Monday, December 2, 2013

Planet Fun: For Those Rare Times Sunset Beach Weather Drives Us Indoors!

Not that we ended up needing it this sunny November month at Sunset Beach Bliss, but I find it always pays to do ones homework when vacationing in the company of an energetic nine-year-old. And our discovery of Planet Fun in nearby Shallotte will go a long way towards easing any concerns you may have about visiting the beach during the off-season with kids (or even during the Summer, if you've all gotten a bit too much of the sun's attention and need a day's rest under the air conditioning). But if the sun "takes a powder," and the rain and cold winds begin to blow, the family can still enjoy a whole day of fun activities . . . inside, until the foul weather moves on, which it usually does quickly at this peculiar part of the NC coast.
Great place for bowling

Convenient snack bar
About a 15-minute drive from Sunset Beach Bliss, Planet Fun will help you slough off any rainy-day blues with bowling, video games, laser tag . . . and even a selection of centers meant for the little guys, like a play house, bouncy castle, mini golf and toddler rides.  And, should anyone get hungry, there is a well-stocked snack bar and also a sit-down restaurant, Starz Grille, which offers a good-sized menu of affordably-priced choices. Be sure to look for coupons or deal days online at their current specials and promotions webpage before you go.
Starz Grille is the adjoining sit-down
restaurant with an extensive menu

Brunswick Town Site: A Time Capsule from 1776

For those who can manage to escape to Sunset Beach during the "off-season" months of Autumn and Winter, avoiding the Summer crowds is a real perk! And once in awhile, showing up at a time most folks are not around presents opportunities for a little behind-the-scenes "red carpet" treatment - the kind of attention that those who staff an attraction cannot usually provide to their visitors during the busy seasons. The first week of November, my family and I were reminded of how lucky we are to be here during a quieter month.

On a sunny Fall day, we visited the site of historical Brunswick Town, an easy 45 minutes' drive from Sunset Beach Bliss. Brunswick was an important trading port on the Cape Fear River in North Carolina in the years leading up to and throughout the Revolutionary War, but was destroyed and abandoned near its end. Some decades after the founding of our nation, the site also was used for the Confederate-built Fort Anderson during the Civil War. Today, it is a peaceful and beautiful several acres of meandering trails and fascinating ruins.

Spoon of a style popular all through
the 18th Century. The bowl is half-melted
away, suggesting exposure to significant
heat.  Possibly was on board the doomed
ship Fortuna, docked at Brunswick in 1748?
Those who come to see the Brunswick Town site will find a visitors' center and museum, which give newcomers an excellent introduction to the dramatic events witnessed here. But after just a few minutes' talk Jim McKee, a historian and archaeologist we met there, our time at Brunswick became much more exciting than just another afternoon at a museum. We witnessed cutting edge historical research, as Mr. McKee shared with us the on-going daily discoveries of freshly discovered artifacts at the site. It was fascinating to hear his accounts of how historical objects more than 250 years old have come to light once again, after lying forgotten for so long, buried in the mud.

Fragment of a German oil vessel, found
by Jim McKee at Brunswick Town site.
An active trade in naval supplies was the reason Brunswick grew to be such an important port during the early 18th Century. Its surrounding forests of North Carolina long-leaf pine were important as a ready supply of lumber - and, most particularly, a vital source of essential tar, pitch, and turpentine used to preserve and protect the timbers and rope on a seagoing ship from water damage and rot. Luckily for today's historians, routine spillage of these substances along the dock during its economic heyday formed an approximately 4" layer of tarry sediment, which had the effect of preserving anything discarded
Fine china that may have graced the table
of a well-to-do resident of the Town.
in that spot, not unlike a prehistoric creature trapped in amber. In recent years, the movement of the tides has been gently eroding away the soil to gradually reveal the objects from that time, even items made of materials like fabric, wood and leather which would not normally survive intact after being buried for so long in damp soil, were it not for the effects of the tar that permeated them. This treasure trove of such well-preserved artifacts can help historians confirm stories of the people and events of that period, making the Brunswick Town site a uniquely valuable source of new knowledge about our history.
What is this?  An entire Revolutionary-war
era leather shoe - believe it or not - preserved
by the presence of pine-tar in the soil.
More than a year's worth of soaking in
springwater baths will be needed before this
artifact is ready for museum specialists to
prepare it for display.

