Sunday, September 18, 2011

Exploring North Carolina: Coloring Outside the Lines at Brunswick Nature...

I've always been drawn to adventure and, as a writer, I'm fortunate enough to be able to get paid (a little) to do what I love. My monthly Adventure Blog for Bald Head Island really allow me to get out, do something amazing and write about it. Other assignments for North Brunswick Magazine have sent me on a half-day kayak with an upstart outfitter in the area or down to Silver Coast Winery to enjoy wine and dessert pairings. I get to meet amazing people, like Ashley Chapman, a world-record holding freediver - she dove to 190 feet on a single breath this summer - who had me doing breathing exercises on her couch while she and her husband coached me to hold my breath for two minutes (I didn't make it, but I got closer than I thought I would), or Hank Brown, a Colonial-America Reenactor I met on assignment for Our State Magazine.

As time has gone on, I've come to love writing travel pieces about things to do, places to eat and drink, and the right people to talk to once you're there. Over the last couple of months Lauren and I have been talking about ways to get in front of bigger clients, maybe even write for the North Carolina Visitors Guide.

Then I was invited to a meeting of the Wilmington Area Hospitality Association where Margo, the Public Relations Manager at the NC Division of Tourism, spoke and let us know about their plan to hire Adventure Experts to film videos and help pitch activities in the state.

I jumped at the chance and filled out the forms and made a video to show the Division and their people how I was on camera. Lauren and I grabbed the camera, grabbed a kayak and headed to Brunswick Nature Park to start shooting. We came up with the video below.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Turtles So Small They'll Bring a Tear

Green turtle hatchlings.
A few years ago I witnessed a loggerhead sea turtle lay her clutch of eggs in the dunes on East Beach on Bald Head Island. It was one of those experiences that makes the world stop turning and lets you live in a moment for as long as you need. Try as I may, over the ensuing years I've been to a half dozen nests close to hatching and I have yet to see a clutch of eggs boil out of the sand and make their way to the ocean. A few weeks ago I got to experience the next best thing when the Bald Head Island Conservancy released about 80 loggerhead and green sea turtles from nests that had been excavated before Hurricane Irene brushed past us. The Conservancy announced it and 100 visitors, residents and even the police came out to watch the turtles' release into the sea. Head over to Bald Head Island's blog, The Island Times to read it for yourself.

Loggerhead sea turtles.

Two coolers full of turtles.

Yes, I Felt a Little Like I was in SAMCRO

We watch a lot of Sons of Anarchy at my house and I'll admit it, I kind of wish I could get patched in to the  Sons. Yeah, I'd get the tat, but only if I got to bring Lauren along as my Old Lady, which, since Jax Teller is in the Sons, she'd never turn down. Recently I went to Bald Head Island and rode an electric bicycle. A far cry from a gigantic Harley, but fun none the less.

I popped a wheelie and felt like an outlaw biker.
I mean, look at that killer orange electric bike. It has a basket, a throttle, a battery and an adjustable seat. And my helmet looks pretty tough. It's easy to see why I felt like I was in the Sons of Anarchy, right?


Fine, take a look at me on my bike and Jax Teller on his and see if you can tell the difference.

If you're not convinced, take a peek at the blog post I wrote for Bald Head Island's blog, The Island Times. Get the whole scoop on the electric bikes and me, a member of SAMCRO in training, here.

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts

Some of my favorite adventures on Bald Head Island have been with Riverside Adventure Company and they've just expanded their lineup with two great things - a ghost walk and electric bikes. I'll tell you about the electric bikes in another post, this one is for the ghost walk.

Starting in the harbour, the pirate Colonel Dread spun tales of Bald Head Island's otherworldly past, leading us through the maritime forest to the foot of Old Baldy and meeting up with Darcy Ladare, who picked up the tale and, mixed with a little song, led us out to the beach and ended the walk on the beach. I'd tell you more about it, but I already did on Bald Head Island's blog The Island Times. Read the whole story here.

Like Ozzy Osbourne, but Bald Headier

In May I went to Bald Head Island for a Howl at the Moon Party. It made me feel like Ozzy Osbourne, but if Ozzy Osbourne went to a really nice party on the beach and had some awesome soup.

So, this Howl at the Moon Party is a monthly gathering thrown by the Popes, the new owners of The Maritime Market, to celebrate the full moon. They bring some soup, stew, chowder or gumbo and invite everyone on the island to come out, bring their beverage of choice and a side and hang out on the beach for a couple of hours.

I wrote about it for Bald Head Island's blog, The Island Times. Check it out here.

