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Good ole’ Rockyhock!

Susan and Biff Andrews

ROCKY HOCK, N.C.

We promised we would send in a column or two from our travels and field trips with our granddaughters as we enjoy our “Camp Andrews” adventures over the summer. This one is about food and fun as we continue off the beaten path.

Good food is where you find it and so is fun. We love the delicious offerings of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina this time of year. Fruits, veggies and seafood in particular. We’ll share a few of our favorites road trip food stops with you.

This week we were off to the Rockyhock/Edenton area of North Carolina. Our first stop was Wilbur Bunch’s farm stand for Rockyhock cantaloupe and sweet corn, which had just arrived from the field and was being unloaded from the back of the truck. He has all the summer favorites including watermelon, green beens, pole beens, peaches, plums, local honey and baked goods. Then we were off to Edenton.

We have visited Edenton many times and enjoyed walking down its sleepy streets with lovely homes from times gone by, its picturesque waterfront, delightful gardens, shops and restaurants. This time, we had a mission. We were looking for fish. Our visit started at the Edenton visitor’s center, to get some local information. We wanted to know how to get to the Edenton National Fish Hatchery to learn how fish go from small fry to fish fry … and where to find fresh shrimp.

While Biff went inside to get directions and info, the girls walked out on the shady Victorian wrap-around porch that happened to have just enough very inviting rocking chairs to accommodate the four of us and our picnic lunch. Oh yeah! After a delightful and relaxing lunch we were off to find the fish hatchery.

But first a stop at Papa’s meat market for some of his special sausage. He is a full-service butcher and will fix you up with hand-cut steaks and chops for your grilling pleasure … and some great conversation. Papa’s is only open Thursday through Saturday so plan accordingly.

The Edenton fish hatchery, our destination, is run by the Fish and Wildlife service and has a 63-acre outside operation of ponds where they raise fish (mainly stripers) to stock rivers and lakes all over the southeast region of the U.S. They also operate an educational facility and aquarium that showcases aquatic species living in Eastern North Carolina. It is a kid-friendly jewel with an assortment of free take-home educational materials. We got to see local varieties of fish, large and small along with two young alligators and an assortment of turtles. While we were there they fed the fish with little feeder fish. Lesson learned. Big fish eat little fish … and we eat big fish.

The Edenton NFH is a stop on the Charles Kuralt Nature Trail and the North Carolina birding trail. You can walk along the ponds and view shore birds, wading birds and other waterfowl and the occasional bald eagle. The hatchery also has a raised boardwalk through a natural wetland where songbirds and woodpeckers are common.

So after the fish hatchery lesson it was off to find North Carolina Shrimp. Like the fish hatchery, Nixon’s Seafood Store back in Rockyhock also provides fish to much of Eastern Virginia and North Carolina as well as North Carolina shrimp and other seafood.

Leaving Edenton, you go up Highway 32 until you find Rockyhock Road. Look for the dirt road that has a sign shaped like a fish that says Nixon’s Seafood on it. Drive down the dirt road until you get to the white cinderblock building.

And don’t forget your cooler!

SUSAN and BRADFORD “BIFF” ANDREWS are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at b.andrews22@live.com.