Sunday, 20 May 2012

Days 18 & 19: Rain on the way to the islands

We left the Charleston area in grey and drizzle and ran into wicked thunderstorms that were just dumping rain on our way north to Carolina Beach.
The view through the windshield
We picked up a short ferry that introduced one of the quaintnesses of North Carolina ferries: rocking chairs in the waiting area
Matching, and all in a row
We were joined on board by a sheriff and his sniffing puppy.
A German trained not too obedient Shepherd
He gave all the cars a once-over before practicing fetch and ignoring his master, which (according to the sheriff) he was very good at. The ride was short, and ended rather damply.
The view of docking
We overnighted (at a hotel) in Carolina Beach out of convenience; it was in the middle between Charleston and Ocracoke Island. It did have a rather pretty little harbour...
Pretty sunset
...nice Carolina beach houses...
Decks on the roof are common
...and pelicans.
Owning the pole
From Carolina Beach, we drove north up the coast past Myrtle Beach (in the rain) where I spent time as a kid. We did not stop at this tacky, offensive piece of Americana to take photos. We were glad that it was raining here, in fact, because it made the trip through the town a little less touristy. But still rather yeuch (how many mini golf places with pink water does a town need? A lot, apparently).

North of Myrtle Beach we ran into more deluging rain, where we could go only 40 km/hr due to water flooding the road and virtually no viz. We passed the famous Camp Lejune, home of the Marine Corps training base.
One of the entrances
We pulled into Atlantic Beach and stopped at Fort Macon for lunch. It was a civil war fortress and only saw action during one siege.
3 cannon and other mounting sites 
The depth of the dry inner moat 
Ways in and out of the inner fort
The main way in 
One cannon mount 
KC on the inner wall
The furnace where hot cannon balls ammo was prepped 
A cannon's view of the entrance
We stopped -- too long, as it turned out -- at a really good kite shop in Atlantic Beach to try and get one of my favourite kites (a Hyperion HyperKite) "fixed". All my cross bars were lost in a move a while back. They futzed for quite a while before figuring out that they didn't have the right parts (but they liked my kite). Realizing we had spent too much time at the kite shop, we took off and raced up the road to catch our ferry, arriving with little time before sailing.

The weather seemed to get better as we prepped for the 2 hr ferry ride.
Looking back. The bad weather behind us?
We hoped the rain would stop as we sailed away.
Bye bye mainland
We were wrong.

It started to rain 30 minutes before we docked. By the time we hit the campground, it was pouring, and it was blowing about 20 mph on top of that. We searched out sites and many were flooded puddles, so we opted to camp on the sand dunes -- in what turned out to be a field of prickly pear cactus. We set up camp in the twilight, and ate in the dark, after putting up the rain shelter (which was really loud flapping in the breeze).
Rain. Wind. Lots of tie downs
Yours truly in rain gear and headlamp
It poured and was windy all night. But we had picked up a tarp in Carolina Beach, and the tent did not leak. Pop tent pegs out, yes. Almost go flat from time to time, yes. But leak: no. At least not yet. More storms were to come.

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