We visited 10 states and crossed over 17 borders on our 10 days away from home. Sounds crazy and busy, and while we did do and see a lot, we managed to get in some relaxing as well … we passed through 5 of those states on our way to/from, spent a night on the road in 2 of those states, and only actually visited a “mere” 3 of those 10 states. Doesn’t sound so crazy now, huh?
We stopped for the night in Lexington, Virginia in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. As we hit the road Monday morning, we saw a sign for a scenic view turnoff … unfortunately we were in the left lane passing a semi and unable to take the turnoff. There was another one a few miles down the road (at a lower elevation) … we took it. I’m sure the view was even more spectacular at the higher elevation, but it was quite beautiful even at the lower elevation (my picture doesn’t do it justice, trust me).
(Note: Don't forget that if you want to see the pictures with more detail, just click on them. )
We pulled in to the Outer Banks, North Carolina mid-day Monday … just in time for lunch outdoors with a lovely view of the ocean.
Our hotel was right on the beach … we had a view of the ocean from our balcony. The dunes in the Outer Banks are HUGE … we were on the second floor, and the dunes were so tall that they blocked part of the view. Still, it was splendid to be able to sit out on the balcony and watch the sun rise.
Our first full day in the Outer Banks was Tuesday. We decided to start with a trip north to Duck and Corolla. We wanted to take a wild horse tour, but at $78/person, we decided that we’d pass. Instead we settled for “wild” horses of a different sort.
We did stop to visit (and climb) the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. I do have a
healthy respect for heights, but I didn’t do too badly at the top … as long as I didn’t get too close to the railing, I did ok.
Day Two (Wednesday) was going to be our long day … we headed south to visit Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island. We weren’t able to visit Bodie Island Lighthouse as it was undergoing renovation … but we did visit (and climb) Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
We drove further south, intending to visit Ocracoke Island, but by the time we got to the ferry, the wait was at least 2 hours with a promise of another 2 hour wait for the return … it was late enough in the day that there just wouldn’t have been enough time to see all that we wanted to see in Ocracoke … so we turned back. Our long day wasn’t quite as long as we had expected.
We decided instead to get an earlier start on Day Three (Thursday) and visit Ocracoke Island. We saw the lighthouse (not open for climbing).
We also visited the British Cemetery (where we saw the graves of 4 of the 37 sailors lost when a German U-boat sunk the HMS Bedfordshire off the coast of Ocracoke Island May, 1942 during WWII).
And since we weren’t able to see the wild horses of Corolla, we had to stop to see the wild ponies of Ocracoke on our way back to the ferry.
Day Four (Friday) included visiting Jockey’s Ridge, the largest living dune on the east coast. It’s a popular spot for hang gliding and kiting.
I would have thought that our legs would have been in better condition after climbing a couple of lighthouses, but that climb up Jockey’s Ridge was not an easy climb … but the views were worth it. Once again my pictures just didn’t do the views justice (couldn’t be because of the photographer, could it? ha!).
The highlight of Day Five (Saturday and our final full day in the Outer Banks) was our visit to the Wright Brothers Memorial. It was interesting to learn that the actual first flights took place in Kill Devil Hills, not Kitty Hawk like I learned in school. At the time, Kitty Hawk was the nearest Post Office, so reports of the flights originated from the Kitty Hawk, so that many mistakenly credited Kitty Hawk as the site of the flights.
We checked out Sunday morning and headed north. Our first stop was at Fort Story, Virginia, where we saw New Port Charles Lighthouse and Old Port Charles Lighthouse (which we were able to climb). We had to go through security to get onto the base … provide photo ID, vehicle registration card, proof of insurance, pop open the trunk and the hood, open all 4 doors, etc. … also got a sheet of what not to do while on the base. It was quite an experience … but worth it when we got to the top of the lighthouse.
We continued north, crossing the Chesapeake Bay using the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (with its two tunnels). At the mouth of the first tunnel, there was a pullover, where I got a picture of the two Port Charles Lighthouses that we had just visited and of the opening of the tunnel.
We drove along the Virginia coast to Assateague Island where we visited (and climbed) the Assateague Island Lighthouse. We thought it should have been called Mosquitoes Lighthouse … we had never seen so many mosquitoes in one place EVER!
We finished our trek north in Ocean City, Maryland where we sampled some of that state’s finest delicacies … crab cakes.
Monday morning we drove up to Fenwick Island, Delaware … with plans to climb Fenwick Island Lighthouse, but off-season visiting hours started on September 1 … open only on the weekend … so we had to settle for just a visit.
Right in front of the lighthouse is the Transpeninsular Line marker … marking the dividing line between Maryland and Delaware. You probably can't see it very well, but it has the coat of arms of the Calverts on the south side and the coat of arms of the Penns on the north side. The line was accepted when surveyors established the borders between Maryland and the land grants to William Penn (Pennsylvania and Delaware), thus resolving the long-standing dispute between the Penns (Delaware) and the Calverts (Maryland).
We had checked the weather forecast, and severe storms were forecast to hit the east coast Tuesday, the day we were planning to head back home. Rather than risk driving through terrible storms, we elected to pack up and head home after lunch … given the reports we saw Tuesday evening after we got home, I’d have to say that we made the right choice.
We had a wonderful time, but it sure feels good to be back home.