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Beach and Blast 2012

posted Jul 5, 2012, 6:43 AM by Justin P
Again this year, we planned a beach day followed by fireworks in the Wilmington area to celebrate 4th of July.  This year, we headed down a day early to squeeze in a little more beach time.  I worked a half-day on Tuesday and left around lunch time for the drive down to Carolina Beach.  We had some fast food for a quick dinner then headed to Carolina Beach State Park to set up camp.  The group campsites here are a short, maybe 400-meter walk from the parking lot to the sites just off the Swamp Trail.  Along the way, we spotted a pitcher plant, but no Venus Flytraps.  After setting up camp, Sandy and I headed back towards the parking lot and around the Flytrap Trail hoping to spot some of these interesting carnivorous plants.  But no luck.  We headed back to the campsite to meet back up with the group and at about 8, we left and took the Campground Trail towards the park entrance, left the park and headed to Carolina Beach to watch the fireworks on the beach.  It was actually a very nice show - I wasn't expecting too much given that the town is small and it wasn't yet 4th of July.  After the fireworks, we headed back and stopped for ice cream in town, before returning to the park.  It was quite hot and humid, even after 10 o'clock at night.  Since the chance for rain was low, we took the rain fly off the tent and set up a battery-powered fan to keep the tent a little cooler.

In the morning, we woke up, broke camp, and headed to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area to begin our beach day.  It was already getting hot at 9, so we quickly set up our shade canopy on the beach and then took a dip in the ocean to cool off.  After how warm it was the day before, I didn't think I could feel too cold.  But after about 30 minutes or so in the ocean, I started to get a bit chilled, so I got out and warmed up in the sun (very quickly!).  John, who doesn't care much for water, was flying his kite on the beach.  With a 1/4 to 1/2 mile of string, the kite was so high, it was barely visible.  Somehow, the kite managed to crash into the water and broke.  We all started helping to reel in the kite along with help from others on the beach, which was quite a task given the length of string.  After that, I spent some time in the shade before we headed out to hike the Basin Trail.  The trail starts just behind the visitor center and wanders through beach and salt marsh out to the southern tip of the area.  Along the trail, we saw many little Fiddler Crabs scurrying in and out of the sand and marsh.  At then end of the trail is an observation dock, with beautiful views of the Basin and Zeke's Island Coastal Reserve.  A great spot for birding, we saw pelicans and egrets in the water here.  On the way back, we stopped to see the World War II bunker, where the hermit of Fort Fisher, Robert E. Harrill, lived for many years.  Then we headed back to the beach for one more refreshing dip in the water before packing up.  We stopped back at Carolina Beach State Park, where several people were planning to camp again, to take a shower and wash off the sand and salt.  Then we headed into Wilmington and had dinner at the Reel Cafe.  After dinner, we staked our spot along the waterfront and waited for the fireworks to start.  They were only about 20 minutes this year, but it was a great show.  Several of the fireworks exploded in the shape of stars!  After the fireworks, we quickly headed back to the car and battled traffic to get out of Wilmington.  But once out, the traffic was light heading back to Raleigh.
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