Category: North Carolina

Historic Yates Mill

Historic Yates Mill County Park

Yates Mill is a fully restored, circa-1756 gristmill located in Raleigh, North Carolina. As the centerpiece of the Historic Yates Mill County Park in central Wake County, this is worth a visit to this National Register of Historic Places. Yates Mill is the only restored, operational automatic gristmill in North Carolina and one of just a few in the country.


Historic Yates Mills, circa 1756

The Yates Mill Associates offer tours of the gristmill and demonstration of the workings of the operating of the mills. The docents will point other items of historic interest and detail how the mill was brought back over the years through changing of ownership, remaining vacant, and restoration from natural disasters.  The tours are definitely worth your time if you are interested in this part of the history of the south.  Learn more about tours options and times by visiting the Yates Mill Associates


Turning on the Wheel of the Mill


Inside the Mill


Grinding Stones


Views of Yates Mill Pond

The park encompasses some 574-acres and is a wildlife refuge.  You can walk trails, watch migrating waterfowl, and other wildlife on the 20-acre pond, fish from designated areas, and enjoy a peaceful visit with nature. There is a visitor center and a small museum focused on milling. The park visit is free and often open seven days a week, except for major holidays until sunset. The mill tours have small fee associated with exploring the gristmill.



Small Cabin at Yates Mill


Front of Yates Mill

Directions to the Historic Yates Mill

Located about 5 miles from downtown Raleigh, the mills can be easily found  via Google Maps 

The address of the mill is: 4620 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh, NC 27603

Hope you enjoy your trip here and thank you for reading.


Animals Across the Globe

Earth day is fast approaching and during each trip we see many animals. The little critters we come across can be someone’s pet, a poor stray one, or an exotic creature that requires a second or third glance. The first photo is one of my favorites from our trip to Costa Rica. The bulging eyes just make me laugh. We came across this little guy during a raining and humid walk through a Costa Rican Rain Forest. Dividing the photos into countries and regions is challenges and of course, this is just a sample of what I have seen through my travels from North America, Central America, and South America; and the African continent. I hope you enjoy.

Central America & South America

The Red-Eyed Tree Frog

The Poison Dart Frog

Costa Rica has 8 known species of poison dart frogs or poison arrow frogs. We heard this misconception during our tour that if touch these frogs you will be poisoned and die. This little amphibians of Costa Rica do not carry enough toxin that is strong (poisonous enough) to penetrate unbroken skin. I do caution not risking picking them up if you think any tiny cuts. In addition, these frogs are small, fragile species. They are best left unhandled and viewed from a distance.

Hummingbird of Costa Rica

A Keel Billed Toucan

Iguana on A Bridge

Ecuador is a small South American country that is offers a paradise feel nearly the very near paradise feel and an amazingly relaxed culture expressed by the people. You can visit many historic churches, buildings, and heritage sites and cities. The animals I saw during my first trip here varied and this included bats, snakes, reptiles, and birds. I missed visiting the Galapagos Islands. This is not to be of a too much a concern as it offers me an excuse to return and see other parts of Quito and the country during my next visit.

A Bat in Ecuador or Perhaps Two (Hard to Tell)

Watch Out for the This Little Guy…

Llama in the Field in Ecuador


Enjoying the Sun- A Lioness in Tanzania

Perhaps one of my favorite places to visit is Africa and this wonderful continent is on my backlist for a the next international trip soon. I just need to find the time and plan this next adventure. Love seeing the animals in their nature environments. Zoos are wonderful and offer the opportunity for those who may never be able to see the animals, but there is nothing like seeing the pride of lions, wildebeest, or a baby elephant with its mother at a watering hole. Go and explore this planet. 

Stork in Africa

Giraffes -Traffic Jam Not Often Seen

North America– The House-pet Review 

Enjoying the Morning in South Carolina

Little One Seems Sad

A Couple of Wild Critters in North America on Land and Sea

Humpback Whales

A Rabbit Enjoying an AM Snake

Kure Beach Pier—Don’t feed the birds!

I just realized that this could go on and on as I keep finding photos of animals. Seeing animal friends in photos gives me a different perspective of my travels. Until the next adventure and please do share your thoughts…. 

A final photo from India here. 

A Goat to the Slaughter

Festival Season in the South


Pink Camellia in Near Full Bloom

Spring has sprung and festivals planning is in full swing here in Coastal North Carolina. The largest and one my favorite festivals that is fast approaching this season of festivals is the NC Azalea Festival happening here in Wilmington, NC.  This years festival occurs the first weekend of April; April 3 through 7. Book your stay now.

2019 Azalea Festival Promo Video 

Expect a lively festival with a parade, street fair, fireworks over the Cape Fear,  concerts,  and so much more.. This festival offers the opportunity to get out and enjoy one of most beautiful of the four seasons here in Coastal NC. Come out and shake of some of your winter blues and warm up during this lively festival.