Notice, the subject of the Revolutionary War has dominated this entire post, and yet the Brunswick Town site was also the scene of important Civil War events, as the location of Fort Anderson. A peaceful meander in and around the still visible earthworks from those tumultuous times is a pleasant way to enjoy this park as well. The beauty and peacefulness of this riverside spot may cause you to reflect with a sense of irony, as you consider all the violence, catastrophe, and tragic struggle witnessed on these shores a mere two hundred years ago.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Whatever the Name, A Seafood Boil Hits the Spot

Whether you call it Frogmore Stew, Beaufort Boil, or a Tidewater Boil, this delicious and simple dish consisting of shrimp, corn on the cob, sausage, and potatoes, seasoned with the world famous Old Bay Seasoning, is a surefire way to draw everyone's palates into vacation mode. It's a pretty easy thing to prepare - just remember not to overcook your shrimp!

There are several great places in Sunset Beach where you can get your shellfish and all fresh off the local fishing boats. My family frequently stops at Bill's Seafood at Sunset (Just this past week, the scallops we picked up there were fantastic - we pan-seared 'em in butter and garlic. Yum!). But there are numerous fine places to pick up something fresh and fine, such as Captain Jacks in Ocean Isle, or head to the docks at the Calabash River for a look at what the fleets have brought in each afternoon and maybe pick up a few pounds from Popeye's shrimp stand on Beach Drive near Sunset Beach.  If Mother Nature keeps the water above 50 degrees F, North Carolina shrimpers can net all year round!

Oh, and don't forget to stop by Beck's and buy a bottle of their fantastic cocktail sauce for dipping!

Frogmore Stew

Ready Time: 40 min | Servings: 4
  • 3 quart Water
  • 1/4 cup Old bay seasoning
  • 1 lb New red potatoes
  • 1 lb Hot smoked sausage links, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 4 ears corn - husked, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 lb Large fresh shrimp, unpeeled
  1. Bring water and Old Bay Seasoning to boil in a large stockpot.
  2. Add potatoes and cook for 15 minutes. Add sausage and cook for 5 minutes more. Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink, about 5 minutes. Drain immediately and serve with cocktail sauce.
Recipe from Simply Cookin'

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fellowship: Places of Worship Near Sunset Beach

Not only is Sunset Beach a beautiful place, it is a spiritual place. As we each contemplate our small, small self within the vastness of ocean and sky, many of us need to commune with others. And however you chose to observe, there are many welcoming places in and around Sunset Beach where you can come and worship.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Improving the Tradition of Thanksgiving at Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is much quieter as we moved into Autumn, but still just as beautiful.  Starting in October and November the North Carolina coast serves as a great refuge for those escaping the "nippy" North, with plenty of sunny days and average daytime temperatures in the mid-60's and 70's (Fahrenheit).

The Holiday Season starts for most with the week of Thanksgiving, and over the years many families have used Sunset Beach Bliss as gathering place with their families to celebrate winter holidays. Being able to spend the week away from home, instead of having to decide "who's hosting this year," makes it a true holiday for everyone.  Our guests like the fact that there's more than one king-sized bedroom, which allows everyone to get a good night's sleep when vacationing with extended family.  And our fully-equipped kitchen has all you need to make and serve your group a holiday meal to remember.

Or if you'd like to experience the true luxury of a delicious Thanksgiving meal with the family, without having to do the cooking, and clearing up, The Boundary House Restaurant, just minutes away in nearby Calabash, serves a traditional fixed-price menu on Thanksgiving Day starting at 11:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving day, with the last seating taken at 6 p.m. Their menu includes a choice of 3 appetisers, an entree of either turkey and ham with gravy or prime rib, all the traditional sides, plus their famous Boundary House salad, and choice of pecan or pumpkin pie for dessert. According to the manager, this is a tremendously popular day for families to come eat at Boundary House, so making a reservation is strongly encouraged.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Farm Heritage Day at Indigo Farms in Calabash

The Welcoming Oak at Indigo Farms.
image credit: indigo farms website 

"Last year, one lady and her daughter just came to buy some fresh baked bread and ended up staying the whole day!" - Mary Bellamy

Summer has ended, and it is now time to experience the rich bounty of Autumn on the Carolina coast.  Long before the beaches began to attract summertime holiday-makers, the people living along the coasts of North and South Carolina worked hard, farming and fishing, and lived well off the land. We are lucky to have some descendants from those original communities still living in the area, who generously share their rural heritage with newcomers.

The owners of Indigo Farms, OK and Mary Bellamy, whose family has farmed this land for six generations, preserve and share their history and traditions with others through their annual Farm Heritage Day. Every year it's held on the first Saturday of October (This year, it's October 5th, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.), and admission and parking are still free. Bring the kids, and come hungry for delicious food and a good time learning about the lives our ancestors lived.

The farm bakery will be selling its usual range of tasty pies, cookies, crusty bread, as well as traditional treats like molasses and hoop cheese available at their produce market. But on the day there also will be a concession stand selling a wide selection of yummy sandwiches and barbeque plates to tempt your tummy - and the farm's apple and grape harvests have been pressed for fresh cider and juice to quench everybody's thirst.

This event always provides lots to see and learn about, with demonstrations of blacksmithing, the making of lye soap, and the craft of dying with indigo, the valuable cash crop of the past for which the farm is named. You'll also get to see some demonstrations of a horse-drawn plow and a horse-powered cane mill - plus the good folks from the nearby Horry County Museum will be there with still more historical artifacts, antique guns, and a working turn-of-the-century engine.  Every year attracts a little something more to this gathering.

The children can run off their energy in the corn maze, or explore the straw house and a tee-pee; and then rev it up again with the excitement of a hayride or "stock pig racing." Adding to the festive atmosphere, local musicians and gospel singers come to Farm Heritage Day every year to entertain the crowds and help to honor the traditions of those who came before us.

For additional details on this event and many others throughout the year, visit the Indigo Farm website.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Celebrating Sunset . . . at Sunset! Advantages of a South-Facing Beach

Sunset Beach, NC, enjoys an advantage that no other part of coastal carolina has:  If you stay on its wide sandy expanses until the end of day, you can watch the sun set over the ocean! Because of its Northeast-Southwest orientation, the sands of Sunset provide the best seat in the house from which to admire the brilliant beauties of the sun sinking into the waves. The privileges of such a position are not lost on the residents of Sunset Beach, who celebrate every year with an annual festival called Sunset at Sunset.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sea Turtle Adventures at Sunset Beach

One magnificent aspect of spending time by the ocean is the daily encounters you have with the many beautiful creatures who call our North Carolina coastline home. I recently received a wonderful reminder of this from two of our former guests, Richie and Diane, who loved their time at Sunset Beach Bliss so much they came back to build their own "bliss" and settle down nearby as permanent residents. I discovered that Richie and Diane volunteer with the Sunset Beach Turtle Watch Program that is so active on our beaches, and they generously took the time to share their experiences (and these great photos) with me. And so I thought I would pass them along to our readers.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ocean Isle in October: Where the World Is Your Oyster!

Well, the Summer is more than halfway through, and so it's time to start making plans for your beach vacation in the Fall! North Carolina has the mild climate that draws folks to the coast all year round. A great October week to aim for is when Brunswick county sponsors their Annual Oyster Festival in neighboring Ocean Isle. This year, it will be the weekend of October 19th, all day Saturday and Sunday. As always, organizers have included attractions and activities to appeal to all ages; so the kids can enjoy themselves just as much as the adults.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Meander Around Airlie: Gardens By the Sea

When the weather's fine and we have a yen to venture a little further beyond our beloved Sunset Beach, Wilmington has a plethora of delightful places that we return to again and again.  One of these is Airlie Gardens.  Right near Wrightsville Beach, it's about an hour's drive from our condo in Sunset Village; and well worth the time.  The Gardens are impressive, dating back to the 1880's, featuring their 467-year-old Oak tree, and acres and acres of both formal and educational gardens surrounding some magically beautiful lakes.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fourth of July at the Old Bridge: Not Quite Gone, and Definitely Not Forgotten!

