Earlier in the month we enjoyed a visit from our friends the Sherpa Girls. Always up for an outing, I knew they would enjoy a chance to kayak on Merchants Millpond in North Carolina, and that it would be unlike anyplace two Colorado girls could experience along the Front Range. The millpond was formed about 200 years ago as an economic venture, and through a very generous gift is now a state park. The word pond might give you the wrong impression as it is covers more than 700 acres and is nearly two miles long. A very unique ecosystem, it is abundant with plants and animals, including bobcats, bear, many snakes, turtles, numerous bird species, primitive long-nosed gar and bowfin, plus there are now resident alligators. I asked one of the rangers about the gators, commenting that this must be the most northerly population, but she said they have also been spotted just over the border in Virginia. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the alligators were shy the day we visited, but there was still much to see.
Eastern River Cooter (Pseudemys concinna concinna (I think))
Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
The Sherpa Girls
In places there were swamp rose (Rosa palustris) petals littering the water's surface. Many of the plants found a home in the rotting trunks of trees long gone.
Common Spatterdock (Nuphar lutea ssp. advena)
Your Humble Blogger
Although I did not take any pictures of it, the new visitor's center at Merchants Millpond is worth a mention. It is an LEED building that harvests its rainwater, is built with recycled materials, takes advantage of passive solar, has no-flush urinals (that do not stink), has a great view and is quite attractive. If you are interested, here is an on-line article about the building with a slide show. This is the same building where you rent canoes and kayaks, and the Sherpas were able to enjoy 4 hours in a two-person Cadillac of a kayak for a mere pittance of $14. Bargains like this are few these days.
The pond can be lovely at night too.
Normally when I make time for church it is a solitary affair, occasionally a dog may join, but it was nice to have some company in the cathedral.