Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Day trip to Wilmington, NC

A signature feature of Airlie Gardens, between Wilmington NC and Wrightsville Beach, is the Airlie Oak, which dates to 1545. There are flowers and beauty all around, but this huge Live Oak is such a commanding presence that I had to photograph it, no matter how many others have done the same before me. This was my first chance to see Airlie.

Surrounded by all the healthy plant life, I was attracted to a stark, dead trunk.

The Spanish moss hanging from the Live Oaks makes all kinds of decorative patterns.

This is a section of the underside of tangled roots of a fallen, dead tree.

There are gorgeous sculpted insects throughout the Airlie grounds, often perched in very natural looking poses - though they are considerably larger than real-life varieties!

This view from a small marsh, across manicured grass to Bradley Creek in the background was one of my favorite tableaux of the day, as it seemed, aside from the grass, to have been left alone.

The metal sculptures are sometimes hidden within the plantscape. They are not painted, rather they are anodized and textured, taking on colors when sunlight direction is suitable. Find the (live) lizard:

The lizard may be easy to see in the photo, but it wasn't easy to spot on location. On the other hand, this butterfly was hard to miss.

I should have carried a long "bird lens" with me, but I didn't, so the best I could do with this heron was a sort of environmental portrait.

The Bottle Chapel is a tribute to artist Minnie Evans, designed and built after her death by artist Virginia Wright-Frierson.

The Airlie Butterfly House is a pleasant stop. I did not have a macro lens with me, but caught a few shots with a "plain" 50 mm. Here is one.

A dragonfly sculpture was much easier to approach, and also much larger, allowing detail shots without special equipment.

Leaving Airlie Gardens, we drove into and across Wilmington, and parked a few blocks from the Cape Fear waterfront. From there, we set out on foot again.

The Bellamy Mansion Museum, on Market Street, is an antebellum building that was completed on the eve of the Civil War. It has been largely restored, and exhibits art works of architectural and historical interest. Above its third floor is a rooftop room known as Belvedere. There is indeed a beautiful view in all directions. I'll show just one.

The slave quarters, later servant quarters, were relatively comfortable for their day, though of course compared to the mansion...well, there is no comparison. After emancipation, many of the slaves stayed on as artisans. I can only hope that there was some satisfaction for such skilled workers in the quality of what they were creating. The idea of accepting enslavement of human beings is pretty much beyond my ability to imagine.

Leaving the Bellamy, we headed toward the Cape Fear River. Sometimes, interesting sights show up where you least expect them. Apparently cacti can do very well in a temperate, humid climate. These were in a street corner garden of a residential neighborhood.

Here's a peek at the usually overlooked side of the Cape Fear River Walk, at what is currently its southern end. There are plans to expand it beyond the current mile length.

A few feet away from the scene above:

Sometimes unmaintained buildings have an odd kind of beauty, at least to me.

The USS North Carolina Battleship lies directly across the Cape Fear River from downtown Wilmington, so it is a commonplace sight. However, I had never been in the area at sunset, and decided to see what I could catch from a pier location chosen so that the sun would drop past gun emplacements.

With the light disappearing, we vanished from Wilmington and headed home.

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  1. Such gorgeous views, colors, textures, sculptures and living creatures! I love the blues and the golden tones of the last photograph of the ship. Stunning!

  2. Yet another "wow" in a long, continuing string of them. :-)

    1. Thank you, your enjoyment is appreciated, as is your continuing willingness to express it. :-)

  3. I'd like to hear more about the equipment you used to "vanish" from Wilmington. Now *that's* a neat trick!! *smiles*

    1. Four wheels, five forward gears, a smooth clutch, and an efficient little engine, albeit using the ancient technology of internal combustion with spark ignition. ;<) Also an interstate highway, available to the public but relatively free of traffic at that hour. *big smile*

  4. Spanish moss originated in Hawaii where it was named, Pele's hair, after the goddess of volcanos.

    1. I am learning more from my readers than they will ever learn from me! Thank you!

  5. I wonder if Minnie Evans was inspired by Antoni Gaudi: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/en/gaudi/park-guell.html

    1. I suspect that Virginia Wright-Frierson, who designed the Bottle Chapel, may well have been influenced by Gaudi. I don't know if Minnie Evans herself was ever exposed to the work of the great architect early in her life (such humble beginnings!), but it's interesting to look at her two dimensional creations with their brilliant colors and symmetrical shapes, and relate them to the three dimensional Gaudi trees, vaults, animals, etc.


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