This Fourth of July, take the kids to join a festive parade of folks who are saving a historical treasure at Sunset Beach.

With the opening of the new Mannon C. Gore bridge out to Sunset Beach, our old swing bridge was retired and towed away.  But one section of this charming architectural monument to the past, the center portion on which was built the bridge tenders' house, will begin a new life as a museum, filled with images and artifacts to remind us of the old ways of coastal living.  The old Sunset Beach will be brought back to life for those old enough to remember, helping us share with those who are too young to know.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Flowers, History, Art, Science, Nature: Spend a Day Visiting Brookgreen Gardens

Beautiful bronze sculptures adorn every corner
of the Gardens

 Another amazing way to spend the day while in Sunset Beach is at Brookgreen Gardensjust an hour's drive  from our condo, Sunset Beach Bliss.   It is well worth the drive, because it offers far more than just gardens - and the gardens are amazing - but also has a great zoo and opportunities to learn a little American history, while enjoying the beautiful grounds and sculptures.

Monday, May 20, 2013

2013 Sunset Beach Concert Series: Summer Fest Starts At The End of May!

Drive towards towards the gazebo (across from Fibber McGee's) in Village Park at Seaside Village in Sunset Beach, NC, and you'll notice some Summertime celebration, with fine music, dancing, and an all-around good time.

A Summer Fest Concert Series revs up in Sunset Beach, starting at 6:30 p.m. on May 29th, with The Fat Jack Band.  Then music lovers can expect free live music at the same time every Wednesday evening for the rest of the Summer (weather permitting, which it usually does!).  Sponsored by local businesses and the Town of Sunset Beach, these gatherings help to raise money for local charities, while they raise our spirits with good music.

So come on out with your beach chair, get some sand between your toes, then (once the music moves you) get up and join the groove with a smile!

You can keep up-to-date on the details at the Sunset Beach Concert Series Facebook page.

Concert Schedule

May 29th - Fat Jack Band

June 5th - Parrot Party

June 12th - Homemade Jam

June 19th - Carolina Breakers

June 26th - The Ginger Thompson Band

July 3rd - CC Martin

July 10th - The Mark Roberts Band

July 17th - Marsha Morgan Band

July 24th - Jim Quick & The Coastline Band

July 31st - Coco Loco

August 7th - Rodney Dane

August 14th - The Craig Woolard Band

August 21th - Hip Pocket

August 28th - The Fantastic Shakers

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ocean Isle Beach Concert Series: May Brings The Entertainers to Ocean Isle Beach

Starting May 24th, 2013, the Ocean Isle Beach Concert Series begins anew with a series of free music concerts offering many different flavors of the best beach music, including shag, golden oldies, and classic rock and roll.  

These weekly free concerts are sponsored by the Town of Ocean Isle every Friday evening (from 6:30 until around 8:30 p.m.) through August 30th.  Held in the parking lot of the Museum of Coastal Carolina, these gatherings are free of charge and family friendly.  It's a popular event, so we are advised it's a good idea to get there a little early for your best spot.  

The Season begins with The Entertainers, a favourite on the coast for their enjoyable mix of dance, beach, shag, & soul music.  And for each of the following weeks, we'll be treated to performances by many more quality acts: The Craig Woolard band, Band of OZ, and Blackwater Rhythm & Blues, just to name a very few.

Bring along your beach chairs, picnic blankets and coolers (but leave the alcohol at home, please), and come sit a spell (or just to rest between dancing to the music) and enjoy the atmosphere and smiles. 

