My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, November 22, 2015

First Paddle in North Carolina; First New Friend

November 15, 2015

I was so excited about this experience,  I couldn't cull my pictures enough.  Get your coffee first. 

Besides getting to reconnect with many of my old friends, I got to turn a virtual friend into a real friend. I have been running into him in cyberspace for several years, since we both write blogs and both post our pictures on Flickr. He blogs about gardening and paddling and some of the stories of his paddles make me drool. I think he commented that we would have to meet while I was living close to him and I commented that I would love to do the paddle he blogged about.  He claims his job is Tree Hugging, Dirt Worshipping, and Second Guessing, so I knew he would be a kindred spirit. And he really works at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

We agreed to meet at Merchants Millpond State Park, just south of the Virginia state line in northeast North Carolina.  I reserved a campsite for two days and drove up there from my stop to visit Laurel in South Carolina, getting there in time to enjoy the beautiful visitor center, and have some hammock time.

My camp

The next morning I got up and went to get a cup of coffee, then came back to start photographing.  I found I couldn't get into the parking lot, from where I had planned to do a little hiking, but there was lots of beauty to be found along the road. A few minutes later, a truck slowed down and the driver asked, Marilyn? I responded, Les?  Within a few minutes, he had parked his truck, grabbed his camera, and we were catching up, like old friends, while enjoying the marvelous light.

I came back from getting coffee down this road and saw this wonderful light..  The lake is visible across the road.

Sun's up

This road view made me anxious to get on the water

I couldn't stop photographing this scene

The dam

Just another dam picture

My favorite dam picture- it's almost an abstract

Putting In

Les looking almost as good as his reflection

This was the only heron we saw

Red maples added fall color
We saw very few birds. But there were some wood ducks screeching and lots of Canada geese calling.  They were all at the very back, where we couldn't paddle for the mix of duckweed, leaves, and parrot feather.

A mockingbird guarding his berries

I loved the Christmas look of the silvery Spanish moss and the red maple leaves

One of the canoe camps

Another doubly beautiful view

I loved the light coming through the Spanish moss

This tree looked like it had  had a hard life

Shelf fungi

I could look at the reflections on this dark tannic water forever

This scene was even more beautiful until a rogue breeze messed up the reflection

This man came in and out with us

We visited with him as we came off the pond and admired his spotted perch.
He cleans them and gives them to his old neighbors. 

Just another day in (a new) paradise.  Thanks Les for the wonderful trip.  And the first day at work, the volunteer who was SUPPOSED to train me was an avid paddler,  and taught me a lot more about where to go paddling then about how to run the Visitor Center.  Fortunately, the National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center is only three years old and had the latest software to run the cash register.  So it's pretty blonde friendly.

I told him about this paddle and he said I might have been able to cross the street and put on on Bennett's Creek but recently there hasn't been enough water. Click here to find a description of the first leg of that stream.  And the park has built a big, interpretative visitor's center about a quarter of a mile north.  That is now the place you rent canoes. But you would still put in across from the little dam.  This area is probably the northernmost place to find the American alligator.  We did not see the resident gator on our paddle.