Saturday, September 30, 2017

Corolla NC - OBX Last Day

We have reached our final day here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. After years on the bucket list and a failed attempt to get here in 2015, we have now had the pleasure of the OBX experience. Thanks to Linda and Bob for inviting us and showing us around and a special thanks to Denise and Nic for organizing the whole shebang.

Corolla 2017 group photo

We didn't have any big plans for the final day. The main breakfast was chorizo eggs and the rest of the soft tortillas. Sandy and her acid reflux wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, but I found it quite tasty with just a little zest. She had cereal.

This blog continued to occupy my attention. It has become almost like an addiction, the same way I doggedly process my bills and receipts, only more time consuming. After breakfast, I went through several cups of coffee while I got caught up to the end of yesterday.

When I got done the blog, I drafted an article about the latest SEVROC for the folks at Kawasaki USA, fulfilling a  promise I made to Jax in the spring. Then I forwarded it to Linda, who was going to add suitable photos. This was not a new field of moto-journalism. Sherm wrote about SEVROC 2010, Teri Conrad wrote about SEVROC 2011, I wrote about SEVROC 2013 and Jax wrote about SEVROC 2014. You might think they were SEVROC'ed out, but if this can entice people to attend the celebration of the 20th year of VROC in the South East in 2018, it will have been worth the effort.

Nancy brought some donuts from Duck

They tasted amazing - must be a secret ingredient
(yes, that IS bacon on two of them)

Some ladies from Maryland on the ferry to Ocracoke raved about a restaurant in Nags Head called Sam and Omie's. They said it was right across from Jennette's Pier and had the absolute best seafood in the whole OBX. The place came up again in conversation today and Eric said it was an experience we should not miss so we decided we wouldn't. Bob, Linda, Sandy and I agreed to meet Denise, Nic and some others there about 4:00 PM.

The four of us left early and stopped in Duck where we walked along the boardwalk and looked at the shops.

This is a picturesque place

Cheaper than a Slingshot

The horse seems a tad unusual

Even today after Maria left

Somebody has somebody else on a leash

The boardwalk at Duck North Carolina

What have they been feeding the horses around here?

May have to do this next time

The ladies make it all worthwhile

When we first got to the area, we saw a Super Wings shop and thought they had chicken wings. Apparently we weren't the only ones to make this mistaken assumption. Super Wings was actually a beach shop with multiple locations all the way down the OBX. And they had T-shirts, the one souvenir that we had not yet selected. Imagine our dismay when we stopped at the Super Wings in Duck and found it was closed until 7:00 PM. That seemed like a strange time until I realized it was the last day of the month and also of the quarter. I'd bet that they were closed for inventory taking. The next store in Kitty Hawk had the same message in the window.

All things OBX related

But not today....

With Super Wings out of the picture, the next recommended location for T-shirts was Ben Franklin. Sandy and I got carried away and bought three shirts each. The best find was one that had NC Highway 12 and the pictures of all four lighthouses we had visited. Linda said we all have to bring this shirt to SEVROC next May.

Sandy at Ben Franklin

I recognize Hatteras and Ocracoke Lights

We hadn't planned on quite this much apparel

Shirts in hand, we continued down US 158, the main four-lane north/south drag. On the way, we saw a pickup truck that had run up on the lawn of a business, with several police cars surrounding it. I wasn't able to get a good picture but I had to wonder where anyone in their right mind would have thought they could run on this narrow sliver of sand.

There were more police cars to the left

Sam and Omie's was where they said it would be, directly across the road from Jennette's Pier. It wasn't busy yet, but they said they would not seat us until our whole party arrived. Denise texted to say there were seven of them but that they were delayed en route. The four of us sat outside and waited, watching as more and more people started to arrive. Finally, after another text exchange with Linda, Denise told the four of us to go ahead and they seated us right away.

While this was supposed to be the top seafood place around, not one of us at our table availed ourselves of anything nautical except for the bowl of Hatteras clam chowder I tried. The white, creamy new England chowder is great and I have tried the red Manhattan chowder, but this was clear with lots of clams and veggies. Quite tasty. But that was the last of anything from the ocean as we selected more mundane options from the menu. I guess we aren't as adventurous as we like to think we once were.

