Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC

Did someone say Beach? Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I did.

“A very relaxing weekend in a picturesque place with good companionship. Ahhhhh!”

For years, someof the founding members of the group has gone to Carolina Beach in late October for vacation. Last year, a couple of members of the Capital Off Road Enthusiasts (CORE) joined in as there is some overlap in the two groups and a beach run had been on the CORE agenda for a while. Everyone had a great time, so when the topic came up again this year, the CORE group jumped at the chance. In fact, this year, the group was 8 vehicles, with 4 vehicles from CORE, 4 S-10s and 6 vehicles from the S10Extremists and friends. Before you whip out your calculators and impugn my mathematical abilities, take a look at this year’s attendees list:

  • Keith and Betty Holman (01 BlaZeR2 – CORE and S10Extremists)
  • Paul and Julia Woscek (01 S-10 Crew Cab – CORE and S10Extremists) along with Mandibles, the Wireless Dog
  • Mike Vincenty and Donna Edwards (90 YJ – CORE)
  • Bob Weaver (03 Rubicon – CORE)
  • John Blackmore (94 S10 – S10Extremist)
  • John Maher (01 Blazer – S10Extremist)
  • Jeremy and Curtis Slone (04 Taco Crewcab – Founding Member and Friend of S10Extremist)
  • Bruce Hatton (Shortruck Tacoma – Life Member of the NCBBA and Friend of All)

See, it still adds up to 8!

Carolina Beach has added a $10 per day usage fee for drivers on the beach. This year, we decided to try something different that allowed for more drivable beach and avoided the fee which some viewed as a bit on the steep side for the limited amount of beach there. Thus we ended up Buxton NC next to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. To ride in this area has no additional fees although permits are required further north in the towns of Nags Head and Kitty Hawk.

Everyone drove in from their different locales on Friday. To arrive in Buxton, most came south from the Kitty Hawk and Nags Head area with Jeremy and Curtis riding the ferry north from Ocracoke and beyond. These pictures show some of that ride. Notice the water along the edge of the pavement. Since this past season’s hurricanes, the groundwater table is so close to the roadbed that high tide results in some very wet pavement. Heavy equipment is currently in use to control this but long-term plans for a solution are still in the works.

John and John had arrived at our chosen destination of the Falcon Motel in Buxton first. They discovered that John (Blackage) Blackmore’s electric fans had developed a wiring problem which needed to be repaired pronto. The group coming down from CORE discovered them in the parking lot with the hood up. Luckily John (Tech) Maher never goes far without his trusty soldering and other tools so the situation was being addressed. Seafood was on the mind after the long ride, so when Shortruck called, we asked for recommendations and headed on out to dinner before he and the Slones arrived. Shortruck met us in time for dessert and after walking back to the Falcon, we all loaded up for a night ride to the area just below the light. The clouds obscured the moon and stars so most of the light was from headlights and the many fisherfolk lining the beach. Whilst we were there, Jeremy and Curtis arrived with Jeremy’s promised surprise, a fresh off the lot 04 Taco Crew.

We hung out on the beach for a while and outside the motel rooms for awhile and then headed in with plans to get together Saturday morning for breakfast (optional) and some serious cruising on the sand. By the way, the Falcon was full as were all the restaurants on Saturday morning. Surf fishing was in full swing. We ate across the street and they spilt us into 2 tables as the place was packed. After breakfast, we sauntered back across the street to get ready for our outing. One minor hitch, the repairs to Blackage’s pickup weren’t complete and would delay our start a bit. We took advantage of the delay to “observe or surroundings” (the ladies said it wasn’t being nosy). As it turns out, the rear of the Falcon’s property included a new home on stilts just being moved into as well as a dock on the Sound.

Repairs all complete, we loaded up and headed for the southern tip beyond Hatteras Village. The morning sea air was warming and we still had some fog coming and going but the seagulls and the fisherman were thick. We waded and played tourist and took pictures and shot the breeze and had a grand old time. Mandibles, the Wireless Dog, showed us she was smart enough to go around those puddles no matter how much Paul called her…at least after the first time.

