Outer Banks Cape Hatteras National Sea Shore

The official dates for our spring visit to the Outer Banks (OBX) and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Recreation Area (CHNSRA) were April 16-18 this year but some arrived early and got some extra fun packed into the weekend. I hope to accurately include some of that. But first a little setup.

This little corner of shops (just as you come into the northern edge of Buxton) exemplifies the struggles the whole area is fighting economically with the current state of the economy and what is felt as an attack by the National Park Service reneging on promises made when the CHNSRA was being opened.

At least once per year (and twice of late), CORE makes a weekend run to the beaches. The runs are officially designated as CORE and Friends as an annual run started out under another group but CORE continues the tradition. Generally, we shoot for a weekend in April that will avoid Spring Break and the start of the summer high traffic season and for the last weekend in October to coincide with Halloween.

the whole area is fighting economically with the current state of the economy and what is felt as an attack by the National Park Service reneging on promises made when the CHNSRA was being opened.

The CORE and Friends group for spring 2010 included:

  • John, Raymie, Brandon and Alex in a TJ (CORE)
  • Gene, Brenda and Monty in Avalanche (Friends)
  • Mike and Donna in a TJ (CORE)
  • Keith and Betty in Colorado (CORE)
  • Bruce in a Ranger (Friends)

The weekend started a little early. Keith and Betty arrived Wednesday and visited Manteo and the Roanoke Marshes Light on the waterfront at Manteo on Thursday. The history of the light places it inside the sound and marking shallow water. It was a screw-type light similar to ones used in the Chesapeake Bay and was literally screwed into the sound floor and surrounded by water. As modernization replaced the light with an electronic unmanned marker, preservationists decided to move the house and light to the shore and proceeded to transport it by barge. Unfortunately, the light was not adequately secured to the barge and was lost overboard en-route. The cost and work involved were deemed unacceptable to retrieve the structure under those circumstances and a replica was later built and added to the Manteo shoreline, replacing a water treatment facility. The light replica has served as a focal point to the buildup of the Manteo town center in the last two decades. There are some pictures of the light and other sites in Manteo in the photo album. We checked in at the Comfort Inn on Thursday evening.

On Thursday, Gene and Brenda arrived and laid in supplies to make sure some fishing got done. Monty came along for the ride. Gene finally tracked down some unfrozen bait, Brenda found her spot in the sun and Monty alternated between the two and his spot in the back seat. They stayed at the Cape Hatteras Motel. It’s an older place, closer to the water than some of the others. The rooms are raised with space to park the vehicle underneath. A little more rustic in design but clean and modern in execution. It deserves consideration. Their room also included a closed in front porch with opening windows. Late on Thursday, Mike and Donna arrived and checked in at the Comfort Inn.

On Friday, John, Raymie, Brandon and Alex made their trip down to include a stop at the Wright Brothers site at Kill Devil Hills. The celebration for Wilbur’s birthday was underway. They also managed a trip to top of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. High winds prevented them from going outside on the catwalk though. They checked in at the Comfort Inn as well

Friday included a call from Bruce who had been non-committal about joining us this year. Seemed some pressing business and covering arrangements at home kept him up in the air until almost the last minute. Luckily, it all came together and he joined us in time for dinner Friday night. He stayed at the Cape Pines.

Friday morning, we ate at the Island Perks (highly recommended for their baked goods as well as other foods including breakfast and lunch items) before setting off for the day. As we were preparing to leave, we noticed several guys trying to move an ice cream freezer/display case up the steep stairs to a new business in the corner. Mike managed to get us volunteered to help. Two notes on that: It would have been fun to watch as the freezer was putting up a good fight and they really did need a bit more help. The new business is called Fatty’s Ice Cream and is located in the corner. They were opening that day. We never did get back by for the free ice cream we were offered as a thank you. This little corner of shops (just as you come into the northern edge of Buxton) exemplifies the struggles the whole area is fighting economically with the current state of the economy and what is felt as an attack by the National Park Service reneging on promises made when the CHNSRA was being opened. In past decades, we have seen the US Government make restitution and reparations for past grievances, broken promises and mistreatment of the people. One wonders whether restitution will come about with the locals in this area.

