Sunday, March 30, 2014

You Know It's Spring When the Azaleas Bloom! : 67th NC Azalea Festival

With such an easy drive to Wilmington, Sunset Beach Bliss is a great homebase from which to attend the North Carolina Azalea Festival. This year, it runs from April 9th through the 13th; and it's their 67th one.  So it's been going on for quite awhile.  Each year, the number of great concerts, special tours, and fantastic spectacles is bigger than ever; so the organizers have come up with the Festival's own App!  You can download the North Carolina Azalea Festival App, and it will provide you with interactive maps, event details and ticket prices, as well as a plethora of useful tips and other categories of helpful information.

Visit the Festival online for further details on the 67th North Carolina Azalea Festival, April 9-13, 2014.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Museum of Coastal Carolina: It's Time for Family Day!

Every year, our beloved Museum of Coastal Carolina in nearby Ocean Isle, NC, holds "Family Day;" and as Spring returns this year, it is time to celebrate again with fascinating ocean-related artifacts and exhibits, plus lots of hands-on activities for the younger ones in your group (Touching is a very important part of learning, of course!)

Family Day 2014 will be on Saturday, April 19th at the Museum and last from 10:00am to 2:00pm! Outside, visitors will find a great number of both free and low-cost activities, such as nature-themed crafts and games. A booth from Castaway Grill restaurant will be on the scene supplying fresh popcorn, Sunset Slushes, hot dogs and chicken.  All proceeds will benefit the Museum and Planetarium. And, on this day, admission to the Museum is free to the whole family!

Learn more about this year's Family Day at the Museum of Coastal Carolina site.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Getting Up Close and Personal With Waterbirds at Brookgreen Gardens

A Black-Crowned Night Heron poses
obligingly on his informational plaque.
Ah, Brookgreen Gardens!  It's one of my family's favourite day trips, while we're staying at Sunset Beach Bliss.  Barely an hour's drive from the condo, it's a delightful destination for a peaceful ramble among both natural and man made beauties.  While it offers an impressive cornucopia of gardens, history, and local wildlife, which will amply fill more than a day of touring, its Aviary is special enough to warrant a separate mention. 

Far from the largest available, the Aviary at Brookgreen Gardens instead allows visitors a brilliant opportunity to get very, very close to a wide variety of local water birds. And I mean close!!  From the moment you walk into the enclosure, you have a generous number of exotic-looking birds perched or casually strolling about, all within arms reach . . . all around you. It's almost eerie how it takes you a moment to notice they are there - and how they don't seem to care how close you come to them (as long as you are quiet and don't try for a snuggle). For shutterbugs and artists who love your birds, it's a treat to get such a close look at the plumage on a living subject.

Here are just a few snaps of some handsome residents, which I was able to take effortlessly with just an iPhone. I invite you to visit the Brookgreen Gardens Aviary yourself and learn their names!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Indigo Farms Produce Shop and Bakery Now Open!

The Welcoming Oak at Indigo Farms
Good News!  After a long winter, there is once again lots more good stuff growing at Indigo Farms.  We have just heard that they have re-opened for the season. Their bakery offers a wide variety of homemade pies and desserts.  And this year, they have added some new items: Raspberry Squares and Magic Cookies!  I'm looking forward to the next time we visit to go sample!

It's still very early, and the weather has been colder than usual in Feburary, so their Produce Market still mainly carries greens and cool season crops for the next few weeks. But, there are always preserves and other treats, and more fresh farm produce will be coming soon as the weather improves.

Indigo Farms is always a pleasure to visit for the excellent folks who work there; their hillariously spunky cat, Indie, who lurkes in the jungley depths of their garden center; the always interesting farm yard residents out back; AND the always yummy treats at the bakery. 

For additional details, visit the Indigo Farm website

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Getting Ready for Spring: the New Town Park and the Old Swing Bridge Museum

Future Location of the New Town Park
The first phase of the town park is due to be completed by early April. The park is located on a beautiful 5-and-a-half-acre plot on the mainland, a picturesque spot with graceful live oaks and a view of the water. Adjacent to the new fishing dock added last year, work continues apace on the walking trails and parking.

The Bridge Tender House in its New Location
And just down the street from the town park, the newly relocated Old Bridge Tender House serves as the Old Swing Bridge Museum and Giftshop. Volunteers continue to work and raise money to fully restore this historic old building, with a wonderful array of handcrafted items and memorabilia for sale. My favourite items are the keepsakes made of scrap wood rescued from segments of the old swing bridge, cleverly fashioned by Gerry Strickland, a local with a talent for woodworking and a family connection to the old bridge.

A Sampling of Old Swing Bridge Memoribilia
Available at the Museum Giftshop.

Sunset Beach Streetscape Completed, Brand New Gazebo to Follow

On our last visit to our delightful second home, Sunset Beach, NC, we discovered that the ambitious upgrades to Sunset Boulevard have been completed. There are now generous bicycle lanes on both sides of the street, and a sidewalk for pedestians and elegant lighting all along the greatly expanded public parking. Also (although they are hard to see in this photo at present) we are looking forward to this Summer Season, when the newly-transplanted palms along the thoroughfare will have spread out their elegant fronds.

At the time this photo was taken, we also noticed the town has begun work on building a brand new gazebo at the public beach access point, right by the new outdoor showers. The old one was a very pleasant, breezy spot to relax in the shade; and the newer one looks like it will be quite a bit larger, with space for even more beach lovers than before.  Once it's done, check this spot for all the details on the finished masterpiece.