Azalea’s in Bloom
Azalea’s in Bloom

Celebrate our Flying Friends

Happy National Bird Day!

January 5th marks the Avian Welfare Coalition’s campaign to celebrate  the flying creatures that share the world with us. I am adding some images of the birds seen throughout my travels to mark today’s celebration of birds in the wild.


Crimson-collared Tanager in Costa Rica


Black Guan in Costa Rica


Swans on The Rhine River, Germany


Kure Beach, North Carolina’s Pier—Don’t feed the birds!


A Gaggle of Ostrich on the Serengeti, South Africa


Fruit Bat in Ecuador

Hope you enjoyed….


Season Greetings from Biltmore

The Biltmore Estate 

This 8,000 acre estate officially opened in 1895. A vision of George Vanderbilt, he took his inheritance from his father’s railroad and steamboat monopoly and invested in 125,000 acres of land in Asheville, NC.  The Vanderbilts enjoyed this view designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead from one of their balconies. You can learn more about the history of Biltmore here

This 250 rooms and 43 bathrooms estate, is a must see during your visit to Asheville, North Carolina.

During a day here, we took advantage of two tours: 1)  the very busy self-guided audio tour and  ‘upstairs and downstairs’ guided tour of the beyond the scenes. Both are well worth it.  Learn more about tour options for the Biltmore Estate 


Biltmore Estate 2018

Winter Garden-A Delight 

After completing the required security screening and checks of one’s tickets, you enter the main house through the two massive doors that are said to weigh some 800 lbs each.  Then, one is greeted by the winter garden with its wonderful statue of  Karl Bitter’s ‘Boy Stealing the Geese.” The garden is all decorated for the Christmas season very tastefully.


The Winter Garden- Boy Stealing Geese


Banquet Hall 

My favorite room of the house is the Banquet Hall which features a seven-story-high ceiling.  During the Christmas holiday, you will find a gorgeous decorated tree that a wonder to behold.  Also, the triple fireplace is quite interesting.


The Banquet Hall


Tapestries and Fireplaces

As you continue your journey through the estate, one will note the many historic and often ‘one of kind’ tapestries hanging in rooms. In addition, many rooms have themed fireplaces.




The Library

As you continue to work through the estate, each room as its own theme.  The library is no different. The ceiling in the image below is amazing and reminds me of something from a scene in Italy.  Above the fireplace, the tapestry adds to the atmosphere of this relaxing room. This room is a reflection of George Vanderbilt’s love for books.  There are thousands of books to choose from here.



The Library– Behind the Mantel is a Hidden Door.

Sitting Area


Recreation Time


Walkway in Basement- 29 ft below ground.

Taking the main stairs to the basement leads you to a long corridor with granite on each side. The self-guide audio tour states that we are now 29 ft below ground. The sad undecorated pine tree at the end stands out a little.

In the lower level of the estate, you are guided to something that most homes will only dream to include as part of the footprint. First, there is a bowling alley and next, a 70,000 gallon heated indoor pool.  Mr. Vanderbilt also made sure to have plenty of private changing rooms for his guests.


Bowling Ally


The Swimming Pool



More to come….

Every room is full of detail from floor to ceiling.  There are hidden doors to avoid disruption in the decor.  The photos below show a restored mantel, a seating area, and a portrait of Fredrick Law Olmstead in the Third Floor Living Hall.  Finally, a photo of the impressive 50 feet tall, iron chandelier weighing at some 1,700 pounds hangs from four stories in the main staircase.


Stay Options

Oakland Cottage Bed and Breakfast

The Residences at Biltmore – Asheville

The Inn On Biltmore Estate

The Reynolds Mansion

Things to Do

Tour the Biltmore Estate 

Explore Downtown Asheville




Covered Bridges in NC


Bunker Hill Covered Bridge (circa 1895)

Traveling through the backroads of North Carolina with its cotton, corn, and soy yields can take one back in time. I came across one of the last two covered bridges still standing in North Carolina known as Bunker Hill Covered Bridge. The name intrigued me from my time living in Boston, but this bridge is named for a local farmer in the area and dates back to 1895.

The bridge is free to visit and worth the short detour off Rt. 321 or I-40, which was about 15-20 minutes. This covered bridge is part of the Historical Association of Catawba County’s preservation efforts and other sites include:

Bunker Hill Covered Bridge
Catawba County History Museum
Harper House/Hickory History Center
Murray’s Mill Historic District

All are within a short 10-20 minute detour from I-40.


Please check out my previous post Covered Bridges in Georgia for more details about the history of covered bridges in the souther states.

As it was a Sunday, during the drive a couple of the historic sites were not open including Harper House and Catawba County Museum.  The Murray’s Mills Historic District was open and includes the Mill, an early 20th century home, and an old General Store.

Murray’s Mill


Murray’s Mills (circa 1883)

According to the docent, this mill built by John Murray is still in the family and is operational today. The original dam was wooden, but was replaced in 1938 with what is seen in the image above. The dam was also raised six feet and the general store was move across the street to its present location.