During the day on Friday, Gene, Brenda and Monty hit the beach for fishing and beachcombing. Keith and Betty and Mike and Donna took the opportunity to hit a number of the little shops between Buxton and Hatteras Village. A few minor items were procured as well as supplies.

Thursday night and Friday night included dinner at Rusty’s there in Buxton. Rusty’s has been open about a year and is a little upscale in comparison to some of our other favorites. The color scheme in the decor definitely says trendy and tropical beach. The food is terrific though and we are always treated very well when we arrive. It never seems to be too much trouble to swing together some tables to fit our entire group and we often leave after the outside lights have been extinguished. Historically, new restaurants don’t have a great success rate and we have to question the wisdom of opening a new restaurant in that area at this time with the cloud of so-called environmentalists with lawyers and consent decrees skewing the local economy but they seem to be doing okay and we certainly wish them well.

As mentioned our entire group had arrived by Friday evening so the mandatory night trip out past the Hatteras light to the point was in order. We made our way out. There was essentially no moon and no clouds but plenty of stars. There were few fishermen and they seemed clustered right next to the point. We stayed for a while just watching and walking around. We cruised through the interdunes road to the landward side and just rode the short distance to the closure and then turned around and called it a night, heading back to the Comfort Inn for some serious socializing and catching up. We made plans for Saturday to head out after breakfast down to Ocracoke.

Bruce had business to attend Saturday mornng and then had to head back inland. We all gathered at the Diamond Shoals for some not so serious conversation, bid him goodbye and headed to Ocracoke. The ferry ride over was pretty full but a nice day to be on the water, watching the people and the scenery.

We disembarked and then headed to the other end of the island via the paved road for some disbursed shopping and sightseeing and then met up for lunch at Howard’s Pub. Howard’s was up to the usual standards but we were unable to find the CORE flag which had been left last year to add to the collection. There had been some rearranging so we’re not sure if we just couldn’t find it or if it had disappeared.

Next we headed to the beach and the point where some serious fun ensued. The wind had whipped the sand into a stretch of whoop-de-doo waves which gave the shocks a good workout even at low speeds. We waded and watched for a while then rode to the very end of the wheeled travel area and turned around.

Mike started taking some in motion vehicle shots (which are in the album and turned out very well). After we went north to the closure line, we turned back towards Howard’s to retrieve Donna who was sitting this one out on the porch reading her book, enjoying some refreshment and watching the people go by. I’ve wanted to ride the length of Ocracoke on the beach from the southern point to the Hatteras ferry landing but a permanent closure mid-island keeps that from happening. We then got back on the ferry for the ride back to Hatteras village. We agreed to meet up for dinner allowing everybody some time to do some things on their own. At least for me, a nap was in order.

Dinner was at the Sandbar. Although the food there is always delicious, Saturday night’s atmosphere left a little to be desired. Their advertised closing is at 9:00. We arrived just after 8:00 and the point was emphasized (perhaps a bit too strongly) that we “just made it” in time to be seated. Past visits haven’t included the closing time being an issue as the bar usually remained open late anyway. At any rate, the food was good and the company was great. We’ll just have to be a little more mindful of the hour in future.

After dinner came a bit more socializing at the motels with everyone planning to head for home on Sunday. John and family did make a stop by the NC Aquarium in Manteo. He reports that it was worth visiting while there but not worth a special trip to NC just to see that. I guess its easy to be spoiled by the aquarium in Baltimore.

All arrived home safely and another CORE and Friends trip goes into the record. We’ll just have to wait until October now to do it again.

Happy Trails!

Photo Album: 04/16/10 OBX

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Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman, Mike Vincenty, and John Tompkins.

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