ONC Spring Sunrise on the Neuse River

Visit Fine Art America to purchase a print.

The “Garden by the Sea”

_DSC4259About a 2 hour drive south of Oriental North Carolina, my home away from home, lies Airlie Garden, also known as the “Garden by the Sea”.  Airlie Gardens is located in Wilmington, North Carolina.   My first visit, but definitely not my last, was on a very cloudy spring Wednesday.  When I arrived, the attendant told me it takes about 1.5 hours to make the trek around the gardens… I clearly blew that stat — as I arrived at 9:00 am and meandered with camera, 3 lens, and tripod until almost 1:30 pm…. only stopping because of the rain.

Airlie Gardens was peaceful, beautiful and lush — all 67 acres.







Lebanon Chapel, built 1835 on the grounds of Airlie Gardens.

iPhone 6 photo fun using Impresso App:

Have you ever just said I could kick myself?

If you have ever just said you could kick yourself, Tom Haywood’s Kicking Machine can help!




My dad’s last duty station before retirement from the Marine Corps in 1964 was Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, coincidentally also where I was born.    Since my dad was retiring he didn’t want to move the family (again) to Cherry Point — so we stayed in Clinton, Maryland, outside of Andrews Air Force Base, and my dad commuted weekends.  I was just a young girl and frequently went back and forth with him from MD to NC.  I have a few foggy memories of visiting Tom Haywood’s Kicking Machine, that my dad got a real kick out of (pun intended) which was on the route.

So…. 47 years later after moving part time to ONC, I went on a quest to find the Kicking Machine again with my dad.   Thanks to the internet and a dad with a great memory, it was not that hard to find on the side of the road!   My dad clearly got a kick out of finding the ‘ole kicking machine.

Then, this past December my eldest daughter and I were in the area — and I had to tell her the story and stop and visit so she would know where to go if she ever felt the need to kick herself in the derriere.

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My daughter, getting kicked in the derriere.

Hard to believe, that a visit to the Tom Haywood’s Kicking Machine could be such a fun time —  but it sure gave us a good kick.


Martha’s Favorite Things


It’s easy to find for those that that would like to have a good kicking….    It’s located in front of Martha’s Favorite Things on US 70 a little over 9 miles south of the intersection of Hwy 55/US 17 at New Bern, NC.

Here are a couple of links that provide additional information:



A few days in the NC Mountains

NC Arboretum

NC Arboretum

A few days off work coupled with a weekend allowed for a quick trip to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, which included a visit to  the towns of Asheville and Boone.

While in Asheville, I really wanted to see the Biltimore but, a $59/per person entrance fee was rather steep, particularly when visit time was limited.    So… had to settle for a walk around the “Historic Biltimore Village” (which was nothing more than a high-end shopping area) and a drive around the city streets of Asheville  with dinner at the Mellow Mushroom .    I’ve got to admit the Mellow Mushroom was an evening highlight– good food, good company and outdoor dining made the evening quite lovely.

In a quandary over “what to do”, particularly since time was so limited, decided to visit the North Carolina Arboretum and again — we were not disappointed.    Arrived close to opening at  8:00 am  Friday and found nobody there.    We were able to mill about for a couple of hours…

Friday afternoon we winded our way northeast from Asheville to Boone on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping at most overlooks from Asheville to Little Switzerland (milepost 334).


Friday evening – Boone, NC — at the Holiday Inn Express preparing for an early (4:00 am) rise — to catch the sunrise on Beacon Heights.   The “pink” sunrise only lasted for a minute — and not much of a sunrise — but a beautiful view nevertheless.

View from Beacon Heights


And a bit later on:



View from Beacon Heights


Beacon Heights is part of the Mountain to the Sea trail, a 1000 mile trail going from the Great Smokies to the outer banks.    Visit ncmst.org for more information.

At mile marker 305.5 you can find the Tanawha Trail footbridge which has several small but pretty waterfalls.

The journey continued down the Blue Ridge Parkway to  mile marker 364, Craggy Gardens.   The clouds/fog rolled in early afternoon, but there were a couple of nice shots to be had with the rhododendron in bloom.

The final few hours in the area were spent at Grandfather Mountain before heading home.




US 17 Coastal Highway Holiday Road Trip

Visit the Gallery below for additional pictures of the US 17 Coastal Highway Holiday Road Trip

On Boxing Day my oldest daughter and I set out for a US 17 Coastal Highway Holiday Road Trip.   First stop, our small little condo in Oriental, North Carolina —  just for the night and to re-sort and re-arrange all of our Vera Bradley traveling bags and totes.

USS North Carolina

USS North Carolina

On Friday the 27th officially off to see the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina.   The USS North Carolina, commissioned 9 April 1941, faced battle in the Pacific during World War II.    It was decommissioned on 27 June 1947.   The Ship sat in Bayonne, NJ for the next 14 years.   The citizens of North Carolina purchased the ship from the Navy for $330,000 after stricken from the Naval Registers in 1958.

