After driving past every chain food and retail store you ever heard of – and many you haven’t – you can’t help but feel the contrast with Roanoke Island is startling. Sir Walter Raleigh’s dream to beat the Spanish to the plunder of the new world, it is ironically dripping with Spanish moss, and quiet as the grave. The first English settlers tried twice to make a go of it, and the first English child, Virginia Dare, was born here many Augusts ago. But that second settlement that she was part of just disappeared, never to be found again. Will their remains turn up like that of Richard III this year, under some parking lot? Who knows. It’s a sad story, particularly when you think of it from the native Americans’ point of view, but the tide of colonialism was unstoppable. Unfortunately, those first settlers couldn’t just run over to Ace for their supplies. That little stockade – a photo of the ramparts is in the gallery – just didn’t cut it, particularly after they made the mistake of killing some Indians for food.
During the Civil War, Roanoke became a refuge for slaves, so it had another important role in history.
Those who made it across the river were more fortunate than the ones who lived at Somerset Place, an ante-bellum plantation in Cresswell, NC, our next stop. You can see the slave quarters – four families, one in each room of the house shown. The plantation house itself was under repair, but we still got a clear idea of the kind of life all the inhabitants lived there. Working in the fields and cooking over wood fires in this heat must have been its own brand of hell. I thought we had sticky weather in New York, but this is unbelievable. Is there such a thing as 150% humidity? If so, they definitely have it here.
Our next stop was Beaufort, a beautiful little town dating back to the Revolution. Lovely homes, and one more great crab cake for Don. Me, I am loving crab bisques. No matter what they pair the crab with – shrimp, lobster, scallops – it is fabulous!