Having run and played there enough to get our fill, we were anxious to find a new spot to play and relax, so our trusty local guide led us back north towards the area adjacent to the local landing strip. But, before we were fully on our way, an opportunity to help a fellow traveler presented itself in the form of a Toyota Highlander across the ruts on its way to the beach. These folks were from Virginia and sported the NCBBA sticker so Bruce’s winch was called into service to restore their motive progress.

After getting the Highlander back where they could move about, we headed back towards pavement and north of Hatteras Village. In the village, we turned toward the ocean and past an airstrip that was little more than just that with a couple of windsocks. The road went past a closed (for the season) NPS campground and through the duneline where we found a flat, thoroughly drivable stretch of beach.

We shared that section of beach with some folks who were learning to control a humongous kite such as one would use for pulling you while on a surfboard. It seemed an appropriate place to get out and do a little wading. In fact, Paul went swimming. His shirt and some personal belongings took an unexpected swim when a rogue wave washed high up over the sandbar where he had deposited them. After a fruitless search for lost items, we decided to drive on down the beach but it was a very short distance before we discovered it closed for nesting wildlife and had to turn back.

Next stop was lunch at the deli in Hatteras Village where the discussion turned towards a view of the lighthouse by daylight and a trip to Ocracoke which would require getting on the ferry, which we mistakenly believed left on the hour, every hour.

The trip to the light included a walk over to where the lighthouse used to be. In 1999, the lighthouse was moved inland about a quarter mile because the ever present pounding of the surf was eroding the beach and the water threatened to claim the light. The tour included a circle of stones marking the former location as well as the light house keeper’s quarters. Unfortunately, the tower itself was closed in preparation for painting and other maintenance. They close it for a period of time to dehumidify the interior first. There was however an NPS guide telling bad jokes at the base.

Q: Some of the bricks planned for use in the tower were lost at sea. Some arrived in unusable condition. The tower is this high and this big at the base. How many bricks did it take to finish the lighthouse?

A: It took one brick to finish the lighthouse. Many were used to build it but only one finished it. (Typical tourbus humor.)

After the lighthouse, most of the group headed back to the motel to freshen up and then on to the ferry for the 45 minute trip to Ocracoke. By the time the ferry arrived there, it had grown dark so the evening was largely driving down the island to a great restaurant for more delicious seafare and then back to the ferry.

Bob and Keith and Betty opted to head north from Buxton instead and get a little more time in on the beach before dark. Here, the sand had more waves or moguls to it from a combination of wind and water action and was pretty much deserted.

We were able to ride at a good, yet safe, speed and enjoy the roller coaster effect. Betty kept saying the off-camber effect was making her uncomfortable so we headed down closer to the water for a smoother and more level ride.

All arrived back at the Falcon eventually where we sat on the porch in our deck chairs and enjoyed the conversation, great music in the background and some pleasant conversation.

Sunday morning saw most of us headed back towards home separately as we got up and going with stops along the way to eat or shop. A very relaxing weekend in a picturesque place with good companionship. Ahhhhh!

A couple of notes:
Buxton doesn’t have the nightlife that Carolina Beach or Nags Head would have. It makes a great base of operations for riding but is a long drive home if your group wants to hit the night spots.

The Falcon is clean and very reasonably-priced. Compare it to the Comfort Inn just a few hundred feet north. Reservations are a good idea. They are also closed for the Christmas/New Years holiday so plan ahead.

There are several good restaurants within walking distance and there were a few issues (minor) about the way they handle large groups. One should consider smaller groups for meals and then meeting up afterwards. Several of the gas stations in the area take only credit cards for purchases, at least this time of year. The Texaco station directly across the street takes cash and plastic and has two airhoses fed by a generous compressor for airing up at the end of your trip. Keith Holman

Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman, Bob Weaver, and Paul Woscek .

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