Friday, June 3, 2016

Chapter 4 - Hilton Island to Wilmington, NC

June 1st, Day 5: Once again as is our custom, we arose early and by 7:45 am we departed our campsite and headed north to Wilmington, North Carolina. The drive north was uneventful much of which was on I-95.  The traffic was fairly light and other than being on the road for around 5-1/2 hours, we arrived at the Wilmington KOA ready for a new adventure.  We were not ready however, for what started to happen while we were hooking up our trailer.  Rain.  Hard rain.  Fortunately the rain lasted for only 1/2 hour and then the sun reappeared.  What we were left with however, all around our trailer and the entire campground for that matter, was wet gravel which meant that every time we went outside and then returned to the trailer, we dragged in gravel on our shoes into the trailer. Kathy complained, understandably, but we both agreed that it was all part of the fun of camping.  At least in a small trailer, there is less floor area to sweep.  We spent the remainder of the day and evening sitting under our awning, talking, enjoying drinks, then dinner, then eventually we went inside for a good nights sleep.

June 2, Day 6: TheWilmington area is the home of Kathy's sister Rose and her family so that we have planned to spend the better part of the day with them at Rose's house.  Since we did not want to arrive before noon we decided to spend the morning visiting some of the local historical sites that we had not previously visited during our trip to Wilmington the previous summer. Wilmington was originally settled by the British beginning in the 1720s. The major part of the city is located about 20 miles up the Cape Fear River from the Atlantic Ocean and like many other major port cities in our country that were founded early in our history, the sheltered location away from the direct coastline worked to their advantage as it afforded some protection from assault by way of the open sea. As it turns out, during the Civil War, Wilmington was the last major Confederate port city to remain open and free to receive supplies from foreign counties before it was finally captured by the Northern military forces near the end of the war in 1865. The Confederates had built Fort Fisher near the mouth of the Cape Fear River specifically to prevent naval vessels from entering the river and capturing the city. Unfortunately for the Confederates however, on January 15, 1865 the northern forces made an amphibious assault against the fort, capturing it, and thereby preventing future food and military supplies being shipped in by the English and reaching General Lee's army in Virginia. The blockade and the defeat of the Confederates at Wilmington helped to bring the war to a close.

Kathy and I thought that it would be fun to visit what remains of old Fort Fisher, and perhaps, if all goes well, Kathy could visit their gift store for some needed souvineers. These two photographs (above and to the left)were taken on the site of the old fort which today consists primarily of large earthen berms, some old cannons, a few replicas of stockade fences, and a great view of the mouth of the Cape Fear River. It was fascinating to see this old fort and review its history.

As Rose's home is on the opposite side of the Cape Fear River from Fort Fisher, our original plan was to drive back the twenty miles to Wilmington, cross the bridge to the western shore, and then drive south to Rose's. Quite to our surprise however, there was a ferry crossing available right near the old fort that could carry us and our car across the river for an unbelievable low fee of just $5.00. We jumped at the chance. Our little "cruise" across the mouth of the Cape Fear River took about 25 minutes and was surprisingly fun.

When we called Rose to tell her that we might be arriving a little earlier than expected, she suggested that we stop and visit another old fort on the western shore of the Cape Fear River that was called Fort Anderson. Fort Anderson was very similar in design as Fort Fisher and it was set in a beautiful setting in a deeply forested area along the river. The site was also home to an old long ago abandoned village. The remains of an old brick church still survives and is shown in the photograph below.

One interesting feature about both of these old forts is that there is no fee to visit.  According to what we read, much of the money to manage and maintain the forts comes from the sale of "stuff" from their gift stores. Kathy as always helped donate to this worthy cause with multiple purchases.

After visiting two Confederate Civil War forts and taking a ferry ride across the Cape Fear River we preceded on to Rose's house where we spent the rest of the afternoon.  Rose and her son Vince prepared both an excellent lunch and dinner for us. Joining us for dinner was Rose's son-in-law, Aaron and two of her granddaughters. Unfortunately Rose's daughter, Allison and another granddaughter were unable to join us.  Thank you Rose and Vince, you were incredible hosts.

We returned back to our campground by 8 pm and after a short time watching TV and discussing our wonderful afternoon, we called it a day.  Tomorrow morning we are headed out to the Outer Banks and Cape Hattaras with a hope and a prayer that the ran has stopped and the sun will be shinning.   

No comments:

Post a Comment