We enjoyed our county campground near Salisbury, but we needed to relocate a little north in anticipation of guests from home. So we are now at Holly Point State Park campground north of Raleigh, North Carolina. We are still amazed at the height of the trees in the Carolinas.
We took a hike through those trees on the Holly Point trail. We are getting used to hikes without viewpoints through green tunnels of trees. Our only wildlife sighting of the day was this slow-moving box turtle who surprised us by not retreating into his shell.
Holly Point campground is on Falls Lake. This lake snakes around and between the famous "research triangle" made up of Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill.
Speaking of snakes, we took a kayak trip on Falls Lake with some beautiful views.
But it also had views of a snake gliding through the water near us. Of course, Mark wanted to chase it. When we caught up with the reptile in the water, the snake veered toward us suddenly. Denisa had never seen Mark reverse direction and yell, "Let's go . . go . . go!" On the third "go" she put down the camera and started rowing too. We saw three more snakes, but we didn't chase any more. So there are no snake pictures for the blog. But the google guru read that the venomous water moccasin swims differently than what we witnessed today. It's a little comforting to know that we were probably chasing a snake that wouldn't kill us if we caught it.
We had read that we were past the upper reaches of the areas that crocodiles are found, so we were a little surprised to find a croc hiding in the bushes on the edge of the lake. Denisa was quick on the trigger and did manage to get a picture of the wild croc.
We would have taken a longer kayak ride, but the gray clouds overhead were letting us know that the forecasted storm was on the way.
Besides snakes and crocs, we also watched the resident ospreys. This one was perched in the trees overhead. The one that we didn't get a picture of was flying over the lake with a fish in his talons. We love living in natural settings!
The real reason we made the move towards Durham, was to meet friends there. We have been blessed with visitors this spring, and today we are welcoming some of our favorite people from Oklahoma--Connie and Steven!
Connie and Denisa met in second grade, and were even college roommates. So it is fitting that we started our tour of North Carolina with them at Duke University.
As Connie and Denisa strolled down the center aisle of the Duke Chapel, we were in awe of the size and majesty of this church.
The stained glass and the detailed wood carving made for an inspiring sanctuary.
Denisa had to take a picture of the choir seats at the front of the church. Several years ago, she traveled to Duke University with her Mother and sisters on their yearly girls' trip. With the students gone in the summer, they invite anyone to come to choir practice and be in the Sunday morning Duke Chapel choir. These very straight-backed pews on the right side of the altar were our choir seats that Sunday.
The front of the chapel is impressive, but the pipe organ seen at the back of the church is equally beautiful in its own way.
You can barely see Mark and Steven in the entry way of that towering tower.
Our next stop was across campus at the home of Duke University basketball--Cameron Indoor Stadium with Coach K(rzyzewski) Court.
The doors were open, so we waltzed in, hoping to see some of Duke's college athletes. Instead, we found a scrimmage with some (ahem) older collegiates. We found that Duke runs a basketball camp for adults, so this was a summer camp scrimmage.
Over the court hangs the five national championship banners that the Duke Blue Devil men's basketball program has earned under Coach K.
This university is very loyal to its blue devils, and even the bathrooms have the appropriate signage.
Adjoining the university is Tripadvisor's top attraction in Durham--the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.
We would have enjoyed strolling through these beautiful plantings more if it weren't quite so warm. The temperature gauge went over 90 degrees, and a bunch of Oklahomans thinks the humidity makes it feel a lot hotter than that.
We finished our day in Durham with a trip to the best rated bar-b-q place in town--Q-shack. We are finding that Carolina bar-b-q sauce is vinegar-based, rather than the tomato-based we grew up with in the midwest. It's hard to change bar-b-q preference this late in life, but we had to let our guests try it for themselves. To further immerse them in local cuisine, we also served them North Caroline-made Cheerwine soda with the fresh North Carolina strawberry and cream cheese dessert. It was a good day in North Carolina!