Friday, August 17, 2012

Missing Colonists and Hungover Bears

Thought for the day:  You mean tobacco isn't a vegetable?

The Cupola House, Edenton, NC  [wikipedia]
We're gonna take a look at the fine state of North Carolina today ... the state of Southern hospitality, genteel manners, and a bunch of interesting firsts, like first in freedom, and first in flight. Oh, and there's fields and fields of tobacco growing there, too ... and tobacco processing plants, cigarette manufacturers, and outlets selling relatively cheap smokes. Because tobacco is BIG business in North Carolina. But it's also a state where you can relish the ageless beauty of the Outer Banks in the morning, travel to the cool mountains in the evening, and stop in a big city for dinner along the way. You probably already know this state's claim to fame as the birthplace of both NASCAR and Pepsi Cola, but betcha didn't know this: on March 7, 1914, Babe Ruth smashed his first professional homer in little ol' Fayetteville, North Carolina. (Bet he didn't celebrate afterwards by drinking a Pepsi!)

Okay, let's take a quick look around, shall we?

[source: morguefile]
Ever wonder how North Carolina got the first in freedom moniker? That's because, according to some historians, the state declared independence from England more than a year before the rest of the country made a stand.

[source: wikipedia]

The first in flight nickname stems from the accomplishments of the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur. In 1903, they made the first successful powered flight by man at Kill Devil Hill, near Kitty Hawk. Their plane weighed 650 pounds, and after launching into 20 MPH winds, the flight lasted twelve seconds, and covered 120 feet.

[source: wikipedia]

Whitewater Falls, located in the mountains of Transylvania county, is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River.

[source: morguefile]
Talk about high, so is this bridge. The Mile-High Swinging Bridge, near Linville, is 5305 feet above sea level, and hangs eighty feet above the ground. Ever been on a swinging bridge before? I have, but never one this high.

[source: wikipedia]

 There's something about lighthouses that captures the imagination, isn't there? As things of beauty, and as reminders of the countless ships they steered safely to shore. This is Cape Hatteras, an especially moving lighthouse.

[credit: National Parks Service]

That's because, at 208 feet tall, this is the tallest lighthouse that was actually moved. Because of erosion problems, this lighthouse was moved 2870 feet inland from its original spot at the edge of the ocean. The move occurred from 1999- 2000. In its current location, as seen above, the lighthouse is open for public tours.

The tidbit of North Carolina history that most intrigues me is the story about the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the first English colony in America. That's where the first English child, Virginia Dare, was born. But, somehow, an abiding mystery was born there, too. The governor went to England in 1587 to get supplies, and when he returned with them in 1590, the settlement was empty. The entire colony disappeared without a trace, except for the word CROATOAN, which was scrawled on a tree. 

[source: morguefile]

The Biltmore Estate in Ashville is America's largest privately owned home. It includes a 255-room chateau, an award-winning winery, and extensive gardens. 

A living history museum in Old Salem, the historical district of Winston-Salem, showcases the culture of eighteenth and nineteenth century Moravian settlers.

[source: wikipedia]

Morehead Planetarium, located on the University of North Carolina campus, Chapel Hill, is one of the oldest and largest in the country. Built in 1949, this is where Gemini and Apollo program astronauts were trained in celestial navigation.

[source: morguefile]

Every December, Harkers Island hosts the annual Core Sound Decoy Festival, where talented carvers from around the world compete.

[source: wikipedia]

Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again, but you CAN go to North Carolina to see HIS home. Pretty impressive, isn't it?

Ready to take a little look-see at some of the laws still lingering on the books in North Carolina? 

