We planned a trip up the coastline of North Carolina to visit Fort Macon State Park and the Aquarium near Atlantic Beach. We couldn’t forget Wilbur’s BBQ too. Fort Macon is located on the Eastern End of Bogue Banks. We made it to the Fort around 11a.m.just as the sun started to heat up. So I knew it was going to be a great day for us to visit Fort Macon State Park. It was a bright and sunny day when we arrived at Fort Macon. There was no fee to get in. We just parked our car and next to the parking lot there were nice walkways and clean restrooms. The fort had a bold look to it with a pentagon shaped structure. The park had a lot to offer. Swimming, fishing and nature trails were spread out over the 398 acres. We were mostly interested in the Fort, due to our time schedule.
Jerry standing in front of the entrance to Fort Macon
Fort Macon had beautiful walkways and great audio-visual displays within the Fort Structure. The displays consisted of showing how the Confederate troops lived and operated there. It made it easy for us to envision the Civil War and what the men encountered during that time. There are several cannons around the perimeter of the fort to take a few snapshots of. The Fort looked in good structural condition and well maintained throughout the years. It’s almost like you could envision the battle of 1862 against the Union Artillery. The most impressive part of our trip to Fort Macon was the informational displays of how the men made there goods instead of importing them. It also showed how the officers lived compared to the enlisted men, and ways family would send letters to them. It really gave you a sense of the time period! I have to say, everything was within short walking distance of each other. Nick got sidetracked and got a little wet when he explored the tunnels beneath the fort. I‘m pretty sure that wasn‘t part of the tour. The majority of the trip it was just Shawn and I checking out different displays within the rooms of the fort. It’s a go at your own pace, kind of place! Shawn and I discovered a great view from on top of the Forts walls. It gives you a peripheral view of Fort Macon and the Atlantic Ocean that borders it. It’s a Must Visit!
Jerry standing beside one of the Cannons on the wall facing the Atlantic Ocean
We all seemed to enjoy our time at Fort Macon. Fort Macon is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You will need to charge your camera battery before you go considering all the photo opportunities!
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The mascot for North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores
Shawn, Jerry and I decided to take a trip up the coast of North Carolina for one of our road trips. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores was one of our stops on the trip. The aquarium was better than I expected. The reason I had low expectations was due to the fact North Carolina has three aquariums along the coastline and figured that they would spread out key exhibits among themselves. The aquarium admission cost us about $8 a piece, which isn’t bad for what the North Carolina Aquarium has to offer. The North Carolina Aquarium has a variety of different fish from fresh water to salt water. They even has otters, snakes and an outdoor bird walk. My best advice is to check out the otter feeding around 11am for some fun play between the otters.
When you first walk in the North Carolina Aquarium has some fresh water fish along the walls leading you into the next room which has part of floor (interactive play) that looks like you are stepping on water which causing ripples and goldfish to swim away. The otters in the next room were not that active due to being stuff with food. We decided to come back later after their power nap to see if any of them were causing some curious fun. Only one of the three were awake after our second attempt, we caught him on video (video at bottom).
One of the otters at play
Moving on along, you will come to the reptile area which I love snakes and other reptiles, they fascinate me. They have small crocodiles, different kinds of snakes and a turtle tank. The turtle exhibit was filled with turtles, I had to estimate about 50 of those swimming critters. The aquarium created a pond environment for them to hangout in with couple of the old-timer turtles on the surface sunbathing to the heat lamps. When you walk to the next room there is a sting ray tank that you can stick your hand down in and touch one as is swims by. In this same area they have a nursery for baby loggerhead sea turtle. One of the turtles kept hitting the bottom of the tank trying to get either food or saw his reflection on the bottom. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores does extensive work and take great strides to help the loggerhead sea turtles.
Sunbathing out of the water.
The next room was the Shipwreck Tank. This is their biggest tank in the aquarium and the call it the shipwreck tank because of the sunken submarine creating the habitat for the fish.The North Carolina Aquarium had many different fish in with the sharks in the tank. They feed the sharks very well so they do not get the urge to digest the smaller fish in the tank. The North Carolina Aquarium probably had only 3 different types of sharks but they were cool to watch. One of them was laying on the bottom with its head next to a vent looking like a dogs cheeks when its head is out the window. They also had an adult loggerhead sea turtle on exhibit in the tank. The North Carolina Aquarium has a couple smaller tanks behind the shark tank. These tanks were filled with lobster, octopus, and jellyfish. The shipwreck tank was the best part of the aquarium and was excellent way to close out the aquarium.
