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Monday, June 19, 2006

Road-trip: Wilmington, NC

My first stop was in Wilmington, NC to visit my friend Jellybean (her nickname - I let my friends decide who they wanted to be on this blog). The Wilmington area is great, with nearby beaches, a river walk with restaurants and shops, and a lively arts scene. We had a great week just catching up. Since I only spend a couple of months in the US a year, if that, we've a lot to cover.

We ate on piers jutting out over the water, scarfed down that wonderful North Carolina barbeque, wandered the river walk, and wandered in and out of shops. The fourth Friday of every month, the downtown art galleries have open houses. The event is called, surprise, Fourth Friday. We went to see the work of one of Jellybean's friends, and wandered around the other galleries, munching on appetizers and drinking wine.

The next day we were back for an art fair. Jellybean found some pottery serving dishes, and I browsed the photographers' booths. One guy had pictures from Peru. I recognised one of his street scenes, much better than anything I took. I asked around about what sells, and found that notecards sell well. This information surprised me. Hasn't the internet done away with hand-written correspondence?

Jellybean is a birder and a photographer, and one day we drove out to the end of Wrightsville Beach in search of something called a black skimmer. On the way back Jellybean caught sight of a swan. "That's not a mute swan!" We stopped for a better look, then decided we wanted to get closer. So we approached two women standing on the dock behind their house and asked to take pictures.

We were introduced to Martha. She had a feeding station, and came when called or when a conch shell was blown.

Jellybean thought she had it identified, but we learned it was a whooper swan, common in England, but in the US found only in Alaska. Martha had probably escaped from a private collection. These swans don't do well in heat, and the two women joked about building it an air-conditioned pen. I'm sure Jellybean will be checking back to see how Martha does as the summer progresses.

Advice to myself: Do some sightseeing the next time. Visit the US North Carolina. Tour a couple of old houses.

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