Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fort Macon

Our first stop of the day on Monday was Fort Macon. There's a little environmental museum in the visitors center, which we all enjoyed exploring.

Here's Miriam being harpooned:

My mom has a picture of Benjamin standing on this whale on her blog. That little boy was all over the place! His attention span is so different from everyone else's. If he's ready to move on, he's moving on; he's not going to wait around. But if he finds something interesting, there's nothing that will compel him to move along until he's good and ready. For now we try to match his speed, let him set the pace. Eventually he'll learn to allow others to enjoy things at their speed, too.

Side story: Back when Rachel's class was working on their wax museum we spent a lot of time talking about important historical figures were. One of the names that came up was Anne Frank, because a couple of her friends had chosen to be her for the wax museum. "I'm not sure why they would want to be Anne Frank!" Rachel said.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Well, that just seems like kind of a weird person to choose," she said.

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"Well, it's Anne Frank," Rachel said, as if that explained it.

"What do you know about Anne Frank?" I probed.

"Wasn't her father a whaler or something?" she said.

And then I handed her a copy of Number the Stars and ordered Who was Anne Frank? because I'm pretty sure Anne has very little to do with whales. Now that Rachel knows Anne is a famous historical figure from WWII, more specifically as a victim of the Holocaust (and that her family wasn't at all into whaling) we've had several laughs about her mix-up.

Anyway, here's a few pictures of my "pearls":

And here's Miriam rather impressed with herself for holding a skull:

I'm not sure where Rachel was through all of this...she was around I'm sure, just never in front of my camera.

The kids were excited to get outside to tour the fort. We last visited Fort Macon in October and since then discovered Hamilton. The kids were, therefore, much more enamoured with the cannons than they were in October.

Much, much more enamoured...

Here are the three oldest with Bumpa and Naanii:

And here we are at the entrance to the fort:

Here's Benjamin sitting in a cannon:

And here he is saying, "Boom! Goes the cannon!":

We had a lot of fun exploring the courtyard in the middle of the fort (technically called the parade grounds, I guess), as well as the empty casements:

It was nice to have so many people help chase Benjamin and Zoë around!

A number of casements are set up to showcase each era the fort was active, from its construction in the mid-1800s to its induction as a state park after WWII. We enjoyed these exhibits as well. One of them looked like it had been redone since we last visited. The kids particularly enjoyed trying to heft a cannonball:

Here's Zoë trying to communicate with Benjamin (through the use of her teeth) that it was her turn (I don't even want to think about how she's going to do in nursery yet):

Here's Zoë taking her turn:

And here she is, quite surprised, after stepping off the platform and landing flat on her back:

Benjamin loves pirates right now, and really problems with pirates was part of the motivation for building Fort Macon in the first place. Here he is playing with some wallpaper at one of the exhibits:

He was doing a whole lot of narrating and arm-rocking as the ships were being "destoyed."

Here's Andrew doing some baby-entertaining while everyone else was still enjoying the exhibit:

And here's Miriam saying, "Hey, take a picture of me! It looks like I'm holding this gun!"

Because that's exactly how to hold a gun!

The last exhibit we found, courtesy of Benjamin and Naanii, who'd left an exhibit early to do some exploring on their own after Benjamin couldn't handle being cooped up anymore. It was the bakery of the fort.

Here's Zoë in the oven, which she didn't think was a great idea:

When we were reading the sign we learned that each soldier got a loaf of bread per day with his ration, but that the bread had to be completely cooled (for at least twelve hours) before it could be consumed because warm bread was thought to be bad for the digestion. "Bread less than 12 to 24 hours old should eaten by those who have any regard for their digestive organs," was the unfortunate advice of the 1800s.

Those poor soldiers, never eating a piece of warm, home-baked bread!

After we had finished exploring the main level of the fort we went up on the wall. Last time it was so windy that we didn't walk around much. We went up, took a few pictures, and then got back down again before any of the children could blow away. This time, however, we spent quite a bit of time up there. We walked the whole way around the fort.

I walked on the lower wall with my mom and Zoë while everyone else walked on the upper wall, even though there was a very steep drop off on the other side.

The person I was most worried about was Benjamin, who has a tendency to act a little rash, but he held Bumpa's hand the whole way and was just fine.

Speaking of Bumpa, Benjamin was proud to wear his camo shorts—just like Bumpa's!—to the fort.

Here's a picture of my mom, showing how high she was on this wall. She doesn't like heights at all.

Here's everyone else on the upper wall:

And a picture showing the drop off on the other side:

One wrong step and a short roll down the hill and you were looking at a significant drop! As many signs kept reminding us, the fort was made for war, not safety. Fortunately, no one tripped.

Here we are heading back down...

...and then heading down some more to the moat.

Last time we were here the moat was flooded, but it isn't always, as you can see:

Here are the kids climbing out of the depths of the covert:

And here's everyone else inside the depths of the covert:

This picture of Zoë on Andrew's shoulders cracks me up:

She's definitely another little mini-Andrew. As our cashier said when we went shopping a couple of weeks ago, "Where are you at, momma? I see lots of daddy in your kids, but not a lot of you."

"I'm just his clone machine," I said.

It's kind of true.

I waited out in the ditch/moat while everyone else went inside so I could get their picture behind bars. Here's Zoë:

She was pretty happy about it until she realized that no matter how she twisted:


...or squirmed...

...there was no way to get through those bars and back to mommy! She had to be carried back out to me because she just couldn't handle being separated from me anymore.

Here are some pictures of the rest of us behind bars:

And here's a few final pictures of us before we left the fort to have a little picnic lunch:

Up on the ceiling of the last little casement we walked through I noticed some rather large spiders hanging out in some webs:

I'm not sure what kind they are because I couldn't see anything but their legs, but whatever they were they were huge.

Here's Miriam by the "dream crab" inside at the drinking fountain either before or after our lunch:

And lastly, here's a picture of my parents' rental car:

The kids all thought it was great because it was the same kind of car that Grandma and Grandpa rented when they were out here in April!


  1. Little known fact - Fort Macon was built in part by using bricks used as ballast in Privateer ships. My mothers relative - Otway Burns - who has a statue in Swansboro was a well known Privateer (also known as a sociably acceptable pirate because they did things for the govt') provided quite a bit of the brick used in Fort Macon from his ship the Snapdragon. Your kids may enjoy reading about him at or