This was our second visit to Wilmington, so we knew we'd already started to fall for this small coastal town. We made it our mission this time to discover more of the area, to try more places and things. Originally, we had considered Wilmington because of UNCW's MFA program, which I go back and forth about applying to. I figured it was time for a visit to the campus, and I'm so glad I did. How inspiring! It's one of the few in the country that has a non-fiction track, and I noticed one of the faculty members had been published in Orion, my all-time favorite magazine. A small thing, maybe, but it made me smile and edge a little closer to truly considering going back to school. In no particular order, here are some highlights from our relaxing and inspiring Carolina Beach vacation.
1. Riding a tandem beach cruiser bike. Once we got the hang of it (1,2,3, pedal!) it was a blast.
2. Staying at Carolina Beach, population 6,000, less than two blocks from the water.
3. The organic Mighty Muscadine grape smoothie at Port City Java, made with NC's state fruit! (I ordered one each day we were downtown, every sip yearning for it to be mountain Muscadine season back home in WNC).
4. Eating at Indochine. I challenge anyone to show me a more beautifully designed and delicious Thai restaurant. Anywhere.
5. Taking a ferry ride to a quaint coastal town called Southport, where they happened to be filming Safe Haven (to be released in early 2013, an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name)
6. Eating (alright, we're a little obsessed with finding great food anywhere we go) crab cakes and potato salad at Provisions, a real-deal fresh seafood joint. It's a hole in the wall with a waterfront deck that has gorgeous views of the Cape Fear river.
7. Stumbling on a town council meeting on the local tv station. Several locals stood up to request the council move ahead on adopting a ban on smoking at Carolina Beach. Alright!
8. The Tiki Bar! A straight shot from our apartment, this little gem is attached to a hotel and built on what is left of a pier that was destroyed by a hurricane. Tommy could watch pelicans coasting and preening to his heart's content, while we drank margaritas and even my current favorite beer, First Amendment's Hell or High Watermelon!
8. Having a kitchenette in our beach apartment, so we could do some of our own cooking. From home, we brought fresh fruit (blueberries from the garden, peaches from the farmers market), local eggs, waffle mix, and heavy cream, so we could whip up this decadent breakfast one morning.
9. Folks Cafe (Thanks, Martha!). We didn't get to try their purportedly delicious South American cuisine (we were about to go to Indochine), but we did experience their super friendly service, order some tasty iced coffee (with coffee cubes!) and buy a pound of their small batch Peruvian roast to take back home with us.
10. The sunsets.
11. Running into our good Asheville friend, Taylor, because as history suggests, if you're anywhere in the world, you're probably going to run into a friend from Asheville. He used his sweet photography skills to take a few pictures of us on the streets on downtown Wilmington. Here is my favorite.