a beer around here?”

Whats a Bear Gotta Do for a Beer

And “hello, anybody home?”

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This one…just in case you wondered…baseball really is a simple game ya know…all ya gotta do is score more runs than the other team.

Baseball  a simple game really


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Ditto Last Post

Just a quick post to let you know we’re still alive but have really done nothing since my last post on the 29th.

Connie’s still sick…coughing and nose running and no energy. She doesn’t have any fever and so far hasn’t felt like going to the clinic on base was worth it as her cold pills are mostly dealing with the symptoms.

It’s also been rainy and windy the past 2 days…temps only in the 60s at best and 25-30 knots of wind constantly until today when it died off to about 10 or 12 knots, the sun came out and the rain stopped…but it’s still not very warm. So…we would have not done much even if she did feel better.

She did feel well enough…mostly because she had to…to go ahead and do what she needed to get done for her students going out soon and for the webcast with her first year students to give them the presentation on how to behave when you go out on clinical.

Neil took the Mazda over and got the A/C fixed…it needed a new high pressure hose so that was 530 bucks down the drain…and he got the part and fixed the broken sun visor clip on the drivers side while he was at the Mazda place.

Other than that we’ve done nothing…eating dinner in every night, watching TV, and lazing around during the day. Neil did get out and sewed up the rip in our LR slide topper…that’s kind of an awning thing that extends over the top of the slide as it extends outward and it keeps the leaves and trash off of the top of the slide and hence out of the inside when you pull the slide back in. The only drawback is that when it’s windy the slide topper bangs around and makes a lot of noise but that’s better than the alternative. If we spent lots of time out in the west then leaves aren’t as much of a problem and lots of people that RV mostly there don’t have slide toppers. Here’s a shot of where he did the repair so you’ll know what a slide topper looks like…the white section is where he sewed it up.

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That’s about it…we might run out to the commissary later on this afternoon.


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Transit to Dam Neck VA and Connie’s Still Broke

Well, we successfully made it to Dam Neck VA on Monday…but it took pretty much all Connie had to get here and she’s just been vegetating ever since.

After our last hike on last Friday she continued to feel worse and worse all weekend and then even worse on Monday. Naturally, this meant that we had to move on Monday which we weren’t too happy about but ya gotta do what you gotta do. Luckily it was a short day…just 221 miles and Neil did all the getting ready parts except for those that needed hands farther apart than 4 feet or so as he’s just not able to do those alone. We started getting ready to leave around 0800 Monday morning and pulled out of the Onslow Beach CG at Camp Lejeune a few minutes before 1000. Our trip was mostly up US-17 and I-64 but it was four lanes most of the way. We made a quick stop at a rest area for a bathroom break and another one in a shopping center parking lot to have burger from the Golden Arches…but other than that we just chugged along with Connie just wanting to be there. We made it to Sea Mist RV Park at the Dam Neck Annex Navy base in Virginia Beach VA around 1500 and got backed into site 7. Neil put out a recliner for Connie to rest in as she was pretty much done in…and only got her to help with the things that required two people. We got setup in site 7, Neil ran over to the Subway on base and picked us up a couple of meatball subs for dinner, then we just rested until bedtime.

Tuesday was more of the same…except we ran out of cold pills and ran over to get some more…we picked up one that had a decongestant in it as well and luckily by Wednesday she’s feeling a little better. Not good by any means and not over whatever it is she has…but she’s on the upswing at least and although tired is able to do a little more around the rig…but no Fun Stuff© yet as she’s not better enough for that. She’s working today and it’s raining tomorrow and Friday so she hopes she’ll be better enough by the weekend to actually do something she wants to do instead of just sitting around feeling lousy.

Neil went on a bike ride and we got an appointment to get the A/C in the Mazda checked…discovered the other day it isn’t making enough cool so he’ll get that looked at tomorrow while she does some more work that needs doing.

He’s been giving her cold pills and taking care of her as best he can…but unfortunately the only thing that’s really going to make her better is time passing.

Sea Mist is a pretty nice spot…$254 for our 11 nights here and pretty much right on the beach although we’re behind the dune and can’t see the water unless we hike up to the crossover to the beach at the end of the campground. Here’s a shot of our setup in site 7.

