The orange marbled orb-weaver spider (Araneus marmoreus) looks like a lovely round pumpkin. I found this beautiful specimen (bravely!) crawling around my chicken pen in North Wilkeboro, NC in 2011 during the late summer or early fall. It wasn't pleased with my attempts to photograph it, although I don't know why: it's quite attractive! Read more
Marbled orb-weaver spider
Beautiful ducks of Duke Gardens, Durham, NC
One of the highlights of studying at Duke was walking through the Duke Gardens and observing the daily habits of the many ducks that frequent the pond in the Asiatic Arboretum. I came to realize that they all had very active lives and interesting relationships. Read more →
Identifying frogs and toads in NC
Although I often miss the mountains, one of the benefits of living in North Carolina's Coastal Plain is the tree frogs. During my summer at Duke's Marine lab in Beaufort, we would often return to our apartment to find the building and our door absolutely covered in frogs; in the morning, they'd be all over the car, and we'd have to pull them out of the tires. They don't seem to be quite as prevalent in Greenville, but there are plenty (they seem to like sitting on the porch, where they can taunt the cat). During a trip to Washington, NC, we ran across this stunning green little guy, and I decided to find out what he was. Read more →
Crawdads in NC
In late July, my husband and I found a bunch of crawdads, including a 3-4 inch monster that is easily the biggest crawdad I've ever seen near the mountains, resting in a small pool along the Roaring River in North Carolina. My toes have been at the receiving end of one too many pinches and I found this thing terrifying, but even though I refused to touch it, we managed to catch it a bucket. Fortunately, my Ohio-raised grandfather fearlessly displayed it for a few photographs before we returned the creature to its kingdom. There were several other crawdads much smaller and, based on coloration, of different species than the big guy. Read more →
Easy Science: how the Appalachian Mountains formed in four steps
The history of the Appalachians spans over a billion years, with four collisions forming the Appalachian Mountains. The last collision occurred around 300 million years ago. Originally, the chain would have rivaled the Himalayas at over 5 km tall, with some mountains perhaps reaching as high as 9 km. Three hundred million years of erosion slowly whittled the mountains away; today, they average 1 km, with the highest point being 2 km at Mount Mitchell, North Carolina. Read more →
Lost Ark Arcade: video game paradise in Greensboro
If you love video games and live within three hours of Greensboro, you owe it to yourself to visit the Lost Ark Arcade, an answer to my dream of finding a true arcade like the ones my father got to enjoy in his youth.
Best restaurants near Beaufort, NC
Note: This list will be updated as we visit more restaurants during our time on the coast, as I attend the Duke Marine Lab during summer of 2013.
Tugboats of Morehead City State Port, NC
One of my secret guilty pleasures in life is a fascination with tugboats. I blame my grandfather for infecting me with the tug bug. One day while we were out on his bass boat, he pointed to a huge barge. "What do you think pushes that big, heavy barge?" he asked. No older than ten, I replied, "A humongous gigantic ship!" He laughed, and then the tug boat, dwarfed in size by the barge, came into view. This unexpected sight made quite the impression on me, I was thoroughly amazed with the tug's power. They quickly became mythologized in my mind as tireless, hard-working, under-appreciated folks of the boat world, while useless divas like yachts got all the attention.