Thursday, November 4, 2010

Outer Banks

For our third week on the Outer Banks the weather continued to be very good with sunny skies and warm temperature. We did our usual beach and fishing thing and did some exploring of the area. When you are here you don't need the GPS to find your way around as highway 12 is the only road up and down the island and there is almost no traffic this time of year. Each day more and more restaurants and stores close for the season. Very few stay open all winter.
Some of you may recognize this house because it was used to film the movie Nights in Rodanthe. It was built in 1980 and was 250 feet from the ocean. By the time it was used in the movie waves were breaking under it at high tide. This past January it was moved to a new, safer location and is once again available to rent. Here is an interesting story about the house.
One place we have never visited in all the years we have been coming to Hatteras Island is the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historical Site & Museum in Rodanthe. This site is dedicated to preserving the history and honoring the men who served in the Life-Saving Service that was the predecessor to the Coast Guard. Ten of the 29 North Carolina stations were on Hatteras Island with the job of rescuing people from ships that ran aground on the shoals of the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Over the years they saved more than 177,000 people. They worked by this quote, "The book says ya gotta go out; it don't say nothin' 'bout coming back!" Above bottom is the surfboat that was used in the 1918 rescue of the Mirlo and a few ship wreck parts found along the beach. Top is a breeches buoy and a beach rescue cart. During the summer months they have a demonstration on how this equipment was used.
Left is the Midgett House that was the home of Cornelius Payne Midgett and shows a typical Outer Banks home of the early 1900's. Right is the Chicamacomico 1874 station, the oldest in North Carolina. This station was moved five times, three by storms and twice by man.
This is the 1911 station that replaced the smaller 1874 station. It is at its original location and served the Coast Guard, that was formed in 1915, until 1954. During WWII 40 men were stationed here even though it was designed for 8 to 10. The museum is a worthwhile site to visit to get a look at early life on Hatteras Island.
Another site we had not visited since the first time we came to the Outer Banks over 35 years ago is the Wright Brothers National Memorial in nearby Kitty Hawk. We have also visited their home town of Dayton, OH and seen the original Wright Flyer at the National Air & Space Museum in DC. They have an excellent movie that explains all the obstacles Orville and Wilbur had to overcome on their way to flight. Starting in 1900 they travelled to Kitty Hawk each fall to test larger and larger gliders that lead to the 1903 powered flight. Above Nanc cheers Orville on by the 2003 sculpture that celebrated the centennial of this great event.
Center is the monument on the hill in Kitty Hawk where they tested the gliders. Left is the broken original engine that they built from scratch and one of the original propellers. Right is the wind tunnel they constructed to test the designs of various shapes of wings to find the most efficient.
Top left is a reproduction of one of the gliders, center a relief of the brothers with the heading "They taught us to fly." and on the right a reproduction of the original Flyer. Bottom are replicas of the shop and hanger they used on their visits. The large stone on the left was the take off point for the four flights and the the white stones mark the landing spot of each flight they made on December 17, 1903. They took turns piloting the flyer with Wilbur's final flight going 852 feet and lasting 59 seconds. The flyer was damaged on that landing ending the trials for that year. I am always fascinated by how closely in time events and people are connected and this is a great example. My grandfather was five in 1903, I was born two years before Orville died and it was only 66 years after this first flight that we watched the first man step on the moon. This is a very interesting, worthwhile place to visit.
We also travelled over to Roanoke Island to visit Fort Raleigh National Historical Site where the first English colony in the new world was established in 1585. This site is known as the Lost Colony because when the English returned with supplies in 1590 all the inhabitants were gone and the only clue was the word CROATOAN carved on a post. The site also played a role in the Civil War and had a Freedmen's Colony in the 1800's. During the summer there is a play about the Lost Colony. Unfortunately they were working on the visitors center so the reproduction of the small fort above was all we were able to see.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse is undergoing a major restoration. This light is just north of Oregon Inlet near Nags Head and hopefully will be open to the public on our next visit. There are some worthwhile things the government spends money on.
Look at this happy couple out celebrating their 41st anniversary. This is the second time since we have been on the road that we were here for the big day. We had a great meal at the Inn on Pamlico Sound.