Stars, Stars Everywhere

I know, I know, I've been kind of lax on the blog posts. It's not that I don't write them, it's that I get too busy to post them. But that has to stop. Now.

So, here's a post I wrote in May (MAY?) about going stargazing on Bald Head Island. You should read and enjoy. Check it out at The Island Times.

Monday, July 18, 2011

PPD Explores Sale and I Broke the Story (kind of)

One of Wilmington's largest employers, Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD), has confirmed that they are exploring sale options. Since I write for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal I got to be part of the team that broke the story. Read the link below.

PPD explores sale

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Southport Garden Club - Downtown Southport, Inc. Garden Tour 2011

This year the Southport Garden Club and Downtown Southport, Inc., teamed up to do their first-ever garden tour. My mother-in-law, Kathy, or KD, was chair of the committee and her house was also on the tour. She and my father-in-law, BobD, spent countless hours planting, watering, pruning and babying their plants to get ready, and it showed.

All the hosts were given garden stones that said "Southport Garden Tour 2011" as a token of appreciation.

Here are a few pictures from the tour. I hope you enjoy.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Kayaking the Day Away

I spent part of my day on Masonboro Island. Aaah the life of a freelancer.
My friend Rory and his wife Jess just moved into a new house with access to Hewlett's Creek here in Wilmington. Rory has been kayaking his heart out and I've joined him a couple of times and plan to go even more this summer. Here are some pictures from two of our kayaking trips.

On the water.

Oh yeah, I took these while the rest of you suckers were at work.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Grilled Chicken Wings with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

 I love chicken wings. When I was at Marshall University doing my undergraduate work, we went to BW3 every Tuesday for quarter wing night. Over the last couple of years I've been refining a barbecue sauce recipe my mom gave me and now I won't go anywhere near BW3, my sauce is too good and I like my wings better. So today I offer you a great, simple wing recipe using two secret ingredients: my homemade barbecue sauce and smoked paprika.

The secret weapons.

I start with several packs of chicken wing drumettes. Those are the little mini-drumsticks at the base of the wing. We've used packs of whole wings and separated the wing and drumette, we've used packs of wings only, but we keep coming back to the mini drumettes.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Another Day Another Adventure

I saw this Black-Crowned Night Heron
on my most recent adventure.

I love my job. I get to meet interesting people, do interesting things and get behind-the-scenes looks into fascinating worlds (if you've never been in a busy kitchen at a great restaurant in the middle of service, you're missing out) and write about it.

One of the best things I do is write my monthly Adventure Blog for Bald Head Island Limited. Every month I head over to Bald Head Island and do something. Sometimes I get wet or sandy or muddy, occasionally I'll get mosquito bites or sunburn, but I always come away with a story.

In visiting the island so much I've built up a great relationship with the folks at the Bald Head Island Conservancy, a non-profit group dedicated to education, preservation and environmental stewardship of Bald Head Island. Recently I went with Andy from the Conservancy on a Wildlife Tour of Bald Head Island. As usual, I met some interesting folks, saw some beautiful things and had a great time. And then I got to write about it.

You can read my most recent addition to the Adventure Series for The Island Times, Bald Head Island's blog, here. I hope you enjoy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Restaurant Week = Awesome

It's time for Encore Magazine's Spring Restaurant Week and we couldn't be happier. We tried Press 102, a new restaurant in downtown Wilmington, that we loved before and had to come back to.

Press 102's breakfast, lunch and dinner menus show some depth, but the time we went we ordered off the panini menu rather than the regular dinner menu. That time I had a Chicken and Waffle Panini. Fried chicken and fontina cheese between two Belgian-style waffles, served with stone-ground mustard and espresso-infused maple syrup. It was phenomenal, although with all the sugar and espresso, probably not the best thing to eat at 8:00 p.m.

On this trip to Press 102 we ordered off their restaurant week menu. They had a prix fixe (fixed price), three-course offering that really showed the versatility of the folks in the kitchen. For $21 you had your choice of starter, main and dessert.

The house-made potato chips with blue cheese dip, one of the starters. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Silence and Sounds of Bald Head Island

Bald Head Island - a great place to find silent moments.

Want to know what's weird? I have a blog post up on The Island Times, Bald Head Island Limited's blog, about silence. It has some recordings you should listen to. Recordings of silence.

I know what you're thinking - Recordings of silence? Impossible? But no, not impossible. Just like Bob Weir recording "heavy air" and "light air" to use on the Anthem of the Sun album, I have some recordings of silence on Bald Head Island.

