Trip to the South: Outer Banks

Visit Date: October 2, 2019

The next stop on our trip was supposed to be a drive down the North Carolina Outer Banks to Ocracoke Island. But a few weeks before we left Hurricane Dorian got to Ocracoke before we did. We read news reports that people had to be evacuated from the island by helicopter. A week later the hotel we were to stay at was being used to house emergency personnel for the hurricane cleanup; so, our stop there was cancelled.

Outer Banks and Beaufort, NC (pinned)
(Image from Google)

Carla and Linda quickly adjusted and made a reservation in Beaufort, NC. We still made a small drive down the Outer Banks from Kitty Hawk down to Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head (see the map above) before heading back to the mainland and south to Beaufort.

Our first stop was Kitty Hawk where Wilbur and Orville Wright built and flew the first power airplane. There is a large visitors’ center and a set of stones in the back.

Wright Brothers First flights memorial

The large stone in the foreground is the take off point for their first powered flights. In the distance are four markers showing their progress on that first day. The first three represent about a 10 second flight; but that last marker way in the distance was the home run: a flight of 59 seconds covering 852 feet.

While at Kitty Hawk we were given a treat which none of the guides had seen before: a US Marine helicopter came in for a landing. The helicopter was too heavy to land on the nearby airstrip so they set down on the grass. The trip was a reward for the Marines who service the helicopters but never get to fly in them. On our visit day, they came over from a nearby base and let the Marines enjoy some free time. Just before reloading they posed for a picture on the plane for all the gawking visitors like me.

US Marines posing on their helicopter at Kitty Hawk, NC

Soon after, they lined up about 25 yards from the helicopter where the roll was called. They boarded and lifted off for the trip back.

US Marine Helicopter taking off at Kitty Hawk, NC

Click on the picture above to zoom in and see all the grass and dust it kicked up. We were treated to a demonstration of the pilot and helicopter’s abilities and they made a tight turn to head back to base.

US Marine Helicopter leaving Kitty Hawk, NC

It was getting to be a hot day so we headed to a local diner for lunch where we had delicious fresh fish sandwiches and unsweetened ice tea. It was the south so we sampled some Key Lime Pie for dessert – delicious but very sweet.

After talking with our waitress we left our rental car parked in the diner parking lot and walked over a berm for a view of the Atlantic Ocean. It was SO HOT! We had to scamper over the hot sand berm that separated the coastline from the highway.

Carla and I visited here for a week back around 2001 – 2003. One of my enduring memories was the pelicans cruising just above the waves. We didn’t have to wait long before a flock came into view. I wasn’t set up for action photography but tried to capture a group of pelicans skimming over the surface.

Pelicans on the Outer Banks, NC

We still had a four hour drive ahead of us so we got back in the car, cranked up the AC and headed southwest toward Beaufort, NC. We just rested a bit when we got in; it was so hot out. We enjoyed a nice dinner next to a water channel then returned to our room where we had a spectacular view of the sunset.

Sunset: Beafort, North Carolina

When we woke up a group of men were working on the Capt. Ryan across the channel.

Fishing boat preparing for sail. Beaufort, NC

A little later the captain/pilot quickly pulled it out and did an about face; I marveled at this skill.

Fishing boat preparing for sail. Beaufort, NC

It was cooler in the morning so we bummed around town. Carla and Linda walked by some of the older homes and I met them at the North Carolina Maritime Museum. One of Beafort’s claims to fame is that Blackbeard the pirate lost his ship here. The museum has quite a few displays on the pirate. In order to strike fear into the heart of his enemies Blackbeard would put slow burning fuses in his hair so sparks and smoke would swirl around his face.

We packed up and headed to our next stop – Wilmington, North Carolina. More about that on my next post.

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