Papa, Dave's Dad, and Rebecca, Dave's sister, came to visit us over Memorial Day weekend. The kids love their Papa and Aunt Becky so it was a fun weekend. We went to Wilmington today and had lunch downtown on the water at The George on the Riverwalk and it was yummy as always. Then we walked up the street to the Cape Fear Serpentarium. I knew that Zachary would love it and even Grace enjoyed it for the most part. Me, on the other hand, not so much. I thought the first few glass cases of snakes were interesting and even the man-eating crocodile but it got to the point that I had seen one snake to many. Even the smell of the place was making me nauseous and I had to go and sit down. I could not wait to leave! Rebecca was feeling kind of the same way but I think hers was for a different reason. You see, she has joined the Peace Corps and is going to be moving to Tanzania for about 2 years. She learned while we were at the Serpentarium that many of their most deadliest snakes were from Tanzania. Definitely doesn't give a person something to look forward to. But while we were there, we got to meet "Bubble Boy", a 12 foot long Saltwater Crocodile, "Wilma", a 340 lb Gian Anaconda, "Sheena", a 23 ft long reticulated Python, "Komodo", a dragon-sized monitor lizard and "Goldstein", the 15 ft long King Cobra!
This was the man-eating crocodile.
After the serpentarium, we went to the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial. We've driven by it many times and have seen it from the riverwalk but never actually been to it. It was awesome! We were able to walk through most of it and the see so much! The kids loved it even though it got very hot and tiring at some points. We definitely recommend touring it if you are in the area and have never done it before.
When the keel of NORTH CAROLINA was laid in October of 1937, she was the first battleship to be constructed in sixteen years. She became the first of ten fast battleships to join American fleet in World War II. NORTH CAROLINA (BB 55) and her sister ship, WASHINGTON (BB 56), comprised the NORTH CAROLINA Class. Following them were the SOUTH DAKOTA Class – SOUTH DAKOTA (BB 57), INDIANA (BB 58), MASSACHUSETTS (BB 59), and ALABAMA (BB 60) – and the IOWA Class - IOWA (BB 61), NEW JERSEY (BB 62), MISSOURI (BB 63), and WISCONSIN (BB 64).
At the time of her commissioning on 9 April 1941, she was considered the world’s greatest sea weapon. Armed with nine 16-inch/45 caliber guns in three turrets and twenty 5-inch/38 caliber guns in ten twin mounts, NORTH CAROLINA proved a formidable weapons platform. Her wartime complement consisted of 144 commissioned officers and 2,195 enlisted men, including about 100 Marines.
During World War II, NORTH CAROLINA participated in every major naval offensive in the Pacific area of operations and earned 15 battle stars. In the Battle of the Eastern Solomon’s in August of 1942, the Battleship’s anti-aircraft barrage helped save the carrier ENTERPRISE, thereby establishing the primary role of the fast battleship as protector of aircraft carriers. One of her Kingfisher pilots performed heroically during the strike on Truk when he rescued ten downed Navy aviators on 30 April 1944. In all, NORTH CAROLINA carried out nine shore bombardments, sank an enemy troopship, destroyed at least 24 enemy aircraft, and assisted in shooting down many more. Her anti-aircraft guns helped halt or frustrate scores of attacks on aircraft carriers. She steamed over 300,000 miles. Although Japanese radio announcements claimed six times that NORTH CAROLINA had been sunk, she survived many close calls and near misses with one hit when a Japanese torpedo slammed into the Battleship’s hull on 15 September 1942. A quick response on the part of the crew allowed the mighty ship to keep up with the fleet. By war’s end, the Ship lost only ten men in action and had 67 wounded.
After serving as a training vessel for midshipmen, NORTH CAROLINA was decommissioned 27 June 1947 and placed in the Inactive Reserve Fleet in Bayonne, New Jersey, for the next 14 years. In 1958 the announcement of her impending scrapping led to a statewide campaign by citizens of North Carolina to save the ship from the scrappers torches and bring her back to her home state. The Save Our Ship (SOS) campaign was successful and the Battleship arrived in her current berth on 2 October 1961. She was dedicated on 29 April 1962 as the State's memorial to its World War II veterans and the 10,000 North Carolinians who died during the war.
Did you know that the Battleship North Carolina was designed to carry 1,800 men, but by the end of WWII she was home to over 2,300? The crew slept in metal bunks stacked five tiers high. The ship is 729 fee (approx. 2 1/2 football fields) in length. Her top speed was 28 knots or almost 32 miles an hour. She averaged 1 mile per 145 gallons. During the war she steamed 307,988 miles. The Battleship North Carolina made its own electrical power producing 8.4 megawatts of electricity, enough to power a small town of 6,500 people. The Battleship could carry 120 days of food supplies including: 7,800 eggs, 16,800 lbs. of butter, 94,200 lbs. of sugar, 214,000 lbs. of fresh meat, 466,000 lbs. fresh vegetables and 135,000 lbs. fresh fruit!
This was one of the views from the battleship. The blue and red building is the restaurant where Dave and I celebrated our anniversary this year.
For whatever reason, Zach decided to salute almost every time his picture was taken today.