Saturday, July 12, 2008

Outer Banks, North Carolina

My first stop in the Outer Banks of North Carolina is in Ocracoke. It is a small island at the southern tip of the Outer Banks, where Blackbeard operated, and was eventually killed. The waters around the island were a major shipping lane, but are shallow and frequently changing sand banks. There are many ship wrecks in the area…some from the treacherous and shifting shoals or hurricanes, others from Blackbeard, still others from German submarine attacks. A dedicated British Cemetary, Union Jack and all, is the final resting place of British sailors who were killed in submarine attacks.

The island is only accessible by boat, in my case by a ferry from Cedar Island. It is a bit touristy, but in a pleasant way. There are as many bicyclists and walkers as cars. The town is small, so that walking or biking is a viable transportation option, especially with the 20 mph speed limit. In fact, I noticed arrivals at the local grocery store were as often by bike as by car.

All in all, a pleasant place. But, the pleasant beach and atmosphere are the main attractions. Not a lot to see beyond sand, surf and shops. I visited Teach’s Hole, a museum referring to an old haunt of Blackbeard's (his real name was Edward Teach), and the local history museum. Blackbeard was killed near Ocracoke by a British Captain and his crew, hired by the Governor of Virginia. (He was rumored to have struck gentlemen's agreement with the Governor of North Carolina to allow his privateering.) The lighthouse, pictured above, was the one photo that seemed worth showing. It still operates, and is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the United States.

So, it was off to Cape Hatteras, Kitty Hawk, etc.

At Hatteras, it was more ferry, more beach, more sand, more sun, and more lighthouses. Here is the Cape Hatteras lighthouse.
Then, the lighthouse at Bodie Island. As you can see, lighthouses are the big thing on the Outerbanks, along with sea museums, and of course, beaches. Notice each lighthouse is painted differently so they can be identified individually during the daytime.

Finally, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hill. Here is a picture of the Memorial of the Wright brothers first flight and a view of the field where the flights first took place. They were pretty amazing. I had the idea that they just happened to luck into designing and flying the first airplane, but they obviously were very meticulous and organized about identifying and solving the problems standing between them and the first flight. They built the first wind tunnel to perform tests. They built their own engine. The optimized their wing shapes over many flights, beginning with kites and gliders, developing new formulas and theories. It had me wondering whether I would have stuck with it through the years of development.

, it is off to new locales. I'm filing this report from Richmond, Virginia, and will leave today for the Shendandoah National Park.


nemattox said...

I am glad you enjoyed Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brother's museum. Even though our visit there was somewhat rushed, we really enjoyed it as well.

Did you get to climb the dunes at Jockey's Ridge? Or should I say, the mountains of sand? I hope you did!


max said...

I didn't climb Jockey's Ridge. I guess I didn't know about it.

I also was rushed at Kitty Hawk. I only had about 1.5 hours before it closed for the day.