Well, I survived my night in the Lumberton Quality Inn unscathed. I am up and in the car…not showering here. Breakfast will be found on the road and from there we will figure out how to get back to towards the coast again. I feel like this is going to be a great day… and I end up being so right.
We head out on a highway…no more backroads just yet as we had our fill last night. We head north towards Fayetteville which is about 3 hours north of Lumberton. Fayetteville is home to Fort Bragg, the USA military….. It also received some noteriety in December of 2015 when it unveiled the worlds largest knitted Christmas stocking, a record that went into the Guiness Book of World Records. The stocking weighed over 1600 pounds and was 74 feet wide and 139 feet long. It took one year to create and was put together from the 3 foot by 3 foot squares sent in from knitters from 50 US states, 4 Canadian provinces and some from the folks in Ireland. The thought behind the creation of this large stocking was so they could have it filled and distribute the gifts and goodies to the families of soldiers that were killed or were in need. I think this is such a wonderful work of art and a charitable way to honor the soldiers and give to their families. I only wish Santa would fill a stocking half that size for me…have I been a good girl all year?..hmmmm.
We see a side highway…I know but I can’t resist seeing what is down a road sometimes, and so we exit on to it and find ourselves driving through beautiful farmlands and lovely little towns. Brogden, Kinston, Robersonville and Windsor to name just a few. It truly was a really pretty drive.
Around 1:00 pm, we find ourselves at the Chowan River Bridge and with my curiosity getting the better of me…yet again….we cross over and shortly find ourselves on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and in the town of Edenton.
We take a drive around the town and with its picturesque historic homes and the fact that it is on water, we decide to find a place to stay and spend the day relaxing and exploring the town…we liked it so much, that we stayed for two days here.
Edenton has a population of only 5000 and is primarily a tranquil retirement town and heritage tourism destination. It was named after one of its earliest Governers, Charles Eden. Now Charles had some interesting friends, the most noteworthy here is Blackbeard. If you read my blog on my stay in Savannah, you will remember that I mentioned Blackbeard there also (intrigued?…go read the blog). Blackbeard terrorized the whole South Eastern coastal region in that area for many years. Anyway, Blackbeard visited Charles in Edenton often, even stayed at Charles home. In 1718 Blackbeard decided to marry Mary Ormond and it was Charles who presided over the ceremony. Blackbeard vows at this time that he is going to buy a home here and settle down…enough of the high seas for him. It was at this time that Charles, who had the power to do so, pardoned Blackbeard from all of his crimes…you know so he could settle down proper like. It is believed that Charles issued this pardon because he was being looked at as having profited from the bounty of Blackbeards stolen goods…I won’t go into detail, but you can find all of the information if you google it…It appears as though Charles and Blackbeard were in cahoots selling the stolen goods, so Charles it seems thought it a grand idea to clear Blackbeard of all of his wrong doing, thereby exonerating himself as well. Bravo Charles. Well, after a few months on land, the call of the seas was too much for Blackbeard and he was back out to sea, stealing and killing again. When Charles warned him that he was about to be arrested, Blackbeard took to the sea and was never seen in Edenton again….I know….you are thinking “Jan, I thought you said this is a tranquil town”. It is now.
As we are driving around, we decide to stop and pick up some food for a light platter for lunch and some wine and some beer. We try to check into a couple of bed and breakfasts but one had no room and the other was a little further from the water than we wanted. Finally we found our place…the absolutely gorgeous Inner Banks Inn. We book two nights immediately, although we did have to switch rooms…not a problem.
This bed and breakfast is set in the historic district of Edenton. There are 4 buildings that house accommodations; the Southern Victorian Mansion, The Pack House Barn, The Original House and the Carolina Cottage. There is also the converted Carriage House where breakfast is served and dinner reservations can be made at The Table at Inner Bank restaurant….the food is delicious, top quality and beautifully presented. We chose a room in the Pack House Barn, which is a restored tobacco drying barn and it is open, spacious and so comfy and well decorated. I highly recommend this place if you are coming to Edenton. http://www.innerbanksinn.com
A quick lunch in our room and a little drive around the town brought us back to the Inn and we spend our time before and after dinner sitting on the front porch swing, sipping bourbon and chatting with other guests.
The next morning after breakfast, we moved into our new room, in the same building and then walked towards the harbor, through the town. There is so much to see here if you love historic homes that are immaculate and gardens that are magazine worthy. Here are some of the spots we stopped into:
The Chowan County Courthouse: It is still in use today for special trials even though it was built in 1767. The jail is in the back of the courthouse and it is eerie to walk by, evening in the daytime. Apparently at night, it is often reported by the locals that they hear loud banging from the inside of courthouse on the main door. They feel it is the spirit of a prisoner who died in the courthouse and was banging on the door to get out…exactly what he was doing when he dropped dead. I don’t know that I would be opening that door to find out…if I could.
