Dylan is driving this morning. I am soooo dragging today. I was up late last night and didn't sleep very well. I definitely feel like I'm going to need a nap today. When we got up this morning, Dylan pointed out a HUGE spider web near our tent. The spider on it was the largest most bad-ass looking spider that I've ever seen out in the wild and it was having it's breakfast. OMG!!
Our destination is in northern NC near Phelps Lake. I had originally wanted to go to one of the campgrounds out on the Outer Banks but we would have had to deal with a very limited schedule on one of the ferries. Better to be on our own time-frame.
The drive was relatively uneventful. It was kind of nice to have Dylan drive for almost 3 hours. I was really dragging and having him drive was a good thing. The drive was split fairly evenly between back roads and 4 lane hwy’s. We did kind of find it interesting that our GPS was outdated enough to not show some of the new freeways that we were driving on. At one point, it showed us driving across a river in the middle of nothing! Pettigrew, like Lake Lincoln State Park in MS, was down a bunch of empty farm roads with no GPS available at all. The GPS showed us arriving at our destination in the middle of a tobacco plantation! We had to actually follow the signs. The park office was closed and locked when we got there so we decided to drive through the park to see what kind of campsites it offered. There was nobody around. And when I say, “nobody”, I mean that the park was completely void of all human life. Period!
It’s a small park of only 13 campsites set about 150 yards from the second largest natural lake in NC; Lake Phelps. We picked out our spot and Dylan immediately noticed the very large snakeskin lying in our campsite. Nice. We looked around a bit and decided to go for a bike ride. As we were riding out towards the ranger station, the ranger was driving in to meet us. He was a very cool guy and took a lot of time showing us all the mounted animals that he had in his office and explaining about the flora and fauna of the park. Red Wolf, otter, beaver, bear, weasels, birds of every imagination, snakes of every imagination, nutria, bats, etc. He was so happy to have visitors that he started showing us pictures he had taken of all the animals. I eventually had to excuse ourselves so that we could go exploring.
Right next to our camp was an old carriage road which led to an old preserved plantation settlement of the Pettigrew family. It seems that the Pettigrew’s were pretty big-time in this area from the 1700’s to the late 1800’s. At one point in time, they owned about 150 slaves whose small quarters lined the carriage road that we were riding on. Kind of a weird concept to grasp. We continued down the carriage road to the Pettigrew family cemetery which was right on the edge of the forest and the plantation. Remember, we were completely by ourselves. Nobody else in sight. The burial “mound” was a square of earth that was built up above the surrounding area by about 3 feet. There was an old wrought iron gate that you had to go through to get into the cemetery. The gate had the eeriest sound you could possibly imagine as we opened it. As if we were opening the gates of Hell or something like that. We stood on the mound just staring at the 200+ year old gravestones and both of us had chills going up and down our spines.
Came back to the site and got everything set up. Ate sirloin steak burgers, drank a couple beers, ate some watermelon and blueberries, made a fire, swatted bugs and waited for the impending gloomy darkness. Boy did it get dark!! No moon, no lights anywhere. We were waiting for that “bearigator” to come chew us up. Interestingly, other than the stifling, omnipresent, sticky heat, it wasn’t as bad as Lake Lincoln in Mississippi. Dylan and I spent some time talking about what it’s going to be like when we get home. One thing we both agreed on is that we will forever be changed men. This trip has really put things in perspective and has shown us the privilege that we have to live the lifestyle we do in Southern California. It’s easy to take for granted your beautiful house, big screen TV’s, computers, cell phones and nice cars when everyone around you has the same thing. We have seen a broken America in our travels. Shuttered businesses, family homes for sale in the droves, people living their lives from day to day. The scenery is, of course, beautiful but to see fantastic old farmhouses falling down right next to a mobile home purchased to replace it is kind of disheartening. It’s cheaper to just plunk a mobile….uh, pre-manufactured home down on your family land than spend the money to fix up the 150+ year old home sitting right next to you. We’ve seen this all across America. EVERYONE lives in mobile homes and drives pickup trucks.
Today we’re off to either Virginia or the Outer Banks kinda depending on whether or not Sandra can pull things together and use her mileage to fly out and meet us in Washington DC for the upcoming weekend. Both Dylan and I are really hoping that she can make it work. We both miss her so much!