Sea Mist CG Site 7

That’s the road behind us…not the beach, the trees are across the road which is about 10 feet below the level of the campground. The beach dune is behind where Neil got this shot from.

Yesterday he climbed up and repaired a small tear in our LR slide topper material…sewed it up and sealed the stitching with some silicone sealant along with repairing an area where the edge seam stitching is coming out. Other than that…we pretty much done nothing since we got here but given how Connie feels that isn’t surprising. Jen and Alex are supposed to come over to visit on the weekend…but we’re thinking of canceling that since we’ll be in Midlothian in another 2 weeks anyway…since Connie won’t feel like doing much we’ll save her the 2 hour each way drive.

Sorry if it’s a boring post…but sometimes that’s just the way it is.


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Short Hike Yesterday…Connie’s Broke

The title says it all…Connie’s broke.

She started feeling poorly Thursday afternoon…coughing and a bit of temperature but just took some extra doses of the drugs she takes to combat her inner ear problems…they’re essentially cold medicine and help keep her eustachian tubes open so her ears will drain. After coffee and breakfast she decided to just HTFU and get along with life as she wouldn’t feel good no matter whether she was sitting at home or going on a hike.

Our day originally consisted of 3 short hikes of about a mile each but we decided to just go on 2 of them that were close together and closer to the rig than the third one was…so we headed out to the Tideland Recreational T rail in the Croatan National Forest just northeast of the base. We got there and the gate was locked with a keep out, no vehicles authorized sign. We started researching why it might be closed on their web site but a guy drove up with a dumpster he was delivering…turned out there was construction down in the campground area where we would have been parking. So…no hike for us there…and we headed out to our second destination which was the Emerald Isle Nature Woods trail. It was only a couple of miles from the first location but was over the bridge to Emerald Isle. We found the parking lot and headed out on a beautiful day…her coughing was acting up a bit and she was finding it hard to breathe well…so we just finished out the 1.3 mile loop back to the parking area.

Along the way we did get a couple of photos of the area. First up we spotted a bunch of Blue Jays which kept flying from the tree over the car to one across the parking lot and back…we had never seen them flocking together before and it took us awhile to identify them as the little crest on the back of the head wasn’t as visible as it usually is.

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We spotted this Canada Goose and didn’t realize there was the egret/heron wading in the background until Neil processed the photo later.

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A shot of the marsh looking out towards the bridge to the mainland followed by an oyster bed visible right off of the canoe launch since it was low tide. The canoe launch was different from anything we had seen before…instead of being a pier type thing it had a solid ramp you could put the canoe down on, get in and then slide down some rollers into the water…maybe it was because the path to the ramp was designated as a handicapped trail so they put in the canoe ramp to make it easier to get from a wheelchair into the canoe. The oyster bed is a pretty small one due to the small size of the sandbar it’s on top of.

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When we got back to the parking lot we stopped and had lunch then talked about whether to drive the 10 miles more to the hike we had originally passed on…but Connie had had enough fun for the day so we headed home. As we exited the hike area we turned towards the island rather than back to the bridge in search of a seafood market…we wanted some fish for dinner. A bit down the road we found Captain Willis’s Seafood…so we went in and picked up a couple of trigger filets for dinner. After that we headed home and took a nap the rest of the afternoon.

Dinner was the aforementioned trigger…added some Bam! (Emeril’s Essence homemade spice mixture) and some corn meal to the bag and shook them around then gave them a quick fry in the pan. To go along with the fish Neil made some couscous laced with goodies…Andouille sausage, onions, dates, cocoanut, and toasted pecans. It was pretty good but needed a little more spice than he put in so we’ll remedy that when we have the leftover couscous for lunch. The fish was excellent with homemade cocktail sauce.

After that it was just TV for us and feeling miserable for Connie until bedtime. She got up this morning and still feels bad…even a little worse so Neil’s taking care of her today…although she does have to work for an hour to have her monthly phone call with her boss but after that she’ll just vegetate.

A couple of quickies for you though…the first one is just a teaser for our upcoming trip to the hinterlands…although this shot is from a lake in Jasper National Park in BC we’ll get a lot of similar ones on the way to/from Alaska and other points northwest. The second one is clearly somebody that stole Neil’s license tag…this is one of his favorite sayings over the years.

