Tag Archives: Eastern North Carolina

Traditional Christmas Farm Visit

Hello Everyone!

Today I’m writing to you from Mike’s Farm in Back Swamp, North Carolina. It is a very popular local spot despite being pretty far away from the main roads. It is open year round and my host usually goes several times a year, however Christmas time is when most folks around here and even some from far away come to eat the food and take a hayride into a colorful winter wonderland but first things first!

We arrived early so we could spend some time visiting the animals before dinner. Here I am with the goats and a llama:

IMG_6289  IMG_6285

I got to feed them, they were quite friendly!

We then moved on to see the rabbits. They often like to hide. Do you see them in this photo with me?


There are also chickens, turkeys, pheasants, and a pretty majestic rooster to feed:







My favorite guy to visit was the donkey though. Much larger than I expected and *quite* adorable.



My friend is feeding him, he was very friendly!

My friend is feeding him, he was very friendly!

Schools take field trips here in the fall and they visit the pumpkin patch. They also grow strawberries and Christmas Trees. Here I am with their Christmas Trees:

So many Christmas trees!

So many Christmas trees!

Time to eat! Wait…

They aren't even open yet!

They aren’t even open yet!

As you can see, it is a VERY popular place. This is the line and they aren’t even open yet! By the time we we went in the line was three times as long behind us as well. Crazy!

I took a few minutes to explore the little bakery/Christmas shoppe they have while my friends were kind enough to save the spot in line:



You can come here at any time of year to feel the holiday spirit. It’s a lovely store with lots of great Christmas and non-holiday items for sale as well as a bakery with some mouth watering fudge in all kinds of flavors!

The food is served family style and the price gets you all you can eat. Here is the menu:



Everything is brought to the table and they bring you seconds as you request them. No one leaves here hungry, that’s for sure! Check out this spread!


I decided I should try a bit of everything since I might not ever make it back here:


Then of course you HAVE to have dessert! Should I have cheesecake with a chocolate drizzle or banana pudding? Hmm…



banana pudding

banana pudding

All done!

my belly is so full!

my belly is so full!


Now for the main event! Oh my… and I thought the line for the food was long!

They all want a hay ride!

They all want a hay ride!

Here I go!

Finally, it's our turn!

Finally, it’s our turn!

This is the Christmas hayride because I am here in December, however, there are several throughout the year. At Easter time kids ride to get to an Easter Egg Hunt, in the summer they ride to the strawberry fields to pick their own strawberries and in the fall they ride to pick their own pumpkins. The fall also brings another night time hayride, for those brave enough to try it out! It is the Haunted Hay Ride! I am not that brave so I will stick to the Christmas themed ride. I tried to take a little video, but it is really no comparison to seeing these lights in person. Unfortunately the video saved sideways to the computer but posted just fine to Instagram so please find your way over to my IG page to see a little video!


Here are a couple of pictures as well:

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I hope you enjoyed the visit to Mike’s Farm as much as I did! Here is a link to their website, I highly recommend checking them out if you find yourself nearby!


I may not have a chance to post on the blog tomorrow because I will be, well, traveling! Look for a picture from the trip, however, on my Instagram page!

Until next time,

~Traveling Sam

Family Traditions in Wilmington, North Carolina

Merry Christmas (Eve) to everyone!

My friends in Wilmington, North Carolina were kind enough to share their Christmas tradition of taking the family Christmas card picture at the beach! Wilmington is a port city known more locally for it’s festivals and movie studio. I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of the things there are in Wilmington because it is a unique little “big” city.

In the spring it is home to the Azalea Festival which is a showcase for the community’s rich array of artwork, gardens, history, and culture through recreational, educational and family-oriented events. The Festival encourages volunteerism and civic participation as it contributes to the region’s economy and promotes the unique qualities of Wilmington’s river-to-the-sea community. The flowers are gorgeous and EVERYWHERE! Here is a link if you would like to learn more:


In the fall you will find Riverfest which is located in the same spot in downtown Wilmington as the Azalea Festival. This festival came about out of a desire of locals to bring people back to the downtown area. You can read more about the annual Riverfest here:


At both you will find amazing one of a kind, hand crafted items, a variety of foods, music, and activities for the kids that people come from miles around to experience.

Wilmington is also home to a movie studio! Hard to believe, but shows like One Tree Hill, Under the Dome, and Sleepy Hollow aren’t filmed in Hollywood, they are filmed right here on the Crystal Coast! I understand there is a tour… I will have to take that the next time I am in town! Here is a link if you would like to learn more:


There is also an aquarium right down the road in Fort Fisher and a rich history in the downtown area but yeah yeah yeah, who needs all that stuff when there is a beautiful beach?? When you live so close to such a beautiful coastline, there really is no other way to take your annual Christmas photos. Here are a few of them now:



expecting a baby sister…

She's here!

