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Day 101 - Horseback Riding on the Beach

We rode horses on the beach at Cedar island, visited a Maritime Museum in Beaufort, and a nicely restored Civil War Fort in next door Morehead City

68 °F

Logistics:

Miles Driven - 59 (We just stop too often!)
Weather - Still Nice, Sunny & mid 60's
Camped at - Walmart in Morehead City (Next to a Staples, which I needed to send an overnight letter from...)

Confessions:

I don't know how to ride horses very well (but Mom does).

Narrative:

This morning I decided to take a walk around the campground, check out the beach, etc. The campground we stayed at was right next to the ferry terminal, I took a picture just to show how close it really was.

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There was also a riding stables on the other edge of the campground. Since this was mid-December, I didn't expect them to be open, but there were still horses in the stalls (other stables we'd passed by had moved their horses inland for the winter), so I went over to check them out. The sign said if nobody was at the stables, to check with the trailer with the satelite dish. Given there were only about three or four sites take in the campground, it really wasn't hard to figure out which trailer that was. Since it was already about 9 AM, I went on over and knocked.

Sure enough, Sheryl answered and said she'd be glad to take us riding. Mom had indicated she wasn't interested, so I arranged with Sheryl to meet her at the barn in a few minutes and went back to let Mom know. Once I told her that - yes, the stables were open for rides and that I'd decided to go, she changed her mind and decided to go riding also. It was clear and sunny and warm - looked like a great day to ride a horse along the beach - for the moment anyway.

By the way, if you ever want to give this a try she has a web site: http://www.horsebackridingonthebeach.com/

Sheryl started saddling up the horses, she rode Banner, I got Honey and Mom got Ringo Star.

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As we started to mount up, the fog rolled in. Very quickly, it was so thick we could only see a short distance. Sheryl loaned me a jacket from the stable (it was warm a few minutes earlier?) and off we went. My horse, Honey, knew exactly what she was supposed to do. I, of course, did not. So we had a little trouble as I'm sure I sent here lots of contradictory commands by pulling the reins incorrectly. However it was still very beautiful and a lot of fun.

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After we'd been out for awhile, Sheryl suggested we could take the horses through the shallow water along the beach. This was inside a protected cove, so there weren't any waves, just sand and water. Mom said she thought she'd drown so elected to stay on dry sand, but Honey and I gave it a shot.

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After she saw how much fun we were having (and how shallow it really was), Mom decided to give it a try also and just followed us out (or Ringo Star did, I'm not sure who made the actual decision). Now you're in for a treat (or trouble depending on your point of view). I have finally edited a video before uploading, not much mind you, but at least a little. Sheryl used the movie mode while she was also riding, so this is a little bouncy. There is also a lot of wind noise (we were on a beach afterall), so you may want to adjust your volume before it starts...

Also, many thanks to Sheryl for handling the camera for us!

So a little saddle sore (just kidding), we got back on the road and started heading back to civilization. We were roughly heading to New Bern, which the visitor's center had recommended, but were on the lookout for anything that looked interesting as is our usual fashion. When we got to a town called 'Beaufort', there was a sign for a historic downtown. Sometimes we skip these, but for some reason this time I decided to try to find it. In spite of the sign, this wasn't as easy as it looked - they working on the streets so I had to go around several blocks and guess a bit, but we finally stumbled onto their visitors center. This is a very old seaport and has a lot of restored, old homes. They also put plaques on buildings to let visitors know which ones are old - but theirs are nice, big plaques that you can actually read.

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They had a walking tour of some of the older buildings, which sounded interesting but just didn't fit our schedule. They also had a maritime museum in town which was free! We hadn't been to a maritime museum yet on this trip, so decided to give this one a look.

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This turned out to be quite a treat, it is a very well done maritime museum. They have quite a variety of exhibits, not just of boats and boating, but also many other things marine related, such as shells, snakes, the USLLS (U.S. Life Saving Service), etc. All of their exhibits have signs explaining the exhibits in detail. Here is just one example from the section on outboard motors and how they evolved, with one example for each decade from the 1920's forward.

Day_101_-_..s_Motor.jpgDay_101_-_..Signage2.jpg

This is a Captains Liquor Chest from the 1700's (18th Century). This signage even included a drawing about glass blowing, since all the glass was hand blown during that era!

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There is a section on UBoat activity off the North Carolina coast during WWII. Until adequate anti-submarine defenses were in place, the UBoat captains called this area a 'Turkey Shoot'. This map shows allied ships sunk in the area, which showed me how much more serious this was than I had realized.

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The 1890's life car could be used to rescue people from a shipwreck when conditions were too rough to get another vessel close enough to remove people directly. Usually it could carry 5 or 6 at a time, but on occasion as many as 11 people squeezed into this.

