The Outer Banks

Over my spring break, we had a chance to take a few days off together.  Because of family and work obligations we only had from Monday morning until Thursday morning to spend together.  We decided to drive to the Outer Banks.  Though the Outer Banks are in North Carolina, I am always surprised that it takes longer to get there than to the beach in South Carolina.  We can be in Charleston in four hours, while it takes us about six to get to Kill Devil Hills.  Our first stop, on a very rainy afternoon, was Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.  It was pouring outside, so we spent most of our time in the museum, learning about the history of the site and, most intriguing to both of us, the story of the Lost Colony.  Set up by Sir Walter Raleigh, he had to leave the colony for a period of time.  When he returned they had simply vanished.  Much study and theorizing has gone into the fate of these colonists, but no conclusion has been reached.

Wright Brothers NM

Wright Brothers NM

After a filling lunch at a South American eatery, we headed to Wright Brothers National Memorial.  Still raining, again we had to spend much of our visit inside the extensive exhibits in the visitor center.  We really wanted to venture onto the field where the first flight took place, but the cold rain kept us indoors.  We did manage to make it back in the sunshine a few days later.  We both loved the stories about the brothers at the field, and enjoyed looking at the iconic photographs.  In one, a young boy is depicted, but he apparently left right before the flight because of the loud noise.  Could you imagine being the boy years later and realizing that you’d missed out on such an amazing moment in history?  Also, we found it interesting that the brothers tossed a coin to see who would attempt flight first.  Wilbur won, but trashed the plane as it left the ground, so it was Orville a few days later who first left the ground.

The following day the weather began to clear up, but we had cloudy skies for the entire day, and sometimes it did rain on us, but the weather was vastly better than it had been the day before.  We spent the day at Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  Both of us had been there before, but we still enjoyed our trip very much.  We began our trip at the Whalebone Junction Information Center, a quick stop for a cancellation stamp.  Our first real stop was the Bodie Island Visitor Center, where we were able to climb to the top of the lighthouse!  It had been previously closed as it was undergoing repairs and a makeover, but had just opened that week.  We were therefore one of the first groups to go to the top.  Unfortunately, we could not go out on the top because the wind speeds were over 50 mph, but we did get a good view from the doorway.  Our tour guide shared the history of the lighthouse with us as we climbed the steps.  We could still see pretty far, even though we were fogged in to some extent.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

As we drove along the narrow strip of land, we enjoyed beach views and sound views.  The island narrows so much as some points that the road is bordered closely by water on both sides.  Often the road is covered when storms or extra high tides come in.  We stopped for lunch at Frisco Sandwich Company, a welcome surprise with incredibly tasty black bean burgers.  Our next stop was Hatteras Island Visitor Center, so that we could climb the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.  We went up our second lighthouse of the day, and again could not go out on the top because of the high winds.  We could peer out over the water though, and since the skies were clearing, we had a good view of the very dangerously famous area containing the ghosts of many shipwrecks.  Our last stamp location and visitor center on Ocracoke Island is only accessible by ferry.  It is free, and takes cars and foot passengers.  We had to wait for a bit, but then rode  the 45 minute ferry across.  It was pretty clear and warming up by then, so it was fun to get out of the car and enjoy the ride.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

At the Ocracoke Island Visitor Center we picked up more lighthouse stamps and NPS stamps, then drove around the tiny village of Ocracoke.  The Ocracoke Lighthouse is pretty small, and though you can walk right up to it, it is not open for climbing.  All three lighthouses were very impressive and we had fun visiting them and finding their stamps.  We then commenced the long drive back to our hotel, including a wait for the ferry again, and a relaxing ride across the water.  We stopped to visit the wild horses, who are sadly no longer truly wild.  They had to be penned because so many were getting hurt by cars and other human interactions.  So they are not domesticated really, but they are corralled in a large area and protected.  We also took a walk along the beach, since the weather had cleared up by then enough that we could watch the colors of the sky change at the end of the day.  Cape Hatteras is a truly gorgeous place, and feels more and more beautiful as you travel farther south.

Once we arrived back in Kill Devil Hills, dinner that night was at Plaza Azteca, a Mexican place that had some pretty good vegan options.  I had fajitas, and they were fantastic.  We also had a chance to meet up with friends who had recently moved to the area and catch up.

Moores Creek National Battlefield

Moores Creek National Battlefield

The next day dawned sunny and clear, so before leaving the beach, I took a run along the sand.  I love going for a run in a new place, it seems to make my run a lot more enjoyable.  And the sun shining and the warm air did wonders for me before we got back in the car to drive some more.  Moores Creek National Battlefield was our next stop.  A small site, it took us several hours to make the drive to Currie, NC.  The drive was pretty though, mostly on back roads.  And we actually found a really good Thai restaurant for lunch, a surprisingly exciting option.  We really did luck out with finding vegan food on this vacation.  At Moores Creek, the sun was shining and it felt like summer, so we were happy to wander the paths of the monument and enjoy the warm weather.  You can follow the paths through the swampy area and see the historic bridge area where the action of Moores Creek took place.  Though a turning point in the Revolutionary War, the battle at Moores Creek was pretty small in size.  Still an amazing place to visit though, and it again makes us very happy that the Park Service has saved this little piece of history.  We enjoyed our walk, as well as the monuments, not only to the men who served, but also to women who had leading roles in the Revolution.

Moores Creek was our last real stop on our trip.  We made it back to Asheville early the next morning in time for Anthony to make a meeting at work.  A short trip, but a very fun one. We only have one more NPS site to go to in North Carolina now!

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