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North Carolina

Since yesterday's post was such a short one, here's a bit of a recap of the last couple of days. I've been having some technical difficulties, but my commo seems to be working better now.

I left Philadelphia yesterday morning at 0715. On a Sunday morning that early, I had the streets of the city all to myself as the day was dawning.

It was cold, but not terribly, and the day turned out to be clear and sunny. The New Jersey Turnpike was an excellent road that we flew down headed south.

There were a million motorcycles on the road as I continued south down what's called the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) peninsula, as they had all been at a bike rally over the weekend. Taking route 13 south, right down the spine of the eastern shore, I made good time, and was in Virginia Beach by 1230.

The highlight of the ride that day was the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It crosses the bay at its narrowmost point and is a combination bridge and pair of tunnels. The tunnels are beneath the two shipping channels through which warships and civilian ships of all kinds transit. It can make one...nervous.

Once in Virginia Beach, I got to see my friend, Sherrie, who had been away in Italy for a year. It was good to spend some time together catching up.

By the afternoon if made it to my hotel, right on the beach.

I visited the fabulous Cavalier Hotel (notice that I said I didn't STAY at the famous Cavalier Hotel), had a snack and something to drink and hung out for a while there. They had a fire going in the fireplace and since there was 25 mph winds blowing onshore, it was a very nice warming effect.

This morning I headed toward the Outer Banks, but was stopped in my tracks by the fact that the ocean was coming over the banks between Nags Head and Hatteras in four different places, so the road was closed. No Hatteras for me.

That meant a detour back inside, and an amendment to the plan.

Those kinds of things happen and it's not always bad.

Today is a good example. I literally stumbled upon Roanoke Island, famous for their lost colony.

For those unfamiliar with the story, in 1587 the first English settlement in what would become the United States was established at the present day site of Manteo, which was the name of a local Croatan Indian who befriended the settlers. It was here that the first English child in North America was born, a baby girl named Virginia Dare. This area is now Dare County.

John White, the Governor of the colony, set sail to return to England for more food and supplies, but sadly, when he returned in 1590, the entire colony had completely vanished without a trace. To this day no one knows what happened, hence the name "Lost Colony."

Now there is a cute little village there with a park and a replica of the ship that transported the colonists here from England...well before Jamestown was settled.

Then it was back on the road until I ran across this little gem.

I just love the little roadside joints. I'm convinced it's this kind of thing that's been responsible for our having won two world wars.

If you've never had Carolina style barbeque, it's a must try. Finely chopped, slow smoked pork topped with fresh made, super-finely diced cole slaw and finished with a vinegar-based sauce. It is further proof that God really does love us.

From there it was inland to New Bern, a beautiful, historic little sailing village on the Trent and Neuse Rivers.

New Bern is named for Bern, Switzerland. It was founded in 1710 by Bernese Swiss.

This is Baron Christopher De Graffenried, the Swiss founder of Bern. He apparently had great hair.

This statue has the French language version of his name. In other places in town it has the Germanic version, Von Graffenried (Because of their geographic location, there are areas in Switzerland in which German, or French, or even Italian is spoken).

The "von" is German for "of" or "from" and used to denote those of landed nobility back when Germany was made up of nation states, Prussia being one. These folks, the "vons" in the eastern part of Germany lost everything through the two world wars, so, now, while their names may sound really cool, they really aren't any richer than you and me. The Swiss "vons" did a lot better.

New Bern adopted the seal of the old Bern, which features a black bear, so one sees bears everywhere here.

Bear flags...

Bear park benches...

Bear statues...

It's almost unbearable.

There are a lot of "firsts" here. Bern was the first capital of North Carolina. Here's the Governor's Palace.

The first Anglican Church in North Carolina is here.

The first Presbyterian Church, too.

And the first Baptist Church.

They have a really neat looking old city hall building here with a clock tower that lights up at night.

And brick row houses from the 1700's.

And pretty streets with clapboard houses from the 1800's and early 1900's. This one belonged to the town schoolteacher.

This is also the birthplace of Pepsi Cola.

There's a historical marker outside the building.

Anything you'd ever want to learn about Pepsi can be found inside.

But I grew up in Atlanta, so I prefer Coke.

Almost home!

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