Outer Banks, NC – Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound
We arrived at Camp Hatteras Campground on Saturday after a 7-hour drive, longer than we like, but fairly easy overall. When we pulled in, we were allowed to pick our exact site, again a feature we really enjoy. With some 200+ sites to choose from and only 8 of them occupied we had the run of the place to ourselves. We had gone from overcrowded to a ghost town! We originally wanted to find a site on the Sound side of the land. (This area is a really narrow set of islands off the coast of North Carolina known as the Outer Banks or OBX and the park had sites on both the ocean and the sound side of the island.) We had just left a site in Myrtle Beach really close to the ocean, so thought the sound side might be a little different, maybe even we could kayak from our site? So, we looked at both areas, and chose the sound side as originally planned; the beach side sand dune was just a bit too high for us to really enjoy the view from that area. After setting up, we headed over to the beach to take a quick walk before the sunset over the sound right outside our MoHo site kicked in to full gear. We got out the chairs, DreamTurf, and cocktails and sat back and enjoyed the evening.
The park is empty! We had the best spot in the park.
Sunset on our first night
The next morning we decided to head for a drive south towards Cape Hatteras, as the weather was supposed to turn that afternoon and we wanted to get in the area before the rain arrived. This 35-mile drive was quiet, with sand dunes on the east side and the sound on the west side. Along the route, we took in the locations for our time here: grocery store, restaurants, etc. We stopped at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, although the building was closed, we took some pictures and continued on further south. We got to the end of the road, a little shopping village just outside the ferry terminal. (NC has a small ferry system for traveling in and around the OBX.) The ferry sounded fun, but it was getting windy so we stayed in the village and did a little shopping. (The ferries stop running in high wind so didn’t want to get stuck.) The thing about this area is that it is in the off season, most stores are closed or just putting out this years new inventory, and almost all restaurants are still closed for the winter. (I found an open store and bought a kite, thinking of you Mom.) We did find a little spot called the Oceanic Bistro, had a late lunch/early dinner with a ton of locals, and then headed back to the MoHo. We stopped at the grocery store, and loaded up for the week, specifically getting makings for my homemade spaghetti sauce. When we got back, I got started on the sauce; we chilled in the MoHo, and hit the hay early. That night the weather rolled in as expected, and about 3:00AM I got up and stowed the satellite, felt it was just too windy and did not want to cause any damage that could be prevented.
Cape Hatteras lighthouse
Happy St. Patty’s!
We both had a poor nights sleep; the wind and rain were non-stop. It is really loud in the MoHo when the weather kicks up. The roof of the MoHo does a great job of keeping us dry, but not stopping any of the sound, so it can get loud in the rain. Then, with the 25+ MPH winds, which shakes the rig as well as whistles through the slide toppers (the MoHo has four slide outs we extend when we set up to give us more living space, and each one has a “topper” to protect it from rain trickling in through these areas) there was little sleep going to happen. We got up and it was St. Patrick’s Day! We enjoyed a couple of green beers around noon in the MoHo, and then we headed out in the afternoon to find an open bar to see what might be going on in town. We arrived at the only open location, which had a green beer special, and had an appetizer. This place had a TV dedicated to the Kite Surfing that has made this place a top destination for these dare devils, and their property was the site that many people “launch” from out into the sound. We returned to the MoHo for the spaghetti that had been in the crockpot overnight and enjoyed a great dinner and wine. That night, there was still no let down in the weather, so we both put in earplugs to try and get some rest, and it worked. (I wear them a lot, as many of you know, I have bionic hearing and it is tough to sleep at times especially if there is a sleeping bear purring next to me.)
The next day was the same, 20-25 MPH winds and tons of rain. We hunkered down in the MoHo, only venturing out to get a couple of DVD’s at the Red Box about 17 miles away and returning to just stay out of the weather. Being a native of the Northwest, this was the first time in my life I could ever remember wind like this, non-stop. At home when it is windy, usually it is gone within 12-18 hours, maybe a bit longer, but only in a huge storm and then it is still short lived. This was now day three, and it had not let up a bit! We also now were under a gale warning, small craft advisory, a coastal flood watch, along with a high tide warning on the sound, which is about 20 feet from the back of the MoHo. Mother Nature was fully in charge and we were getting a bit of cabin fever. We did venture over to the beach a couple times to watch the waves, but we just do not have the rain gear for this type of weather, so staying in was our only choice. We watched many movies!
Wednesday the wind eased up a bit, and I felt safe putting the satellite back up. We headed out as the day was forecast to be decent, and went north to Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and the northern beaches of the OBX. We stopped first at the Wright Brothers Memorial, site of the first powered flight. This was a bucket list place for me, not high on the list, but still something I was not going to miss on this trip. After years of trials, they finally achieved the first man-powered flight in 1903! The interesting thing about the area is the memorial tower erected to their achievement. It sits atop a huge sand dune, some 80-90 feet off the mainland. But, the memorial was dedicated and built 25 years after the flight, and in that time, the dune had moved southwest some 450 feet. Again, Mother Nature was in charge here and I thought it amazing that wind and rain could move that much land in such a short period of time. The weather was finally clear so we got some good pictures and really enjoyed this stop. Later that afternoon, we made our way to the Outer Banks Brewing Station for lunch. We had seen this on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and the tip was well worth the stop. Beers were good, Traci had a great wrap and some fried Okra, and I had ½ a pound of steamed shrimp and some wings, very tasty! We retuned to the MoHo, and the wind was finally gone, completely calm for the first time since we arrived 5 days ago! It lasted for about 30 minutes, then the showers returned, drove us inside, and we settled in for the night. (About 2:00AM the heavier winds returned and the ear plugs went back in and another uneasy night of sleep.)
Wright Brothers Monument
The Monument from afar
Replica of the first plane
From Traci to the first marker in the background is the distance of the first flight- approx. 128 feet
We woke the next morning and the wind was still pushing 10-12 MPH, but the skies had cleared and the rain was not forecast for at least a couple days, so we finally got a chance to dry out! (Again, it could be a lot worse, if we were inland some 200 miles, we would have been dealing with sleet and ice for the last few days, and much colder temps, so I have to look on the bright side.) As it was the first day of spring, some cleaning was in order, and then the beach. We headed out and set up the chairs, brought out the cooler, and sat out on the ocean side of the camp ground and just watched the waves crash. There were only a handful of others out (including a few surfers), still the off-season. We enjoyed a couple of cold ones, tried to fly a kite – no wind now of course – and I did a bit of fishing in the ocean, unsuccessfully with the big waves. We headed back to MoHo later in the afternoon and sat out and watched the sun disappear into the sound, pretty spectacular. We so wish this was every night, but as clearly stated earlier, Mother Nature only lets you see this when she wants to. We head inland to Raleigh tomorrow and won’t see the ocean again for about a month.
Mike’s new kite