And if you can't make it on May 24th, then there are plenty more Fridays to aim for the whole rest of the Summer!

Ocean Isle Beach 2013 Concert Series Schedule

5/24/2013           The Entertainers

5/31/2013           Continental Divide Band

6/7/2013             Blackwater Rythm & Blues

6/14/2013           Imitations

6/21/2013           Sea Cruz

6/28/2013          Mark Roberts

7/5/2013            Craig Woolard Band

7/12/2013          Holiday Band

7/19/2013          Legends of Beach

7/26/2013          Too Much Sylvia

8/2/2013            Atlantic Groove

8/9/2013            Carolina Breakers

8/16/2013          Steve Owens & Summertime

8/23/2013          Sea Cruz

8/30/2013          Band of Oz

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sunset Beach Bliss Newsletter: Subscribe and Keep In Touch!

If you would like to hear more about upcoming events in and around Sunset Beach, and also be the first to know about any discounts on our vacation condo's rates, then I invite you to subscribe to our Sunset Beach Bliss Newsletter.  

A new issue will arrive on the first Tuesday of each month, giving you a heads up on the next month's events and
opportunities that you won't want to miss
- including a list of festivals, new attractions, grand openings, and other special occasions in Sunset Beach as well as further afield. We will endeavor to keep you in touch with what we consider our portion of the Outer Banks and the Grand Strand: all those places that are a manageable driving distance from Sunset Beach, extending out as far North as Wilmington, Southport and Fort Fisher, and Southward into Calabash and across the South Carolina border into Little River and North Myrtle Beach.

Visit our online form to subscribe! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Beck's Seafood of Calabash: Rising from the Ashes Like a Phoenix!

Rebuilt, bigger and better!
We thought we'd lost a community treasure when our beloved Beck's seafood restaurant went up in flames last year.  First started in the 1940's, Beck's is one of the leading lights in the delicious tradition of Calabash-style seafood.  It's one of our "must-do's" whenever my family comes to Sunset Beach.

Well, for the past six months, we've had to do without their steaming hot, delectably tender seafood, with its light and crispy cornmeal coating.  But we weren't left without the hope of having it again.  And the time has come at last:  Beck's is scheduled to open once again this coming weekend, in a brand-new building constructed right on top of the ruins of the old.  With increased seating and fresh new paint, but the same great people inside who have made it so special, one of Calabash's favorite places to eat will be back very soon!

Bon Appetit, y'all!

Friday, April 5, 2013

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher: Where We Touched A Baby Shark!

During our last stay in Sunset Beach, we took a day to drive up to Southport and take the Ferry to Fort Fisher (see previous post), where we spent a fun (and educational) few hours at the North Carolina Aquarium.

As soon as we bought our tickets and entered the building, my daughter (as always) made a bee-line for the Touch Pool, rolling up her sleeves along the way.  That day, we had some fun watching how a horseshoe crab rights himself whenever he's flipped upside down.

Another not-to-be missed sensation, is to gently poke one's finger into the middle of a sea anemone.  Trust me, it's something everyone must try at least once.
Anemone: Velcro of the Sea

We also enjoyed an interesting talk with one of the museum's volunteers about their Sea Turtle Rehab program.  On that particular day, we were treated to an up-close look at this little girl, a baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle, only a few weeks old.  Eventually, once she grows big and strong enough, she'll be released back out into the Atlantic Ocean - from which, hopefully, she will return someday to dig a nest for her own eggs on the beaches of North Carolina.
Jellyfish at the NC Aquarium
A Baby Loggerhead Sea Turtle
At the time of our visit, the Aquarium also had a special little creche of baby sharks available for petting.  This was an opportunity not to be missed, but I noticed there were no impassioned requests to bring one home as a pet, for a change.
Stroke A Baby Shark!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Taking the Ferry from Southport to Fort Fisher, A Daytrip