Murray & Minges General Merchandise


View from the Top of Dam–Murray’s Mill

Overall, a relaxing walk through this mill and yards. If you are in the area, consider exploring this history of the south. Consider going during the week, Tuesday through Saturday for a better chance of seeing all of the sites.



Wilmington, North Carolina after Flo…

It has been a few days since posting to the blog for good reason. We had to prepare for the pending arrival of Hurricane Florence and then, the aftermath of this Category 1 hurricane once it made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, NC. We moved to working off the grid via our whole house generator (highly recommended) after most of the city of Wilmington and surrounding areas lost electricity.  In addition, cellular communications  and internet service has been spotty.  Things are slowly getting back to ‘normal.’  So, this is not necessary a travel post, but more an update to the blog.


Footprints In the Sand at Wrightsville Beach

Flock of Birds

Herons and Herons and other birds…

For the bird watcher and lover, North Carolina offers a wealth of opportunity to see a variety of birds. Prior to a storm such as an hurricane, one can sometimes see flocks of birds such as the above image of several dozen herons and other species of birds grabbing a bite to eat before heading north away from the track of hurricane.  Check out the Carolina Bird Club  for more information about birds in NC. You can click county by county

Some images of the post destructive force of a hurricane as we decided to remain in our home through another tropical event. This did lead to us canceling our planned trip to Romania. Alias, we will have to rebook this trip for a later time. It is good thing we have travel insurance and I highly recommend it.


Live Oak in Backyard

The above picture is of  a 50+ year old live oak that stood tall and proud next to our fence in the backyard. The 105 mph winds of Hurricane Florence combined with its saturating rains led to its downfall across our fence (the wooden) and the neighbors newly installed metal dog-run fence. Lucky, it missed there home by just a few feet.


Rootball of Tree

An image of the fallen live oak, which depicts the size of the tree. The fence in the background is 8 feet high just to give you some perspective.


Downed Lines in Our Neighborhood.



Lines Hanging Everywhere


Bradley Creek Overflowing.

We are safe now with power restored to the home. We had no structural damage to our homes. Some neighbors did not fair so well.  Most services back up and running. Now, back to planning our next adventure. Thank you for reading and safe travels to all.

Please consider donating to Hurricane Florence relief efforts at the following sites:

The Salvation Army

The American Red Cross 

Feeding America 

For our fur babies


Happy Labor Day!

The unofficial end of summer is here. Wishes you a pleasant day with family and friends during this holiday.  Perhaps a day at the beach is part of your plans?

Footprints on Wrightsville Beach, NC

Wrightsville Beachjpeg

Kure Beach, NC

Kure Beach

Kure Beach

Today, could also be a perfect day for planning that next travel adventure.  Considering today marks unofficial end of summer season. Also, the holiday season is just around the corner and now, is the perfect time to start booking your international flights for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday according to SmarterTravel  . So, begin exploring that next trip.


Pelican On The Pier

Where will you see from me in the next few weeks?  Romania is on the list and probably another long weekend trip somewhere.

Enjoy the holiday…..

Is the Beach Calling?

Walking along the beach to enjoy the warm salty air, enjoying some fresh local seafood, or just relaxing on the sugary sandy beach here in Coastal NC. Are just some of the many activities here along the beaches near Wilmington, NC.

April is here and make for us to hit the beach before the crowds of summer begin. Check out this recent image of  Kure Beach, NC


A Quiet Sunday on Kure Beach, NC


Kure Beach Pier—Don’t feed the birds!

Love walking to the end of the Kure Beach Pier as you never know who you will run into along the way. Someone here is enjoying his morning ‘breakfast.’


Carolina Beach, NC–Footsteps in the Sand…

Carolina Beach is great option on your way to Kure Beach. Both are two of our favorite beaches to explore on Pleasure Island about 20 minutes drive (light traffic) from downtown Wilmington. Each small beach town begins to come alive in the spring and continues be lively through late fall with festivals. outdoor activities, and tourism. Plan your trip soon to these beach towns.  While visiting these areas, don’t forgot to drive to end of the island to explore Fort Fisher and the NC Aquarium.

Stay Options at Carolina Beach and Kure Beach

Explore Viator for tour options





Azaleas in Full Bloom

Spring has sprung and festivals are soon to be in full swing here in the Coastal NC. One of my favorite is the NC Azalea Festival happening here in Wilmington, NC.  “A scene to be seen”–love this theme for this year’s festival occurring from April 11-15. Book your hotel now.



Azalea’s in Bloom

Expect a lively festival with a parade, street fair, fireworks over the Cape Fear,  concerts,  and so much more… to ring in one most beautiful of the four seasons. Come out and shake of some of your winter blues and warm up during this lively festival.

azaleas 3

Azalea’s in Almost Full Bloom.