Lake Jasper NP

I Hate People


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Abbey Foy Moore Nature Preserve

Today was scheduled to be another fun day…so after Connie did a bit of work in the AM we had lunch and then headed off for our hike at the Abbey Foy Moore Nature Preserve about 30 mile southwest of the campground. After a 9 mile drive just to get to the far side of the base we crossed the New River and turned onto US-17 toward Wilmington another 22 miles then arrived at the preserve. This is a low key nature preserve maintained by the North Carolina Land Trust and is adjacent to Poplar Grove Plantation which is one of those tour the old plantation grounds and house sort of places. We parked in the plantation parking lot and after figuring out where the hike started…there was a slight miscalculation in where we parked and the directions to the trail from our All Trails app which assumed we were in a different parking lot…set off on what turned out to be a 2.7 mile hike total.

Connie noticed this afternoon that she was coming down with some sort of lung crud which gave her a fever and made her feel bad…but she decided to bore on and just deal with it. We shortened our planned hike a bit since she wasn’t feeling all that great though. Not much wildlife to be seen…just a couple of turtles and a dragonfly as you can see from the photos. We spotted a couple of cardinals but none of the photos were worth posting.

Nonetheless…it was a nice walk through the woods on a beautiful, cool day and we did get a few nice shots of the walk and the pond we crossed towards the end.

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We got back to the car…changed out of our hiking boots and headed back to the base. We were a little early for the opening time of the Heroz sports bar which was planned for dinner so browsed around in the Marine Exchange store for awhile then headed over to Heroz. We split a pitcher of Yuengling and 16 wings…and Connie was fading fast so we paid up our bill…all of 21.00 including the tip…and headed home. After a quick shower we sat down for some TV for the remainder of the evening.

More hikes planned tomorrow…but we’ll have to see how she feels in the morning before making a decision on whether to go or not.


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Fort Macon State Park and Cedar Island NWR

Wednesday dawned with things looking like it would be a pretty decent day so after some breakfast and coffee we headed off for our planned Fun Stuff© activities for the day. Our first stop was to visit Fort Macon which is conveniently located in Fort Macon State Park and guards the entrance to Bogue Sound and the harbor at Beaufort NC. It was about an hour or so away and we wanted to be there for the Civil War musketry demonstration at 1000. It turned out that we had left too early and were there shortly after 0900…so we wandered into the visitor center to learn something about the history of the fort for a bit. The fort was constructed in the early 1800s to replace an earlier fort that had washed into the bay due to erosion and was designed to defend the port of Beaufort NC. At the beginning of the Civil War it was occupied without a shot by Confederate troops and remained in their control until 1862. Union troops showed up in early 1862 and commenced laying siege to the fort but didn’t actually attack until April 1862. By the time the attack started…the Union had discovered that although the fort was fairly well armed with cannon it had no mortars…the difference being that cannon are great for shooting at ships out on the water but not so much for shooting at emplaced artillery on land. The latter requires a mortar which lobs shells on a high arc and hence is able to attack enemy artillery positions. Once this was discovered…the Union brought in the relatively new Parrot 32 pound artillery pieces. The Parrot was the first rifled cannon and hence was more accurate and delivered a greater blow to enemy defenses and the Civil War was the first time that rifled cannon were used. With the fort having been built 60 years earlier and designed to absorb round shot from what was then the standard artillery round…combined with having no mortars for counter battery fire against the Union artillery…the Union was able to emplace artillery about 3/4 of a mile away. The Union also had some gunboats and floating artillery on the seaward side of the fort…but those had no effect on the battle as the fort’s cannon drove them off early in the engagement. Union bombardment of the fort started early in the morning of April 25 and fired about 1050 rounds with 560 of them hitting the fort or exploding overhead over the next 11 hours. The gunboats and floating artillery were driven off early in the engagement but the fort’s 60 year old 5 foot thick masonry/earth walls proved no match for the rifled Parrot artillery. With the walls breached and the fort’s magazine in danger of being detonated by enemy fire the Confederates surrendered and the fort remained in Union hands for the remainder of the war. Casualties were pretty low however…18 killed and 40ish wounded among the defenders and 1 killed and 8 wounded on the Union side. 

