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Merchants Millpond State Park

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Reed and I just returned this evening from a really delightful visit to a part of North Carolina that is new to us. We spent the weekend camping and canoeing (and a little hiking!) at Merchants Millpond State Park in the northeastern corner of the state.

There were all sorts of the usual goodies: campfires, rain on the tent roof (and not inside the tent), sitting around half the day reading outside in the shade, little birdies in the trees. There were the usual baddies: forgetting to bring enough non-meltable utensils and a wash basin for dishes, me thinking that it was 90 already 24/7 and not bringing anything that would keep me warm at night (leading to me having to use a bath towel as extra covers), leaving my cell phone outside in the rain all night.

Merchants Millpond is a 700+ acre pond that has existed in some form or other since 1811. It is a blackwater pond, full of bald cypress, tupelo gum, swamp rose, and spanish moss. The main activities at the park are canoeing the pond and hiking the tick-infested woods (you cannot turn around without seeing a sign about ticks and we saw plenty at our campsite). Ok, and fishing, but I’m not so much a great fan of fishing. There were birds everywhere, too. A fun wildlife park.

This is me on the bridge overlooking the millpond dam. If you look at the right side of the picture you can see the fish ladder for the river herring.

me on bridge.JPG

Reed and I went canoeing on our own on Saturday afternoon. We were so glad that we went out then, because we got used to paddling, since my canoe paddling experience consists of about 5 minutes worth of paddling from 4-H summer camp and watching Martha discuss paddling techniques on one of her programs. Reed had more experience, but not tons. Plus, I am just a wee bit terrified of water activities. It’s strange because I can swim perfectly fine and I’m not afraid of swimming at all. I just don’t like the idea of being dumped out of a boat into water. So on Saturday, we learned to paddle in a somewhat straight line and not run into things and I got to be terrified about tipping over and being eaten by an alligator.

me in canoe.JPG

It made today’s paddling trip so much more fun! We were easily able to keep up with the group, and I wasn’t afraid of being dumped in the water at all. The ranger led us to the back of the pond, told us more about the plants, and looked for the alligators in their usual locations. We didn’t see any alligators or snakes on our trip, but we saw a Great Blue Heron and a Prothonotary Warbler and learned a lot about the park. We paddled for a little over 2 hours, which is more than I have ever done before. Reed and I are almost hooked on the idea of kayaks, but I think it might take another fun excursion or so.

We have to come back to the park so we can paddle out to Lassiter Swamp and see the enchanted forest and look for snakes. Also(!) the ranger said that sometimes owls fly around in there during the daytime because it can be so dark! Isn’t that fabulous!

I saw several new birds for my Life List while we were there, and you can see which ones if you click the link. I mentioned the Prothonotary Warbler above, which is beautiful, and that is the bird that I helped build the birdhouses for in March.

The other really neat thing that we saw was at our campsite at night. We were sitting around the fire, and I had closed my eyes for a bit when Reed said “Whoa.” He had seen something fly right above the fire. Was it a bat? He didn’t know–it didn’t seem to have wings. It looked like a fuzzy gray square. Weird. I couldn’t think of anything that looked like that, but a few minutes later I saw one “fly” through the air! A little gray furry square arcing down towards the ground. We saw one the second night, also. Reed thinks, and I agree, that it is some kind of flying squirrel. Isn’t that the neatest thing! It made tiny, high-pitched squeaks–and I could hear it during the night while I was trying to think warm thoughts. (We also saw a possum and some bunnies tromping through the woods, which was fun, too.)

My only real complaint besides bugs (which you can’t complain about, and they really weren’t very bad right now) was that Reed has a really nice sleeping pad. It’s at least twice as thick as mine is, and ultra comfy! I know, mine was perfect for the bike camping trip, where weight was important–and it is better than sleeping on the ground by itself. But still! I’m getting me one of those cushy ones.

Overall, it was a great trip. The park is split up around the edge of the millpond, so we drove more than I thought we would. The area is perfect for biking, and several other campers had bikes. It would be great to have your bike with you, so you could bike to the canoe rental area. The landscape is very flat, and it is only five miles to Sunbury, which has a coffee shop, restaurant, and a tiny grocery store. It is only a few miles in the other direction to the community center where there is a playground and ball fields. I could be happy there for a week, exploring and seeing what is what. If you were there that long, it would be nice to take a day trip out to Elizabeth City or even to Newport News, VA.

Adventure 51


Well, the Real Lawyer job has come to an end, which is sad. I think it is for the best, though, and I will have the opportunity to do new things and learn more about other parts of the law. And have some adventures–30X30 isn’t doing itself!

Anywho! Actually, I can mark one adventure off my list! Adventure # 51 has commenced! I have volunteered to help with the Family Literacy Workshops with the Literacy Council of Wake County. (And it might help me with Adventure #58, since English is a second language for most of the families.) Last night, I mostly helped with homework and entertaining a few children–there are all ages, so it was a little overwhelming. And, because I can’t just dip my toe into anything, I also volunteered to write any newsletter articles or reports they might need help with. (I know! But I’m not good at one thing at a time.) That leaves, hmm, 22 adventures left and just over 17 months left to go! Eek!

