Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Greetings from Wilmington

After a morning at the beach, during which we saw an enormous (though deceased) moon jellyfish and caught and released many mole crabs, we spent the hottest hours of the summer solstice exploring the city of Wilmington, once an important Civil War port. We started at the Cape Fear Museum, which has exhibits on the natural resources and wildlife of the region, a huge model of the city as it looked in 1865, a sound-and-lights reenactment of the Battle of Fort Fisher, an outdoor maritime pavilion, a gallery named for the city's most famous living native devoted to the Cape Fear River's environment, and a display case of Michael Jordan's high school and college trophies, school projects, uniforms, etc. Then we went to Wilmington's Riverwalk, whose existence I first discovered watching Dawson's Creek -- brick streets lead to a boardwalk that follows the water across from the USS North Carolina's permanent home, with riverboats and sailboats on one side, trolleys and horse-and-carriage rides on the other. Both the old City Market and the old Cotton Exchange now house craft and specialty shops, so we visited them after going to Kilwin's for ice cream.

The USS North Carolina -- the first new battleship brought into service during World War II and the most decorated battleship of the war -- seen from Wilmington's Riverwalk.

Temple of Israel, the first synagogue in North Carolina, built in Wilmington in 1875.

The shipyard section of the scale model of historic Wilmington in the Cape Fear Museum.

A collection of Union and Confederate ceremonial swords in the museum...

...and the beaver lodge, with Adam testing the entrance tunnel.

That beaver exhibit is in the Michael Jordan Discovery Gallery. Here is the display case honoring Jordan himself.

The Old Wilmington City Market, a brick and stucco building built in 1879 to sell produce, now enclosed as an arcade-style mall.

Adam greeting the dangerously adorable attack cat in the Celtic Shop.

When we got back, we went to the beach again, where it was windier and with bigger waves than in the morning; Daniel stayed in the hotel room to chat with his friends (I think he is missing his girlfriend, he said he needed to get her a birthday present while we're traveling), Adam rode his boogie board in the surf and then went to the pool while the rest of us got ready for dinner. Paul made Swedish meatballs and potatoes in honor of midsummer, then we went out to the Carolina Beach boardwalk, where Adam rode on several amusement park rides and the rest of us got salt water taffy and fudge, two staples of every beach town I have ever visited. (So far my souvenir loot from this trip consists of one sleeveless tie-dye shirt from a boardwalk vendor, ten little charms from Caravan Beads in the Cotton Exchange, and one family crest keychain from the Celtic Shop even though I'm not Celtic at all and my kids only barely.) My eyes are still a bit unfocused from too much salt water and sunblock getting into them but it was a great day!

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