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June 2018

It was an unexpected, breathtaking moment in time. From my window seat at 30,000 feet, on a charter flight from Charlotte to Bermuda several decades ago, I watched as we flew over the vast body of water known as the Pamlico Sound. I thought we were over the Atlantic. Having grown up on the waters of North Carolina’s Coastal Plain, I’d heard my dad say that there were places in the sound where land was nowhere in sight. And then, it came into view. “It” being “the point” – Cape Point. Stretching out into the Atlantic, Cape Point is North Carolina’s easternmost beach and also the point at which the Pamlico Sound is its widest. I was reminded of the photograph of North Carolina’s Outer Banks taken from Apollo 9 on March 12, 1969 that hangs in my home. It was an awe-inspiring moment for me. I can only imagine how many awe-inspiring moments astronauts must experience.

The Sound Country. North Carolina’s Coastal Plain is defined by the sounds. Native son, and Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and creative writing at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Bland Simpson, best defines the Sound Country in his book, Into the Sound Country. “The Sound Country starts at the base of a scuppernong vine in the Great Dismal Swamp, runs south for two hundred amazing miles, taking in much of eastern America’s greatest and broadest inland waters, and ends in a wet sheen J-hook point of sand at Cape Fear, where Onslow Bay and Long Bay meet in riptide over Frying Pan Sholes and form the Atlantic Ocean. This is the wet and water-loving land of eastern Carolina’s coastal plain. It is the land of greater sounds – Currituck, Albermarle, Pamlico, Core, and Bogue – and lesser – Croatan, Roanoke, Back, Stump, Topsail, Middle, Greenville, Masonboro, Myrtle Grove, and Shallotte.”  

Writing about Rachel Carson’s 1941 visit to the area, Bland noted in Our State Magazine, “She gave us a gift…She laid out the new sense of a land truly unified by the very waters that, for so long, seemed to separate this territory into pieces and parts.”

Beaufort County is my ancestral home. Everyone in my family, on both sides, and going back several generations, was born in the Sound Country. My father descended from a long line of watermen. Family lore places my grandfather as the last commercial oysterman to ply the Pamlico Sound in a skipjack. Pantego Creek, maybe 50 yards from my home, widened and joined the Pungo River before emptying into the Pamlico Sound. At the entry point near our house, a canopy of trees forms an archway over the little creek. I still remember the peaceful beauty of being one with nature as the boat slowly wound its way to bigger water. Like Bland, "this magnificent world has long inspired and haunted me, too, in the best of ways. It lifts my imagination and sends me flying up and over its broad wetlands and open waters." My mind floods with memories of the Sound Country  -- riding the ferry from Manns Harbor to Roanoke Island on our way to Nags Head… rides on the big shrimp trawler when my cousins visited in the summer… learning to water ski and then, years later, teaching my own children… watching my children take their little john boat across to an island where they dug conch shells they later cleaned and sold to a local gift shop… crabbing with grandchildren.

In 1993, a private, non-profit organization was formed to celebrate and preserve the history, culture and ecosystems of the Sound Country. Known as Partnership for the Sounds, each of its four environmental education centers offers a unique perspective into the Albermarle-Pamlico estuarine system. The world’s first Estuarium is this organization’s crown jewel. With more than 200 exhibits, it offers a fascinating exploration of the estuaries and coastal rivers of North Carolina’s Coastal Plain.

Today, North Carolina’s Sound Country has become synonymous with the Inner Banks. In an effort to rebrand the mostly agrarian Coastal Plain, economic development initiatives in the early 2000s piggybacked on the state’s well-known Outer Banks. More than 3,000 miles of inland coastline comprise the Inner Banks, offering a vast array of leisure living and recreational options.

As you daydream about summer travels, there are always new things to see and do in the Sound Country. I hope you will explore and savor this rich part of North Carolina soon. Enjoy!

