Compass American Guides: North Carolina, 2nd Edition

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9780679005087: Compass American Guides: North Carolina, 2nd Edition

Compass North Carolina 2nd ed."Filled to the brim with history, sightseeing highlights, and quirky anecdotes...of great value to Tar Heels as well as transplants." -- Our State Magazine, Greensboro

Created by local writers and photographers, Compass American Guides are the ultimate insider's guides, providing in-depth coverage of the  history, culture and character of America's most spectacular destinations. Covering everything there is to see and do as well as choice lodging and dining, these gorgeous full-color guides are perfect for new and longtime residents as well as vacationers who want a deep understanding of the region they're visiting.

Outstanding color photography, plus a wealth of archival images
Topical essays and literary extracts
Detailed color maps
Great ideas for things to see and do
Capsule reviews of hotels and restaurants.

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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

COASTAL PLAINNorth Carolina's broad coastal plain rises, barely, from a mainland coast inlaid with hundreds of tiny harbors, inlets, and bays. The plain stretches west -- in most places flat as an ironing board -- to the Piedmont's rolling hills. Where the Piedmont's lively rivers slow to a lazy crawl, a coastal plain was built with sediments eroded from western mountains. The plain's seven broad, shallow sounds make up the largest inland shoreline in the United States -- a boon to pirates, moonshine runners, and ne'er-do-wells who have hidden along shores so low that trees seem to walk on water. The 2.2 million acres of estuaries along these shores are also the nurseries for North Carolina's seafood industry.

Today's coastal plain consists of two geographic zones. The shore claims a spattering of fishing villages, a growing number of resort and retirement communities, and miles of undeveloped marshlands overlooking indigo sounds. Inland, the plain is a land of molasses-slow rivers, family farms, and towns so small a wily mayor's apt to park an unmanned police car near the lone traffic light, to create the illusion of a police force. This is a lush land of ages-old cypress swamps, rich estuaries, and drowsy colonial river towns.

Seasons

To see the plain at its best, visit in springtime when daytime temperatures hover in the low 70s, and a steady breeze ruffles the leaves of maples, gums, oaks, and poplars. Spring announces its intentions in February with a wash of yellow daffodils and forsythia; white dogwoods lighten the woods' edges in March. In front of lopsided tenant houses, lavender and pink phlox spill from spare-tires, flowing down ditchbanks. In April, as the wisteria twines its away across front porches and weaves itself between the arms of towering pines, the azaleas burst into bloom.

Spring's flowers slowly give way to summer's lush, jungle greens. In June the temperatures creep into the 90s and the humidity rises to greenhouse levels. When magnolias and gardenias perfume the air, summer's here. Afternoon thunderstorms make the highways and fields steam and shimmer, and the corn and tobacco grow so fast you can hear the leaves crackle. Summer lasts forever on the plain, sending people oozing toward shade well into September. In October a reluctant autumn overwashes the land, quietly receding into a mild winter whose pale, flat landscape could have been rendered with a putty knife: a smooth gash of bone-colored earth, khaki sands tinted with streaks of faded clay. Pine forests the color of moss and pewter stand watch over sleeping fields; along chill rivers, sycamores in elegant silvery bark and oaks in thin coats of grey-white lichens turn their shoulders to the wind.

Winter also brings the rare, dizzying possibility of snow.

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