Bellamy Mansion Musem

11235050_10205502955187968_538999169246573655_nWe visited our 17th County- New Hanover. This was a extra special county because my brother joined us and we had special friends John and Pam show us around. We had high expectations with the owners of AllAboutWilmington as our guides. The did not disappoint. We have been to New Hanover several times. We have been to the Battleship North Carolina, Fort Fisher Aquarium and the Wilmington Children’s Museum. We have eaten at some great restaurants in the past including Carolina Cupcakes.  Last Year, Claire learned all about Bonsai trees at the Painted Lady Bonsai. We knew the area had lots to offer.  We wanted to revisit Fort Fisher since we have not been in while, and then see some new things. We took the ferry from Southport and started at Fort Fisher. We watched the fiber-optic battle map first. It had a sign not to push the button that it was only for school groups. We pushed it anyway. 🙂 It is a great overview of the battle there. We walked around the tour trail and read some of the wayside. When we came back in to the exhibits Claire read about a confederate spy- Rose O’Neal Greenhow. She was very interested in the story and wanted to find her grave at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

Winnie's Tavern The next stop was Carolina Beach State Park. They have a small exhibit about carnivorous plants. We had a very good and informative  talk from Ranger Helms about the plants and his job. We were then off to lunch at Winnie’s Tavern.  It is a little off the beaten path and not a fancy place but it did not disappoint. My brother said the burger alone was worth the trip. You should look it up the next time you are in town! We then headed for Oakdale Cemetery. We stopped by the office and got a map of the famous grave sites. They have some really interesting ones. Along with Rose O’Neal, the designer of the Lincoln Memorial, the first governor of NC elected by poplar vote, and  a girl buried in a run barrel . I love the history you can find in a graveyard.

Cotton Exchange

We headed for the Cotton Exchange.  I am not much of a shopper but I really love this place. I love the history written throughout the plaques all the wall. I love the small unique shops. We got toffee at the General Store and dog treats at the Dog Bakery. We then headed to Bellamy Museum Mansion. There we started out by watching a film of the overview of the house and then a house tour. The house has sparse furnishing but some beautiful architecture detail. The tour was almost two hours. He was very knowledgeable but tour was a little long especially after a full day of touring. He also could have skipped some inappropriate stories with my kids and other kids even younger in attendance.   So the mansion ended up being an plus and minus for New Hanover county.  After the tour, we headed home but there is even more to explore in New Hanover County.

After our day spent in New Hanover and considering the things we have done in the past. New Hanover moved to the top of Cobey’s rankings. He also gave Winnie’s the honor of best burger. Claire ranked New Hanover tied for first with Union, Cumberland and Gaston.  I loved The Cotton Exchange so I am giving it best for shopping so far not that I know much about shopping. And although the tour was long it was my favorite home so far Bellamy Mansion is worth checking out just don’t get the long tour.



Oakdale Cemetery

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Hoke was our 13th county and the first county visit that it rained the entire time.  I am glad our main activity was indoors.  We decided we would fly a mile instead of walk a mile.

We started our visit at The Mill at Puppy Creek for lunch. The food was a mix of Italian and bar food.   My side salad was not so good but the lasagna was good. The bar food was good also. The service was good but took awhile to get our checks. We really liked the atmosphere – big windows overlooking the old mill and river.

Old Mill at Puppy Creek

After lunch, we were unsuccessful in finding another place to have dessert or something interesting to see so  we headed for the main attraction in Hoke- Paraclete XP, Indoor Skydiving. It was a homeschool field trip and we had 15 flyers – age 8 to adults. The staff was awesome. We first went to a classroom where they  explained everything and taught hand signals. We then went and got all our gear and suited up. Once we went in the tunnel, I did get a little nervous. We each got 2 one minute flights.  It was fun and everyone had a BLAST!!   The staff is so patient and professional. We could not have had a better first flight. Claire is begging to go back.

Claire Skydiving


Cobey Skydiving


The kids were not impressed with the courthouse. They thought it was to tall for the width but at least it was not one from the 80s,

Hoke County Courthouse

Overall, this kids put it last on the list. They absolutely LOVED skydiving but overall not much in Hoke County.

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Mt Tabor School 1870



On the way home from the beach we decided to hit two more counties- Columbus and Bladen.  On the way we stopped at the Mt Tabor School from 1870 for a quick photo. (photo above)  Our first top was the visitor center in Fair Bluff where we took a walk on the trail along the Lumber River. They have a nice boardwalk and trail which made for a great walk.


We then did our own car tour of the area. We picked up the brochure at the Visitor Center.  They have some great old buildings including a Trading Post (1802) and Depot (1897). The depot has a small museum but it was closed that day.  There were many more beautiful buildings and one of Claire’s favorite cemeteries.  We ended our visit with ice cream at Elvington’s Pharmacy.



After we went through Chadborn, we stopped at the NC Museum of Forestry.   It is  very small museum inside with some fossils found in White Lake. We were more interested in the things outside.  There is also a short tree trail where the trees are marked and a fossil dig. You can check out tools in the museum. The best part was the Whispering Giant sculptor found in the front.  Peter Wolf Toth a sculptor who immigrated from Hungary made a series of these to honor Native Americans. There are 74 statues with at least one in each state. We stopped at the courthouse in both counties. Neither where impressive.




