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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Mount Mitchell Sign
Shawn and I decided to take a trip up to Mount Mitchell while we were in the Asheville area. It was a nice drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway. I had never been on the parkway, but had heard it was an awesome road to travel on. It was a good hour drive up Blue Ridge Parkway (it was only about 35 miles but all the curves in the road slowed progress) to reach the bottom of Mount Mitchell. Make sure your gas tank is full because we didn’t see one gas station the whole way there.
View from top of Mount Mitchell
Once you turn off of Blue Ridge Parkway you will have to take another road pretty much all the way to the top of Mount Mitchell. They also have a nice restaurant looking over the mountain about half way up. After reaching the top there is a parking lot looking down on the road we traveled up on and all across the mountain range. As we stepped out of the car I noticed instantly that we were going to have a bug problem so bring plenty of bug spray. There were flies everywhere.
There is a short trail, but very steep, that takes you to the tip-top of Mount Mitchell. They have benches every 20 feet or so to stop and take a rest. When you get to the top you will notice a stone structure that is the grave of the man who discovered Mount Mitchell. Walking past the grave site is a bridge leading up to a platform area which is the highest point east of the Mississippi. This is the best view from the mountain.
Founder of Mount Mitchell Buried Here
We had a good trip up there. I think the drive up to Mount Mitchell down the Blue Ridge Parkway was more enjoyable to me. Do I recommend traveling to Mount Mitchell? Yes, because who wouldn’t want to stand on the highest point east of the Mississippi!
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Chimney Rock is located near Asheville, NC. Shawn and I drove up to Asheville and stayed a couple of nights to visit a few places including Chimney Rock. It was a beautiful drive to the bottom of the mountain, twisting and turning through the mountains. Once we reached the entrance to Chimney Rock we were told that the elevator was being worked on, so we had to go to the top old fashion style.
About half way up the mountain there is a small cave you can walk down in, which was called the Moonshiners Cave. The walkway down into the cave is very tight, but only goes a few steps down. After leaving the cave we continued walking up the mountain, continuously taking breaks because it is a steep hike. Once we reached the top the view was gorgeous. It took us about 30 minutes to climb to the top of Chimney Rock. I was so happy once we got up there because my calves were on fire!
Nick entering Moonshine Cave
After walking down the mountain we saw on the map that there was a waterfall right around the corner, or so we thought. We started to hike the trail to the Hickory Nut Falls, and the trail kept going on and on until we saw a map that showed we were only half way there. The hike to the Hickory Nut Falls was nice because it was a flat trail through the woods with a nice view down the mountain. Once we reached the waterfall, I was amazed at how tall this thing was. When you reach the waterfall there is a little deck you can walk out on that gives you a great view of the waterfall, but that wasn’t enough for me. I climbed down off the porch and got right underneath of it. The mist from the waterfall felt great on a hot summer day.
If any of you guys love hiking, beautiful views and a great atmosphere I highly suggest going to Chimney Rock and checking it out, or even if you don’t like hiking that much they have an elevator you can take all the way to the top of the mountain and still have the same beautiful view as if you were to hike up to it.
Nick underneath Hickory Nut Falls
Josh and I in September of 2010 decided to reach South Carolina’s highest point and check out Caesars Head Park. This was all to be done in the same day. We did it iron man style, what I call it when you drive to a location and then do the activity without no rest. We left from Myrtle Beach about 4 am in the morning driving to Sassafras Mountain(SC highest point at 3650 ft) It was boring drive all the way till you get to Greenville that is when the hills start kicking in. Nothing can be more boring than driving 75 miles of nothing but flat straight roads that present no challenge to drivers except for the occasional slow driver in the fast lane.
We reached the Sassafras Mountains around 9am in the morning with no problem. I think it was all luck and we put a lot of trust in Garmin GPS we had with us. No road signs are available pointing to the mountain just so you know. You can basically drive most of the way up the peak to a small parking lot and the rest of the way is a small hike. Josh and I were kinda disappointed with the view, which was none. The problem was the time of year we decided to do this trip, the tree still had plenty of leaves which block all the good views. I best recommend going in late fall or early spring when all the leaves are laying on the ground. We provided a little video of the summit and the road leading to it and also the SC marker. We only lasted about 15 minutes up there before boredom set in. On to the next destination.
Driving to the Caesars Head Park afterwards was a little confusing and got lost a few times. But when we reached the outlook point it was all worth it. I think you have to be there in person to fully appreciate it. For us it was definitely a wow factor with the view. We decided to tackle the trails leading to raven cliff falls. It cost around $3 to $5 to park and it is all about honesty. They have a box where you put the parking money in the envelope and shove it in the box. Josh and I underestimated the length of the hike and the fitness level.. Taking the hiking challenge showed us how out of shape we were and turned out to be a wake up call. The trail goes up and down around several hills and took us about 45mins to just reach the outlook of the falls. It would have took us another 45mins to the base and we wanted no action on that task. The day was taking a toll on us by then. After the hour and half hiking we decided to get something to eat. Short video of both outlook follows.
The closest town was about a 15 minute drive from where we were at. We were looking for a quick fix and found it in my favorite style of fast food concept. The ability to order from two separate fast food menus in one building priceless. Sometimes I like to take my favorites from both and create a mash-up order. Long John Silvers/KFC combo was a winner for me because we don’t have Long Johns by the beach for obvious reasons.(A lot of fresh seafood places in Myrtle Beach). I’m always got my eye out for the combo styles of Taco Bell, KFC, A&W and Long Johns Silver when on the road.