Monday, January 11, 2010

Elizabeth City, NC

Bills itself as the “Harbor of Hospitality” for the cruising community and we were happy to learn that it lived up to this reputation. There were the obvious amenities that we have learned to look for that govern our comfort in ways we took for granted when we lived on land – a laundromat within walking distance, and a good supermarket that picked us up at the marina and brought us back with our purchases. Delightfully unexpected was 48 hours free dockage in slips downtown (I can’t imagine that in Ego Alley in Annapolis!) and a wine-and-cheese party and orientation to the area lecture, put on by the city for the visiting boats. Speakers told us about the attractions of the town – where to listen to live music, visit the new museum, or walk the historic downtown – as well as some local history and boating tips. My favorite story involved the building of ships of local cypress trees in the 1700s and 1800s, which were sailed across to Europe and then broken up, because the wood was worth more than the vessel. As Dave, the speaker, rhetorically asked, “How would you like to set sail on a vessel that was built for a one-way voyage?”
The town was just full of friendly small-town charm. The Saturday morning farmers’ market had fresh broccoli and green beans (and okra, which we’ve never learned to like), and handicrafts. Xmas wreaths made of cotton plants were new to us, and proved we were in the South, as did a statue honoring the rebel soldiers in the Civil War that we discovered on our walk. Bringing a smile to this newly-retired Federal employee was this local artist, Jackie Muller, who made purses, quilts, and other items out of repurposed neckties. We visited the museum we’d been told about at the wine-and-cheese party, and a gift shop located in a historic drug store. Candles and mugs were in the apothecary drawers that still had labels for opium and laudanum. The live music was performed by the local chiropractor and high-school principal, who named their band “Pair-a-docs.”
In the end we stayed 3 days until a brisk north wind sent us sailing southward again. This was one spot we hope to visit again in the spring on our return trip.

(photos: "Dave" telling stories at the wine-and-cheese party; Jackie showing off a new life for old business clothes; the gift shop in the historic drug store; wreaths made of cotton balls)
(originally published 31 October 2009)

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