Over the past weekend we decided last minute to drop everything and get out of dodge. We have been going non-stop for quite a while without a break. We woke up Sunday morning, packed the car and headed towards the beach to camp for the night. We really didn't have anywhere in mind to go since we didn't plan this trip so we just drove to the beach and looked for the first sign to catch our eye. We ended up camping alongside the mouth of the Cape Fear River where it meets Carolina Beach State Park.
After setting up camp and heading to the river to enjoy the sunset we had a brief run in with a wannabe park ranger on a power trip over our camping spot (he didn't carry a gun so we knew we could win the battle). He had to call in the backup (you know, the one with the gun) and she not only set him straight but let us be to enjoy our little spot. We knew everything was going our way when we spotted a full rainbow stretching from the campsite to the ocean.
The wannabe park ranger wasn't our only obstacle of the weekend. We faced high and blinding winds while we tried to catch a few waves at the beach. We spent more time trying to get the sand out of our eyes than we did swim so we decided to pack it up, grab some dinner and head back to the campsite. The next day at the beach was much better and I enjoyed it so much. I played in the waves, laughed at them, drank from them, and almost got washed away with them. I even let Dad bury me in the sand.
The other highlight of the trip included a visit to the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. The visit to the Aquarium was really meant to beat the heat during the hottest part of the day. We saw all kinds of sea critters and Mom and Dad bought me a stuffed sea turtle and we named him Crush (you know, from Finding Nemo fame. Dude!).
Before heading home we went for a hike in Carolina Beach State Park in search of the Longleaf Pine. For those of you who don't know, the Longleaf Pine is an incredibly diverse ecosystem that has been destroyed by man and is now an endangered ecosystem. Before this inconceivable destruction the Longleaf Pine ecosystem was so large you could ride on horseback from Virginia to Texas and never leave a longleaf pine forest!! One of the really cool unique features of this tree is that it only grows 1 foot off the ground for the first 8 years while it digs a deep tap root. Once the tap root is deep the pine shoots up fast to get above the fire line. Yes, this ecosystem is fire dependent and this tree knows how to survive in the heat. If the tree is in a fire when it is only a foot off the ground it will close up very tightly to protect the inside of the tree avoiding fire damage. Be sure to watch the slide show to see the different stages of the pine.
The Longleaf Pine forest is also home to one very amazing bird, the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, a cooperative breeder that lives in family groups composed of one breeding pair and several helpers. They only build cavities in live longleaf pines and it takes several years to excavate the cavity. Keeping the longleaf pine ecosystem intact is crucial to its survival!
I really enjoyed the trip and am glad we decided on the spur of the moment to just pack the car and get out of town. It's the surprises in life that make it interesting. Not knowing where you are going to rest your head or fill your belly will always add excitement to your day!
I have posted a few pictures but also made a quick slide show featuring all of the pictures. I got tired of looking for an appropriate song so I just added on of my favorites. It's a little slow and sappy but a great song nonetheless!