My fitness challenge should help a little or at least prepare me for some adventures. I’ve sat around like a giant slug for too long, drinking too much soda, and not eating enough veggies. I’ve decided to go to the Y every day during my job search, and I’ve started a new fitday account to track my food and exercise. Here is its link, if you are so inclined. For food, I’m looking for an average of 100% of the RDA’s per week, 20 g of fiber a day, 2,300 mg or less of sodium, 50 g. of protein or more, and keeping fat at less than 30%. When I’m paying attention, this works out pretty well for me.

I need some exercise goals, too. Think me up some, dear readers! (More homework for you!) I’m going in for a fitness orientation tomorrow, so maybe I will get some good ideas from them, too.

I’ll let you know how my adventures go. I may have some pretty food pictures up later today!



Today I wore my new turquoise flats to church and I think it made all the difference in my perspective of the world. Reed thinks they are funny shoes, and I guess that they are. They are bright and shiny turquoise fake-python flats, and I wore them with the black and white dress I wore to law school graduation last year.

It has been a very nice day so far. I ran off to Sunday school and church in the aforementioned getup, where I had a good time by chatting all I wanted (when appropriate) to people who obliged me by laughing at my silly stories. There are not enough people to laugh with me up here, and it is a little depressing. Plus, I don’t have many people to chat with about how silly I am when I aggravate Reed–and he doesn’t seem to find those stories all that amusing. (We went to see Iron Man last night, which was good, and I adore the Iron Man song because you can sing absolutely anything to the “tune”. In fact, you can have entire conversations to the music in Iron Man and I proved it last night. It was probably more fun for me than for Reed.)

Afterwards, I went by the bookstore to see if they had the book Marla recommended in one of her comments. They did, and I snapped it up off the shelf and have been making plans. Also, I noticed that they have really great frog wrapping paper for in-house wrapping.

Then, since I was right there at Whole Foods, I popped in to see if I could scrounge up some lunch and bought random foods that don’t really go together except that I like the idea of them. So, cornichons, olives, a little bit of Chapel Hill Creamery’s New Moon cheese, some bread, lettuce, shrimp, arugula sprouts, chocolate truffles and a little bit of tiramisu for Reed. Then, I came home and ate a little bit of everything (except the tiramisu and with the addition of a handful of strawberries from my trip to the farmer’s market yesterday) and it was wonderful.

It is a beautiful day, and I wish I had a Razor scooter that I could ride around the mailbox in the parking lot because that is just the kind of day that it is. What kind of day is that? Apparently the kind where I have two Cokes and a chocolate truffle before 2:30, and feel most like myself and am most insufferable. You all probably need a nap from reading this.


So, Reed and I went to the library the other night on our way home–the one in Cameron Village is open until 9pm during the week–and I picked up a few of my books on my to-read list. The one I was most excited about was People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. (Or Gwendolyn. Whatever.)


This person won a Pulitzer Prize for her earlier work, so maybe she was just phoning this one in. I hate not to finish books, and, truly, the second section is better than the first, but still … if I have to read any more of the initial lead character’s overly self-conscious nattering about how skillful she is, I might gouge my eyes out. You know how on CS! they say: A: Is there any GSR on the victim’s hands? B: No, there was no gunshot residue found. It’s unnatural for the characters to speak that way–they don’t need to define the terms that they would use everyday. Instead, it is to make a technical and specialized field understandable to the masses. Yeah, that is what’s happening for manuscript conservation.

The conservation stuff is distracting. I think too much about the opportunity for errors in the description and wonder too much about whether this character is realistic in the least. (Can you tell the breed of animal that a parchment is made from just from looking at it with the naked eye? With certainty?) Plus, after all the hullabaloo about how skilled the person is and conservation talk, it skips from “I saw the book” to “No one would know I’d conserved it.” rather abruptly.

If it were as page-turning as the [Enable javascript to see this email address.] Code or a John [Enable javascript to see this email address.] novel, then I might be more forgiving. Unfortunately, I am not finding that to be the case. I do like the second part a bit better, but it is just taking too much effort.

Sigh. It has put me off reading her previous book, the one that is supposed to be good. Instead, I picked up Divisadero by Ondaatje. Reading the first page was a relief. I sank into the story without any work or distractions. I don’t have to think about it, and it isn’t work to read it, so I can concentrate on what is going on rather than bumping into the storytelling framework.

Just an update. It looks like I will have to pick a new book for my 12. Again! This is getting ridiculous. As always, my book description is mostly about what is in my own head and less about the book itself. There was a lot of hype around People of the Book when it came out, which sucked me in, so if you want to know more about it, I am sure that you can google it.

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