Stranded on Ocracoke Island
After spending last evening with our friends Katy and Steve (killing brain cells, laughing and catching up on their shenanigans living in Mississippi for the past four months), we headed south this morning from Kill Devil Hills to complete our trip along the outer banks of North Carolina.
We stopped for a brief but rewarding tour of the Wright Brothers memorial in Kill Devil Hills (not Kitty Hawk, which confounded me a bit, raising hell with Mr. Fotopulos’s middle school history lessons). Hard to imagine the vision and commitment two bike shop owning brothers put into creating the first flight, but it’s all there to see. It’s one of those museums that’s more than worth the visit.
Even more difficult to fathom the fact that humans went from first flight to a stroll on the moon in 66 years. But it’s true, folks, we read it for ourselves at the museum.
I thought of my dad, a WWII glider pilot whose eyes throughout his life would longingly gaze skyward whenever a plane would fly overhead. Not sure if he was aware of Leonardo da Vinci’s sentiments about being airborne, but I’m certain he would have agreed:
“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.”
Back into the car, it was off for a 70-mile drive along the North Carolina National Seashore to the Hatteras Ferry, and a 45-minute (and free!) ferry ride to Ocracoke Island, a way station before continuing along on a 2.5 hour ferry ride to Cedar Island.
But wait – this time of year, there are only two ferries to Cedar Island from Ocracoke: 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and since it was mid-afternoon and we were still at Hatteras, we figured to settle into a hotel room on Ocracoke and wait for the morning run to land.
This place is cool. Desolate, remote and imbued with the “island vibe,” which is part bohemian, part survivalist, and part edgy. We’re in love.
We booked a room at the dodgy Shoal Bluff Motel, conveniently located across the street from one of two restaurants open this time of year and literally next door to one of two general food stores on the island year round.
Being the faithful and intrepid travelers that we are, we picked up a bottle of wine for tonight and some bagels for the morning ferry ride and strolled out to the lighthouse and Springer’s Point Preserve for a look around. Blackbeard (the pirate) used Ocracoke as one of his favorite haunts, at least until he was tracked down and killed offshore here in 1713 or so. Legend has it that his headless body swam around his boat seven times until it sank into the abyss.
We’ll be on the lookout as we head toward land tomorrow.
Highlights of the day:
- A fascinating talk with a guide named John who was staffing the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum located near the Hatteras ferry launch. John spent 20-some-odd years as a career Navy man aboard six different nuclear submarines, and was a fountain of stories about life underwater during the Cold War. We could have stayed for hours, and I’m fairly certain that John could have filled the time.
- The living history talk at the Wright Brothers memorial, which brought to life the incredible accomplishments of that cold, windy day in 1903. Really, really interesting.
- The drive from Kill Devil Hills to Hatteras, punctuated by incredible she crab soup and a yummy lunch at Dolphin Den Restaurant along the way. Downside: the key lime pie was not cool enough to eat, sending Gabi into a lament about desserts gone missing. First shoofly pie, and now this.
I feel the pressure building for a really, really good pecan pie down the road a bit.