Saturday, June 30, 2012

Outer Banks of North Carolina

Because the neighbor in Greensboro who was letting us park in his driveway was out of the country for several weeks, we were able to leave our rig there while we drove our car to the Outer Banks.
Some former RVer friends, Rich & Georgia Griffiths, have purchased a condo in Manteo, on Roanoak Island, and they graciously invited us to stay with them.
Their condo is right in the charming downtown part of Manteo where there are many cute shops and interesting restaurants, and their building is located right on the waterfront.
There is a small historical park called Festival Park located right across the water from their condo and you can walk over there by going over a wooden bridge. Rich works there, and he got us free passes to explore it. Here is a picture of us there, next to the ship called Elizabeh II which is a recreation of the ship that brought the original settlers in 1585, with their condo building in the background across the water.
And here is the atual ship:
The park had a movie about the Indians who lived there before the settlers arrived, and also a large building with many exhibits about the settlement itself and the history of everything. The next morning, we had to walk to the nearby coffee and pastry shop to get some coffee, and noticed this sign:
Georgia also took us to the nearby city park where there was a Farmer’s Market in the morning, which had some veggies but most had craft sellers. Georgia makes jewelry, and sells it in shops all over the Outer Banks, so she knew most of the sellers in the park. One guy made fabulous jewelry using sea glass. Later we stopped at one of the shops where Georgia has her creations for sale, and I took this picture of some of her earrings:
She has a small workshop where she does her silversmithing in the gallery where these earrings were displayed. Then we drove out to the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, near Kitty Hawk. In 1899 the brothers, who were owners of a successful bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, started pursuing their dream of manned flight. They were both very mechanically inclined and did extensive research of all the previous attempts at flight before they started building devices of their own. They decided to move to Kitty Hawk to test their devices because of the dependable winds and softness of the sand for landings. In 1903 Orville flew – the flight lasted only 12 seconds and went 120 feet, but it was the first time a manned, heavier-than-air machine left the ground and moved forward under control without losing speed, and landed on a point as high as that from which it had started. Three more flights that same day went longer and farther each time. There is a building with detailed explanations of their experiments and equipment, pictures
models of the plane,
a recreation of the shed they lived and worked in, and markers in the places where the flights started and ended. One of the best parts about visiting the Outer Banks was the availability of good, fresh seafood. Georgia knew a good place to go to buy fish and we went there twice, purchasing some types of fish we had never eaten before, as well as fresh shrimp, clams, and scallops. They had trays of blue crab on offer as well.
You can see that they aren’t really blue, just their claws. And they are quite a bit smaller than the Dungeness crabs we are used to catching in Oregon. We didn’t buy any because Georgia said it would drive us crazy trying to pick the meat out of them when they are so small. Here is a picture of the feast we had one night, with Elaine & Georgia getting ready to enjoy it.
Rich was off work on Sunday, and he and Georgia had to attend a meeting at the beach in the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, because they are volunteer turtle nesting monitors. We all drove out there and while they were busy, Elaine and I walked the beach. Then the 4 of us drove all the way south on the Outer Banks through all the small communities and national refuge areas, to the Ocracoke Island ferry. On the way, we stopped at the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, the tallest one in the Outer Banks. It was very hot , there was a $7 fee per person, and we were short of time, so we didn’t climb it.
All the way down to the ferry, we were amazed by the size of the beach houses we were passing.
Many of them are rentals, and apparently the thinking is that several families get together to rent these, and then there is lots of room. Also, then they are tall enough so that there are good views from the upper floors. But they are very expensive to rent! Additionally, a lot of them are built on piers, because there is frequent flooding when a storm hits. Georgia pointed out areas where several of these huge homes were washed away and also entirely new inlets were created. In fact, Georgia and Rich’s condo building has the parking garage on the bottom floor and they said that it gets flooded fairly often. Last year, during the last hurricane, the water level was as high as 11 feet. Ferries run out to Ocracoke Island every 30 minutes, but if there is a long line, they run extra ferries. So it didn’t take long to get on one and then the ride was about 45 minutes. Here is a picture of Georgia and Rich’s dog, Savannah, on the ferry:
When we got to the island, we had lunch at one of the pubs, which was edible but not really worth the elevated price. Here we are at the table:
Then we drove around and Georgia took us to some of the artsy galleries and shops. It is a place with great ambiance, and, like the rest of the Outer Banks, full of rental properties. On the way back to the ferry, we stopped at the corral area where they keep a few of the Ocracoke wild horses on display for the tourists. These horses used to have the run of the place, but when the roads were built, people started to be worried about hitting them, and they messed up the traffic flow, so now most are kept in a large fenced off pasture where they can roam, with a few being rotated up to the tourist area for photos.
These are the descendents of horses that ended up on the islands many years ago when they7 swam ashore from shipwrecks. They even have a reduced number of vertebrae and ribs, so they really ARE different than domestic horses. The next day Georgia and Rich had to leave early to go out to the refuge for turtle patrol, so we showered and walked the boardwalk which goes all around the waterfront near Rich & Georgia's condo. The water was was so still it looked like a mirror. The most picturesque view was of the Roanoake lighthouse, which has been relocated here, very near their condo:
Then we drove back to Greensboro. Martha & Gene were still there, so we had one of Gene’s good dinners together. The next day we drove up here to Waynesboro, and Martha and Gene moved their rig to Boone, a place in the mountains near Asheville.

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