Ken's Journal - Summer 2003

  Well, it seems I was getting a little bored staying at home and decided to take a little trip! The itinerary includes a stop in Raleigh NC to see my daughter Carly, a few days on Cape Hatteras NC, then a week or so in Florida at my sister's horse farm and finally a week at Bethpage Resort along the Rappahannock River in VA for a motor home club rally.   I haven't seen Carly since she announced she's pregnant with her first child - my first grandchild!    I haven't been to  Cape Hatteras in 25 years. It's about time I visit again.   I'll need to know how to ride a horse on my trip west this fall. I may be taking a couple trail-rides to access some of the canyons in eastern Arizona so I've arranged for my niece, Miranda, to teach me a bit of horsemanship.   The rally at Bethpage Resort is with a group called Loners on Wheels - a group of singles who like to travel in their RVs. Most are in my age group - 50 and up.  
  Friday-Saturday, 8/15-16/03, Day 1-2.   Friday is a travel day from home to Raleigh NC, some 360 miles or so. My daughter Carly lives with her husband Steve on the north side of Raleigh.  After an uneventful trip, I parked the motor home in a NC State campground some 25 miles northeast of Raleigh. Friday night I have dinner at Carly's place. Carly looks good and feels good. The baby is coming along right on schedule and the estimate for birth is early November. I'll be on the road then, but will park the motor home and fly to Raleigh for this event!   Saturday starts a bit overcast and the forecast is for occasional showers and thunderstorms. I manage to get in a 3 mile bike ride and then after that, it's onto the hiking trails for a 4 mile hike through the woods.  On the way back to my campsite, the first of what will be a series of thunderstorms opens up. I make it back without getting fried by lightning. The storms end by early afternoon and Carly and Steve show up in time to take a short hike before dinner. Dinner comes off really well -- Mahi on the grille, a big salad and Carly brings desert - fresh berries and whipped cream!!  
  Sunday, 8/17/03, Day 3.     This is a travel day - Raleigh to Waves NC. Waves is about 25 miles south of Nags Head and maybe 35 miles north of Hatteras. The trip is only about 230 miles.   I leave late, dawdle along the way and arrive at the campground in Waves at about 2 pm. After check-in and setup it's about 3 or so. It's really windy so I don't pull out the awning -- that's why I left the last time I was here 25 years ago. Then, I remember tying a tent to two oak picnic tables so it didn't blow away. I also remember trying to sleep in the tent with the floor billowing up around us and the sides flapping nosily all night -- after no sleep, it was easy to pack up and leave.   Anyhow, by about dinner time a storm was starting to blow up and in short order it was a full blown tropical that dropped over three inches of water before it petered out by midnight. After that the weather was great. That was the last rain I saw before leaving and there was only a slight breeze -- just enough to keep the 90 degree temps bearable, almost pleasant!!   
  Monday, 8/18/2003, Day 4.   I decided that today will just be for scouting out the northern stretches of the islands. I choose Waves as a base because it's about in the middle of the chain of islands. North is the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon Inlet, Bodie Island Light, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills (Think the Wright Bros), Duck and finally Corolla before you run out of road. At Corolla is the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.   The first stop was the Pea Island NWR visitor's center where I picked up a map for the refuge. Pea Island is midway on the Atlantic Flyway and is heavily used by migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors and wading birds. The refuge has three managed impoundments - North, New and South. Only the North impoundment is open to the public. There is a 4 mile hiking trail around the pond so I decide to give that a shot. It's hot and humid - 90 and 90. I'm really disappointed as what I find is little wildlife and a ton of bugs. After about a half mile, I see a group a hundred yards ahead of me slapping their bodies and trying to put on some sort of spray - bug spray is my guess at that point. To this point, I'd had little problems with bugs but I pulled out the spray and shot some on my legs, arms and face. What a futile effort that was -- by the time I reached the struggling group in front of me, I was covered with these little BITING insects. Some of them were what I know as deer flies but some were much smaller and much more painful. I was out of there!! These things were a problem with 30% DEET and probably had evolved to feed on the stuff!! This would turn out to be the last shot at looking for wildlife to photo.

The next stop was the Bodie Island Light (pronounced body), just north of Oregon Inlet. I made a few shots of this light at the time, but the crowds were heavy and as it was midday, the light was a bit harsh. This shot is from a later visit - at sundown, maybe slightly after. This light is 150 feet tall and sports a first order Fresnel Lens - the largest lens designed by Mr. Fresnel. The second shot is an enlargement -- the lens is about 7 feet tall. The light from this one is visible for 19 miles over the ocean.     

   Next stop - or non-stop - was in Kill Devil Hills for the Wright Brothers Memorial. My memory of that from 25 years ago was of a small parking lot and a short hike to a plaque on a hill of sand. Not now! This is the hundredth anniversary of the "first" flight. Commercialism has run amok! Now there is a giant visitors center with a replica of the plane, a diorama and acres of parking. As I went by, the parking looked packed so I decided to skip the man made spectacle - now just another amusement park.   Next on the day's itinerary is the Harley dealership in Nags Head. No trip is complete without a tee-shirt from the local Harley dealer!!    The dealership is on the north side of Nags Head and after a stop there I continue north on RT 158 which bypasses the old beach RT 12. RT 158 is a nice four lane, but not limited access.

   It's afternoon and the traffic is rough -- this late in the season and there's still too many cars in too small a space. Where 158 turns west and heads across Albemarle Sound, I cross to RT 12 to continue north. From this point it's some 22 miles through Duck to Corolla - that's 22 "highly developed" miles. The speed limit varies from 25 up to 45 -- and you are lucky to make the limit anywhere on the route. It took me almost an hour to do the 22 miles - and almost an hour for the return trip to. If you're vacationing in a place somewhere along this stretch, be sure you take all you provisions with you on the trip in and plan on staying the duration.   Here's a shot of the Currituck Beach Light -- For $6 you can climb the 214 steps to the top. I decided to pass on the climb -- there were too many people and so late in the day the inside was bound to be really hot. This light is 158 feet tall and also sports a first order Fresnel lens. It's located 34 miles south of the Cape Henry Light (north of Virginia Beach at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay) and  33 miles north of Bodie Island Light. The light is visible for 18 nautical miles.    I will not visit this light again unless I fly in or visit in the winter when the traffic dies off a little.   I made it back to home base, fixed dinner and made it back to Bodie Island Light just before sundown - the pictures you see above.  

"Life is a daring adventure - or nothing." -- Helen Keller

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