It is a joy to be sharing My Pilgrimage to Bird Island NC Kindred Spirit Mailbox with fellow letter-writing enthusiasts! I made this trip last week on July 23, 2021. In addition to several photos, I’m including observations, discoveries, and tips for planning your future visit to it.
The word Pilgrimage in the title is really is a perfect one to use!
It was a treasure exploring last Friday afternoon Bird Island making the trek walking from parking at the Sunset Beach Pier, to the 40th Street Public Beach Access and from there 1.4 miles each way. The round-trip walking was 4.3 miles and took two hours allowing time for writing into one of the journals at the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.
My Pilgrimage to Bird Island NC Kindred Spirit Mailbox
When I started this blog in February 2015, I had never heard of the Kindred Spirit Mailbox.
Yet, from day one, my AnchoredScraps letter-writing blog has been about encouraging old-style correspondence between kindred souls”.
In my first blogpost, item 2 – “Who am I blogging for? Kindred storytellers looking for insights of how to balance the juggle of new technology along with old-style corresponding via hand letter writing to keep connected with our family and friends.”
In August 2015, six months after beginning my blog, I learned about the Kindred Spirit Mailbox watching about it on North Carolina Weekend. I wrote my blog post, Discovering the Kindred Spirit Mailbox (September 25, 2015) after watching about it on North Carolina Weekend; still love seeing we both have that kindred connection.
And so it has been on my list of things to do all these years. Earlier this spring I came across the beautiful Kindred Spirit Mailbox Postcard for Bird Island, that I wrote about in my recent July 18th blog post. It was in it that I wrote about planning a trip to go see it on July 23rd.
DECORATED SHRUBS along the path to get to the beach
Came across “decorated shrubs lining the 40th Street walkway — “dollar tree.” …
In looking it up, I found this article from The Brunswick Beacon. It was submitted by llewis on Tue, 08/27/2019 – 3:55pm – “ONDBEAT: End-of-summer hurrah a shell of a sight in Sunset Beach”
The display is as assorted as the decorators’ imaginations: Festooned shells, sand dollars, sea biscuits, even broken conch shells have become colorful ornaments of beauty adorning the bushes.
Akin to the Kindred Spirit mailbox just a mile or so down the beach, they write messages on the shells”
1.4 MILES from the sign
“1.4 miles” the sign read with the arrow pointing RIGHT. And not even 1/3 of a mile away the beach area quickly grows thin of people. The wonderful 1.4-mile walk finds on my right all of the sand dunes with NO development and on the left the ocean waves coming up onto the shore. Now by 1 mile in maybe 4 to 5 people and for long stretches no one.
And THEN there it is, I missed seeing it at first while on the walk. My husband saw it first, on the right on the sand. The designated area at first looks very ‘small’ to me. Yet as we walk up there are two benches with the mailbox slightly on the right side between them and the area is now larger.
It is very quiet, with one group leaving, and another reading the journals and finishing their jotting down their thoughts. It must have been a rare occasion, shortly after arriving, within 5 to 10 minutes, having it to ourselves while I wrote my entry. From what I read prior, the protocol is really nice with no crowding, hanging back, and waiting for their respective turns to write. It wasn’t until we were a stretch down the beach on our way back that we then came across the next group walking up to it.
The story of Bird Island finds the story of the Kindred Spirit Mailbox weaving its way through both; with the name of Frank Nesmith. He was instrumental for over 25 years in helping keep Bird Island undeveloped. During that time there was a ten-year legal fight. In 2002 it Bird Island was formally dedicated and is protected as a Coastal Reserve. It is “… part of the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management’s Coastal Reserve Program…”
He co-founded the mailbox with Claudia Sailor.
During my visit, I was told the driftwood remembrance was put there honoring Frank Nesmith last October. Over 35 years ago he started the Kindred Spirit Mailbox; last July he passed away at age 93.
You will enjoy reading CoastalReview.org “Frank Nesmith: ‘Kindred Spirit,’ Coastal Hero 09/18/2020 by Lauren Kolodij. And this one, Kindred Spirit Mailbox Serves as Symbol of Hope on Bird Island, October 28, 2016.
On the day we were visiting, the Kindred Spirit Mailbox was housing several notebooks. Glancing inside one of them, the date span was for just one week during the month of July 2021.
This is the cover of the journal I wrote while there.
Here’s an image of my entry. The top part I have blanked out as it was written by the previous visitor.
Where the Journals Go Now Afterwards Becoming Part of Collection
From what I was reading, journals collected eventually find their way to a special collection at UNC-Wilmington’s Randall Library Special Collections. It currently has hundreds of journals. There is also this article about the different years of journals collections are physically located.
The SIZE of Bird Island Reserve is over 1400 acres!
From the NC Environmental Quality website, the size visiting the site details are there; in addition to their Official BI brochure, and VIRTUAL TOUR which includes the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. The bold below in the quote is added for emphasis.
“Bird Island is an undeveloped barrier island located at the southwestern edge of the North Carolina coast, situated between the Town of Sunset Beach and the Little River Inlet in South Carolina. The Reserve site encompasses 1,481 acres consisting of approximately 135 upland acres and more than 1,300 acres of marsh, intertidal flats, and subtidal area. This site is also a Dedicated Nature Preserve, authorized by G.S. 143B-135.250.”
Reflections & Things to remember for when you make your trek
Reaching the Kindred Spirit Mailbox is not just to pull up in your car, hop out, and touch it! It is the process of walking along the long stretch of undeveloped beach on this barrier island. That time is precious to just think and unplug prior to arriving at the mailbox.
We found parking at the Sunset Beach Pier parking lot for $10 for the day. While parking there adds more distance to the walk for us the best solution. The parking is very limited along the streets. There are bicycles available for renting and I’m already thinking next trip to consider renting one.
Don’t forget to bring a pen – just in case! I was so focused on having my camera, and sunglasses, I TOTALLY forgot to bring a pen AND the sunscreen! It was okay though because the mailbox had TWO pens in it!
I did remember to bring two bottles of water mid-way point and bringing back with me.
Think TWICE about taking your sandals off to walk on the wonderful wet sand! It was great UNTIL around the mid-point at which out of nowhere a huge blister appeared on the bottom of my right foot, taking several days to go away! Next time I’ll wear my Sperry Topsiders (which I had left in the car)! I was really lucky, not having to opt for using moleskin and by Monday was able to get back onto the treadmill.
Furthermore, take into consideration if you are going to be walking there or back during high tide.
Discovering ‘Just Five Miles Away’ Distance
You know how when you are finding something for the first time, the drive there seems to be longer than the return? It turns out that at a pivotal point on the map – it was JUST FIVE MILES from an intersection we had been through several times before on several previous trips to North Myrtle Beach down the road; however, not ‘”conecting the dots” that the mailbox location was so close! It was fun to put on a tourist hat and go exploring so close to home!
In closing, it is my sincerest wish is for you to consider planning a trip to this place! There were entries in the journal literally from all around – wishing kindred good wishes.
Thank you and Attribution links all showing above, all images showing taken by AnchoredScraps