When you retire from Michigan, it seems like you have one of two choices. Florida or Arizona. So how did we Gunthers end up with a forwarding address of Wilmington, North Carolina? And where the heck is Wilmington, North Carolina, for that matter?
Well, it’s in the southeastern corner of the state, a little more than an hour north of popular vacation destination Myrtle Beach. Located on the Cape Fear River, the town is surrounded on the east with inter-coastal islands and beaches. With a population of 110,000, this port town is also a college town with a beautiful campus of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (13,000 students) and a thriving Cape Fear Community College.
Home to a major Coast Guard Cutter, Wilmington also boasts the largest film studio outside of LA. It has a diversified economy with major facilities of Corning, Inc., General Electric and several drug research and development firms and during the last decade this area took part in the housing boom. Our climate is subtropical, sunny, and mild (think 50’s in January and 80-90 degrees in August). Trust me, Ron and I don’t have to twist any arms to get our family to come visit.
There’s a rich history too! Wilmington was the last port to close before Lee surrendered, ending the Civil War. The town was left alone, relatively off the beaten path, and did not begin to flourish until the 1980’s when I-40 was built to bring Raleigh folks to the beaches.
For those of us who have been coming here for years, Wilmington was a well-kept secret. The secret is out. The beaches are pristine (a favorite of surfers), the restaurants great, the riverfront walkway fun, and the historic homes and gardens lovely. The blend of college students, well-off young retirees, senior citizens and dock workers provide an interesting and often time colorful mix. We are not spit and polished — upon close inspection, you’ll find dirt under Wilmington’s fingernails.