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Now, that alone is probably enough to grab your interest - but are your ready for the surprise? It turns out Ocracoke isn't the only place with connections to Blackbeard. He also frequented Beaufort. A few years ago a shipwreck was found in the waters off Beaufort that is believed to his flagship - Queen Anne's Revenge. Can you guess were the artifacts from that shipwreck are? Right here in the Maritime Museum in Beaufort!

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There is even a sign explaining how to fire one of these old cannons. In case you ever get pressed into service on a pirate vessel, you might need to know this.

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I probably could have stayed at the Maritime Museum a couple more days, but Mom was getting a little antsy to move on, so off we went. New Bern, our original target for the day, wasn't that much farther but there was a red dot on the map saying something about Fort Macon. I figured we wouldn't get to New Bern early enough to visit it tonight anyway and it wasn't so late yet that we had to stop for the night, so we might as well check out Fort Macon. Mom doesn't like forts much and gets pretty tired by late afternoon, so she elected to stay in the RV, which is fine.

This was across a couple of bridges (into Morehead City, then Atlantic City). Fort Macon is another one of the coastal defense forts built after the War of 1812 exposed the weakness of US coastal defenses. We visited another one of these farther north, but it was never used in combat. Fort Macon was constructed between 1826-1834 using over 9 million bricks for a total cost of $463,790. It consists of an outer earthwork, a ditch, and the inner fort itself. Here is a copy of an aerial photo of the fort to help explain the layout.

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If the fort was in danger of being stormed, the ditch could be flooded as an additional defense. Here is my shot of the outer wall today. A little bit of the ditch is visible on the right.

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Fort Macon is now a State Park and has been extensively restored. Some consider it the best preserved fort in the country, which I'm not sure I'd disagree with. Several of the casemates have been restored and turned into different exhibits as in a museum. These are devoted to the construction of the fort, the civil war in general and Fort Macon's fall in particular, typical enlisted men and officers quarters during the civil war, World War II barracks, kitchen and storage - and of course a gift shop.

Here is the front gate for the inside portion of the fort. The exterior brick walls are four feet thick. The heavy wood doors (not too visible in this shot) are original.

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Once you get inside the gate, there is a parade field and windows & doors on the casemates that are being used as a museum. If you look carefully over the top wall, you can see the ocean a bit. The fort is only a couple hundred yards from the beach, if that.

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This is what the diarama of the Enlisted Men's Quarters looks like (part of it anyway). This room has a recording of a soldier's letter home describing barracks life during the civil war. Two men slept on a single bunk, or four to a double bunk (two on the bottom, two on the top). This way they could fit 20 - 40 men in a single barracks room. Their days were mostly filled with drill, chores, and boredom (until the fort was attacked of course).

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The soldiers were served mess from a kitchen of course, but they might have to pull KP duty (Kitchen Police for you civilians)

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One of their chores did not involve laundry however. Army regulations allowed forts to employ women to do laundry for the troops. This fort paid laundresses $1 per month per soldier to wash and care for their cloths, plus a little food allowance. These were usually wives of enlisted men or local women.

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During the Civil War, these are the types of uniforms worn. The display includes uniform replica's from each era served by the fort - but I'm trying to keep this somewhat shorter than otherwise (believe it or not), so will just show these...

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It was also interesting seeing a replica of a hot shot furnace - complete with signage explaining how the thing would have been used (not just that it was used to heat cannon balls). Here you can see the rails onto which balls were loaded where they would sit above a fire until red hot.

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One of the casemate museum rooms also details how the fort was used in the Civil War. The confederacy occupied the fort to protect Beaufort Harbor. The Union, under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnsides, attacked it in April 1862. In spite of the extensive fortifications, the new union rifled cannon (parrott) was used against the fort causing extensive damage. The Confederates held out until the powder magazine was in danger of being breached, then had to surrender. The rifled cannon was beginning to make fixed, coastal fortifications obsolete. The photo on the right is of similar damage to another fort shortly before Fort Macon was attacked.

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Although obsolete as a coastal defense in the traditional sense, Fort Macon was used again in World War II as a lookout post for U-Boats (and any other Axis threats from the sea). Another casemate room is set up to display a typical WWII barracks room.

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I suppose you could learn all this stuff in books, and I certainly have been buying enough of them also, but these well laid out museums with great signage are so nice. They can boil thing down so you can get a pretty good picture in much less time - plus with diarama's, audio/video displays and replica's or artifacts - you almost can get a sense of what it was like to be there. I'm beginning to actually like museums like this a lot! Can you believe I actually take pictures of as many of the signs as I can (or course, I don't have time to read them all during the trip, nor would I remember much if I did - both solved by means of a quick, digital shot).

Anyway, I had some business to take care of on my dad's place (still struggling with that trustee garbage), so decided to just stay at WM and do it - besides it was right next to a Staples from which I could send my overnight mail.

New Bern will have to wait until tomorrow.

Posted by jl98584 18:24 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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