Jun 1 – Fri
Today we reached Port #90 on our trip. We expect to visit about 120 ports before we return to our home of Miller Marina in Lake St Clair Michigan.
Todays move was from the Alligator River Marina to the Pelican Marina in Elizabeth City North Carolina.
The travels today had a very nice benefit, no rain !
It was the first time this week that we had no rain, maybe Alberto’s effects have finally passed.
As we approached Elizabeth City on the Pasquotank River, we noticed a very large white structure/building. I have since learned from new friend Morris King, that this structure was the TCOM Blimp Base.
The TCOM Blimp Base (or Weeksville Dirigible Hangar) is an airship manufacturing, storage and test facility originally built by the US Navy in 1941 for servicing airships conducting anti-submarine patrols of the US coast and harbors. It is located on the former Naval Air Station Weeksville in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
We arrived at the Pelican Marina about 12:30pm and got checked in.
Pelican is not much to look at but does have good power, water, wifi, nice views, and the best part – OMG, only $35/night (by far the cheapest dockage we have had on the entire Loop). For comparison, when we were at Bahia-Mar in Fort Lauderdale we paid $240/night.
Prior to going into town , I spoke with Lisa at the visitors center.
She gave us some tips on new restaurants in town (Hoppin’ Johnz & The Ghost Harbor Microbrew). She also told us how lucky we were that it was Summer Splash Weekend with art festivals & music. There was supposed to be a band called Billy Plough & Los Gringos playin’ at some arts place in town, so dinner and music sounded like a good night.
Elizabeth City is a town of about 18,000 but actually seemed smaller than previous Belhaven. Founded in 1794, Elizabeth City prospered early on from the Dismal Swamp Canal as a mercantile city, before later shifting into a varied industrial and commercial focus. The Dismal Swamp connects Elizabeth City to all the ports in the Chesapeake Bay. Elizabeth City claims to be host to the largest US Coast Guard base in the nation.
We started our exploration of Elizabeth City with dinner at the Hoppin’ Johnz. restaurant. We ate outside on the patio of the Historic Pailin’s Alley (they even have a sign that says it’s famous). Not sure what Pailin’s Alley is famous for, and on this night Hoppin’ Johnz was not yet hoppin !
Based on the discussion with visitors center rep Lisa, after dinner we began the search for the big music venue with the band Bobby Plough & Los Gringos. I could not remember exactly where Lisa had said the event would be, so our mission was to explore the town & find Bobby Plough.
We walked thru the downtown area and saw remnants of old department stores, antique shops, hotels, churches, park type settings – but no Bobby Plough !
We walked the waterfront area expecting a big band shell – but no Bobby Plough.
We walked to the Museum of the Albemarle – but no Bobby Plough.
At this point we were gettin’ hot & fatigued and started walking back to one of the pubs, when we passed a building that looked like an art studio, called Arts of Albemarle. I had remembered now, that Lisa had said something about an art building. There were a lot of people inside, but it looked like just an art studio, not a music venue.
We took a chance, went inside, and asked at the front desk about any music happening tonight. The guy behind the desk said ” oh yea, we have Bobby Plough & Los Gringos playing tonight upstairs in the theatre”.
We got some drinks, went upstairs to the theatre, and the show started at 7pm.
Bobby Plough & Los Gringos were pretty good, but after all the anxiety of finding them, the performance was a little bit of a let-down.
But there was a high note to the night !
While we were on our long walk searching for Bobby Plough, we made eye contact and said a passing hello to a couple of locals on the street.
Once inside of the Arts of the Albemarle, we again ran into the same couple and had a short chat.
So when we later entered the theatre and searched for some open seats, we ended up sitting with them and shortly became friends with Morris & Norma King.
Originally from Maryland, and recently retired, Morris & Norma relocated to a very remote piece of land along the ICW, just south of Elizabeth City.
So remote that Norma said “it was time for a night out in the city”.
We had a long discussion about the Loop, we exchanged our background stories, talked about fishing, bears in NC, the dismal swamp, boats, and more. Morris is also an avid fisherman and boater, and has a wealth of history/knowledge on the east coast.
