1) exploring the Outer Banks of North Carolina
2) noting all the vanity plates that start with OBX
3) checking another destination off the bucket list
I’ve always wanted to visit the Outer Banks, with two experiences high on the list; visiting the site of the Wright Brothers historical flight, and seeing the Wild Horses of Corolla. During our week’s stay, we checked off those boxes and then some.
We camped at the OBX Campground on Colington Island, Kill Devil Hills. Our site was beautiful, just off the waters surrounding the island, and literally a stone’s throw away from the Wright Brothers Memorial. As we drove into the campground, we noted a bike trail surrounding the national park, so we decided we would take the short bike ride along Colington Road to the trail the next morning. As we headed out into the cold, brisk winds, I thought of Wilbur Wright’s quote, “No bird soars in a calm.”
It was rather appropriate we biked to the site, in homage to the bicycle-building brothers from Dayton who had a dream to create and fly a machine in the air.
We walked our two-wheelers along the route the brothers took on those historic flights on December 17, 1903. We were amazed by not only how far they ultimately flew that day, but all of the time, effort, research and attempts by Wilbur and Orville to achieve the first powered, controlled and sustained flight.
“It wasn’t luck that made them fly; it was hard work and common sense; they put their whole heart and soul and all their energy into an idea and they had the faith.”
Next up on that bucket list was to see the wild horses. There are various tour companies that will take you out on the beach in Corolla, but our trusty Jeep was up for the task, so we did a self-guided tour. The beach was rather compact, so we didn’t deflate our tires to the recommended 20 psi, which adds more traction.
We spotted five horses on the northern edge of Currituck Beach, lumbering slowly along the ocean’s edge. We respectfully stayed the requisite 50 feet away as they trudged through the sand. Quietly, almost mysteriously, the Colonial Wild Mustangs walked in the opposite direction, in single file, paying no attention to us.
I had to pinch myself seeing two iconic Outer Bank traditions, both in the same day.
Little did I know we were about to take in another…the Tomato Shack in the town of Duck. Carlton is the second generation owner of this beautiful market. We bought some fresh eggs, bacon and a variety of veggies for our travels.
One of the upsides to traveling in an RV is to be able to make home-cooked meals. I foraged away during the summer, freezing many batches of pesto, homemade marinara sauce and homemade chicken noodle soup. I even made my first batch of banana bread in the Coach on this trip. Yum!
We golfed twice on the Outer Banks, at the historical Sea Scape Golf Links (only because it was the first time I ever beat Brad, straight up!) and the Nags Head Golf Club. Both great tracks, and easily made our way around 18 holes in 3 hours due to midday tee times and off-season.
We traveled to the far end of the Outer Banks, going as far as Hatteras. (There is a ferry you can take further.) We were saddened that we couldn’t climb Cape Hatteras lighthouse, but enjoyed learning about the incredible effort in 1999 to move the lighthouse due to potential beach erosion. It took 23 days and a massive engineering effort to transport the beacon 29 feet to its current location.
I loved this view of massive charter fishing boats on our way to Hatteras.
Photo credit photo on the right: Ian Davies/Macaulay Library
We stopped at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge Center, where we were able to see hundreds of the migrating Tundra Swans. The all-white swans look majestic, gathered in the warmer waters of the Outer Banks for the winter.
This is for the fans of the 2008 movie “Nights in Rodanthe” which featured Richard Gere and Diane Lane. The original house used in the movie also had to be moved up the beach due to the shifting of the sands. The property is rented out, and up for sale. But beware, it looks like it might need to be moved again in the future!
We ventured to Roanoke Island, taking in the quaint village of Manteo and the Roanoke Island Festival Park Heritage Center. After a quick tour of the reconstructed Elizabeth ll, we thoroughly enjoyed the interpreter at the first English Settlement Site. He was kind enough to create a small souvenir…a nail that he forged.
We tried to solve the mystery of the Lost Colony during our visit to Fort Raleigh, but alas, no such luck.
Luna, our lovable Labrador didn’t get to take in the golf or the historical sites, but fear not, she got her own adventures in too. We headed to the deserted beach early one morning, and to Jockey Ridge State Park, site of the tallest living sand dune on the eastern seaboard on our last day in the Outer Banks. She brought back her share of the beach and the dune to the coach!
We enjoyed a rare night out while on the road, enjoying the delectable local fresh seafood and produce at the quaint Colington Cafe. It was great to ditch the hiking/biking/golfing/kayaking gear and hats for a little more formal attire.
Our fond farewell to the lovely islands of the Outer Banks involved kayaking around the bay near Roanoke Island. Winds into our faces at the start, then cruised back quietly, past the sea grasses swaying in the winds. The breathtaking sunset was a perfect end to our OBXing adventures.