Before you go read the post and listen to the sounds of silence (sorry S&G-funkle), read my story, Silence, in this year's haven magazine. The link is here. Once you've read the story and have an idea of what I mean by silence, visit The Island Times, read the post and listen for yourself. Then go out and find some silence of your own.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Colonial History Tour de Force

In February, March and April, I have three stories coming out in two different magazines, all with ties to Colonial North Carolina. The current issue of Wrightsville Beach Magazine has the first installment and next month will have the second half of that story. Then, Our State Magazine will feature a story I wrote about the importance of taverns in Colonial America.

For Wrightsville Beach Magazine I went to Brunswick Town, one of the first long-term settlements in the colony of North Carolina. Brunswick Town was an important shipping center and was the site of the first Stamp Act Rebellion, a (mostly) nonviolent (well, no one was killed but there was an angry mob and a small siege on the Colonial Governor's house) protest against the Stamp Act, a tax on all paper goods in the colonies. The town played an important part in the Revolution in North Carolina and later played a significant role in the Civil War and an even bigger part in the events just after the war. Well, If I tell you any more you won't need to read the article. So, if you like history, or even if you don't, you can read my story in Wrightsville Beach Magazine here.


Friday, February 18, 2011

My February Yard

It is February and I just found this in my yard.


Two Stories in haven Magazine

As you may know, I'm the Adventure Blogger for Bald Head Island Limited's blog, The Island Times. What you may not know is that I also write for their magazine, haven.

Take a peek at haven, Bald Head Island's lifestyle magazine and visitor's guide. I have two stories in there.

haven comes out once a year and includes stories of the people, places and things that make Bald Head Island a great place to visit; it also includes rental and event information to help you plan a visit. You can visit Bald Head Island Limited's site here and order a hard copy, or save some trees and read my stories on the online version of haven.

Flip through the magazine, but be sure to stop at pages 26 and 116 for my stories. On page 26 you'll find a piece about standup paddleboarding, a new sport taking the world by storm. This was photographed by the awesome team at Millie Holloman Photography (there's also a story about Millie and her family in this issue, written by my lovely wife) and the shots look great. In The Last Word, on page 116, I explore what it means to be silent and find silence on Bald Head Island. The story was inspired by Gordon Hempton's book One Square Inch of Silence. You may find my take on that interesting.

Happy reading, and be sure to come back and look for more of my adventures on Bald Head Island throughout the year.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Life at Teakettle Junction World Headquarters or Working From Home and Owning A Cat

[caption id="attachment_563" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Ernie Brown, Spokescat for Teakettle Junction Productions."][/caption]

Lauren and I have a cat, Ernestine Brown The Chocolate Kitty. She's a good cat - little, playful, likes to sit on my lap. If you'd like to see what my typical workday is like, check out The Oatmeal's recent comic, Cat vs Internet.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A New Year, A New Adventure

[caption id="attachment_555" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="An anhinga (the snakebird) I saw while on Bald Head Island helping with the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count."][/caption]

On January 2, I went over to Bald Head Island to help with the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. I know what you're thinking, The Christmas Bird Count? But it's January. But that was the best time for bird counters on the Cape Fear Coast to get together.

I'm not an experienced birder, so I found myself attached to a friendly group who was happy to have a novice along. They even lent me some binoculars. The day was foggy and it was cold and you can read about it on The Island Times, the blog of Bald Head Island Limited.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wilmington - Winter Wonderland or Snowy Mess?

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="227" caption="Snowy palm tree in my neighborhood."]image[/caption]

I miss snow. Living at the beach, we don't see it much and it's an even when we do, everyone down here in Wilmington panics and they forget how to drive and they buy all the bread, milk and toilet paper at Harris Teeter. The road crews down here are always caught off guard by snow, they don't really have much equipment or many supplies (or really much experience) dealing with it, so an inch of snow will shut down the county for a day. Usually the threat of an inch of snow is enough to have the school board declare a snow day.

Yesterday, Sunday, was one such day. At 3 p.m. a note appeared at the top of the screen. "School Canceled - New Hanover County." I laughed. Lauren laughed. The forecast was for snow and a "wintery mix" and every time the weather man has made this same forecast, the school board closes school and the public panics.

This morning it was cold, but clear. About a half hour after I got up I noticed the first snowflakes. A few minutes later I looked again - the car had some snow on the top. Over the next two hours it snowed about three inches. Now there's a nice layer of sloppy, sleety, icy crap under three inches of beautiful snow. Since I work from home and Lauren was too, we took a quick walk around the block. Here are some photos.


[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="390" caption="Lauren in the snow."]image[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_547" align="alignnone" width="390" caption="Our house in the snow."][/caption]


[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="293" caption="Lauren and I, self portrait with Android phone."]image[/caption]