A movie and dinner?

Trip Start Mar 23, 2009
Trip End Jul 23, 2009

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Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Since Malc has discovered the new Google Streets that allows you to zoom in and actually see roads, buildings etc he likes nothing more than 'taking a look' at where we are going (helps with that old navigation too). We have used it to preview campgrounds and to ‘suss’ out whether we want to go somewhere. So we took a look at Elizabeth City, which is the largest town near us, 17 miles away. It looked rather drab and run down, so we weren’t too excited about it, in fact we nearly didn’t bother. What a shame that would have been, every now and than we kind of stumble on a gem, ‘Lizzie’ you did us proud.

We parked Toad and took a wander through the streets of the ‘historic district’ – you remember those don’t you Gill? Some of grand buildings we found were evidence of an important past –founded 400 years ago, it was once an important seaport with four masted ships carrying goods to and from the new world.

But those Outer banks that we like so much were in fact a considerable drawback to the regions development. The building of the ‘Dismal Swamp Canal’ (isn’t that just a great name!) did connect this region with Virginia and for a time was a very important waterway. Today it is used mainly by pleasure craft and is part of the 5000 or so miles of inter-coastal waterways that stretch down this eastern coast line. www.DismalSwamp.com

Mariner’s Wharf in Elizabeth City is a pretty harbour where boats can moor for 48 hours free, yes…free.
Can’t really see that happening in the Solent or Poole Harbour can you? And here’s a thing, any ladies aboard visiting sailboats are greeted with a rose – almost makes sailing sound attractive. (No doubt when Malc reads/edits this entry he will have some thing to add here :-) – she’s right, as you know I have done my fair share of sailing and I don’t know of any other place where you can tie up, dockside, almost in the middle of town and stay overnight FREE, let alone two nights (I bet if they aren’t busy they wouldn’t say no to even more :-) "Malc the Talc"  put this one on your itinerary! This practice was started by…

Isn’t it a wonderful idea?

Whilst wandering along the Wharf we were struck by how dark the water looked no beautiful blue waters here. On inspection it appeared almost black so we decided to collect some in an empty water bottle so we could share it with all of you. See the lengths we go to, to make it feel as though you are with us?   
Anyway, as Malc was doing just that a guy (sorry) came over and started chatting about what made it so…it’s the Cyprus trees… the freshwater upstream from here was used by the old sailing ships as it stayed fresher, longer, in barrels onboard. We stood and talked for some time. He introduced himself as Len Outlaw (you may remember we mentioned him in the last blog) and it was he who told us about the encroaching coastline on the Banks and that his grandfather had built one of the first 13 homes on the Outer Banks. He recalled how until a bridge was built in the 1930’s a small ferry would take people and goods to and fro, though I doubt he actually remembered as he only looked about our age – far too young :), maybe his parents told him about it - see we told you we got to know an "outlaw". This made us realize how laborious it must have been for the Wright brothers, they had come to Elizabeth City to stock up with provisions before camping on the Banks and then had to take everything over there by boat. We learnt too that in places the harbour here is about 30’ deep and that amongst other water sports it’s the location for the Carolina Cup regatta club and that Leonard is passionate about his racing. He invited us back for the next race telling us there would be a warm welcome for us and Bree! Again we are struck by the friendliness and hospitality that is offered to us. http://www.carolinacupregatta.com/ 
As we turned to leave him, we saw a large modern building on the other side of the road – rather out of keeping with the old town in general…
It turned out to be a new, well 3 yr old, museum of the Albemarle, it looked intriguing. Indeed it turned out to be one of the nicest provincial ones we have visited. Its display is organized chronologically and the winding walkway leads you through the development of the surrounding areas. The presentations were really good, the quality and range of the artifacts amazing. http://www.museumofthealbemarle.com/home.htm

Who could have known that this was the waterfowl capital of the world .Between 1870 -1920 over 100 gun clubs were in operation in the area and it seems it was not a poor man’s sport. Fees could be as much as $5000. Quite an industry was built around it in fact, the carving of decoys being one of the more interesting.

Fascinating stuff! There were a few artifacts from the Wrights too and even a canon thought to be from Blackbeard’s vessel. We enjoyed wandering around the museum and regretted not going in earlier in the day as we only had an hour or so before it closed, incidentally it was free (our favorite fee).

So, hidden gems but the best is yet to come.

 As we had walked around the streets we came across what looked like an old run down cinema – apologies to all residents of Elizabeth City we don’t mean to offend. However, it couldn’t be derelict because that very night they were showing ‘Terminator Salvation’ opens at 6 movie at 7 (it was just after 5 by the way). Malc was keen to see this, me…not quite so keen, but I said I would keep him company. Well we didn’t fancy sitting in there watching trailers for an hour before the show, so we headed back to the park along the wharf and enjoyed a small picnic – the melon was delicious and most welcome on a very hot afternoon. We sauntered back to the cinema at about 6.30 only to find the doors locked. Perhaps we had been right after all? The box office – a tiny kiosk at the front right on the pavement (I know – sidewalk…) was empty, but there were lights on inside. No sooner had we tried the door than a young man came scurrying out to serve us; we bought our tickets, walked past the small popcorn counter in the foyer and went into the cinema. We stopped short as we thought we had made some kind of mistake, because as we entered what we expected to be the auditorium with rows of cinema seats, we were faced with rows of dining tables laid for dinner and lit by cozy table lamps. Some were occupied and the whole place had a relaxed air about it. Erm…there was a cinema screen though erm…

Another young chap came over to assist us – we were I’m sure, looking rather uncertain at this point! “We came to watch a film, not to eat” offered Malc. “That’s fine” he replied, “If you would like a drink or a bite to eat then choose a table, when you have chosen from the menu, pick up the phone that is on the table, dial 0 and give them your order. If you don’t want to do that there are rows of seats at the front and you can just watch the movie”

Well picnic or no picnic we couldn’t pass up this unique opportunity, so with a pint in hand and a large platter of nachos and a selection of dips between us we settled down to watch the film. I have to say the whole experience made watching a Terminator movie that much more enjoyable! What a great idea, don’t you think?

So glad we didn’t go by the street pictures from Google, you see for all our pictures we share, you just can’t beat being here – we do try to include you though :)

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