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United Beach Vacations Blog

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A trip to Carolina Beach State Park

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." -- Frank Lloyd Wright

Okay, ditch the cell phone, hide the Blackberry, and cancel all appointments. We're heading to Carolina Beach State Park today to walk in the unique maritime forest among long leaf pines, turkey oaks and live oaks. Behold the stately trees and look closely because wings are everywhere: there's a warbler ... and a finch ... do I hear a woodpecker? As we move closer to the shore we pass dense shrub swamps populated with loblolly, sweet bay and pond pines. Look! Up in the air … is that superman? No, it’s a pelican. The prehistoric looking brown bird thrives in this rich coastal environment. He must be between meals, taking time off from dive-bombing fish in the Atlantic.

The soil becomes boggy and muddies our shoes, but onward we march in search of that oxymoron of nature -- the carnivorous plant. Actually, there are several species in these parts, because they love the damp and acidic rich soil. There's a pitcher plant and a bladderwort, both of which trap and ingest various insects. But we are on the hunt for the spectacular Venus flytrap, and -- lo! -- there it is! Its leafy death trap is a deep green on the outside, and reddish inside with little hairs. Not too inviting for your basic arachnid.

Carolina Beach State Park is a great place for hiking, camping, and picnicking. It’s also a treat for the family pet, with wonderful well-marked trails. Be forewarned though, if your dog happens to be a hound with a healthy prey drive, like my Rhodesian Ridgeback, keep your eyes open. A deer or fox could walk by, and the dog might bolt after them. Please keep all dogs on leash in the park.

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