We started our visit to Bladen County at  the  famous Melvins burger in downtown Elizabethtown.  This was Cobey’s favorite burger.  They put out some hamburgers and watching the system is entertaining. We then visited a graveyard behind an old church and the local park where on August 27, 1791 the Battle of Elizabethtown  took place.  This is were 60-70 Whigs crushed over 300 Tories. They used a ruse of commanding phantom soldiers to make the Tories believe they were much larger and then engaged them during a disorganized retreat.  There is a marker to commemorate this event.


We ended our trip to Bladen County with a stop at Houston’s Peanuts for a snack and then Lu Mill Winery. Claire loved the winery were she got a slushy and jam sample. They have a great gift shop. We also explored the grounds were Claire loved the little church. It was a great end to a full day.






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Jeff’s Boat- OIB


We have decided to partake in a travel challenge. Our plan is 100 NC counties, 50 states and 15 countries before Cobey graduates in 2020.  We have a few rules. We are not redoing states or countries. Driving through a state does not count. You have to eat something and do something. The same goes for the counties. The kids will be ranking the counties as we go and they can consider things we have done in the past in the county. I hope you will follow along with us on the adventure.

We started with Brunswick County because that is where my brother lives and we were in town for his birthday. We have been to many good restaurants at Ocean Isle Beach and Oak Island. We have also been many time to the Museum of Coastal Carolina at Ocean Isle Beach. It is a great small science and history museum. We have even climbed the scary lighthouse at Oak Island and explored the Fort Caswell. For this trip we decided to focus on Southport.  We started at the Visitor Center which is at Fort Johnston. After checking out the small museum which has some cool movie artifacts we decided on a golf cart tour.


We went with the Southport Fun Tours which lived up to their name. The tour had a lot of information about movies and TV shows have been filmed in the area. The tour also had a lot of information about the history of the area. There is history back to the Native Americans and lots of Civil War history. It was a great balance and kept us all entertained. I highly recommend this tour. We headed for Provisions for lunch but the line was too  long and we were starving so we ended up at Fishy Fish. I really love the decor and atmosphere but the service and food were not great.  I had the worse peel and eat shrimp that I have ever had.  Cobey and Claire liked their meals better but it was not over the top. I guess we should have waited for Provisions. We walked around downtown and took a photo with a tree that the Native Americans used to mark a trail. We then headed back to OIB. Southport is a really cool quaint town that is worth a visit. Check it out!

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Homeschool Days at Chimney Rock

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Tuesday Oct 15, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, North Carolina, Travel

Chimney Rock

Chimney RockWhen we cancelled our DC trip, we had a few open days.  I decided to fill them by trying to go visit some friends. Jennifer Johnson told me about Homeschool Days at Chimney Rock State Park. We signed up at the last minute and we were not disappointed.  In the morning, we attended three stations- Raptors, Spiders and Adaptions.  The stations were informative and hands on for the kids. It was very well put together.  They also had a guided hike after lunch that we did not attend. We went to the Smokehouse in town for lunch and it was very good.  After lunch, we went back to the park to hike some of the trails. We asked about the trails at the gift shop. The lady made it sound like it was not so bad. We must have looked in better shape than we were because it was a work out.  We took the elevator up. I highly recommend the elevator because you will have plenty walking at the top. We walked up to the rock and then took Skyline Trail up to Exclamation Point. There was also an Opera Box and Devils Head on the way. The kids had a great time playing while the adults were catching their breath.  The views were beautiful. We are looking forward to more visit to Chimney Rock Park.

On the way to Charlotte, we saw a garden on the side of the road. We stopped to see what it was about. We stumbled across a gem- Lake Lure Flowering Bridge. A volunteer told us they were scheduled to tear the bridge down when a group got permission from the state to do this project. The beds were just planted this April and the project was completed with volunteers. The bridge is beautiful and worth a stroll if you are in the area.  For fall, each bed had pumpkins decorated as people with different themes.

Lake Lure Flowering Garden

IMG_7709Lake Lure Flowering Bridge


















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Tyron Palace

Cobey at Pepsi Family Center


NC Homeschool Adventures went back to Tyron Palace. It is one of the few places the kids have begged to go back to. They really wanted to go back to the Pepsi Family Center which in the North Carolina History Center. They loved this interactive museum where you can make turpentine, sail a ship, cook and make a quilt. I was afraid they would be disappointed because they were now too old for it or they were remembering it more fondly than it was; but, we started out our visit their and they loved it. I did manage to tear them away for a delicious  lunch at the cafe. We ate looking over the water and it was very nice. We then went and toured the Palace where we had a great tour guide. We toured one other house on the property and then back to the Pepsi Family Center. We ended up having dinner at Captain Ratty’s which is downtown New Bern  and it was great. We had  a great day and it was getting ready to be even better.




