Edenton, NC – Friday, 5/7
In the morning we left Alligator River marina after all the other boats had left. Several were headed north either via the Dismal Swamp or the Virginia cut, and one headed South to Florida; yes we thought he was going in the wrong direction too. But we were headed west on the Albemarle Sound to the town of Edenton and were hopeful for calmer seas as we headed that way.
Once we left the Alligator River and headed onto the Sound we had to turn into the waves and wind. It was a bit choppy and the waves were splashing over the bow, but it was not too bad. Eventually we were able to turn to a more westerly direction and the wind and waves ended up behind us. This made it perfectly comfortable and Denise was able to relax more. There were almost no other boats on the water and the coastline on both sides of the Sound is mostly rural, with nice homes interspersed along the way. The only real hazard out here were the numerous crab pots that are so prevalent on the Sound. But Captain Mark did a good job of navigating around them all.
Eventually we came to the Albemarle Sound Bridge, the only roadway that cuts across the 50+-mile long Albemarle Sound. We could see it for miles, where first it looked like a structure on an island. But as we got closer the ends that connected it to land became more visible and it wasn’t long before we went under its center arch.
Shortly thereafter, we turned into the Edenton Bay and headed towards the town of Edenton. There are nice homes along the eastern shore of the bay, and as we approached the town breakwater we could see the Roanoke Lighthouse museum that is near the entrance. We entered the breakwater and slowly cruised to our preassigned slip; it was easy to find as the slips are clearly marked and there were no other boats in the marina. The Dockmaster informed us that they are not permitted to assist in the docking and tie-up, but for us to go to the office whenever we were ready to check in.
Once we got the boat settled and power hooked up, we ate lunch. We figured if it was our lunch time, it probably would be for the city dockmaster as well. Afterwards we started to walk up to the dockmaster’s office, but he met us at the foot of the dock, near the park that overlooks the marina. He was in a golf cart and was patrolling the park grounds. He had a form on a clipboard and asked us to fill it out right there, which we did. But when Mark mentioned that we were doing the Albemarle Loop and requested the restroom codes, he said we would have to go to back to the office. So we followed him the 100+ yards to the facilities building located by the playground; this also houses the public as well as the security-controlled restrooms for marina guests.
Due to the China Flu, the office was off-limits to us, so Dockmaster “Valentine” met us outside and finished the check in process, including providing the restroom code. We chatted with him for a bit and learned that this is his “retirement” job. He has had several jobs over the years (some at the same time), including serving for 20 years as a state prison guard, and another 20 years as an NCAA Division 2 football official. He also brought us a gift bag (courtesy of the town) with a town map, historic information brochures, and a few goodies. Not bad for a marina who charges nothing for the first 2 night’s dockage and we only had to pay for the power at $3 per day.
After checking in, we went back to the boat to get some work done (it was still a workday), and just in the nick of time. It began to rain but it didn’t last long. Denise did some research about what to do during our stay, and discovered that this week was “National Tourism Week” (who knew?) and the town had a slew of activities planned for visitors over the weekend. Included in this is that most all of the historic sites, tours, and museums would be open at no charge.
Mark decided to take a nap, and it was while he was napping that another boat came in and Denise went to assist with the tie-up. She introduced herself to Ann and Steve (“Hallelujah”), who are from Colorado and are doing the Great Loop. They started their Loop adventure from Ft. Myers. But today they came from the town of Columbia as they are also doing the Albemarle Loop, which they started in Manteo near the Outer Banks. Denise shared some information with them about where to go to check in, and we agreed to get caught up later.
When Mark woke up, Denise mentioned about the town’s weekend activities and the desire to take the 1-hour trolley tour around the historic area. So she went to the Welcome Center which is located across the parking lot from the marina in the historic Penelope Barker House. Here she made reservations for the trolley for tomorrow, and got a brief tour from the very nice docent. She learned about Penelope Barker (a strong woman who outlasted 3 husbands and most of her children), and who led the Edenton Tea Party, which became the first political activity by women in America. You can learn more about her here.
While Denise was getting a tour of the house Mark sent her a text message that a big storm was approaching in less than 10 minutes. So she finished up in the Barker house and made her way back to the boat. We could see the storm coming across the Bay and hunkered down for the inevitable rain and wind. Fortunately, it didn’t last long, but was long enough to keep us from having “docktails” with Ann and Steve.
Once the rain let up, we walked to dinner at one of three local restaurants on Broad Street; the main street in the historic section of Edenton. After doing reconnaissance on the menus of each, we chose “Bistro 309” and felt fortunate to get a table without a wait. The food was good and the place filled up right after we arrived. But it was clear that they too are suffering from a shortage of workers like every small business we are seeing on this trip. It appears that no one wants to work when they get a bigger check from the government and can sit home and do nothing. We waited a long time for Mark’s side salad, and our appetizer never showed up until after we had received our entrées. Nevertheless, when we left there was a line waiting to get in, and overall we were pleased with our choice.