We hit it off so well with Morris & Norma, that they offered to give us a ride back to the boat. So we followed their friendliness with an invitation onto Gettin’ Looped.
We had a lot of discussions about our future ride up the east coast, Annapolis, & Washington DC.
It was a special night, making new friends, just on the whim of saying hello.
Jun 2 – Sat
On Saturday we got a few errands done, and had a little fun.
The day started with a bike ride over the bridge into downtown Elizabeth City.
We went to an early morning flea market & then had breakfast at The Flour Girls Café & Bakery.
While we were having breakfast, a couple of folks sat at the table next to us and asked “y’all traveling thru ?”
I said ” how did you know”
He said “you look like boaters, you have a boating shirt on, and a floppy hat”.
After the initial comical introduction, we made introductions with Paul & Joyce Wheeler (no relation to our friends Earl & Diane), who live in Elizabeth City right on the ICW, north of our marina. We will pass by their house tomorrow morning.
We talked about the Loop, the local waterways, and upcoming bridges & locks along the Dismal Canal.
After breakfast, and visiting with Paul & Joyce, we went to the MOA (Museum of the Albemarle). The museum celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, and is a place devoted to how the Albemarle Area & Elizabeth City fit into the history of the USA.
It is a very large , very cool museum, and is also free of charge !
There were many interesting exhibits, but some of the most interesting or most relative to Elizabeth City include ;
> The Shad Boat – a traditional fishing boat which was proclaimed the Official State Boat of North Carolina in 1987, nearly one hundred years after George Washington Creef of Roanoke Island built the first shad boat in North Carolina in the early 1880s.
> The contributions of Elizabeth City & The Blimp, in combating German U-Boats off of the Outer Banks. Remember earlier in the blog, the large white building for Blimps.
Read at least slide 2 below which says – prior to implementing the blimp for surveillance in WWII, in March 1942 the German U-boats were sinking one US Ship per day near the Outer Banks. The blimp helped to put an end to that.
Read the captions in the slides below.
> A timeline of Elizabeth City, and its evolution since founding in 1794.
There were 30 different placards, describing what was going on in this area since its origin; Native Indians, Spanish/English Explorers, Pirates, Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, Civil Rights, the New Economy, & Tourism Today.
But the most directly related to Elizabeth City included the following 4 placards –
1. The origins of the Albemarle Area – going back 10,000 years.
2. The creation of a connecting waterway from North Carolina to Virginia in the late 1700’s – essentially part of the current Atlantic ICW today.
3. The Wright Brother’s 1st Flight in nearby Kitty Hawk
4. a Coast Guard placard – showing how Elizabeth City has evolved into the largest Coast Guard station in the USA.
After the Museum of Albemarle, we went for a stroll in the park, walked down to the boat launch, and watched folks launch their boats for about 90 minutes. Surprisingly, all launches went very well, there was no comedy today. There was even one Big Boy, who had a successful launch.
In mid afternoon, we rode the bikes back to the boat, called a taxi for grocery shopping, and watched some golf & NASCAR in the confines of the air-conditioned Gettin’ Looped (it was 90f & humid today, but we are not complaining).
For din-din, the weather was threatening , so we went to a place right next to the marina called Paradise – Taste of Heaven. The meal was not heavenly but was pretty good.
The best part of the meal was after we had just been seated, we were reunited with our Looper pals from the vessel Unruly – Gary & Angie Karges, out of Novelty Ohio near Cleveland.
Gary saw us being seated and invited us to join him & Angie for dinner.
It was our first real dinner together with Unruly.
The last time we had socialized with them was on the aft deck of Gettin’ Looped in Fort Lauderdale at Bahia-Mar with Dave & Carol Vrabel.
So it was a pretty awesome 2 day stay in Elizabeth City.
A cool city with more east coast history.
Tomorrow Sunday June 3rd
> We will cross over from North Carolina to Virginia.
> We will stay at the Ocean Marine Yacht Club in Portsmouth Virginia.
> It will be an exciting day that we have anticipated for a while, as we will travel thru The Great Dismal Swamp Canal (more on that subject in the next post).
> It will be our niece Geena Sinagoga’s HS Graduation Party (yea Geena!).