Guest of the Day


We arrived at out hotel the Hampton Inn in New Bern to discover we were the guest of the day. We had a special parking place, breakfast brought to our room and our name in lights. The kids loved it. We have stayed in lots of hotel rooms and it takes a lot to excite the kids now and that did it. What a great idea by that manager that really doesn’t cost them any money but makes a families day. Thumbs up to Hampton Inn of New Bern.

The next day we went to Shackleford Island. We had about a two hour tour of the island with Laura. She is so passionate about the horses and marine life that it is wonderful to learn from her. We got to see the horses up really close which was fun and Claire and Cobey got to snack on pickle grass which they had been talking about to all the kids. We spent another hour just hanging out on the beach and enjoying a great day. I really love it there and Laura makes it even better. When we got off the boat, we went to downtown Beaufort and had a great lunch at Clawson’s and then headed back home.



Shackleford Horses

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Mordecai House and Trolley Tour

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Wednesday Aug 28, 2013 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, NC History, North Carolina, Travel

Trolley RideNC Homeschool Adventures had a tour of the Mordecai House and  a trolley tour of downtown Raleigh. Our group went into the house first were we learned a lot about the family of lived there and about how people lived during the time period. We also learned that we had been saying the name wrong. Our tour guide was very informative and knowledgeable. We next went on the trolley ride. The trolley ride was a lot of fun where we learned a lot about the houses and people that lived there.. The kids learned that the prisoners made the bricks in front of the Governor’s mansion and that when they had finished a stack they would put their name on it. They kids remembered and the next week when we walked by the mansion the kids were looking for the names. There are several other houses on the grounds but you can not go into them. Great place to visit and highly recommend it.

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We have been to Old Salem as a family and for homeschool days but this was our first time for Scout Day. We had a great visit. They were  very well organized as usual and check-in went smoothly. The activities for the day were clearly outlined for us. Our  troop coordinator did a great job of having everything prepared she wanted the girls to do for to earn the badge. We stayed together for a few ours then we split up. We went to the Tavern where George Washington stayed and in the kitchen they learned about cooking during the time period. In the barn, they learned about pulleys. We went to the boy’s boarding school, where they learned about dying thread, tin work and other trades. The kids loved the visit to the bakery with sample cookies to try. In the square, they got to try the old fashion fire engine. The best part was the doctor’s home where they got to learn how old fashion scales work and help make lye soap. I love how there is always something new to see and learn at Old Salem. It is worth a visit.


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OIB Thanksgiving Weekend

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Nov 2, 2012 Under Claire, Cobey, Kid's Corner, North Carolina, Travel

Several years ago we started the tradition of having Thanksgiving at the beach at my brothers. It has become one of my favorite weekends of the year and I always look forward to it. My birthday is on the 21st so we usually celebrate my birthday also during the weekend. We usually have my favorite meal which is Frogmore Stew named after a little town in Frogmore, SC. There are no frogs involved. It is also called Low Country Boil. We had that on Wednesday night for my birthday and it was great. Thursday I was sick so I missed Thanksgiving meal but I heard that was also good. Friday most of the crew left to go watch ECU football and I stayed and scrapbooked. Saturday is the parade during the day. We have entered several years but this year we did not get around to it but watch out next year because we have  a plan to decorate the golf cart. And then Saturday night is the grand finale with the flotilla. For eight years, my brother has entered a boat in the flotilla and he has often won the grand prize. He is very talented and the boats are awesome. This year he did a pirate ship and the crowd was amazed when they figured out it was a fishing boat. No pre-made things for Jeff! He starts his boat from scratch and it begins with elaborate drawings on paper. The flotilla is one of my favorite Christmas traditions and  the best time to be at OIB is not the middle of summer but Thanksgiving weekend.

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Fort Caswell

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday Oct 27, 2012 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, North Carolina, Travel

We had a wonderful experience at Fort Caswell. We were in the lodging near the sound with a small beach and a fishing pier. The kids had a great time playing out there. I had a room with a kitchen which was really nice and I just made all my meals. The kids ate in the cafeteria and enjoyed the food. The room was nothing fancy but clean and comfortable. I love  the rocking chair on the screened porch. The first day we checked out the beach and then went to have a birthday dinner with my brother. The food was good and price was okay but the service was a little slow. It is what I have come to expect at the beach.


The next day we went to Wilmington for a tour of the Cape Fear Serpentarium. This place really surprised me. The staff was not the friendliest bunch but they were very knowledgable and gave an interesting tour. I don’t know that I would go without the tour because it really made the experience and at the end the kids got to hold a snake. The story about the owner being bit by one of the most venomous snakes in the world was especially interesting. After the tour, we headed to Red Robin for a bite to eat for another celebration meal for Claire. We got back to Fort Caswell in time to hit the beach for a few hours before dinner. After dinner, we started the educational part with Fort Caswell with a pirate program. There was a man in pirate costume that did a great job of talking about pirate life and dispelling myths. He ended his presentation with firing a musket which the kids all loved. The next day we had a full day. We went surf fishing, beach combing, plankton gathering, and on an historic hayride.  We ended our experience at the small Maritime Museum. The staff at Fort Caswell are so awesome and we had such a great experience that we have already booked for next year. NC Homeschool Adventures will be back in September and we can’t wait.

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