Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mostly About Boats

Okay, Day 2 of our little end-of-Summer getaway...presented its own special circumstances. First, we were all dragging a bit from our Wednesday Beach Extravaganza. Call it a....Coastal Hangover...if you will. Second, I had been informed via email that Riley had fi-na-lly been placed with a soccer team, and the coach had scheduled an impromptu practice...for later that evening. So any fun stuff at the shore would have to be wrapped up in time to hightail it home and prep for a session of recreational running amok with his new teammates. Third...well, we were having some trouble pinning down exactly what we were in the mood for.

I quickly ruled out dragging them to any historic houses, after one glance at their glazed faces and low-energy demeanors. We had toured a museum the previous week, so we discarded that idea. What really interested us was an aquarium I found described online...until I dug further and determined that it was located 20 miles further south, away from Team WestEnders HQ, which would add to our return time and cramp our already tight schedule unnecessarily. (We did file that one away for a future, longer visit to the region.) I finally came up with something beautifully simple and obvious: journey back into Wilmington, take a boat ride on the river, and explore the USS North Carolina battleship, which sits permanently docked on the opposite bank and is open to the public as a self-guided walk-through tourist experience. Done!

Once we arrived in the city, we surveyed our options for traveling the short distance across the water. There's a huge old-time riverboat--with 3 decks and a gigantic paddlewheel--but it only left on the hour, and we'd just missed one. Instead, we made the choice to go by motorboat (also incidentally a bargain at $6 each for a round-trip ticket) which departed in...oh, at that very moment, as a matter of fact. When deposited at the appropriate dropoff, we meandered on deck to begin the simulated sailing portion of our day. And let me just say, I've toured decommissioned ships before, from many different periods in U.S. history, and this one blew them all...right the heck out of the water. There were NINE decks that you could wander around, displaying everything from bunk areas, to the galley and dining rooms, to communication centers, (complete with--of all things--a post office) to officers' quarters to...munition storage. Guess which one the boys found utterly irresistible? Yep, (admittedly) impressively large warheads, ginormous cannons, and long, deck-mounted guns that you could move around, aim, and pretend to fire.

There was something new and interesting around each corner, and absolutely every inch of the space was used for something. Suffice it to say, we were all suitably amazed and amused by our brief, enlightening stay in the maritime world. Then it was time to reclaim our landlubber status, and start the trek back inland. Our first excursion to the North Carolina shore was highly successful and satisfying...even if it was a bit...short... We look forward to many more opportunities to become thoroughly acquainted with our little section of the Eastern seaboard...with additional time at our disposal...and minus the sunburn, of course!

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