Wilmington, NC: family, work, and beer.

Our Charlotte plans to visit Key West friends Dennis and Ginger fell apart under the obstinate forces of multiple impending weddings (Ginger is a professional planner for such events,) so we extended our stay in Lake Powhatan by a day and then rushed our journey east a bit.  Such a route required, at least for our conservative daily road mileage preferences, a one day stop over.

Google maps offered two major routes from Asheville to Wilmington, but the southern option allowed us a stay at another low cost military RV site: Falcons Nest Family Campground on Shaw Air Force Base, outside Columbia, South Carolina.  This is a perfectly serviceable place offering electric and water connections (plus a dump station) in a reasonably sized site for only $20 a night.  While not exactly in a destination area, it was perfect for our needs, and allowed us to stamp our Air Force Base Family Camp passport book with our tenth stay, which, as part of the Air Force Frequent Camper Program, will grant us five free night certificates at future AFB’s. 

From there it was on to Wilmington, where I had procured five days of RV storage at a private lot, Jack’s Boat & RV & Storage, just outside town in Castle Hayne.  RVers choosing to stay with relatives who do not have sufficient driveway space face a real challenge in finding reasonably priced temporary storage for their rigs.  Most of the chain storage places want a minimum three month storage fee, and many of the military bases have waiting lists.  Just as in Venice, we were lucky to find this private storage lot; just one man trying to offer a flexible service on his fenced in acres.  Hard to beat $6 a day.

We dipped down into South Carolina on our route to Wilmington, which means we got to pass this questionable landmark as we turned back north along I-95.

Serenity properly stored, we loaded up Loki with supplies for five days, the cat, the cat’s various accouterments, and any food from the fridge that needed consuming, including the last of the Key West fish fillets I had caught and frozen.  For Mothers Day I prepped an excessive amount of it so that we might all enjoy fish tacos to go with our bubbly and still wine. 

In previous visits we kept PKM completely isolated from the labs.  This time we decided to make controlled introductions.  It went well: Rex could not care less and a supervised Ginny stayed under control.  The key?  PKM did not run, so where is the fun in chasing?

Having labored for several days helping Gloria with her new home, it seemed only fair to offer such services to my mom as well.  Any thought I had that she might poo poo such a gesture as unnecessary evaporated with the near immediate and lengthy list of things that needed done.  So Rose and I spent a couple of mornings and early afternoons assisting with invasive vine removal, spreading mulch, chopping down and cutting into pieces four trees, moving furniture, and cleaning out roof gutters. 

We did not have the ideal tools for the job, but a hatchet and my sawzall did the trick.

Mom and Tim have a running joke about the very many things there are to do in Wilmington, and that you just can’t possibly do them all in a short stay, which has a nice air of self aware irony when it comes to visiting grandchildren and other kids.  But for adults, it works on a different, more sincere level: there really are plenty of fun and interesting things to do regardless of your interest.  And they know their audience: gone are the proposed visits to, I dunno, symphonies, museums, and the like.  They accommodated our well established preferences with the the ocean, wine, and beer, starting with a late afternoon trip, picnic basket included, to Wrightsville Beach.  We always enjoy seeing different beaches in the many coastal states we visit, and this was yet another nice one.

Later in the stay we did a self guided tasting tour through three of Wilmington’s fourteen breweries.  We shared flights at Flytrap, Front Street, and Waterline Breweries.  Each has a very different vibe, we enjoyed them all, but particularly liked the offerings at Waterline and the knowledgeable server at Flytrap. 

Flytrap Brewery’s collection of mascots.

On our last evening the four of us headed to the Sweet n Savory Cafe for their weekly (every Wednesday evening) free wine tasting.  This is a bit nontraditional, in that it is intended to be part of a meal rather than a stand-at-the-bar tasting.   They offer half a dozen one ounce pours with some connecting theme, and the purchase of any bottle results in a free appetizer or dessert.  Assuming we would for sure buy a bottle, we went ahead and ordered their Stuffed Meatballs, while Mom & Tim selected the lightly fried Crispy Cauliflower, and even I had to agree that they made the right choice; it was awesome. 

When the manager explained that the wine tasting theme for the evening was German wines, I audibly groaned, assuming it would be a selection of sweet rieslings which I do not like at all.  He insisted we withhold judgement and give it a go, and damn if we didn’t so thoroughly enjoy one of the options, a Silvaner (another varietal I had never heard of, much less tasted) from Hans Wirsching in Bavaria.  What a pleasant and eye opening surprise!  We bought two bottles (at $20 each) which covered the appetizers, and look forward to not only enjoying them at a future special occasion, but also to finding more Silvaners.  If the appetizers are any indication, the food at Sweet n Savory is fantastic, and the bakery goods looked deliciously sinful as well.  We will definitely come back again, especially on a Wednesday evening.