Our Suggestions for Inexpensive Day Trips from the Triangle – Part 2
- Created on Thursday, 02 July 2015 15:08
- Written by Lisa Sullivan
Summer is a GREAT time to explore the outdoors and communities within a day’s drive of the Triangle. In our previous post, we talked of trips to Kure Beach and the NC Aquarium, exploring historical landmarks in N.C., or visiting the Zoo. For this post, we wanted to concentrate on the adventures you can take in the great outdoors within North Carolina’s State Parks and Reservation Areas, as well as adventures for your palate as you explore one (or two or three) of the over 200 wineries in our state. Let’s begin with the great outdoors.
Explore North Carolina State Parks
Though there are many to choose from, for this post we are focusing on three in particular – Falls Lake State Reservation Area, Hanging Rock State Park and Merchants Millpond State Park.
Lots of Triangle-ites head to Falls Lake for the boating, hiking and camping, but did you know that a brand new zipline system just opened? Go Ape at Blue Jay Point, a zipline opened earlier this spring and offers tons of aerial fun for the whole family. It’s also a full-fledged cardio workout! Between the number of rope ladders, swings (including 2 Tarzan swings) and 5 ziplines, you are in a few hours of total exhilaration and extreme fun.
COST: For a 2-3 hour “treetop adventure” individuals age 16+ will pay $57 each while children ages 10-15 will pay $37 (Sorry, the minimum age is 10 years old.). It sounds expensive but when you factor in the equipment, safety training and the amount of time it takes to complete the course, it’s worth the price.
For those of you that like to hike a good mountain trail, check out the trails (and the vista!) at Hanging Rock State Park in Danbury, NC. No matter your skill level, a hike could take you to discoveries of cliffs through quiet forests and past cascading waterfalls. There’s even a cool mountain lake to fish or swim in too!
COST: Hiking – FREE. You can also rent boats, shelters, cabins, or campsites too. Check the website for details.
Over at Merchants Millpond State Park over in Gatesville, NC, rent a canoe by the hour (OR for an overnight) and paddle your way through the eastern North Carolina swamps and coastal waters, more commonly known as the “enchanted forest”.
COST: Rent a canoe by the hour at $5 for the first hour and $3 for each additional hour OR if you’re really adventurous, rent one overnight at $20 per 24-hour period.
Go Boating on Kerr Lake or Lake Gaston
Most Triangle-ites tend to flock to the “local” lakes of Jordan Lake or Falls Lake for daytime boating excursions, but drive 30 or so minutes more north/northeast of the Triangle and there are two additional vast lakes that share the border of our northern neighbor state of Virginia…and both have options for anything from canoe, kayak, jetski or pontoon rental.
COST: For Kerr Lake, check out the options available at Steel Creek Marina where kayaks are anywhere from $20 per hour to $60 for a full day. They also have pontoon boat rentals as well.
For Lake Gaston, check out the variety of options for rentals from the smallest of vessels to pontoon boats at Morningstar Marinas Eaton Ferry. We’ll give you a hint – a pontoon boat is cheaper than a typical speed craft. Get a party of 10-15 together and it REALLY gets cheaper! Because of the wide array of rentals, we invite you to check out the Eaton Ferry website for more info.
Visit the North Carolina Wineries in the Yadkin Valley
Often referred to as the “East Coast’s Napa Valley”, the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina boasts close to 50 wineries. The grapes harvested are similar to those which can be found in California’s famed Wine Country. Thus, the flavors tend to be smoother, drier and less fruity than their muscadine wine counterparts in other areas of North Carolina, particularly the piedmont and coastal regions of the state.
While there are so many to choose from, two of the most popular to visit are Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda, NC and Divine Llama Vineyards in East Bend, NC. Raffaldini has beautiful views of the NC Mountains as well as many events scheduled throughout the summer. At Divine Llama, you not only get to tour the vineyard and taste their wines, but you also get to visit their many Llamas and if you’re really adventurous, you can go on a Llama Trek too!
COST: Wine tours and tastings typically start at $7 per person and usually include a commemorative wine glass. Entertainment is usually free or very low cost (depending on event). Visit the Divine Llama website to learn more about their two-hour Llama Treks for an additional cost.
Those are just some of our suggestions for day tripping from the Triangle. If you’ve got others, please leave a comment below.