  • It's against the law to sing off-key. (No American Idol try-outs there!)
  • It's illegal to use an elephant to plow cotton fields. (Tsk, tsk, tsk. They're missing out on an awful lot of free fertilizer. Oh wait. Never mind. They probably use all their elephants in the tobacco fields.)
  • Sex is only legal in the missionary position ... with the shades pulled down. (But if the shades are pulled down, how do dey know???)
  • If a man and woman who aren't married go to a hotel and register as a married  couple, according to state law, they are legally married. (Cheaper than a wedding, too.)
  • All couples staying overnight in a hotel must have a room with double beds that are at least two feet apart. (So don't forget your measuring tape.)
  • It's against the law to have sex in a churchyard.
  • Anyone in possession of illegal substances must pay taxes on them. (Wonder how much revenue THIS one raised.)
  • There's a three-dollar tax on all white goods sold. (So stick with colored sheets.)
  • Organizations may not hold meetings while members present are in costume. (People can act like clowns and monkeys, but they can't dress like 'em.)
  • Bingo games may not last over five hours, unless held at a fair.
  • It's against the law to sell alcohol at bingo games. (Probably smart. Everybody knows what a rowdy lot those bingo-playing grannies are.)
  • In Barber, fighting between dogs and cats is against the law. 
  • In Charlotte, women must have their bodies covered by at least sixteen yards of cloth at all times. 
  • In Dunn, it's illegal to drive cars through city cemeteries for pleasure. (Darn. I mean, that's so much fun.)
  • It's also against the law there to throw rocks or spit at a city street. (Durn it, people, show that street some r-e-s-p-e-c-t!)
  • In Forest City, you have to stop and call City Hall before entering town in an automobile. (The purpose of this law was so townspeople would have time to go out and hold their horses until the accursed automobile made it through town.)
  • Lawmakers in Kill Devil Hills are real killjoys. It's against the law there to ride a bicycle without having both hands on the handlebars.
  • In Zebulon, it's illegal to stand outside the police station for any purpose after dark.
  • And it's also against the law there to walk on top of the city's water tank.
Okay, it's that time again, guys and gals. Time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

[source: morguefile]
***  Some people say air travel is for the birds these days. Maybe they're right. An injured cuckoo, too sick and weak to join the annual migration with all her friends ... took a plane. Workers at Wildlife Aid, in London, nursed the bird back to health, and then British Airways whooshed her off on a two-hour flight to Turin, Italy, where they hope she'll rejoin her pals for the rest of the 2500-mile trip across the Mediterranean and Sahara, and on to the Congo. (If she wants a lift next year, by golly, her little feathered butt's gonna have to buy a ticket!)

Hangover, maybe? [source: morguefile]
***  Evidently, some bears know how to par-ty. A mother grizzly and her three cubs broke down a wall to get into a Norwegian hunting lodge, where they helped themselves to more than a hundred cans of beer, and all the marshmallows, chocolate spread, and honey they could find. In the process, they trashed the place...  smashed the stove, oven, cupboards, and shelves to smithereens, and left ample amounts of excrement everywhere. Wild bears gone even wilder? I dunno. Kinda sounds like a frat party without the togas to me. On the other hand, a Colorado black bear was considerably more courteous when he broke into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory last week. Caught on surveillance cameras, he simply let himself in... through the door... helped himself to some candy, (appropriately enough, called cookie bears) and then let himself out again. Through the door. Several times. Didn't break anything. Didn't poop on the floor. Didn't even leave a trail of wrappers. (Guess he ATE 'em.) You have to feel a little bit of empathy for the guy. I mean, after all, he was only going after chocolate, and as everybody knows, chocolate certainly rates as a bear necessity.

Oh, I couldn't read THAT! [source: morguefile]
***  Have you read E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Gray? All three books in the series are so popular, record numbers of vision-impaired senior citizens have been demanding them in audio format so they can be, um, stimulated, too. (Intellectually, of course.) The books have been holding down the top three spots on the bestseller list for weeks and weeks, but now... guess what?  There's a new Fifty Shades of Gray, by S.H. Simove, and it's a little different. And not at all embarrassing. It's filled with two hundred blank pages. But they are gray... matter of fact, four pages each of fifty different shades of gray. So, if you're too embarrassed to read the original books, maybe this novelty pad is just the thing. The clever Simove already had an earlier hit with another 200-page wordless book. Its title? What Every Man Thinks About Apart From Sex.