Back at the boat, we made some chocolate chip cookies and watched a little TV before going to bed.
Edenton, NC – Saturday, 5/8
Today was a very fun day! For Denise it started with a run through town around all the historic homes and sites, including many which have been here since the mid-to-late 1700’s. Here are some pictures from her run:
When Denise got back to the boat, Mark was just waking up, so we ate some breakfast and discussed our plans for the day. We had also considered dinner reservations and were going to ask Ann and Steve to join us. But, our first order of business was to go to the Farmer’s Market. It just so happens that Ann and Steve were headed there too, so we walked up through town together, allowing us a chance to get to know each other a bit. We learned that they both came from manufacturing backgrounds and actually could understand what it is that we do.
Once we arrived at the farmer’s market, we could see (and did) everything in about 15 minutes. But this is the first time we have been to one where they were actually selling baby chickens. There were also a few baby goats, but they were not for sale; they were here to amuse the young children. Denise bought some Kale lettuce, and then we all walked back to the marina.
As we walked, we discussed our thoughts about dining together in the evening. Ann mentioned they were going to a barbeque place they had heard about for lunch, and probably would not be hungry for dinner afterwards. They invited us to join them for lunch, but mentioned it was over a mile away on the outskirts of town and they would be riding their bikes. As we don’t have bikes with us, this meant a hefty walk. But at the mention of barbeque the Captain was hooked and agreed to the hike. Our only afternoon obligation was that we had to be back by 1:30 pm as we had a reservation for the trolley tour at that time. We made plans to meet at 11:30 at the Old Colony Smokehouse.
So at 11:00 we set out from the marina to meet our new friends at the Old Colony Smokehouse. Along the way we passed by some small business, a small residential area, and a large farm before coming to a small boat marina where the restaurant was located.
We arrived at 11:30 just as Ann and Steve pulled up in their bicycles. We got in line, which was already out the door, but it seemed to move quickly. While in line we asked the guy in front of us for what to order. “Everett”, was a regular and gave us some suggestions. We ended up conversing about where we were from, and where he was from. Come to find out he had lived in FL and flew planes as a crop duster for a living. But he has his own plane and had just come back from flying a special person from Florida to Virginia; that person was General Michael Flynn. Needless to say we had lots to talk about. He was very kind and had a very pleasant demeanor; a real southern gentleman. Without realizing it we had been waiting in line for nearly 30 minutes. And it was worth the wait as it was delicious.
Here is the story about this place that we learned while experiencing it:
It is owned by Elizabeth and Adam Hughes and it is all about good old southern cooking with a twist. Adam is a Food Network’s CHOPPED! Champion, and international multi-award winning “Pitmaster”. They open at 11:00 am every day except Sunday & Monday, and they stay open until the food is gone (in essence). People come from miles to eat here, it is that good! Check out their website here and stop in if you are in the area. You will love it and we did too!
Then we walked all the way back to the marina, arriving in time to catch our reserved 1:30 trolley tour. This was a terrific tour that lasted around 1 hour and gave us the history and fun-facts of Edenton and many of the historic homes along the route. The most interesting part of all these homes is that real people renovate and live in them. It is quite fun to see a basketball hoop in the driveway of a home that has a plaque that tells you it was established in the 1700 or 1800’s.
After our trolley tour we went to do a little shopping in the downtown area. First to the hardware store where we purchased nothing, then to the outfitters store, where we also purchased nothing. Finally, we went to the used book store where Denise bought a Nicholas Spark book “The Rescue” as she learned the setting for this novel takes place in Edenton. This will be added to the other pile of books she has on the boat, waiting for her attention. After shopping for a bit, we came back to the boat where Mark took a nap and Denise read her emails.
After shopping for a bit, we came back to the boat where Mark took a nap and Denise read her emails. Then it was time for church, so back up Broad Street we went for the 5:00 pm mass at St. Anne’s. Unfortunately, we had to attend mass in the hall instead of the historic church as they had had an electrical issue in the church and were not able to have mass in it until it gets resolved (sometime next week). The church community was very welcoming and we enjoyed the half-mile walk up to the church and back to the marina.
After mass we went back to the boat and looked at the afternoon weather updates. It still looked good for our departure to Albemarle Plantation (approximately 20 miles) tomorrow. We know we will have to be there at least 2 days due to another weather front, but the latest forecast looks more favorable to possibly leave on Tuesday and head to Virginia. We will know more in the next 24 hours.
In the evening we ate a light dinner of leftover (fried) chicken pieces and watched a wedding couple come to the marina to take photos at sunset. We too captured a great sunset over the Edenton Bay; what a great way to end our stay in this wonderful town.
Here are some other pictures of scenes around this town that is a living museum and known as the “Prettiest Small Town in the South”…..and we can agree!