The Cupola House: Built in 1767 by Francis Corbin, a land agent for King Charles II, the Cupola House is a delightfully restored home that showcases the distinct social hierarchy of room design of that era. Mr. Corbin passed away in 1767 and the home was eventually purchased by Dr. Samuel Dickinson in 1777. Dr. Dickinson and his descendants owned the home for over 141 years. When finally the last relative owner could not afford to stay in the home or keep it up, the citizens of Edenton purchased the property and since 1918 they have restored the home and kept the grounds gardened meticulously.
The Lighthouse: This lighthouse is the last remaining original screw-pile construction structure in the USA. It was originally located in the mouth of Albemarle Sound to mark the entrance to the Roanoke River near Plymouth. In 1941, it was decommissioned and remained abandoned by the US Coast Guard for about 15 years. In 1955 the Federal Government ordered that it had to be removed or destroyed. Mr. Emmett Wiggins, a WWII Navy Engineer Captain, and underwater salvager, bought the lighthouse and performed an engineering feat by recovering it and transporting it to Edenton. Here it was placed on a plot of land at the mouth of Filbert’s Creek. Mr. Wiggins resided in the lighthouse until his death in 1995 and the lighthouse remained in his family after his death. I didn’t get to go inside, since it was closed to the public due to repair work being done. It is a really remarkable structure to stand beside.
The Barker House: Built in 1782 by Thomas and his wife Penelope Barker. It main floor originally consisted of a parlor wing and a half hall. It was then added onto 3 times from 1840 to date. It now has 3 floors and 8 fireplaces. It was moved to where it is located today from a plot of land 2 blocks north. It is now a museum and home to the Edenton Historical Commission. There are numerous historical pieces and furnishings that belonged to the Barkers on display. One item that was of interest to me was a document similar to a will, which shows what Thomas left to Penelope upon his death: all of his property including, town lots, 2 plantations, 33 mahogany chairs, 53 slaves, watches, horses, and 400 books. Thomas and Penelope are buried together in a plot at the Hayes Plantation which they used to own. I wonder if I need to count how many chairs I have to leave my children…1..2..3…
When we left the Barker house we saw across the road a boat tour…so we went over and booked ourselves on the next cruise. Captain Mark Thesier of Historic Edenton Bay Boat Tours took us out for a lovely little river ride, a few history lessons and a chance to see the beautiful town from the water. Captain Mark and his wife came to Edenton to retire, and then he got bored and bought a boat, started a sightseeing company and spends his days in the summer doing something he loves. The river area is dotted with little juts of land, sometimes with a tree growing proudly on top. Many of those trees have the nests of osprey and other hawks in them. There is a rather large island that we passed and our Captain mentioned that folks go on the island to camp overnight. So I said maybe we should pull aground and go for a walk. Captain Mark said that wasn’t a problem…but how did I feel about rattle snakes…and watching out for the black puma that lives there. I decided I was better suited to stay in the boat…far away from that island. (By the way, he was not kidding about black pumas in the area…there are sightings that have been validated as legitimate). For a wonderful way to see Edenton from the bay, definitely recommend this cruise. http://www.edentonbaycruises.com
Safely back to the dock, we head towards the downtown. Its lunchtime and we are having some trouble finding a place to eat. For some reason, most of the stores and cafes are closed. We stop into Edenton Bay Trading Company…this was a serendipitous stop. Malcolm King, the friendly and funny owner, showed us around his shop. Malcolm’s wife sells gifts, glassware and antiques all in a setting that is both luxurious and comfortable. Malcolm sells specialty wines and craft beers…by the bottle. He takes us through to the back of the store and through a door that leads to…the Secret Courtyard Patio. Oh My! This feels as though we have left Edenton completely and have walked into a Parisian cafe. It is a courtyard of tables and fountains and vines and gardens and he has classical music playing just ever so softly. I say that I wish we could have lunch here and Malcolm says…”you can”. He doesn’t sell food but recommends we go choose a sandwich from Emilio’s down the street and come back, purchase a bottle of wine from him and then sit in the courtyard and enjoy our repast. I am halfway headed to Emilios’ before my partner even gets out of the door.
Emilios’ turns into yet another amazing story and surprise. This lovely little shop, Emilios’ General Store and Take Away, is owned by someone you would not expect to find here. Emilio is a classically trained chef, who owns 29 restaurants around the world and has been brought in to open over 300 restaurants for other chefs. He has studied with Julia Child as her sous chef (there is a picture of her and him on his wall signed by Julia…wow…just wow), and he is a personal chef for Dolly Parton when she is throwing charity events or private dinner parties in her home. Emilio is from Peru and has travelled and cooked all over the world. When he and his wife stopped in Edenton for a night, he fell in love with the place due to its tranquility and so he opened Emilios’ as a place where neighbors, visitors and friends can gather to share some time and some great food. I am spellbound by this man. I ordered something in the way of a sandwich and then asked him questions about Edenton and himself while he made my order. I left Emilio’s really understanding that you never really know someone until you find out their story….I have made that a part of me that I still do to this day.
