Thursday, May 6, 2010

Orton Plantation outside Wilmington, NC

Last Thursday was my day off and I had the idea from a friend of mine to visit an authentic Southern plantation (by authentic I mean not a subdivision or golf course).  The closest plantation to me is called Orton Plantation, and the gardens are open to the public.

As soon as I drove through the eagle topped gates to the plantation, I knew I wasn't in Kansas anymore...  The road was bordered on both sides by what I would call a swamp.  I noticed there were signs posted in the water, and when I slowed down to read them they warned under no circumstances were you supposed to get out of your car or feed the wildlife (whatever they might be)!  

When I got to the parking area, another visitor started chatting with me, asking about my out of state license plate, yada yada, and told me that the gardens were beautiful and they saw 3 alligators floating along in the river!  Now, there are no gates or fences or anything like that around that I notice, so I slowly creep through the gardens.  

The house is a private residence, so you can only see it from the front while you're walking through the gardens.  The original part of the house was built in 1725 by Roger Moore (no, not the second most handsome actor to play James Bond :P)  The plantation was a rice plantation, one of the largest and northernmost rice plantations in the South.  During the Civil War, the house served as a hospital and that's why it probably survived destruction.  The area that used to be the rice fields is now a wildlife preserve.  

When I got to the end of the parks, I saw another ominous sign that warned, "This area is reserved for the snakes and alligators.  Please give them their privacy."  At this point, I'm practically tip-toeing around, desperate to see a gator but not wanting it to bite my leg off!  By now, I'd seen several white and grey egrets flying around, a couple huge turtles, minnows in the water, a few friendly squirrels, but no gators.  Sadly, I decided it was time to go even without seeing the elusive alligator.  

I decided to drive at the pace of a slug on the way out - my last chance to see one!  Well, a miracle occurred, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a slithering like motion in the water.  Aha!!  There, in the middle of the picture, is the head and upper body of the alligator that seemed to be in quite a hurry to get away from my pitiful digital zoom.  I assure you, it is in fact a gator, and it was moving when I saw it, and I have really poor judgment of size, but I'd guess this was at least 4 feet long.  Tastes like chicken, right?

1 comment:

Danielle said...

Ethomps! This is the plantation right by Pearly Mae's beach place on Oak Island! Isn't the row of trees driving in amazing!? We always spy baby gators coming in and out... best is when they decide to cross the road-- and take their sweet time. The chapel was the one used in that Mandy Moore movie


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