Scroll down as we continue to delve into our state symbols, see pictures recapping our High Country Adventure, and learn about our fall travel offerings.
Look for the combined July-August newsletter to arrive in your mailbox late July.

Cordially,

maryesther@visitncconcierge.com
visitncconcierge.com
(919) 302-0574

North Carolina's State Symbols

Our state and national flags are red, white and blue. Colors associated with our national political parties are red and blue. Did you know that North Carolina has an official blue, and an official red, berry? Yes, it’s true. In 2001, the General Assembly designated the strawberry as the state’s official red berry and the blueberry as the state’s official blue berry. This is the time of year consumers relish the sweet, juicy taste of these luscious fruits that grow throughout North Carolina. Important to the agricultural economy of the state, strawberry and blueberry production ranks fourth nationally.

High Country Adventure Recap

Remember all that rain we had in late May? Well, we seemed to side step it wherever we went in the High Country May 22-24. Our visit to Grandfather Mountain was perfect, with glorious vistas in every direction. The bears put on quite a show for us during our visit. We gained an understanding of the intersection of those who live in the six counties (Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Ashe, Alleghany and Wilkes) – both the year-round and the seasonal residents. The rhododendrons were blooming, we learned about the use of bark siding in mountain architecture, and we sampled some of North Carolina’s finest wine. We had a grand time (as you can tell by the photos below!)



Upcoming Trips to Ft. Bragg and Pinehurst
Join us for an unforgettable experience on the country’s largest military base! With more than 53,000 active duty military personnel and more than 14,000 civilian employees, Ft. Bragg was founded in 1918 in the sandhills of Cumberland and Moore counties as a training facility for recruits. Today, the installation covers more than 500 square miles. This unique visit features a briefing from Ft. Bragg’s Garrison Commander and uncommon access to some of the soldiers, stories, and traditions of the U.S. Army. With scheduled visits to the 82nd Airborne Museum, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum, and the NC Military Business Center, this full day trip takes you from Ft. Bragg’s origins during WWI to its present-day status as an economic engine for the state. Learn more and sign up here.

Also, save the date for an exciting trip to beautiful Pinehurst - October 16, 2018. More exciting details to come!

 
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What Our Guests are Saying About Us

"The trip to the North Carolina High Country provided an opportunity for us to learn about the Ben Long frescoes, Grandfather Mountain beauty, Elliott Daingerfield art and Eseeola Lodge’s history. Mary Esther’s planning and attention to detail provided us an incredible experience."

"I am a frequent traveler with Mary Esther and Visit NC Concierge. Each trip is well planned, very organized and provides experiences I could never create on my own. I highly recommend Visit NC Concierge if you seek to experience, learn and have all the planning done for you while visiting sites in North Carolina."


"Mary Esther is always available to answer any questions you may have and with great patience. She also is very willing to help solve any problem you may have. She is an excellent planner, director and tour guide. Her trips have been super!"

"Just a short note to tell you how much we enjoyed our curated trip to the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit yesterday. It was truly first class ... It was our first trip with you and certainly will not be our last."

"We were very well educated as to what we would be doing and what we needed to do to make it all happen. Everything flowed as expected."

"We loved the carriage tour through the historic district. The homes and buildings were beautiful. We loved everything we did and thought each stop was delightful. Exceeded expectations."

"What I appreciate is that you provide guests an opportunity to learn and experience a part of NC while you take care of all the logistics and details!"

Contact us to book your tour today! 
919-302-0574
info@visitncconcierge.com
visit NC concierge is a premier hospitality company dedicated to providing the discriminating traveler unique experiences savoring North Carolina’s history, geography, and culture at a leisurely travel pace while enjoying the state’s finest sites, cuisine, and lodgings. Itineraries are subject to change at the discretion of the company. Group size: minimum 10; maximum 30. Registration for each tour closes 30 days prior to tour start date. For more information, visit us at visitncconcierge.com
 
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