                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


  1. I'm surprised at how much I remembered about Cape Hatteras from playing Carmen San Diego with the kids on the old Commodore 64. Good '80s memories. But the idea of a hotel tab legally constituting a marriage certificate, I absolutely love! If I was a hotel clerk, I'd prepare a little speech and blessing --it's a beautiful idea. Brilliant post, Susan, which I really enjoyed!

  2. Roanoke is not really a mystery. My distant ancestor actually wrote 'Cro-at-OAN' (OAN stands for Our Alternative Nest). They'd just gone for a weekend in the countryside.

  3. I think that Colorado black bear may be neater than some of my family members! Fun facts about North Carolina too. I'll have to share them with my older son, as he's a student there. BTW, I think I would like Simove's version better! Julie

  4. A lot my friends go to Hatteras and rent a slamming house for Sprink Break. But I have yet to go there.

    Hey, I want to party with those bears! LOL

  5. Oh, I love North Carolina. We have lots of relatives there.

    Biltmore is fascinating--hubs and I visited there back when we were first engaged. Did you know it's the setting of the Peter Sellers movie "Being There"? (That's the one with Chance, the gardener.)

  6. A swinging bridge would terrify me.

    I'm surprised I'd never heard/read about the Biltmore Estate. Seems like it would be better known, somehow. I'm gonna tool around the Internet and see if there are more pictures. Thanks!

  7. Gonna be in the lovely state of NC in a week or so visiting grandkids in Charlotte. NC is really an enigma. From the most mentally retarded televangelists to some of the finest educational institutions in the country. Geez. Go figure.

  8. This makes me want to head over to North Carolina right now! I've always been fascinated by the Lost Colony as well (and by the Biltmore Estate, for that matter). My hubby and I have daydreamed about our retirement (still a long way off) and N. Carolina is on our list of places to investigate more :)

  9. I teach the story of Roanoke to my students every year during our unit on colonization. It never fails to fascinate them!

  10. The whole history of the early settlers and the Salem witch trials I find intriguing. Hey, I'm surrounded by tobacco fields too... what, it's not a vegetable? ;)

    Those bears sound like some of the nasty tenant stories I've heard! But wow, that second bear really had some manners. Your puns are the best. :D

    Beauty post, Susan. Though that's a given.

  11. Susan, I thoroughly enjoy the article. Some things I knew, many I didn't.

    My sense of humor had a field day with the idea of being declared married if a single man and a woman signed into a hotel as married. OH, I could think of all sorts of wacky scenarios, lol!

    Kinda like the hand fasting in Scotland. You declared you were married and you were.

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  12. Geo- Glad ya liked it. You know, if all couples who checked into a hotel room together automatically became man and wife, I'll bet a lot of hanky panky would stop. At least in hotels.

    Cro- HA! Thank you so much for clearing up that mystery for me!

    Julie- I know what you mean. Kinda makes ya wonder where that bear learned such good manners. Emily Boo Boo Post? And I'm with you on preferring Simove's version of "Gray". Not sure I'm "grown-up" enough for the originals.

    Jennifer- Sounds to me like a spring break trip to Hatteras should be in your future. But I wouldn't invite those bears, if I were you. They drink all the beer, and even worse, hog the chocolate.

    Linda- We've driven past Biltmore many many times, but have never visited. One of these days. And no, I didn't know "Being There" was filmed there. Cool. Thanks for the info.

    Suze- There's a swinging bridge at a park we used to go to as teenagers when we lived in Maryland. It was fine as long as people just walked over it like normal human beings. But we're talking teenagers. A lot of the guys liked to jump up and down on it, which made it bounce and shimmy and sway. NOT fine. Hope you found more info on the Biltmore. It's actually quite well-known in the southeast.

    Mr. C- I hope you have a super time in NC with the grandkids. Grandpa will just have to steer them away from those retarded televangelists, and toward some of the excellent schools. Like Duke. I really wanted to go there, but even with a merit scholarship, it would've cost more to go there than it did to stay in-state at the U 0f Md.

    Jess- NC is a wonderful place to retire. Friends of ours retired to their very own little piece of heaven on the top of a NC mountain, and they've never been happier. (Even if they do get snowed in from time to time.) The wild critters do steal from their garden, but no bears have broken in to get at their booze yet.

