|When the beach isn't enough... Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|Board The Elizabeth II at Roanoke Island Festival Park. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Only spent a few hours in this charming touristy town, enough time for lunch and a brief walk around. Could see the replica of the "lost colonists'" ship from the docks but missed the North Carolina Aquarium, Fort Raleigh - Lost Colony
and The Lost Colony Outdoor Drama, oldest in country.
|Downtown Manteo. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Tip: Many of the stores in Manteo are at the top of a flight of stairs.
Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hill, is one of the few places in the world where you can stand on the exact spot where history happened.
|This is exactly where it happened. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
A large boulder marks the spot where the first flight took off and smaller stones (suitable for standing on) mark the landing spots of it and three subsequent flights.
|Flight began here. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
The amazing story of that first flight will grab your imagination and the site provides the perfect backdrop for its telling although it looks nothing like it did when the Wrights were there. There were no trees - those were planted between 1902 and 1958 - and there were no dunes. It was one windswept hill and emptiness. Locals, especially the volunteer lifeguards, helped the Wrights for fun, even though it meant hauling their gliders and planes up to the top of Kill Devil Hill.
|Killdevil Hill in the background, replicas of the Wrights' workshop, living quarters and hangar to the right. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Tip: You don't need to walk up to the hill; there's not much to see and you can drive if you're curious. Otherwise, steps and elevations are few.
|Pose with or try out the life-sized bronze replica. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Tip: If you're a pilot, consider flying in to this still active air field. Wouldn't it be cool to land where the Wrights did?
Whatever, consider man's progress: We went from first flight of 120 feet to landing on the moon in 66 years (Neil Armstrong carried with him a piece of canvas from that original plane)!
The Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current were the I-95 of the 18th century and with ever-changing sandbars extending up to 20 miles from the island, mariners needed all the help they could get. The two currents meet at Hatteras Island and In the days of sail, if the winds were from the Northeast, ships headed North or following the Gulf Stream to Europe had to anchor and wait until the winds died down which could take days. Between currents, wind and sandbars, this dangerous stretch became known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
|Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse has an interesting history. At 210-feet high the tallest brick beacon in the country, it was built in 1870 some 1,500 feet from the ocean. By 1970, the shifting coast was a mere 120 feet away and threatening to destroy the landmark. By July 9, 1999 it was back on its foundation 2,900 feet inland, a bodacious project. It resumed its sentinel duties in November. Today the sea is 1,600 feet away.
|Bodie Island Lighthouse. Notice it's stripes are horizontal, Hatteras' are diagonal so ship captains can correctly identify them. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|Bodie Island Lighthouse stairs. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Tip: Bodie Lighthouse is worth going in to see its handsome staircase. Both locales include good bathroom facilities.
|Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
While we're dealing with shipwrecks, don't miss the museum dedicated to the more than 1,500 that lie off the OBX and to the area's maritime history.
|Fresnel lens - Sherman couldn't find it but you can. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
|NOAA and OSHA were born here. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
NOAA and OSHA were born here in this architecturally odd but distinctive two-story building that opened Jan. 1, 1902, one of 11 of the country's first official weather stations. Staff would take readings every hour and relay them to Washington, D.C., via telegraph. On April 14, 1912 the operator on duty picked up the SOS from the Titanic. When the message was relayed to the Marconi Wireless Co., no one believed it. Now an Outer Banks Visitors Center uses half of the first floor.
Tip: There are 26 steps up to the top floor but nothing is there so save your energy.
|You won't regret a tour with Danny. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
The first thing I'd do is schedule a tour with Danny Couch of Hatteras Tours. He's personable, knowledgeable, a lot of fun and loves giving visitors inside info on his home.
|Riding on the beach is a treat. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Equine Adventures offers rides for all levels of equestrians through a stream-crossed maritime forest to the beach where those who dare can gallop along the sand.
Koru Village is where to head for blissful, head-to-toe pampering.
|Fishing boats may outnumber cars in Hatteras Village. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
In August, the Gulf Stream literally touches the shores of Hatteras bringing the big fish with it and anglers to the beach. Heaven for surf casters.
|Trophy catcher from Capt. Foster's office. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Fly a Kite
There's always a wind and you'll find a huge selection at www.kittyhawk.com, Waves Village.
|Buxton Village Books. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Read up on island histories (including the infamous BlueBeard), novels and best sellers at www.buxtonvillagebooks.com.
April and October are the premium months for this sport.
|Ocracoke Ferry. Photo © by Judy Wells.|
Day trip to Ocracoke
Didn't have time to take the ferry from Hatteras Village to Okracoke, but it heads next-time's list.