Thursday, 22 May 2014

American Road Trip - Stumpy Point and lost on the way to New Bern -Part 6

It's around noon when we start down the scenic route in the Alligator River Wild Life Reserve.  Mmmm.... John had seen a news broadcast of a huge alligator crossing a country road recently.  Was it near here?  He thought it might be!  But we never saw a one, even though we were driving through some distinctly swampy places.  This is one of those long, quiet country roads where there are no gas/petrol stations, but we had a full tank so felt quite safe about that.  After about 12 miles we see the signpost for Stumpy Point.  Who wouldn't take a chance on a name like that?  We drive slowly down an even smaller and quieter road, and eventually realise that Stumpy Point is actually a small township - although no stores, post office, cafe, at all, meaning that the inhabitants would have to take a 30ish mile round trip to get any supplies at all.  Anyway, bless 'em, their choice!  We drive to the water's edge, where there is a slip just a small boat wide - and a tiny grass area with a bench.  It's just big enough for lunch which is our usual travelling one, a handful of crisps and half an orange each, followed by a slug at the water bottle.  We sit in solitude for a while, until joined by another car doing the same thing as us.  They don't spend long - just wanted to say they had been there perhaps?

the view at lunchtime
Driving back slowly we spot something very odd - probably from the last hurricane, a small boat has attempted to launch itself right out of the water.  And then a derelict house.  Possibly a summer home that is now too far gone to repair?  Mystery, mystery.  There's a book here somewhere!  We meet no-one, and make our way back to the scenic route.

all washed up

unloved now, but on a nice plot

  Now the scenery changes, for instead of lush swamp and undergrowth  and a forested area, we see just black stumps for mile after  mile after mile. We happen by chance to speak to someone about Stumpy Point much later on our travels, and she tells us that there was a forest fire in 2013 on the Nature Reserve that had burned for three months.  She had a summer home out on the Outer Banks at Kitty Hawk, and you could smell it right over there for all that time.  It must have been something to see.  Here's a picture of the result, and as you can see the stuff at ground level soon fights back.  Nature at it's best.
We continue to drive, and after a while the fire damage disappears, and everything is back to lush green.  We pass a huge (by UK standards) lake and studying the map I see the words "Free Ferry".  Ooh, we love ferries!  This will also save John around 40 miles of driving.  We take that road.  We know it's there, We've seen the sign, too!  The GPS lets us plot to the nearest village, but not to the ferry.  We drive in several directions and after about half an hour realise that we are lost.  (Not so lost that the GPS will not get us back on the road, but it's the bloomin' ferry that we want!!)  Eventually we spot a house just down a lane.  John gets out, knocks, knocks again but gets no answer, even though there are vehicles around. "I was just waiting for the click of a rifle" he says.  I tell him he has watched too many American films!  We drive on down the lane in order to turn, and find two young men, one black, one hispanic, mending a car.  They are polite and gracious, call John "sir" and give him exact instructions to the ferry, wishing us to have a good day, and off we go.  Ten minutes later we are in the ferry queue, and the crossing takes 30 minutes.  Time to let the seats down, lay back, and enjoy the evening breeze. Staff on the ferry have just the same southern good manners - "Y'all enjoy the crossing?"  Lovely.  When we get to the other side, we have another 40 minutes to drive to our accomodation for the night, a town on the water called New Bern, North Carolina, and our accommodation, a little house in the garden of a bed and breakfast establishment owned by two ex-seafarers.  We settle in, have a shower and a rest, and then walk a couple of blocks to a large and very popular restaurant (who queues like this at home?!), where I have a starter - Shrimp something or other (sort of a giant prawn cocktail with a salad, and John has a main course of spaghetti and huge meatballs, which come with ........ three small, hot croissants, drizzled with melted butter and honey - bizarre!  But lovely for a dessert.  Walk back and sleep well in this tiny little house, which yes, is quite big enough for two double beds, and at the end a bathroom with a shower big enough for about eight people!!