Friday, August 17, 2012

A trip down the Outer Banks

It was 11:30 at night before Jack was able to drop me off at the rig after we went to see The Lost Colony production on Roanoke Island.  I’ll be showing you what a great experience that was in the next couple of days, but I want to cover what we did today while it’s still fresh in my mind.

Considering that Jack didn’t get back to his rig until one in the morning, I waited until 9:00 to head for Avon this morning.  Avon is about 60 miles away, and half way between Rodanthe and Buxton where the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is located.


With all of the trips I’ve made back and forth to Pea Island, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get a picture from the top of the bridge that spans Oregon Inlet.  There’s no place to pull over on that bridge.  This morning, an opportunity presented itself that I took advantage of.  As I came to the crest, no one was behind me, so I stopped dead in the middle of the road, hopped out, and quickly took this photo.  That’s the Pamlico Sound on the left, the Atlantic on the right, and Roanoke Island is in the distance in the middle.  It’s a spectacular view in person.


Once I made it to Jack’s, we hopped in his truck and made our first stop of the day at the Cape Hatteras Light Station.  There’s no way I could hike to the top right now, so after a short visit we moved on towards the town of Hatteras to catch the ferry to Ocracoke Island.  We had to wait about a half an hour, and it’s a 40 minute journey across the inlet.


From the ferry departure, it’s another 13 miles to the town of Ocracoke where the road ends.  It’s pretty much a summer tourist place with very skinny streets.  At the turn around lot, there’s an interesting monument telling of the Civil War time Fort Ocracoke.  Neither of us were interested in the tourist shops that abound here, so we tried to make our way to the Ocracoke Light House.


We weren’t actually able to visit it.  This pic is from when I was here five years ago.  Nothing has improved.  As it was in 2007, there are only about four parking spaces for visitors to this light house, and they were all full.  We had to be satisfied just glancing at it as we drove past.  After a tasty lunch at a local establishment, we began to make our way back.

69  Pea Island & Alligator River NWRs  20125

We stopped to visit the wild ponies of Ocracoke.  These horses are descendants of Spanish Mustangs that used to wander freely on the island.  The herd is now maintained  by the National Park Service, and they are kept in spacious pens and fenced pastures.  Food and all vet needs are taken care of by the Park Service.  The horses remain unshod.

69  Pea Island & Alligator River NWRs  20126

Across the street from the pony pens is a boardwalk access to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.  There were a number of people enjoying the sand and sea, but I certainly wouldn’t call it crowded.  Today was a great day for folks that enjoy beach sitting.  (I’m obviously not one of them.)  I did enjoy seeing the dunes and sea oats however.


We were one of the first vehicles in line to get on the return ferry, so while they loaded everyone else, I got out of the truck to observe this spit of sand that appeared to be a grooming spa for laughing gulls.  It was a busy place.


               As I was watching, another of my favorite species of birds flew in… a black skimmer.


They have such a cool adaptation for finding food.  Their lower mandible (beak) is longer than the top mandible.  This provides them with a specialized way of feeding.


They ‘skim’ along the top of the water with the lower portion of their beak under water.  When a tasty tidbit comes along, they snap the top portion down to catch it.  If you look closely, you can see the water spray that follows behind them.  I could watch them coursing along all day.

We made it back to Avon around 5:00, where I jumped into my car to drive the return trip to my rig.  It was a nice day of just tripping along the Outer Banks.


                                                                                  THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy