You Drive Me Crazy: Driving In The Cape Fear Area

Young Old Fart says…

When I first arrived in Wilmington, one of the few things I was looking forward to was a more relaxed driving environment. I was so wrong. I never thought it would be possible, but I have actually found a place that has worst drivers than NJ. If you’ve ever driven on the NJ Turnpike, you would know that when I say this is unbelievable, it is honestly shocking. Lucky for me I was stuck on the UNCW campus Mon-Fri, and over weekends, I would just mooch off my parents for rides. However, my mother (YAH) realized how I was avoiding driving here AT ALL COSTS. I mean, I could only use “I don’t feel like going out today” or “My contacts are bothering my eyes and my glasses give off a glare,” for so long. But, who could blame me? I was terrified (honestly, I still get very anxious when I am behind the wheel here.)! Everyday we would see at least two accidents, and that would be just driving to the local Wal-Mart. Once, when we drove to the beach I counted SIX! Maybe I was/am being a baby…silly me, wanting all my limbs to stay functioning.

Anyway, I have this theory that all these accidents are due to two distinct factors:

1) Wilmington consists of mainly retirees (aka people who leave their blinkers on and drive 20mph under the speed limit) and college students (aka children who apply makeup and text while driving, go 20mph over the speed limit, and blast their music to the point that anyone who isn’t completely deaf can hear them coming from miles away…because obviously all of this is “like totally fine”)

2) There are some unusual driving laws/lights/road signs around here.

As far as the freaky rules go, the one I find the most disturbing is u-turns. Basically, it’s legal to u-turn around any median and at any light unless indicated otherwise (which honestly, it never is). Why is this a problem? Well, often you’ll get people wanting to do multiple things at the same time and no one knows who has the right of way/doesn’t care if you do. What does this lead to? A four car pile-up.

Something else that really bothers me is how people constantly sit in the back of trucks and don’t seem to worry about being ejected out. This wouldn’t give me the jeepers creepers if the average speed limit around here was below 45mph, but it’s not. If I were a parent, my child would never be in a car without airbags/safety belts.

Finally, some lights in the Cape Fear area make NO SENSE! Often, you’ll see a quadruple rowed light that is sporting three different arrows, all the colors of the rainbow, and five signs around it. Normally everyone just does what they consider is appropriate, and yet again, what does this lead to? No, not a four car pile-up. But, a head-on collision, two rear-enders, and one side swipe.

Well, hopefully, I’ve at least prepared you for the insanity that is driving in the Cape Fear area. I suggest you bring some good insurance, a car you don’t like, courage, and a helmet. God’s speed.

Kittens and fudge,

YOF

Young At Heart says…

It is my firm belief that we need a national driver’s license in the great old U.S.A. Living in many states for many years, I can personally attest to the aggravation of trying to get a new license every single time one moves…barring our military personnel of course. With a lot of states, one must take a written test to prove that one now knows the laws of the road for that particular state. Now mind you…one can still have had accidents, tickets, etc. but for some reason the bureaucracy believes that filling in little circles with a number two pencil or clicking on a little circle proves that one knows how to operate a car….NOT!

Wilmington is proof! It has the highest car insurance rate in the state of NC (not that knowing this prior to moving here would have changed my mind). My agent explained that it’s due to the demographics here. OK, let me explain this. Lots of seniors and lots of college students = lots of car accidents=high insurance rates in Wilmington. Now add this little tidbit to the laws of the roads here, a downpour of rain at any given moment (you know the term hydroplaning), and drivers that insist on texting and talking on their cell-phone while driving and you can imagine the pile up rate. It is high. Almost every single day I see at least one accident while driving, and more often two to three.

Now, let me count the causes for accidents. First, u-turns that confuse everyone (as YOF said). Personally, I always wait until I know any possible driver, doing any possible thing, has vacated the area and THEN, and only then, do I proceed to do my u-turn.