This was the shipwreck tank with an assortment of sea life
All in all, North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is very nice for the price. My favorite part was watching the otter run around in the tank. The shark tank was pretty cool too. If anyone is in the Atlantic Beach area, this is a must do.
We decided to do a road trip up the coastline of North Carolina. The plan was to make stops at Fort Macon, North Carolina Aquarium, and Duplin Winery. We were going to end the day on a high note with some great barbecue. I did a little research and found Wilber’s Barbecue, well-known for the best eastern carolina style BBQ in the area. So I made it a goal not to ruin my taste buds by not eating anything until we got to the restaurant. No breakfast, lunch, or snack stops. Nick did not get the memo so he was left starving for majority of the day. The only thing I allowed in my system was a bottle of Mountain Dew, my own personal addiction and how I often start the day.
We arrived at Wilber’s Barbecue around 3 in the afternoon. The hushpuppies were the first thing we received from the waitress. They were incredible (best I ever had) , hush puppies were so hot the butter melted on contact. It was hard not to eat the whole basket and I had my hunger control on lockdown for BBQ. Here was our food order:
Myself: I ordered the Pig & Chick(white meat) combination plate with Mountain Dew. The Pig was the BBQ pork chopped up very fine and carolina style(no sauce, vinegar base) and the Chick was chicken thigh covered in some kind of gravy. The pork had a great spice mixture that gave the taste buds a tangy kick at the end of the meat shovel down the throat. The chicken was so tender, juicy, and the meat fell right of the bone. A choice of two sides, I went with a double portion of french fries and stayed clear of the healthy veggies.
Pig and Chick Combination Plate
Jerry: He had the BBQ Pork Sandwich with fries and sweet tea.
BBQ Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw on it.
Nick: Two cheeseburgers with an order of fries and sweet tea. What? Who orders cheeseburgers when you can have the best BBQ around, I was baffled at his decision and so was the cook. It took an extended time for the food to come out because of the burgers. Our theory was they probable serve a burger once every 3 months and had no clue where the burgers were stored. It became a Where’s Waldo for burger meat and two burgers at one time was even more challenging.
Proof that Nick Ordered Two Cheeseburgers and No BBQ
Overall you have to check out Wilber’s Barbecue if in the area and do not pull a Nick and order something that is not BBQ.
If you are ever in the Charleston area, The Firefly Distillery (must be 21 to enter their website) is a unique place to visit. It is only 30 miles south of Charleston. It was a beautiful day to visit the Firefly Distillery, we had the windows down and, as always, we were enjoying our music. We all have different tastes in music so we are never listening to the same genre twice. It was nice to see all the beautiful Live Oaks as we got close to the entrance of Firefly Distillery. It was a bit hard to spot the entrance, so when using a GPS you will have to pay close attention. As you enter the Firefly Distillery, there are 11 acres of grapes along a winding dirt road. There was plenty of parking as we arrived. There were plenty of picture opportunities. One being the old Fashioned Out House. We stuck Josh in there to snap a hilarious photo.
Josh Checking Out the Old School Outhouse
The Firefly Vodka tasting was the most fun part of the day. We were welcomed in by the bartender. She made us feel right at home. Firefly was opened right from the families’ backyard and is the only Distillery in South Carolina. My favorite flavor during the tasting was the Lemonade Vodka. I think it was Shawn and Nick’s favorite also because they ended up buying a bottle each. I ended up saving my money for the wine tasting next door. That way I could bring back a bottle of wine for my girlfriend. It’s one of the very few dual Winery and Distilleries. We ended up doing two tastings which made us feel quite tipsy(no driving involved)!
Tasting at Firefly Distillery
It’s a unique and exciting place to visit if you’re planning a trip to Charleston, SC. Just don’t try to visit in January. They are closed the entire month. All and all, it was a well spent afternoon with my close buddies! I can’t wait for our next Tasting! Thank You Firefly Distillery!