The Cape Fear river is at the heart of this area, and the capital which sits upon it is the city of Wilmington; described as being similar to Charleston and Savannah without taking itself as seriously as either of those venerable locations.
Early 18th C settlements by the British led to this area becoming the slave centre of the colonies - a dubious reputation which was the backdrop for revolution in 1765, the Civil War in 1865, and race riots in 1965. It might be an idea to avoid the area in 2065. Just a thought.
We struggled to find a parking spot amid the antebellum and Victorian side-streets, but finally stopped outside the old theatre. Wilmington has a great history in the arts; even today, it is the movie capital of USA outside Hollywood, strangely enough. We tried to crash the beautiful old theatre hall, but unfortunately rehearsals were ongoing. We contented ourselves with an equally old hall, just down the road:
The oldest pool bar in the States (allegedly). Perfect for us! We met Daniel (pictured) and Pat (behind the bar). Good olde southern hospitality. How much for an hour's pool and a couple of drinks (one being a Jack and coke for Sarah)? Yep. 2$. Two dollars. Incredible. I felt like we had stepped back in time. Talking of which, not that I would recommend it unless you are indeed a lady, if you venture in to the ladies' bathroom (pronounced baffroom don't forget), you might find a very old secret. Tunnels undermine the city, leading slaves, revolutionaries and modern politicians from port to freedom in the swamp lands. They say.
All in all, a pretty city with a good vibe. Feels young, exciting. Reminded us a lot of the feel of downtown Seattle.
Ultimate tour bus
The Reel Cafe
The above restaurant, incidentally, is one of the best we have come across anywhere in the States so far. Great choice, quality - even good veggie options. Service was typically excellent for this area. #thereelcafe
What we didn't do, and perhaps should have, is visit the several beaches in the area. However, there was a gale blowing in, and it wasn't warm! With New Year approaching too, we decided it was better to find a campsite further along.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is next along the beach. Tried it that night, in the dark. A neon nightmare - fine if you like that sort of thing. We didn't, and kept driving. Too late, if we're honest. We drove through swamp land in the middle of the night with no civilization for miles. We just prayed we didn't break down.
We arrived in Charleston, and pitched up, tired! It quickly became New Year's Eve….
PS. Thanks for the votes in the photo competition. Apparently some of you didn't understand the rules, but never mind, we'll try again another time….