Day 3, October 13, 2003: Wilmington, NC to Washington, NC
I got an very early atart and fueled the Miata by 7:15 and by 8:30 I was at North Topsail Beach for a bit of a walk on a beautiful morning. There were a few others out for their morning exercise but the beach was pretty empty. I snapped a few pictures and got on my way again.
Next stop was Atlantic Beach on an island off of Morehead City. The beach out there was a lot busier at 10:00 than North Topsail had been with a large number of fisher folk. Funny. I've never seen anybody catching anything while surf casting and I've watched a lot of people doing it. Guess they might just do it as a pastime and don't expect to catch anything at all but they do seem to sink a lot of money into the equipment. At the far end of the island is another of the old fortifications, Fort Macon in this case. I walked around there and snapped a few pictures but these forts are getting to be a bit repetitive. This one had some pretty brickwork but that seems to be a common feature of them all. With no freeze-thaw cycles to speak of the bricks will probably last a long time.
North Carolina has several locations where free ferries are provided rather than bridges. I caught my first one between 12:00 and 1:00 at Cherry Branch. This was a very quick crossing and including loading and unloading probably only took a half hour. I landed in the Pamlico area and started noticing the first definite signs of damage from hurricane Isabel. While crossing this agricultural area I noticed that some of the homes had piles of waterlogged furniture, carpets, and insulation stacked out front for pickup. I drove through the town of Aurora enticed by a sign advertising the Aurora Fossil Museum. The museum consist largely of a huge collection of fossilized shark parts, mostly teeth but since it was free I certainly won't complain about it. I actually bought a large fossil mako shark tooth from their gift shop although I don't have a clue what I'll do with it. One more bit of junk to add to the mass that I've collected over the years.
The next ferry crossing didn't work out as neatly as the first. I showed up at the Bayview ferry terminal about five minutes after a 2:20 departure and found out that the next one wasn't due until 5:45. This lead to a lot of riding around and time killing. I had the top down ever since leaving Aurora and was pretty sun and wind burned by the time the day was over. Because I was so late in getting across it seemed wisest to backtrack to Washington, NC to improve my chances of finding a motel since there looked to be little chance of finding one at a reasonable time if I kept pushing up the coast. I've covered 775 miles so far but since I really have no firm idea about how long the trip will be a bit of backtracking probably doesn't matter.