Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In North Carolina Now - New #1 "I Could Live Here" City

We ended up staying in Myrtle Beach an extra day for weather, mostly wind.  But that gave us a chance to get on the bikes and get out to the beach.  With a strong NE wind and high tide, there wasn't much beach compared to normal for Myrtle Beach, not many shells exposed, and it was cold! So, we were not there long.  Then we rode the bikes down toward the mall to get a new 50-foot length of cable for the TV.  Seems like most of the marinas now are providing that service and our old cable was not working well. We also stopped in at Olive Garden for lunch.  Exercise done for the day as well.  About the time we were finished with all of the above is when the bombings took place in Boston.  It is so sad to see that and I think we all knew it was coming again sooner or later. 

We left Myrtle Beach Tuesday morning with a rising tide, lots of shallow stuff ahead and this time it's rocks, not mud.  I've about decided I like running the narrow spots with the tide down because it really defines the deepest parts of the channel.  Now that won't work if you don't have enough depth of course to start with.  You also have to be careful not to rely too much on GPS locations depicted on electronic charts.  Sometimes they are simply inaccurate and this morning was one of those times.  We were running the center of the channel for sure (clearly defined by the low tide) but the chart showed us on land.  There's a possibility the VOR navaid at the airport was interfering with the GPS signal as it sits right on the bank of the waterway.  For you non-aviation folks, a VOR is a land-based aviation navigational aid that has been around forever that emits a 360-degree signal for pilots to navigate to and from.  Over the years, new systems like LORAN, RNAV, and now GPS have come to replace the VOR with a much more efficient and accurate means of navigation.  Anyhow, VORs are still out there and here's what one looks like.

Here are some of the rocks in the channel we wanted to be sure and stay clear of.  It was not really a problem, but if you are navigating this section you might want to listen on the radio or even call ahead for any potential barge traffic through these sections - there is not enough room for both of you at low tide and I'm pretty sure who would win if there was competition for the space!

There were a few colorful houses along the way. Sometimes I wonder about the choices?? 

A beautiful field of red clover.

Not so sure I would want my boat on the top row of this stack with a stiff wind!

Little River was the next town on the ICW and there were three casino boats docked there.  Yes, I realize there are only two in the picture but there were three - really.

And then we settled into an all day coastline that never changed.  The entire shoreline was lined with homes, then long docks, then the waterway, then marshland, then the beach.  I'm not complaining, because any day on the water is better than one not on the water, but it did get a little monotonous after a while.

And then we found Southport, NC in the Cape Fear area of the state.  We had narrowed down our stop for the evening to two possibilities - Southport or Bald Head Island.  Southport gets high recommendations from other boaters and several movies have been made there, the most recent one being "Safe Haven."  It was funny when we went to see the movie - I had already researched this part of our trip and anticipated stopping  at Southport but did not know that was where the movie was made.  So when Julianna Hough "Katie" got off of the bus in Southport to make it her new home and "Safe Haven" I whispered to Rhonda that we would be stopping there also.  Bald Head Island is nice also, very remote, sort of like Daufuskie was, accessible only by boat, with golfcarts and bikes being the only transportation allowed, pretty beach, but more developed.  We kind of wanted to see the movie setting though since we really enjoyed the movie so we finally decided on Southport, and we are glad we did.  Where to start?

Azaleas were in bloom everywhere. 

The town sits right on a southeastern tip of the state with the vast expanse of Cape Fear in great view and the barrier islands across the way.  There's a city park right on the point. Everyone stops to talk - we now have several new "best" friends.  Rhonda met a lady that her family has decided to move there after visiting for 5 years and she and Rhonda want to be neighbors!  We also ran into fellow loopers aboard "Prime Time" and got caught up on each others' travels.  We met them originally at Fort Walton Beach and again later at Port St. Joe.

All N/S roads in town lead to the water.

The residential section of Southport is stunning with old homes from the 1800s, huge live oak trees, all maintained beautifully.  We should have taken better pictures but honestly, we were riding our bikes around the neighborhood just completely caught up in the beauty of it all.

There were literally hundreds of these and if I had to choose one word to describe it, the residential area was "peaceful."  The cemetery is very historical also and filled with azaleas, live oaks, and magnolia trees.

There is a city park with a nice stage for regular concerts certain times of the year.

The downtown area was very classy and you did not see much "Made In China/Japan/Korea/etc" for sale.  We had dinner at Mr. P's Bistro.  I had "Low Country Clam Chowder" and Rhonda had an okra/tomato/seafood gumbo.  The biscuits tasted just like my grandmother's. When I commented on how they were like hers, the waiter brought more and then even more to go when we were leaving! Biscuits and fig preserves for dessert.

And here are the pics I know you have all been waiting for.  The harbor where Safe Haven was filmed.

The house where Josh Duhamel "Alex" and his kids lived.

The restaurant where "Katie" worked.

And we asked around to find the store that Alex ran where he and Katie met.  To our surprise, it was also on the same waterfront but it was actually destroyed by the fire just like in the movie!  We figured it was staged somewhere else but not so. So forget "Take #2" I guess.  Gotta get it right the first time! The remains were removed after the filming.  Cool.  The house where Katie lived was out in the country and the walk through the woods from town to her home was a long distance away somewhere between Southport and Wilmington.  Anyhow, it was a lot of fun seeing all of the above, may have to go check out the movie again now.
And here's the Southport Marina, first class as well, and this is only a small part of it.

So, we now have a new leader in the top "I Could Live Here" List.  And keep in mind, that was added even knowing that it gets cold in Southport!  

1.  Southport, NC
2. Palm Coast, FL
3. Port St. Joe, FL
4. Fort Pierce, FL
5. Anna Maria Island (Bradenton Beach), FL
6. Panama City, FL
7. Ft. Walton Beach, FL
8. Morgan City, LA

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