Cliffs of the Neuse State Park
First was the Battle of Bentonville State Historic Site. I had seen the signs to this park for decades in our travels up and down I-95, particularly during our days when the kids had a high interest in the Civil War. But we were always in a hurry and never took time to visit. We could have waited another 10 years.
Bentonville was the scene of the last major battle of the Civil War when Confederate Gen. Johnston attempted to stop Union Gen. Sherman's march to the north from Savannah. It lasted three days before the Confederates withdrew. Mark's great-great-great grandfather saw action there as a company commander in the 87th Indiana.
It's a good news, bad news situation. The park could use a healthy infusion of cash. It's very small for such a important engagement. Interpretative and trail signs were missing and there were few stops on the driving trail. The good news, the park is completely surrounded by farms and could be expanded some day into a more significant site than the park currently represents. As Mark noted, life there hasn't changed signficantly in the last 140 years.
From there we went to Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. To get there we drove through a choking haze (heat index 106F) that obscured miles of tobacco, bean, corn fields, and more bean fields dotted with ASGROW - making better beans - signs. We passed through Spivey's Corner, home of the National Hollerin' Contest, and Newton Grove where you can have lunch at the Taco Rico.
The Neuse River is one of North Carolina's eastern watersheds. The cliffs have formed from the various sea level changes and exposes hundreds of millions of years of geology. It was nice park and would probably best to see in the fall. There are a couple easy to negotiate trails but they are infested with carpenter ants. (note to self: when going hiking in 106F heat, wear shorts. When hiking among ants, wear sneakers not flip flops).
We beat it back to Fayetteville for a wings and beer dinner at a bar within walking distance of the hotel.
All-in-all, a priceless day.