Latta Plantation / Carolina Raptor Center

Our trip to Charlotte started with a stop at the Carolina BBQ in Statesville, NC. Carolina BBQ is the 6th location on the NC BBQ Trail we’ve been to and it’s definately one of the best. The chopped pork is incredibly smoky and the sides, which are often just an afterthought, are good as well.

Our trip had two main purposes. One of those was Charlotte’s Oktoberfest which is where we spent most of Saturday afternoon. This year it was held at an ‘expo center’ which seems to be the term for a bunch of quick construction metal warehouses in a parking lot. Compared to the 2006 rendition (which merited part of its own webpage) the location left something to be desired. We also went to Latta Plantation on Saturday morning for a canoe orienteering race. Latta Plantation is a restored home from the settlement days of central Carolina.

On Sunday we returned to Latta plantation. We had primarly seen it from the water during the canoe race, with a few forays into the woods. Besides the plantation, the area has a nature center, horse and hiking trails and is the home of the Carolina Raptor Center. The Raptor center is really a recovery center for injured raptors that also works as a specialized zoo of sorts. There are about 25 or so exhibits, including this quirky little owl who refused to leave the fencing.

If you like owls, hawks, falcons, eagles and so on it’s a great place to spend an hour or two. There is an enormous two-part enclosure for Bald and Golden Eagles. Among the more interesting birds: this is Honeysuckle a semi-albino hawk. She’s not quite a true albino but that doesn’t really detract from the visual appeal she has.

Just down the road from Latta is Lancaster’s BBQ in Huntersville, NC. It’s not a member of the BBQ trail because I don’t think it’s been around quite that long but it’s also a worthwhile stop.