We left fairly early in the morning on Thursday. Our plan was to make the trip east while stopping frequently in the areas we were traveling through to geocache. My new GPSr has a mapping feature, so as you travel, it will show geocaches in the area. If one is convenient, we would look it up on my pda (yes, I do paperless geocaching now - what a geek!) and if it looked interesting, we would stop to find it. Although this does not make for fast traveling, it does add a lot of interesting stops along the way.
We got to Aurora middle of the afternoon, and it was hot. The museum in Aurora is very nice with lots of fossil displays. We spent the first of our time in Aurora looking through the museum. It was air conditioned! Later, we were in the pilings out front looking for some fossils of our own. The pile that we looked through had lots of sharks teeth, coral pieces and other small fossils. No big ones would ever be found, as this material had been pumped through a sludge pump. To find the really nice, larger teeth and bones, it is necessary to go into the phosphate mine itself, and this requires forsight and cash. You have to apply and pay a membership fee.
After a couple hours there, we left to go towards New Bern. After stopping at Charlie's restaurant to have a bite, we got into New Bern about dark. I did my normal routine - drove into a neighborhood and found some wireless access, looked up local motels on google and started calling. Within a few minutes, I had us a room at the Comfort Inn on the waterfront. We got in our room and took a walk in Federal Park on the waterfront. Lots of history there. This is on the point overlooking the river and the site of the Union takeover in the War of Northern Aggression.
Next morning, Hunter and I went to Tryon Palace, paid the fees and started touring the grounds. Hot and dry! We were there on a day that was not busy. We got to meet a family dressed in period clothes and on the tour of the palace, we got to meet Governor Tryon himself! Hunter had a few questions for him. The palace grounds have lots of gardens. Some of them were suffering from the heat and drought, but overall, very pretty.
After seeing the palace, we left New Bern and began the trip towards Wilmington. We still had some geocaching to do, as well as a trip to Hammock's Beach State Park. I would recommend it to anyone with half a day or more to spare. A very beautiful beach, and lightly used. The sea turtles had laid eggs in the dunes the night before. We almost got stranded on the island (you have to take a boat to the island), but we caught the last boat off just as a thunderstorm was approaching. We got back to the car, found a couple more geocaches on our trip towards Wilmington, and ate pizza at a small pizza joint on the way. Got to Steve's place just after dark. Joy and the rest of the family were on there way, but had not gotten there yet. They did arrive very late that night.
The next morning, Joy, Walker and I went out to the yard sales, something we do a lot of Saturday mornings. We didn't find any interesting steals however, so we went back to the house. The rest of the day was spent between the pier, in the kayak and the deck on the house where we set up Walker's kiddy pool. He had a great time in the pool! Next day after lunch, we began the trip back. Took it kind of slow and got back late in the day. Glad to be home, but all in all, a great trip!