Denise, Nic and the rest of the seven arrived just after we had been served. Unfortunately, it took them a while to get seated since business had heated up markedly in the interval. They were just getting into eating (many actually having the bounty of the sea) when we left.

An understated landmark

Orders are in

The rest of the gang

We skipped the four-lane US 158 and followed NC 12 all the way back to the house. Through Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk, you would not believe you were in the same place. The hustle and bustle of the big road was only yards away and yet this was a quieter, calmer and more relaxed place with hardly any sense of commercialization. Other than the hotels, that is, and the fact that almost every property was for rent.

At the house, we loaded all our gear except our overnight bags into the car in preparation for an early morning departure. Then we said goodbye to our new friends, excellent folks one and all. It was a real pleasure to share the week with them. Finally, it was off to bed with our alarms set for 5:00 AM.

I have to add a link to Linda's blog, Days to Remember, which is part of her bigger website The Beauty Around Us. Whether it is sharing her adventures in the blog or just showing us what she sees through her photographs, the site has an unusual depth and texture that leaves me in awe of her skills every time I look at it. So enjoy a different and better perspective on our time here in the Outer Banks and, if you like what she does, leave Linda a comment.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Corolla North Carolina - OBX Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands

They opened the Bonner Bridge to Hatteras Island yesterday at 1:00 PM and Linda checked and verified that the free ferry to Ocracoke Island would be operating today. Given that we did not want to make the long journey on a Saturday, today was our last chance to visit the southern extremities.

We left as planned at 7:00 AM. There was a quick stop at a McDonald's in Kitty Hawk, where one lone older man was running the entire counter. Instead of a bacon, egg and cheese McGriddle with no cheese (don't try to order a bacon and egg McGriddle because it just confuses the counter folks), she got one with sausage. Linda had an egg McMuffin and traded with her.

While we have been here, I kept hearing about Bodie Island. The lighthouse and other things. But I could not figure out where the bridge was that separated Bodie Island from the banks. Finally, I looked it up and found that the channel that separated Bodie Island from the Currituck Banks filled in naturally back in 1811, ending its island identity. But the name stuck.

On The Way To Ocracoke Island

Approaching the Bonner Bridge to Hatteras Island

The old span

Sand drifts in Hatteras Island

There was also standing water in the highway

Slow and steady

Mirlo Beach took the brunt of Maria here

Their sand looks like our snow

It was good to have the truck check depths first

No, really?

Good thing there were no pedestrians

 The town of Hatteras at the end of the island

Ferry to Ocracoke Island

Linda had thought we would make it for the 10:00 AM ferry to Ocracoke Island, but we got to the dock before 9:30. Any worries we had about crowds waiting to board was put to rest because there were only five vehicles to load onto a boat named "Frisco". The ferries here were free as part of the highway system.

There was a feeling that we had driven to the end of the world and now we were going to take a ferry over the edge.

Although Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands were fairly close together, the ferry followed channel markers that took it way out into Pamlico Sound before looping back the the Ocracoke ferry dock. The voyage took almost exactly an hour.

We made it early

A good sign

Patiently waiting

The ladies just made it back from their pit stop as we started loading

Canada geese flying east

Guiding us on board

Coast Guard vessels

Farewell to Hatteras

This is our only "lifeboat"

Buoys mark the channel

Two ladies and a boat

Not loaded too heavily


Deadfall hangups

Hatteras bound ferry

 And another

Talking to ladies from Maryland

Our destination on the left

Departing boat next to us

Almost ready to go

Ocracoke Island

The ferry dock we arrived at was at one end of Ocracoke Island while the town of Ocracoke was at the other. They were joined by 13 miles of road that traversed this very narrow spit of land. A GPS was not necessary.