Second, we have another neat little ditty that I just know causes accidents: the middle lane (in some areas) that is for drivers to use when making a left turn/right turn. Unfortunately, I have seen drivers use this lane to pass in, park in, and just about anything else but its intended purpose.

All in all, the Cape Fear is a great place to live in. But unfortunately, it is also an accident just waiting to happen, and just as unfortunate…you will pay the price.

Dented KISS,

YAH

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Under The Sea: Review of Fort Fisher Aquarium

THE HEARTS: good for all ages, air conditioned, handicap accessible, lots to see and experience, cute gift shop, close to Wilmington, decent admission prices, offers membership and volunteer/internship opportunities

THE FARTS: unhealthy food located outside, only features NC wildlife, not good for a full-day outing, depending on the age it may be a one-time stop

Young At Heart says…

What to do? What to do? My son, his wife and our lovely grand baby were coming to Wilmington. The catch? My grand daughter is just 14 months old and of course I want to spoil her. I mean, really, what else are grandparents to do? So immediately I start compiling a list of “to do’s” for the Cape Fear with a 14 month old in toe. The list was short….very short. I mean it is like 100 degrees here of late with high humidity and we do come from northern blood stock, so we aren’t that tolerant of humidity just yet. Immediately the Children’s Musuem came to mind but she is too young for that (I’ll save that review for a later date when I take my great niece and nephew there). Possibly the beach I ponder? But then I remember my children around that age and all I imagine is the sand in the eyes, nose, and eventually the mouth….that’s out. So finally, after much thought and research (and I do mean much research…we are talking a 14 month old that is now just finding her independence with walking unaided), I came up with this short list: The Aquarium and the zoo (post to follow in the future). So off we go under the sea…

I will say that I was more than pleasantly surprised by the fine job they did with The Aquarium. First, it was air conditioned which in this heat was a BIG plus! Second it was truly handicap accessible which was great for me but even greater for Isabelle being she was in a stroller.  Their was lots to see and experience there and I have to say that the entire group (5 adults plus Isabelle) really enjoyed it. From the beautiful two story aquarium…

to the touchy feely hands-on exhibits (just kidding),

we all had a grand time. This place is suitable for any age I am happy to report! From weebies to seniors there is plenty to watch, touch and enjoy. We all had a wonderful day under the sea!

Fishy KISS,

YAH

PS….the intern giving the octopus lesson was fantastic….who woulda thunk that an octopus has the mind of a 4 year old.

Young Old Fart says…

While I agree with YAH that Ft. Fisher Aquarium in Kure Beach is a fun activity, there are some things I think need to be pointed out. One, it’s about a twenty-five minute drive from Wilmington (if you live near Monkey Junction, if you live closer to Wrightsville it will be much longer). Second, I can’t see anyone spending more than an hour at this aquarium. Don’t get me wrong, it has beautiful natural exhibits that showcase NC’s wildlife, however, it really isn’t meant for a full-day outing. Also, don’t expect seals and whales, like I mentioned before it is really just a sampling of the local animals. As far as food goes, they have the unhealthy stop-your-heart kind (i.e. ice cream, pretzels, fries, etc), all located outside (in the heat…). The gift shop is really cute and a fun highlight…I would definitely grab SOMETHING to remember the day by. Admission is $8 for 13yrs-61yrs, $7 for 62 and older, $6 for 3yrs-12yrs, and free for anyone 2 and under. IMHO, if you plan on having lots of company, or you have grandchildren/children I would buy individual membership for $30 that allows free admission for two adults on the card and their children/grandchildren under 18…now THAT’S saving some moolah. Finally, being the college student I am, I truly appreciate the fact that the aquarium offers volunteer/internship opportunities…PERFECT for my fellow Seahawks interested in marine bio (the most popular major at UNCW).  All in all, while staring at hungry crocs that are sizing me up for dinner isn’t my favorite way to spend the day, I am sure the kiddies will adore molesting a stingray.

Kittens and fudge,

YOF