One excellent way to spend some of your vacation time while staying in Sunset Beach, is to take a day to explore further Northward up the coastline to visit the lovely town of Southport - and from there, take the Ferry over to Fort Fisher, where you can enjoy some important civil war sites, as well as visit our wonderful North Carolina aquarium.
Here is how we did it:
Entrance to Southport Museum
We set off from Sunset Beach Bliss at about 9 a.m., and arrived in Southport after an easy highway drive of about 45 minutes.  Southport is a lovely little port town, with well-kept historic homes and shady lanes that make you yearn to hop on a bicycle and explore.  There is an excellent visitor center, with a playground and clean air-conditioned restrooms, plus several rooms just bursting with interesting local history inside the main building (which opens at 10 a.m.).  The front door opens to an wide expanse of open lawn, dotted with beautiful old live oaks and  a fantastic view of the water, a convenient distance from the public pier and another park area.  We lingered until it was time to catch our 10:45 a.m. Ferry ride (as you can see on the Ferry Schedule, which is available online, number of departures each day varies by season).   

One of the Southport Ferries

Looking back towards our Southport
departure point
We drove our car onto the Ferry, and enjoyed a 35-minute boat ride over to Fort Fisher, which cost us a mere $5 (less if you're just bringing yourselves, or bicycles). Of course, we marked ourselves as tourists right away, leaving our car to explore the deck and check out the views with the coin-operated telescope.  If you want to get out of the sun and wind, the ferries have nice indoor seating areas, with tables (and sometimes a snack bar is open, but best to check before you board).
Once we landed at Fort Fisher, before heading to the aquarium, we stopped at the State Recreation Area on Loggerhead Rd. (about a mile from the Ferry port) to have our picnic lunch.  The Recreation area comes complete with indoor bathrooms, outdoor showers, and public access to the beach - as well as 4WD access to the beach with appropriate permit.  And you can pass the time learning a bit more about the area at small museum there as well! 
Baby Sea Turtle
Hold the Peanut Butter!

The NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is less than half a mile further down the road from the recreation area (And deserves its own blog post, so check back here later!).  We kept ourselves entertained there for a couple of hours before heading back to catch our return Ferry to the mainland.  We didn't rush ourselves, but stopped on our way to the Ferry port in order to check out Battery Buchanan, another Fort Fisher State Historic Site.

The Ferry got us and our car back to Southport at about 2.20 p.m., but we could have stayed longer.  We will definitely be making this excursion up the coastline again!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Moon Snail Encounters on Sunset Beach

A Moon Snail Shell
While enjoying a last walk along the beach before heading back home to the mountainous side of North Carolina, we kept noticing a recurring strange pattern on the sand.  It reminded me of ancient fossils  we've seen in museums.  Our daughter, ever curious, and energetic enough to bend over and investigate more closely, discovered each of these marks were caused by the displacement of the damp sand from movements below, specifically from the slow progress of a Moon Snail digging along its way a couple of inches below the surface of the beach.  She dug up each one and flipped them over to see its round, flat "foot" retreating back up into its shell.  When she put each one down and waited, it started digging itself back down under the sand again.  Neat!

Take the kids and learn more about Moon Snails and other beach-dwelling critters at the Museum of Coastal Carolina in nearby Ocean Isle.

Mysterious pattern in the sand
made by the subterranean hi-jinks of
a Moon Snail.
Emily and one temporarily inconvenienced Moon Snail 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bicycle Racks at Sunset Beach Bliss

Just one of the many bicycle stands
at Sunset Village
If you're visiting Sunset Beach Bliss, take along your bicycles!  Sunset Village at Sandpiper Bay has a number of bicycle stands, two of which are pretty close to our building.  Our neighborhood and the surrounding area provides a quiet, laid-back stretch for little touring on two wheels.

And for the more adventurous and experienced cyclists, the new bridge over the ICC has plenty of room for cyclists to cross over from the mainland to the outer banks - enjoy the magical experience of a ride right by the ocean.

Sunset Beach, together with the adjoining stretch of beach call Bird Island, gives you over four miles of uninterrupted bicycling on the beach - all the way down to the South Carolina border!  In Season, bike rentals are available at Sunset Beach as well.