She’s here!

These pictures are from quite a while ago, here are some more recent shots:


Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope you are all with loved ones and enjoying some well deserved time off of work.


~Traveling Sam


I am still in Jacksonville, North Carolina enjoying some time relaxing and doing a bit of sight seeing. The United States Marine Corps has a heavy presence here and many of the residents are active duty, retired, or otherwise here because of the military. The city is surrounded by military bases including Camp Lejeune, Camp Geiger, Camp Johnson, and the New River Air Station. I did not have time to visit the bases on this trip, however I did visit a memorial area in town that stands to remember both civilians and military personnel who gave their lives. All of the memorials pictured here are in the same area and you can easily walk to them all from the parking lot. It is also free to come pay your respects so if you are in Eastern North Carolina for the beaches or here visiting because maybe you have a family member serving, it is a worthwhile stop.

I took more pictures than I got into today because I feel that it is not appropriate to take a selfie when you are in a place meant for reflection and paying respect to the dead. Please keep this in mind when you are on your travels as well!

The first stop was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I did take a picture at the entrance as it was an extravagant entrance a walkway to the actual memorial.

The close up...

The close up…

The full display

The full display

There is a long walking path before you come to a beautiful fountain that, from a distance, seems to be surrounded by glass.

The fountain

The fountain

As you get closer you can see that it is not just any glass…

The alphabetical listing of names of the soldiers who died in Vietnam.

The alphabetical listing of names of the soldiers who died in Vietnam.

It takes a moment to realize that even one pane of glass holds  at least 200 names. That’s when I had to step back and take in the enormity of it all.

This is less than a third of the wall. Each separate glass pane containing well over 100 names of the fallen.

This is less than a third of the wall. Each separate glass pane containing well over 200 names of the fallen.

Here is a website that has a lot of statistical information on those who died including where they were from, their religious preferences, their rank and branch of service. In all, 58,220 service members lost their lives.


To put this into a bit a perspective, Camp Lejeune is the largest amphibious Marine Corps base on the east coast and it is home to 47,000 Marines and Sailors.

After spending a bit of time reading the names we headed back the way we came and found a piece of history along the way.

10441016_738244716264627_8989043894507999752_nThis plaque is in front of a beam from the twin towers and the beam sits in this memorial park.


This was all very overwhelming and I needed a break to take in the autumn foliage. It really is in a beautiful little area right off of the highway.

Autumn is still happening here!

The last memorial we saw today was actually the first one built in this area. It was made in remembrance of the Marines who lost their lives while on a peace mission in Beirut, Lebanon. This memorial holds the names of those who died when their barracks was bombed.

The shadow of the Marine.

The shadow of the Marine.


People often leave things at his feet. You can often find a beer here around the Marine Corps Birthday (November 10, 1775)

One child left a plant and a picture thanking the Marines for their sacrifice.

A child left a plant and a picture thanking the Marines for their sacrifice.


A picture of the full memorial.

A picture of the full memorial.

A plaque with a lovely poem sits in front of the memorial. No worries if it is too small to read, I posted the words below the picture.


The Other Wall

By R.A. Gannon

It does not stand in Washington

By others of its kind

In prominence and dignity

With mission clear defined.

It does not list the men who died

That tyranny should cease

But speaks in silent eloquence

Of those who came in peace.

This Other Wall is solemn white

And cut in simple lines

And it nestles in the splendor

Of the Carolina pines.

And on this wall there are the names

Of men who once had gone

In friendship’s name to offer aid

To Beirut, Lebanon.

They did not go as conquerors

To bring a nation down

Or for honor or for glory

Or for praises or renown

When they landed on that foreign shore

Their only thought in mind

Was the safety of its people

And the good of all mankind.

Though they offered only friendship

And freedom’s holy breath

They were met with scorn and mockery

And violence and death.

So the story of their glory

Is not of battles fought

But of their love for freedom

Which was so dearly bought.

And their Wall shall stand forever

So long as freedom shines

On the splendor and the glory

Of the Carolina pines.

~Robert A. Gannon

Here is a link about the bombings if you would like to learn more:


I hope to visit the military bases and the museum dedicated to the Marines of Montford Point the next time I find myself in Jacksonville. Currently, Camp Johnson is for schooling. It is where Marines go after graduating boot camp to learn their MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). However not so long ago, the Marine Corps was segregated not only by enlisted and officer ranks, but by color lines as well and Camp Johnson was known as Montford Point. It was a base for African American Marines only. Here is a little preview:


…but more on that another time.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend and remember to thank those who serve their country!

~Traveling Sam