Luanne Austin Mugshot

Have you ever carefully packed for a trip and then when you got there and saw what was in your suitcase wondered, “What was I thinking?”

Going to a Carolina beach in November means packing for summer and fall. As it turned out, I had nothing warm to wear for evening strolls on the beach.

Oh! Before I go any further, I have to tell you about something that happened.

One morning we took a walk to some shops to buy a few things. As we walked alongside a busy street, a fellow in a pickup truck yelled: “Old people are taking up space!”

I busted out laughing. The husband got angry.

How would you have reacted?

Then the husband was puzzled, saying, “I don’t think of myself as old.”

Well, we are in our 60s. His hair is graying, mine is white. We’re pretty active — as a matter of fact, I met a running goal while we were there — so we probably have the fitness of our 40s, but you may not be able to tell that by looking at us.

It was a noteworthy and somewhat sobering incident.

So for the first few days of our vacation, it was sunny with temps in the mid-70s. Perfect for absorbing the sunshine. So therapeutic for body and soul.

We lay on cushioned lounges on the deck overlooking the water and sat in beach chairs on the beach. We watched pelicans skim over the water’s surface, rising and dipping with the swell of the waves, awkwardly dropping in at the sign of a tasty morsel.

One morning, the husband spotted a pod of porpoises by their dorsal fins moving above and beneath the surface of the water. We watched them, about 12 yards in from the water’s edge, swim by. There were five or six of them.

We read, did crossword puzzles, gazed at the waves tumbling in, remarked on the status of the tide.

Sailboats and fishing trawlers cruised by on those first few days, along with larger ships on the horizon. In the late afternoon, surfers showed up in their wetsuits, toting their boards. It’s always fun to watch them catch the waves and enjoy the ride.

We strolled up and down the beach, wading in the still-warm water. This time, the husband was into collecting shells for a project he’s planning.

Not far down the beach from our condo was “the boardwalk,” with a few shops and restaurants still open. (That’s where I was able to find a zip-up hoodie for the cool evenings. A fine souvenir.) In addition to buying local seafood to cook at the condo, we treated ourselves to a few meals out.

At night, though neither of our teams were playing, because we love baseball, we watched the World Series.

On Tuesday night, the baseball season ended, and we awoke on Wednesday to find the weather turned into fall. It was chilly. The waters got rough. There were small craft and high tide advisories.

Plan B was to go sightseeing, so we set off down the peninsula for Fort Fisher.

Touring the site, we learned that, until the last few months of the Civil War, Fort Fisher kept North Carolina’s port of Wilmington open to blockade-runners supplying necessary goods to Confederate armies inland. By 1865, the supply line through Wilmington was the last remaining supply route open to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

On Jan. 15, 1865, Fort Fisher fell in a massive federal amphibious assault. The fort’s defeat portended the fate of the Confederacy.

So that was our vacation: sunning, strolling, seafood and sightseeing.


Luanne Austin lives in Mount Sidney.

Contact her at, or care of the DN-R.

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