Spending travel time with grandchildren

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 31, 2008

This summer I wanted to spend a few days alone with my three grandchildren, Brooke, Hannah and Alex.

Brooke and I went to Beaufort, North Carolina last week. Beaufort is a small town on the Intercoastal Waterway. There are many small shops and restaurants in the town. There is an ice cream shop and a coffee shop. Both of them are very nice for a cool treat after walking around the town.

We took a harbor tour with Mystery Tours. It is about an hour and a half tour. The breezes make it a cool refreshing trip. It not only gives an orientation to the Crystal Coast but you will usually see the ponies on Carrot Island if you take the 4:30 tour.

Boats can be rented to take you across for a visit on the island and there is a beach that has crystal clear water. You can wade out as far as you want and still see the bottom.

Beaufort was also a place Blackbeard came and went at will. They will point out his home on the tour. Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, was discovered in the waters at Beaufort a few years back and recovery has been going on since then. The articles recovered are on a traveling tour and are sometimes in Beaufort’s Maritime Museum.

At 9:15 the next morning we went on the Dolphin Watch with the same company. It looked like the search was going to end up barren but about the time we gave up, we spotted a dolphin and her baby playing in the water, many times coming up to and passing under the boat.

The captain said it was very unusual to see two alone but it was enough to make everyone happy. Other times I have been, quite a number of them came up behind the boat, swimming in the wake. This tour took about two and a half hours.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is not very far and a bit different from the one in Manteo. The admission fee is very low and worth every penny. There are

for each part of North Carolina so you learn what is in the waters of different parts of our state and in the ocean.

Fort Macon, near Atlantic Beach, is a five-sided fort built in 1826. It is fully restored with 26 vaulted rooms (or casements). It is now a state park and there is no admission fee. Rangers conduct guided tours of the fort. There is also a protected swimming area (summer only), a refreshment stand, a bathhouse, hiking trails and both sound side and surf fishing.

Brooke and I did a Ghost and Pirate Tour. It was just okay. The Blackbeard Tour may have been better. You can also take a tour of the old homes in Beaufort. The Maritime Museum has many items and a lot of information on the seafaring history of the area. Across the street is a place where they build boats and you can tour that too. There is no admission fee.

The Inlet Inn is right across the street from the waterfront and is a nice convenient place to stay. This is a trip that can be enjoyed by the family or by a couple wanting to spend some time alone. It can be as laid back or as fast paced as you desire it to be.