We stopped half way down to see the ponies. Every sandy island and shore seems to have little horses descended from shipwreck survivors. These were in a fenced enclosure and were all still in the barn or paddock when we stopped. Walking a boardwalk to the other end of the viewing area, there weren't any horses but we encountered some pretty resilient spider webs. 

Across from the horses was a beach access. We walked onto the sands looking for shells and and watched sandpipers running back and forth looking for snacks. There were a few good sized sand crab burrows.

You are here!

OK, swimming wasn't an option anyway

The barrier islands are all sand

Sand comes from several sources

Beauty and the boardwalk

Sand crab hole


Sandy found some shells

And another one

Ocracoke Village

Golf carts are popular

1835 and still operating

More Robertson screws

There was another set of ferry docks at Ocracoke Village connecting the Island to the mainland via Swan Quarter or Cedar Island. The famed pirate Blackbeard liked Ocracoke as an anchorage and accounts of him, Charles Vane and Calico Jack Rackham on the island sounded like an episode of Black Sails. Blackbeard was killed here in 1718 by forces on two sloops commanded by Lt. Robert Maynard.

Garbage trucks heading for the mainland

Whale skull

We stopped for lunch on the way out of town

Waiting for food

 They had an old and a new Canadian $5.00 so I had nothing to add

This is Jason

Luke served us

Many local vehicles have cooler/fishing rod racks on front

Heading back to the ferry docks

The Ferry Ride Back to Hatteras

We caught the 2:00 ferry back to Hatteras. On the dock, an older man in a yellow golf shirt was checking every 3rd vehicle, asking for ID and writing notes. It turned out that this unarmed individual was working for Homeland Security. This made me wonder how much was being spent around the USA on going through motions like these with no real expectation of finding a threat and no apparent means of dealing with one if it should be found.

On the one hour trip back, I spent time in the Passenger Lounge (not as classy as it sounded) talking to a ferry employee named Dixon. After 15 years as a banker, he quit and went to sea for 20 years on the Research Vessel Cape Hatteras, operated by Duke University. When the National Science Foundation sold her in 2013, Mr. Dixon (who lived in Morehead City, NC) took a seasonal job working summers on the North Carolina Ferries. He said the fleet had six boats on the Ocracoke/Hatteras run but only had five in service today. The current fall schedule saw each boat making four round trips per day with a half hour between runs. Summer schedule had five trips per day with no time in between. The winter only had a couple of trips total per day. The big loop out into the sound was because everywhere else was too shallow. Dixon said you could walk almost all the way between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands without being totally submerged.

Damage done by Hurricane Maria

A few more vehicles for the return trip

The man in the yellow shirt was our Homeland Security representative

Hatteras Island and Lighthouse

We worked our way back up Hatteras Island through the water and sand.

School is out

The 200 foot Cape Hatteras Light House was built in 1871 but, after the receding shoreline threatened to destroy it, was moved 2,900 feet to its current location in 1999. This was an engineering marvel considering the age and size of the structure. The base layer of stones were moved and placed in a semi-circle after all the light keepers names were carved into them.

While I was talking to a volunteer interpretive ranger named Argo (no relation to Cargo as far as he knew), we spotted a familiar face walking by. Rabbi and Vonna just happened to be visiting, so our reunion was much sooner than we had thought yesterday.

Rabbi, Billy Bob, Vonna and Sandy

Then we stopped at the original light house site but there was nothing to mark the actual location.

We continued north towards home.

I originally thought these were chicken restaurants

The Inn at Rodanthe (from the movie)

The water was still there

Over the Bonner Bridge and off the island

The Dairy Queen in Rodanthe was closed. So was the one in Nags Head. Luckily, the older style one with the ordering window in Kitty Hawk was still open. Bob and Linda had Peanut Buster Parfaits while Sandy and I had Salted Caramel Truffle Blizzards. I was really not showing any self-discipline or willpower on this trip.

Back at the house, we had burgers for supper. I sorted through 383 photos from today to try to get this post down to a manageable size. Then some of us played The Game Of Nasty Things. Sandy won hands down. We didn't get to bed until after 11:00.

Today's Route (222 Subaru miles):