After the war the fort was manned up through 1877 as a military prison then it was abandoned with a brief occupation during the Spanish American war in 1898. It was then abandoned and transferred to North Carolina as their second state park in 1924…then was taken over during WWII as a coastal artillery defense post with naval artillery installed then returned to the state after the war.

We headed over to the fort for the scheduled 1000 musketry demonstration about 0945…and discovered that it was almost over as the ranger had started it early due to a school field trip. What’s the point of having a schedule posted on your website if nobody is going to follow it…it was irksome but we did get to see the last couple of minutes of the demonstration and firing. Connie was surprised by how loud the musket was going off just about 15 feet away from us.

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We then wandered about the fort for an hour or so taking photos and checking out the displays which included both Civil War, prison period, and WWII era artifacts.

An example of the mortars the fort did not have during the siege of 1862.

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And one of the anti-shipping artillery the fort did have along with a panoramic view of the positions facing the entrance to Bogue Sound. The ocean is towards the right and the harbor to the left, back during the fort’s active use the ground between it and the water was cleared to provide an adequate field of fire for the artillery which had sufficient range to reach the far shore of the entrance about 2 miles away.

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The interior of the fort from behind the seaward facing pieces in the second photo above.

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Connie got a close up of one of the 32 pound pieces emplaced in the fort…these are believed to be the original artillery from the Civil War.

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Down in the interior of the fort…a shot of what would have been a brass monkey if this was a shipboard artillery piece rather than land based…although the stacking would have been the same. Land based shell stacks used wooden bases whereas shipboard used a metal plate with holes drilled in it to support the lowest layer of the stock…the plate was known as a monkey and was frequently made of brass so as not to have corrosion between the rounds and the monkey. Unfortunately…brass having different thermal characteristics then iron shot…when it got cold the brass contracted at a different rate then the iron shot and when it got real cold the rounds would come out of the holes, the stack would collapse, and the shot would roll across the decking…hence the term “cold enough to freeze the balls off of a brass monkey”.

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A shot of one of the storerooms and one of the hot shot furnace which back in the days of wooden vessels in the early part of the fort’s history was used to head round shot to red hot before firing it at the enemy…the idea being that round shot frequently stuck into the enemy vessel and would set it on fire.

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The in between the walls section of the fort. Very similar in concept to the moat of medieval European forts it served to concentrate assaulting troops in the grassy area between the lower outer walls and the higher inner walls. This design improved on that of the moat however…by having counter-battery gun positions located underneath the outer wall and aiming down the trench. These gun positions had small charge cannons with grapeshot…essentially huge shotguns designed to provide area clearance of any invaders that got into the trench but with insufficient power to damage the walls while taking out invading infantry.

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This is a carronade which is a small naval gun that originally mounted on small warships. Since the Confederate defenders had no mortars but did have some of these smaller, shorter ranged carronades…they were mounted on angled carriages in an attempt to provide some mortar like defenses to the fort with the ability to lob shells into enemy land based artillery…they were only able to emplace 4 of them and with their small shot size they were insufficient to effectively attack the Union artillery.

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With that our visit was ended and we headed off to lunch and our visit to the Cedar Island NWR about another hour away.

Lunch was at a very nice place on the water in Beaufort named the Channel Marker Restaurant…you can see the namesake Marker 8 just above the railing in this shot Neil took of Connie at the table.

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We each had their combo lunch with a cup of soup…clam chowder for Connie and she crab soup that was better than the other night for Neil…and a half oyster po’ boy sandwich along with a hard cider for him and a glass of wine for her…most definitely a great lunch looking out over the water.

After that we headed off to the Cedar Island NWR which is as far as you can go along the NC coastal islands heading north…it’s right at the bottom end of Pamlico Sound which (along with Albemarle Sound) is between the Outer Banks and the coast. There’s a ferry landing adjacent to the NWR which you can catch over to either Ocracoke Island (the last one in the Outer Banks or to Hatteras Island which is connected via causeways and bridges to the remaining islands up through Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and then back onto the mainland.