Our Suggestions for Inexpensive Day Trips from the Triangle - Part 1
- Created on Thursday, 25 June 2015 12:30
- Written by Lisa Sullivan
With the average price of gas at $2.54 per gallon in and around the Triangle, a day trip from our community this summer would make for an inexpensive one. So, we thought we’d gather together some of our favorite options that involve a variety of interests from beaches to historical landmarks to adventure and everything in between. We’ve also included admission prices (when applicable). You might want to factor in your food costs for snacks, a picnic, and/or dining out too.
Let’s start with the most popular one – beaches.
Put Your Toes in the Sand
One of THE most popular destinations for a day or weekend trip from the Triangle is the North Carolina coast, specifically the southern coast – Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle, etc. For the purposes of this post, we’ll concentrate on Kure Beach, the home of Ft. Fisher State Park because it has more than just beach to offer.
At Ft. Fisher, you can tour the North Carolina Aquarium in the morning, the civil war site at lunch and then hit the beach for the afternoon, or partake in all of those activities in any order. The kids will enjoy the aquarium and all it offers, the adults tend to enjoy the civil war site and all its history while both enjoy sinking their toes in the six miles of beach that borders them both. It’s a win-win for everyone.
COST: The beach is FREE. The Aquarium – Adults (16-61), $10.95; Seniors (62+) and Military, $9.95; Children (3-12), $8.95. Ages 2 and younger – FREE.
Tap Into Your Inner Historian
For those of you that like to soak up history (instead of the sun) during the summer months, head two hours west of Raleigh to Old Salem OR two and a half hours east of the Capital City to Tryon Palace in the coastal town of New Bern. Both destinations offer quite a bit for history buffs.
In Old Salem, visitors can watch historical re-enactors partake in several of the trades (i.e. shoemaking, pottery creation, gunsmithing, etc.), as well as try your hands at some of the hands-on activities – like writing with a quill pen, for instance. Just make note that hands-on activities are only offered Wednesdays and Thursdays during certain hours.
Visitors can also stroll through the gardens and shop too!
COST: There are several options, but we recommend the “All-In-One” ticket at $23 per adult, $11 per child. With it, you can explore the on-site museum, the gardens, trade shops and hands-on activities as well as any of the other structures on site.
If you’d rather head east, make your way down S.R. 70 to New Bern and tour both the town (by foot) and its most popular attraction, Tryon Palace, the first permanent state capitol (Yes, Raleigh is not the only North Carolina city to have a state capitol building!). New Bern is the home of Pepsi , so be sure to stop by the original store as you meander through the streets of this small city along the Neuse River. From there, head a few steps over to Tryon Palace to explore the history and grounds of this beautiful museum, which is really MORE THAN a museum. We’d describe it but we invite you to go and see for yourself!
COST: Stroll through New Bern – FREE. Tryon Palace – just like with Old Salem there are many options, but we recommend the “One Day Pass” at $20 per adult, $10 per child. It gets you into the Governor’s Palace, historic homes, museum galleries and the gardens. There’s A LOT to see!
Lions, Tigers, and Bears – Oh My!
We’ve got two different options for those that love to be near and around our furry little…and not so little…friends – the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro OR Carolina Tiger Rescue just west of the Triangle in Pittsboro, NC.
The North Carolina Zoo offers everything a typical zoo-lover would want. From exhibits and attractions that lead you past grazing elephants, antelope, and gazelles as well as harbor seals (also viewable via the underwater viewing area) and black bears to special exhibits like Dino World (open daily until October), you and the family could easily spend a whole day at the zoo!
COST: While admission is reasonable at $15 per adult, $13 per Senior (62+) and $11 per child (2-12), we recommend the “FUN Pass” for just a few dollars more at $21 per adult, $19 per Senior and $17.00 per child. With the Pass you get not only regular admission, but also six FUN tickets in which you and your children can visit the Dino World exhibit, ride the Endangered Species Carousel, and/or check out the 4-D theatre featuring SpongeBob SquarePants. It’s a better value!
Another interesting option for the animal-lover in you is partaking in a tour at the Carolina Tiger Rescue organization. Carolina Tiger Rescue is a “sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.” (via the Carolina Tiger Rescue website)
Public tours take you through a half-mile guided walk to see some of the tigers, lions, bobcats, and more that they have rescued. You will hear stories of those you see too!
COST: $18 per adult, $11 per youth (4-12), and children 3 and under are FREE.
These are just some of our economical ideas for day trips from the Triangle. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 as we reveal a few more!
Tell Congress: Stop the Data Breaches
- Created on Wednesday, 24 June 2015 12:54
- Written by Joe Mecca
Members are paying for data breaches
At Coastal, we believe protecting the privacy and security of our members' accounts is our most important responsibility.
