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):

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