The locations of two of the Sunset Village bike stands closest to our condo building

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wilmington's River Walk: Still Growing

 We spent most of the day in Wilmington  NC, today.  The Riverwalk (a scenic brick and wooden deck walkway along Water Street on the Cape Fear River) is a lot longer since the last time we visited.  And according to the map, once completed, it will stretch all the way from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the Isabel Holmes Bridge, or "bridge to bridge."

At just over a mile, what's already there brings you by lots of wonderful restaurants (our favourite: Le Catalan) and shopping (Farmers' Market every Saturday in Season), while affording you constant access to refreshing breezes and views across the water.

This Map We Found Near
the Convention Center Shows
the Future Course of Riverwalk
While walking along the riverfront, we noticed a lot of improvements, as the city has added a lot of nice touches and convenient amenities, such as historical markers, plenty of places to sit and enjoy the views, and attractive street lights.  And even more renovations to the Riverfront park and other amenity upgrades are on the horizon.

With Spring not yet here, our pace was a little more brisk at times to keep ourselves cozy.  We can't wait to return in the more Summer-y seasons for another more leisurely stroll.
View from a newer section of Wilmington's Riverwalk, past the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship in the Cape Fear River

Sunset Beach Bird Watching: While Grilling By the Lagoon, We Notice We Have Company

Sunset Village is a lovely quiet spot for enjoying close encounters with some pretty fabulous birds!  Yesterday, while relaxing by the grill as our steaks sizzled over the coals, we noticed a visitor - A Great Blue Heron flew down and landed just about ten yards further along the bank from we stood.  All we had in the way of camera equipment was an iPhone, so he was a lot easier to see in person than he is in our snapshots - but zoomed in, you can see him fairly well below.

He stood there for about ten minutes, looking around.  We tried to get a little closer for a better photo, but at a certain point, he began backing away from us.  So this is as good as it gets, until you visit this lovely place to do some of your own relaxing by the grill.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Boat Ramp at Sunset Beach

View from Proposed Park Site
We took a little time during our latest visit to Sunset Beach to take a first-hand look at the new boat ramp, a stone's throw from the proposed site of the Town's next park.

The boat ramp is easy to get to - while driving to the end of Sunset Blvd North on the mainland, just stay in the left lane, instead of taking the right-hand exit for Sunset Beach's new bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway.  The ramp area is straight ahead, and there's plenty of parking for vehicles and boat trailers provided, plus an excellent public pier for fishing, etc.  The ramp allows for one boat launch at a time.

Entrance to New Boat Ramp at Sunset Beach, NC
It's also a pretty place to be, with gorgeous live oaks clustered along the banks, and the air alive with the sounds and movements of waterbirds.  Even before Spring has begun, we spotted a Pelican, an Egret and a Kingfisher as we gazed over that beautiful water.

Sunset Beach Boat Ramp Entrance, Located at the end of Sunset Blvd. North, Right By the New Bridge Over the ICW (IntraCoastal Waterway)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Town of Sunset Beach, NC, Turns 50!

The Pier at Sunset Beach
This year, the Town of Sunset Beach, North Carolina, turns 50!  This historic milestone for our lovely seaside town will occur on March 26th, and plans to mark this event are underway within the 50th Anniversary Committee that has been appointed by the Town Council.  More details will be supplied at the Town of Sunset Beach Website.

In 1955, a year after the great hurricane Hazel, Manon C. Gore bought Bald Island from the Brooks family and renamed the island Sunset Beach. In 1963 the Town of Sunset Beach was chartered with thirty residents, a population growing to 72 by 1972.  There are a great deal more than 72 these days, but the area still exudes the seaside village charm we all love.

Even as the area continues to change, the essentials stay the same:  a beautiful beach that is a perfect spot to enjoy BOTH a sunrise AND a sunset, a strong and delicious tradition of Calabash style seafood, gloriously sunny days under blue skies and rolling clouds, and that salt-scoured, cleanly-refreshing sea breeze that can erase your stress and turn your mind towards more beautiful thoughts.