Adventures Here and There

I haven’t posted anything in about two months, and during this time I do a few fun things. Nothing like the big Florida road trip in February, but a few weekend adventures here and there. Here is the round-up with the photo highlights.

Charlotte Hornets vs Washington Wizards
Watching the Hornets take on the Wizards inside TWC Arena

The first outing was actually happened before my Florida family road trip. On the weekend before the trip, my parents and I went to Charlotte to watch the Charlotte Hornets play the Washington Wizards. My parents have never seen a NBA game before, and ticket prices were quite reasonable so we drove out to Charlotte to see the game. It was a competitive match-up, and Charlotte closed the deal in the last few minutes, with Jeremy Lin (the only Asian of any fame in the NBA these days) scoring the few crucial points for the Hornets. It was a fun experience and we enjoyed watching the game.

Now to more recent outings, spring has arrived so I’ve started hiking again. Mostly it was just places that are not too far away. There is nothing with any mountains or elevated views, but there were a few tranquil lakes, forests and rivers.

Haw River Bynum Mill Access
Nice river view.
Haw River Bynum Mill Access rope bridge
The pictured rope course was one way to cross this stream. I decided to wade across a little bit upstream instead.
Schneck Forest Richland Creek Loblolly hike
This particular hike took us through this tunnel that goes under a freeway.
Little River Park Zebulon
Pretty waterfall in Zebulon, NC
Lake Lomond swans
A family of swans swimming about in a nearby lake.

Spring also brought the flower blooms, and I visited the WRAL Azalea Garden in Raleigh. The garden wasn’t big, there were plenty of colorful blooms.

WRAL Azalea Garden wedding
The Azalea Garden during blooming season makes for a really nice wedding venue
WRAL Azalea Garden fountain
Elegant water fountain surrounded by colorful blooms at the WRAL Azalea Garden

I also attended a local food festival. The focus was beer and bacon, which is always a winning combination.

Beer and Bacon Festival
Beer and bacon is a good combination for a festival. Tried more than a dozen beers and had lots of bacon and bacon-infused foods. Good times.

Other than walking around, I also went on a short kayaking trip down the Tar River. The trip was 3.2 miles down the river, and it took around 2 hours with only a little bit of paddling. Most of the trip was me lazily flowing down the river and enjoying the greenery, but there was one small stretch of Class 1 rapids that spun added a little excitement. My kayak got spun around by the rapids and got stuck on a rock for a little bit, but I managed to dislodge myself (without getting too wet) and was on my merry way.

Tar River kayaking
Slowly paddling down the Tar River, enjoying nature and feeling carefree
Island Express Ferry
Smallest ferry I’ve ever taken.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse
That was the closet I got to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. Might go back again when the lighthouse is open for climbing.

Lastly, I made weekend trip down to the Crystal Coast region of NC. The primary reason for the trip was for the Cherry Point Air Show in Havelock. Havelock happens to be pretty close to the Crystal Coast region, so I made a weekend trip out of it. During the trip, I drove all the way to Harkers Island and took the ferry to Shackleford Banks. Shackleford Banks is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which protects the barrier islands that make up the southernmost portions of the Outer Banks. The most famous attraction is the Cape Lookout Lighthouse on the Great Island, but it wasn’t open for climbing yet so I opted to go to Shackleford Banks instead to see the wild horses. An island of about 10 miles long and on average less than a mile wide, Shackleford Banks is almost completely devoid of human development, and it’s populated by 110 wild (feral might be more accurate) horses. It’s not a big island, so the horses weren’t that hard to find. Even though I didn’t have a lot of time to spend on the island, I managed to find a herd of horses pretty easily, and it’s pretty cool to see horses living off the land in a “wild” state. There is also plenty of natural unspoiled beaches, but the weather wasn’t quite warm enough then for a beach day.

Shackleford Banks horses
Finally found some wild horses! Wish I had a nice camera with a good zoom lens.

After visiting Shackleford Banks, I drove around to Atlantic Beach, to check out the beach and also to visit Fort Macon State Park. Fort Macon State Park is built around Fort Macon, which was a coastal defense fort built in the old days. Apparently Fort Macon is the 2015 NC State Park of the Year, and it is also one of the most visited NC state parks.

Fort Macon
Fort Macon, the 2015 NC State Park of the Year. Wished I had gotten there earlier to get a tour inside the fort.
Atlantic Beach
The beach at Atlantic Beach. Not quite yet beach season yet, but there were a couple of people surf fishing and walking around.
Cherry Point Air Show tank
Not sure what this thing is, other than it looks really bad-ass.
Cherry Point Air Show formation
Nice formation split during an air show performance.

On Sunday, I went to the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point to see the air show. The show was similar to the one last year in Goldsboro, and there were plenty of interesting ground exhibits to complement the exciting aerial performances. Compared to last year, there were fewer large planes on the ground, but many more ground vehicles for people to see. As for the aerial performances, the show was anchored by the Navy Blue Angels. Some of the acts were the same as last year’s show, but there were a few new acts as well. The highlight of the show for me was the F-22 Raptor demo. Being the most advanced air superiority fighter in the world, the F-22 just has that cool factor, and during the demo it showed some maneuvers that no other jet fighter is capable of doing. And that thing was the loudest aircraft in the entire show, especially when the nozzles were pointed towards the audience.

Cherry Point Air Show explosion
An explosion during the Marine task force demo. I could feel the heat even from where I was standing.
Cherry Point Air Show F-22
The F-22 Raptor was one of the highlights of the air show.
Cherry Point Air Show Navy Blue Angels
The Navy Blue Angels anchored the show with their renowned formation flying.

That’s a wrap of my outs and abouts up to this point. Given that the warm weather has already arrived, I’ll continue to explore and go on some short trips here and there, so there will be another one of these photo dumps in a couple of weeks. Thanks for reading.

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