    Dianne- I'm glad to hear you're still teaching about Roanoke, and students are still fascinated by the story. We only touched on it briefly when I was in school, but the story has always intrigued me.

    CarrieBoo- HA! If the number of smokers keeps decreasing, farmers may resort to trying to convince us tobacco's great as a trendy new side dish.

    Sia- Thanks. Glad ya liked it. I never heard of the "hand fasting" in Scotland, but it makes sense. I guess like in some remote areas of colonial America, communities didn't always have access to a minister to do the honors.

  13. They have that same marriage law on the books in Idaho. That's why Terry never took me to Idaho to meet his parents. Ha!

    Well, I live in North Carolina and if I weren't stuck near the mountains I might enjoy it a little better than where I am now. Just a little bit closer to the beach would be good.

  14. Love the waterfall but that bridge would scare the pants off me.

    The Biltmore estate is fabulous but I don't think I'd like having a public walkway so close.

    I am curious about the law in Charlotte that states a woman must have her body covered by 16 yards of cloth at all times. So that would mean no bathing unless you did it clothed, right?

    Enjoyed this btw, as always :)

  15. Anne- Too bad the mountains aren't a little closer to the beach. Then you'd have the best of both worlds. I've been to both the NC beaches and mountains, and am kinda partial to both.

    Marcy- I've only seen the Biltmore from the interstate as we drove past, so I didn't realize there was a public walkway nearby. Sure is gorgeous, though. Yeah, that 16 yards of cloth law got me, too. I don't even think the old-timey bathing suits from the early 20th century had THAT much cloth in them.

  16. Those laws hanging around on states' books are always so amusing.

  17. Susan- Yeah, kinda makes ya wonder why the legislators don't dump them. Oh yeah, they're too busy coming up with NEW laws ...

  18. North Carolina is a fine state. I used to work for a company based in Charlotte and have spent a lot of time all over the state.

    I'm all for that singing off key law.

    I haven't read Fifty Shades of Gray and probably won't. One of my sisters finished it and the other is now reading it. My 83 year old mother wants to read it next but my sisters don't want her too. This morning my mother told me that she already knows everything and it wouldn't be anything new to her. Hmmm--now I'm concerned about what my mother's been up to.

    Wrote By Rote

  19. Great pics as always. I liked the list of lawful dos and don'ts. Fascinating.

  20. Great post! Love, love, love North Carolina! We did three tours at the USMC base in Jacksonville. Our nephew begins his sophomore year at Chapel Hill. Another lives in Charlotte. I'll have to tease his wife about wearing Taliban clothes when she leaves the house, LOL.

    I read an article a while back about those wacky state laws. Apparently they provide good humor that appeals and also provide a snapshot into earlier eras that historians love. There seems to be an unofficial 'contest' among states. Many think Minnesota is the 'winner' with: No one can cross the state line into Minnesota with a duck on his head. (Guess the duck sits on the woman's head, LOL!)

  21. I'm still gawking at the photo of Whitewater Falls. It's gorgeous. Thanks for the tour, Susan.


  22. I really enjoy these epic history/geography lessons you post here.

  23. my prize of the week goes to you for the best blog title!

  24. Lee- Whenever I hear someone singing off-key, I remember a pastor we had years ago. Couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but he always sang with gusto, and said he was making a "joyful noise." Too funny about your mom telling you she already "knows everything". Sounds like my kinda lady.

    Madeleine- Glad ya liked the pics and laws.

    Kittie- Wow, you have quite a connection to North Carolina. I would've really enjoyed that article about the state laws. Some of them are really wacky. I remember that duck on the head one from Minnesota, but I've come across a lot of other equally weird ones. (Like you have to have a hunting license to kill a mouse.)

    Robyn- Those falls are pretty, but the most gorgeous ones I've featured so far is the video of Niagara Falls that was on the post about New York. (Next best thing to being there!)

    Dream it- Thank you, dear sir. I'm glad to hear it.

    John- HA! That just means your sense of humor is as weird as mine.