The post-NAFTA South is depending on tourism to bring it back from economic disparity. Everyone seems to blame NAFTA for their economic woes. Towns like Washington and Columbia, North Carolina, are hoping to capture tourism dollars to replace tax dollars formerly paid by factories like Hamilton-Beach, Procter Silex, Singer furniture, and the like. But it’s a hard row to hoe. Two new ideas have come to the forefront, lately.
I wrote that in 2003 on Popmatters. Wow, it's come true. Here in Washington NC, the local tourism pimps are pushing the envelope with their fine sampling of swamp fun -- including Agri-Tourism.
The first is our latest entry in the tourism field of dreams competition. Agri-tourism. It seems people will pay good money to drive a tractor, weed collards, and pick cotton. Guess it’s that Green Acres land-spreading-out-so-far-and-wide urge in folks. It causes a compulsion to mix it up with the aphids and the cow dung. And the second idea? Eco-tourism. Which is popular all over the damn place these days. In Washington County, North Carolina, they’re building camping decks at $10,000 a pop in the swamps of the Roanoke River so the canoeing/kayaking public can take in 130 miles of swamp without ever seeing a telephone pole or an SUV. Beaufort County, NC and the Pamlico River has some fine camping platforms now. Not a snarky comment, a true one. The platforms are pretty damn skippy.
Check out the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation.
The cypress trees are truly an awesome sight and I’m not denying the beauty of the area. Truth is, the mosquitoes there come in two sizes. Small enough to fly in through the holes in the screens or big enough to open the door and come on in. And gnats, snakes, alligators, bears, panthers (yes Virginia, there are still panthers in eastern North Carolina), red wolves (recently introduced to the area by our forward thinking environmentalists despite the fact that red wolves are not an indigenous species, not native to the area, they eat yard dogs and small farm animals, and they wander into people’s back yards and scare the bejesus out of some hamburger grillin’ farm family). (more...)
holler: [v] bawl, call, cheer, complain, cry, hoot, howl, roar, scream, screech, shriek, shrill, squawk, squeal, ululate, vociferate, wail, whoop, yap, yelp: Roget’s Thesaurus [or the sound one makes when one makes a high score on BeeBabyGames.]
I've told you about the Pantego Mud Run, one community’s answer to fund raising for their volunteer fire department. Driving through a mud pit might be lucrative fun, but Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina, [population 49?] sponsors the self-proclaimed National Hollerin’ Contest, a fire department fund raising tradition since 1969. Held every summer on the third Saturday in June, the National Hollerin’ Contest is one slam-damn good time. It’s so fun, it’s listed in the book 100 Things to Do Before You Die, Travel Events You Just Can’t Miss, right along with Mardi Gras and the running of the bulls.
The residents of Sampson County, North Carolina don’t want you to confuse hollerin’ with yodeling. While similar in its vocal intentions, the two differ in technique and sound. The roots of hollerin’ in Sampson County can be traced back to the 1700s when men rafting logs down the waterways to Wilmington would holler’ back and forth to each other to request aid or to notify other rafters of their presence.
Roads change. Back in the late 1980s, I raised two girls and a garage full of critters on a slice of the eastern shoreline called Dinah's Landing. We lived in company-owned housing, a small prefab 3 bedroom, 2 bath home on a Weyerhaeuser pine seedling nursery. The house sat across from the nursery office under a canopy of Loblolly pines and live oaks.
The road to the nursery was paved with "reject", a peculiar mixture of fossils and clay -- the byproduct of the phosphate mine owned by PotashCorp (Saskatchewan CA company, and one of the largest holes in the US) across the river in Aurora NC. It's an asphalt-covered road now.
[Reject is described more fully later on in this essay.]
Let's move on, shall we?
A tobacco barn, built before the Depression and covered with political signs hawking candidates from the 1980s, leans precariously toward the highway at the turn-off to Dinah’s Landing Road. The three mile stretch of road is barely visible from the highway. It’s just a narrow slice cut through tobacco and corn fields. Most of the people traveling over NC Hwy 264E to Cape Hatteras will drive right by and never see the turn-off. Few will feel the urge to turn down this North Carolina farm road. It ends abruptly at a small public access boat landing which gives the road its name, Dinah’s Landing Road. This is where the locals launch small, pretty sunfish sailboats and modest fishermans’ jon boats. Three miles of unpaved incongruous lifestyles; where agriculture concerns co-exist in fragile harmony with upper middle-class urbanites that are hell bent to retire amid Loblolly pine and cypress on the banks of the tan colored water of the Pamlico River.
I created BeeBaby a while back. It seemed a simple creation. An assemblage inspired by a headless yard ornament and a doll baby given to me by my almost 100 year old neighbor Velma. Not an" almost neighbor", although now she's a neighbor of memory, but "almost 100 years old" at the time.
Robert turned BeeBaby into an app.
An odd game using my assemblage art.
We'll make more games.
Check out BeeBabyGames.com . It's just a beginning.
Soon to be a legend.
Next on tap: Donna Brander's TangleInk.com games.
We're waiting for Apple approval. You think you know Find It? ha!
Volunteer fire departments, especially rural ones, often have to resort to some creative fund raising activities. Turkey shoots are a real popular cash cow. No, they don’t actually shoot birds, they compete for accuracy shooting at targets. Winner gets a cash prize. And there are fish fries and pig pickin’s (barbeque). Dinner goes for about $5 a “plate”, as they call them, even though they’re served in Styrofoam tri-sectioned containers.
Plate sales reach epic proportions during lunchtime when volunteers will deliver the meals to businesses. To be a good boss around here, you need to be willing to shell out a few bucks every time the Bunyan or Clarks Neck Fire Department has a barbeque, and buy all your employees a plate. Then you tip the volunteers about ten bucks for driving out to your place of business, telling them to “put this in the kitty, and tell Bobby Earl that Rufus said hey and bought 16 plates.” The cheap skates call in the orders, have the employees pay for their own meals but allow someone to “take off from work” to go pick up the plates. Then the employer gets credit for buying the meals, even though it didn’t. Comes off as a real Daddy Warbucks. No lie, I had a boss who did that.