MiniMoon 2: Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach (Part 1)

Because we haven’t necessarily been able to visit a truly exotic honeymoon destination as desired, (there’s only so much money to go around sadly), we have taken to breaking our trips into what we call “MiniMoons”. These began with a relatively cold trip to Myrtle Beach South Carolina in early February that served as a relaxing chance to bond among ourselves. And eat, of course we ate. Our proposed final destination in this series of trips is to take the cruise we were not able to take the year prior on our anniversary: January 27, 2019. But, we shall see on that. Even so, there is a lot of fun to be had in between.

So we wanted to schedule our second venture out during this period, as she has a prolonged time off. I opened the Marriott app, choosing as I have many times to use this large hotel chain because their booking process is accessible and I can often find decent prices. Conducting a search in the Wilmington area led me to the Courtyard by Marriott Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach. I booked Thursday and Friday nights, getting the former for less because it was still within the workweek, a good choice for budget travelers such as myself.

We arrived after a relatively smooth ride down on Thursday shortly before 2 PM. Actually, sleepy-head that I was particularly on that day, I am not really knowledgeable of how smooth or rough that ride had been. Stress and another long 3-day workweek had left their mark on me, causing me to get sucked under whenever not in motion. But that sleep was not only sorely needed, but its necessity would be augmented by our first activity.

Because we would not be able to check into the room until 4 anyway and it would close down by then, we jumped straight out of the car after a 2-hour ride and walked onto the Battleship North Carolina. It’s actually the USS North Carolina, but is more popularly called “the battleship”. De-commissioned in 1947, this vessel was sailed into Wilmington’s Cape Fear River where it has become a permanent tourist attraction, after having carried troops serving in World War 2.

These kinds of activities continue to fascinate me, as they allow me to experience objects I have only read about and am thus unable to accurately visualize. They do present an audio tour, but I gather this was largely useless as one would find it difficult to navigate the phone’s app while also focusing on walking in there. But the signs onboard are plentiful and give lots of first-hand information. She had warned me that the walking and climbing would be strenuous, and the low ceilings and tight passages added to a sense of claustrophobia. But I was still amazed by the size of that ship, and its solidity: there were parts on the main deck where it sounded like I was walking on a normal floor rather than a ship’s deck. We descended at least two slightly unnerving ladders whereupon I had to attempt not to go too quickly and overrun her while also noting that someone might be approaching from above, and that I should be aware that head could meet padded metal as I arrived at the lower level. We also came back up to the main level and went up a couple more levels as well. It was.. fun, says everything but my back and legs.

We saw the mess areas with tables secured in place, the fairly large kitchens and butcher rooms that fed the troops, the crazy sleeping accommodations for folks who had to wash, with beds in what must have been a steamy laundry area, and for the majority of troops who bunked five high on what felt like shelves with limited padding. We read that some chose to sleep on the deck instead but this came with its own risks, primarily being splashed with salt water as the ship turns. And of course officers and higher-level staff lived largest, with cabins that had private baths and sitting areas. While the ship did have a lot of space, I still couldn’t imagine living onboard with a couple thousand people and trying to navigate on rolling seas. Probably the tightest thing we did though, and one that had me questioning my sanity, was to wriggle into the gun turret. It was cool though, because everything became completely quiet and one could envision sitting on that perch and having such a commanding view of the war theater. What that meant in the end of course is a far sadder thing to contemplate.

One funny incident did occur. While standing stationary in one of the open areas, she suddenly began talking. Thinking she was speaking to me, I said something. Then, a six-year-old girl said “oh, is he blind? I’ll explain what’s going on in here.” We thought this was such a nice gesture, and I continue to marvel at how much more open-minded these kids are than those of my generation.

This tour largely made up Thursday’s substance. Afterward, we ate at Kickback Jack’s where I gorged on one of their delicious burgers. Then I passed out on that hotel room’s uncomfortable couch for nearly an hour and still slept like a rock that night. You do that and tell me if it doesn’t do you in!

Continued in part 2, as this is fairly long.

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