When we discover a data breach at retailers, we take action immediately to change account numbers and issue new credit and debit cards for members who were affected. In many cases, we can't even tell you which merchant caused the breach even though we are working to protect your account from the fraud.
The possibility of having your personal financial data stolen is enough of a burden. You shouldn't have to worry about who will clean up the mess and pay the bills for the fraud. If you're like most people, you probably assume that merchants take responsibility since their security failures caused the theft of your data. Unfortunately, that's not how it works.
Credit unions like Coastal bear the brunt of these costs after a merchant data breach, even though we had nothing to do with it. Because we are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by our members, you ultimately foot the bill.
We don’t think that’s fair.
After you've been victimized by having your financial data stolen, you shouldn't have to pick up the tab to clean up the mess. That's why Coastal and credit unions across the country are working together to improve protections for consumers who are victims of merchant data breaches. We're calling on Congress to step up and protect credit union members by supporting the Data Security Act of 2015, S. 961, and the companion House bill, H.R. 2205. These bills are a good start to addressing this critical issue by:
1. Strengthening merchant standards to be comparable with those of credit unions;
2. Mandating a federal notification requirement for merchants when breaches occur; and
3. Providing a floor for data security standards nationwide.
Overall, S. 961 and H.R. 2205 represent the best attempts so far at legislation to stop merchant data breaches. We hope you'll consider lending your voice to this important effort. Please click on the links to send e-mail to your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative. Tell them you want them to take action to protect consumers like you.
lf you'd like to learn more about what you can do, please take a few moments to visit www.stopthedatabreaches.com.
Letter From the President: Data Security, Apple Pay and More!
- Created on Monday, 22 June 2015 11:58
- Written by Chuck Purvis
I am taking a new approach to my periodic letters to our membership, beginning with this one. Each quarter, I will share with you a preview of what you can expect from Coastal in the months ahead.
The credit union has enjoyed a solid first half of this year, including a record $2.1 million VIP Payout and the opening of our new White Oak branch. We’ve also been positioning ourselves to be competitive in the deposit market. In February, we launched our new Go Green Money Market account, which works in tandem with Go Green Checking and pays a higher yield when you use your Go Green debit card. We’ve also beefed up our certificate rates, and are currently offering the highest returns in the Triangle.
Looking ahead, one topic that’s been on my mind is data breaches. Merchant card compromises are a source of frustration for members and the credit union alike. Even though the data breaches have all occurred at merchants or processors, credit unions still bear the cost of replacing the affected cards, as well as any fraud that actually occurs (members are never liable for fraudulent transactions). In 2014 alone, this resulted in a direct expense of nearly $360,000. On top of that, we incurred other processing and communication costs, and absorbed the cost of fraudulent charges that occurred on those cards prior to us being able to deactivate them.
Many times, we don't know or aren't allowed to reveal who the merchant was, which isn't much consolation to an upset member who only knows that their Coastal card was compromised.
Because of this, Coastal is teaming up with the Carolinas Credit Union League and CUNA to participate in the Stop the Data Breaches campaign. In the next few weeks, we’ll be asking our members to contact your congressional representatives to encourage them to take action on the Data Security Act of 2015. This bill strengthens merchant security standards, mandates notification requirements and helps hold responsible parties accountable when a breach occurs.
On Coastal’s end, we’re working a few solutions to help mitigate the risk of card compromises. Two of these solutions, Apple Pay™ and EMV debit cards, are slated to be implemented in the coming months.
Apple Pay™ will allow users with a newer iPhone®, iPad® or Apple Watch™ to link their Coastal debit or credit card to their device, and securely pay for merchandise using the device instead of their card. When Apple Pay™ was first introduced, Coastal announced that we were among the first to sign up to participate. That process has taken longer than we expected, due to factors that were beyond our control. However, we recently received confirmation that our debit and credit card processors are now fully capable of supporting Apple Pay™, and we’re in Apple’s queue to launch service sometime in the third quarter.
On the card front, we expect to begin issuing EMV debit cards later this year. EMV cards contain a small microchip that provides an encrypted and therefore more secure transaction than traditional magnetic stripe payments. Once EMV cards are available, we will begin issuing them to members as part of our normal card replacement schedule.
Be sure to look for more communication regard to the Stop the Data Breaches campaign, Apple Pay™ and EMV cards as we get closer to the launch of each.
In the meantime, I wish you all an enjoyable summer.
Chuck Purvis, President & CEO