Didn’t see much wildlife…one canvasback duck that had no place to stop on the road and take a picture and we get get a couple of shots out at the end looking over toward Ocracoke Island. It was a nice day but after the almost 2 hour drive back home we were ready for a rest. We had a nap then some Linguini with bacon, onions, garlic and pecans for dinner…quite yummy as well.

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Today Connie’s working and after lunch we have another hike scheduled down south towards Wilmington a bit…then wings and brews for dinner at Hero’s on the base.



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Out and About at Camp Lejeune NC

Today was a pretty interesting day. In the morning…after coffee and breakfast Neil went down to the bath house/laundry in the campground and ran two loads of laundry. While that was going on Connie worked and got some of her immediate jobs done as we’re planning on a day trip for a hike and lunch tomorrow. After that we had a couple of sammies made out of left over lemon pepper chicken from the other night.

When she wad done working…we headed out for a walk on the beach…we figured we would just walk a mile or so down the beach and back. Mostly we figured it would be exercise…but we forgot we were on a military base and hence we actually saw some Marines out training with their helicopters and boats.

Our first spot for the day…and this one was thanks to Neil and not Connie the wildlife spotter…was the extremely common Blonde on the Beach…we saw probably a hundred of this species today.

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We continued on down the beach to the south and pretty soon came upon the Marine training I mentioned before. There were a couple of CH-53E Sea Stallions doing swimmer deployment training close to the beach. The Sea Stallion is the primary USMC heavy lift helo with the ability to carry up to 55 marines in ferry mode or 37 in combat rigged mode. It’s due to be replaced in the next few years by the V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft but will likely continue in service until at least the mid 2020s. The helo would hover down to about 10 feet from the surface then the embarked Marines would push out their boat then jump into the water after which the aircraft would leave and the Marines would board the boat and motor to the beach. Once there they carried their boat over a quarter mile or so to the landing area and re-boarded for another round of fun. These two helos started about none and were still at it at 2030 when we got back from dinner. Here are a few shots Neil got of the troops in action.

Passing overhead.

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Landing to load more Marines.

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Deploying the raft out the back of the aircraft.

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Followed by deploying the Marines out the back of the aircraft.

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Heading to shore. You can see the boat approaching the beach just outside the surf zone.

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One of the Marines coming ashore from the boat. I think she forgot her rifle!

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Along the way we also spotted this shore bird…a sandpiper we think; along with a shot of Connie checking out something she found on the sand and a shot of a laughing gull in flight.

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About this time we headed back and got back to the rig with about 2 miles of a nice walk down the beach and back. After sitting out in the recliners for awhile we headed off to the Church Street Irish Pub for dinner…they turned out to be closed for some A/C work so we went next door to the Saltwater Grill instead. We tried a beer flight which gave us 4 different beers in 4 ounce sizes. We tried a stout, a peach ale, and 2 brown ales. This allowed us to pick out what we wanted to have another point of and we ended up with a pint of the stout and one of the brown ales. All 4 were local craft beers and all were pretty good. To go along with it we had a bowl each of she crab soup (this would be crab bisque anywhere else but in the Carolina’s it’s called she crab soup instead) which was pretty good. After that we split a couple of appetizers…seared tuna and cheese steak egg rolls. The tuna was great and the egg rolls were good but not outstanding. After that we headed home.

Neil spotted these two pictures in his twitter feed today…the first is a half man, half woman creature and the second is a bathroom where you need really long arms.

Half Waiter Half Woman

Long Reach Required

He thought both of those were pretty funny.

Finally…a couple of photos that really bring home the fact that we’re staying on a military base. We noticed earlier in the week on the way in that both of the Marine bases we’ve been at they have signs at the gate that say “Pardon our noise. The sound you hear is the sound of freedom at work.” That was the first way we knew we were in a military town and then on the base today we saw a couple of road signs that really brought home the military base nature of our current surroundings. Ya don’t see signs like these every day…we saw the signs yesterday but got these shots on the way back into the campground this evening after dinner.

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We can definitely agree that there are artillery firings in the area…we heard them most of the morning…every couple of minutes there was a boom in the distance.

Tomorrow is hike/lunch day. We’re off in the morning to a nearby fort area where there’s a Civil War musketry demonstration and then we’re doing lunch over on the beach and have a hike at Cedar Island NWR in the afternoon.


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