We walk back to Malcolm’s shop, order a bottle of wine and head out to the Secret courtyard. Malcolm ensures that we are settled in, and then leaves us to our meal in private….what a fantastic host…although I would have loved to have chatted with him to know his story. I did however ask him to write something in my travel notebook before we left…it says: “To our Canadian Friends…Thanks for stopping in Edenton, NC. Enjoyed having you in our Courtyard at Edenton Bay Trading Co. Thanks again and enjoy traveling the US. Come see us again, eh! Malcolm King”…Oh Malcolm had to get a little Canadian humor in there, didn’t he? Malcolm hosts many events in his courtyard: sangria sundays, live music, movie nights, halloween parties and he has fireplaces in the winter to keep it open all year long. Thank you Malcolm for the hospitality and for being a great ambassador for the town of Edenton. PS….I wish I had taken a picture of the courtyard, but I was too excited and in awe of being there, that I forgot. edentonbaytradingcompany.com or check them out on facebook.
We strolled our way back to our Inn. We were told that since it was a Sunday everything in the town shuts down by 5 pm….they were not kidding. Back at the inn, we took all of the food that we had in our room and laid it out on the harvest table that was in the main living room of our bed and breakfast. I made a lovely displayed on some trays of our meats, chesses, grapes, strawberries, and pickles…a real charcuterie any restaurant would be proud to serve. We were the only people there so we figured we would come in, make up a plate and then go outside to drink some wine and sit on the porch swings and just chat. Well, a few folks started to check into our building and once they were settled in, they came out to join us on the porch. Funny thing is though…they came out with plates of food…our food. You see, they thought that the owners of the bed and breakfast had laid out a few nibbles for all of the guests to enjoy mid afternoon…so they helped themselves. My partner and I just smiled and let them enjoy our feast…we had more than enough to share and it was nice to share it with some folks we could sit and chat with.
Soon it was dinner time and we ate at the restaurant on site….my oh my. What a delicious meal it was and the restaurant was packed with two sittings fully booked. It is the place to go for a dinner in Edenton.
After dinner we sat in the living room with some of the people that were staying in the same building as us. We met a lovely older couple, Kim and Bill, from VIrginia. He had that personality that tried to be grumpy, but he was a softy at heart, and he could throw in a good punchline now and then too. They were here celebrating their 8 year wedding anniversary. Bill told us how he proposed. It was on Kim’s birthday. He gave her some flowers and a card…with another note card inside….that said “marry me”. She said yes. because who could resist such romance as this… and they have been making memories ever since. Cheers to your young love Kim and Bill.
As the evening progressed, more weary travelers joined our group and then in walked a lady name Mary and her hubby. They got settled in their room and then said they were going out to get some wine. We had to disappoint them by saying everything was closed. Mary was highly disappointed because she really wanted a glass of wine. You see Mary and her husband live in Martha’s Vineyard and they know all too well just how busy it gets there in the summer months. So they were out looking for a summer home close to the Outer Banks…just to get away from it all. They had been house hunting for days and had more scheduled for tomorrow…so yes, she needed a wine…and I could provide just that. So my partner heads to our room and brings down our personal bar and we share some bevies with them. Mary and I have become great friends and to this day she is thankful for those much needed sips of wine. Soon it is time for us all to say goodnight, but we know we will meet at breakfast in the morning.
At breakfast we do all meet and chat and enjoy some more great food. Mary asks where we are headed and I say I have no idea. She mentions that we absolutely must go to Okracoke and she assures me that since I am a hippy at heart, I will love it there. We decide that we will head there.
Saying goodbye to this place and these wonderful people was hard this morning. Mary and I hug goodbye and she says she wants to give me something to remember her, but she doesn’t really have anything on her. She digs in her purse and then hands me…a lobster keychain/bottle opener with the contact details of the company she owns on it. I still have it as you can see from the picture. It makes me smile every time I look at it…a reminder of the laughs, the stories and of the time spent with a new friend.
We also said goodbye to Kim and Bill who were heading back towards Virginia and gave me their address to their farm to stop by and stay if we head that way.
Edenton…you gave me so much in such a short time. Good friends, great memories, delicious food, comfy accommodations and some wonderful conversations with your friendly locals.
You know…your journey doesn’t have to be planned. Most times those spontaneous detours end up creating the best memories for you. Be open to such adventurous…be open to meeting new people and really hearing their story…be open to living and feeling gratitude in every moment, no matter what it brings…because this is living your life. These words apply to all aspects of your life…it sure does mine
Next, we head to the Outer Banks…to Okracoke Island….where I fall in love…with pelicans.
Live Your Life…Jan