Park at USS North Carolina

Park at USS North Carolina

The Battleship arrived in Wilmington on 2 Oct 1961.  Part of the grounds includes a lovely park dedicated to “sailors on eternal patrol.”  Across the river, a view of Wilmington.

Southport, North Carolina, about 40 miles from Wilmington, was a lovely stop for lunch before continuing to Savannah, Georgia.


Forsyth Fountain, Savannah

Jen, in front of Jen's & Friends

Jen, in front of Jen’s & Friends

The next morning — Savannah.   We walked down Bull Street to Forsyth Fountain stopping at Johnson, Wright, Chippewa, Madison and Monterey Squares.   We stumbled across a  “Jen’s and Friends” restaurant on the walk.  On the return trip up Abercorn Street we found the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, a must-see on my list of places to visit and worthy of its own post.

On the corner of Abercorn and Oglethorpe Streets we stumbled upon Colonial Park Cemetery.  Colonial Park Cemetery was established about 1750 and  home to some of Savannah’s earliest citizens, including more than 700 victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic in 1820.   We drifted through the City Market including Paula Deen’s place to see what was cooking– nothing much.   Next stop Bonaventure Cemetery also worthy of its own post.

Colonial Park Cemetery

Colonial Park Cemetery

Savannah, GA

Savannah, GA

Tybee Island

Tybee Island

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski


Late afternoon to evening was spent at Tybee Island, Georgia about 20 miles east of Savannah.   Tybee Island is home to the lighthouse and Fort Pulaski. Tybee Island Lighthouse is one of seven surviving colonial era lighthouse towers. The lighthouse was opened in 1736 and first lit in 1867.

Fort Pulaski, governed by the National Park Service, was actually completed in 1847 after  18 years of construction and over $1M in construction costs.   Wood pilings were sunk 70 feet into the mud and support an estimate 25,000,000 bricks.  During the Civil War, the Union Army, successfully tested a rifled canon which caused massive damage to the walls of the fort.   The fort was also used as a Prisoner of War Camp.

Hilton Head, SC

Hilton Head, SC

The drive to Hilton Head was in the rainy dark but what a rest for the weary we found —  great food, great hotel.   After an early morning torrential downpour we were off for a visit to Sea Pines and to see the Harbour Town lighthouse. Although a beautiful area, even on a gloomy day — we spent little time in the overly priced Hilton Head and headed to Parris Island!   One of my favorite spots and worthy of its own post.

Beaufort, SC

Beaufort, SC

After Parris Island, we walked through the lovely town of Beaufort, South Carolina (not to be confused with Beaufort, North Carolina– same spelling a distinctly different pronunciation).  The little town of Beaufort is the only place where I actually purchased a souvenir for myself, a hoodie jacket sporting “Beaufort, South Carolina”.

Hunting Island

Hunting Island

Off to Hunting Island after our walk and small shopping spree through Beaufort, where we found our third and final light house on the trip and the best, if not the only real, sunset of the entire trip.

Our last major stop — Charleston, SC where we strolled the City Market, enjoyed the water front and walked the Museum Mile.

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

About half-way between Charleston and Myrtle Beach is a lovely little city (although more like a small town), Georgetown, South Carolina.   Georgetown is the 3rd oldest city in South Carolina.   We had a wonderful lunch on the water and soaked up the sights as we drove through the small town.   Our final leg of the trip took us through Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Oak Island, North Carolina — our last stop at Dairy Queen before a late Oriental arrival.

Enjoy the Gallery!

Oriental, NC – Home of the Dragon(s)



Oriental, North Carolina is a quaint authentic fishing village of less than 900 residents–  but about 1500 doggies and 2000 sailboats.  Oriental got its name from the founding father’s wife, Rebecca Midyette.   As the story goes, Mrs. Midyette found a board that had washed ashore from the sunken sailing steamer vessel the SS Oriental.   The SS Oriental was built in Philadelphia in1861.  Mrs. Midyette thought the name suited the little village and from that point, our (because I live there sometime) town was known by Oriental.

The original Oriental, NC dragon

The original Oriental, NC dragon

Oriental is home of the dragon.   Year round the town will have events centering around dragons.  Further,  you’ll see dragons displayed in a number of interesting ways, including dragon nesting areas.   But one of the most popular events is the New Years Eve Dragon run.   Hodges street (on the water) is closed down and this year not one but two authentic Chinese dragons danced and pranced up and down the street to ring in the new year.   Touching the original dragon’s nose is a must for good luck.

The Bean, New Years Eve - Gathering for the Dragon Run.

The Bean, New Years Eve – Gathering for the Dragon Run.

The two dragons rang in the New Year stopping in front of the Bean (the local coffee shop) for a little dance.

There is actually an interesting story of why two dragons — but, I’ll save that for another day.  Suffice it to say — Oriental loves its dragons!

For more about our little village visit TownDock.


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