Saturday, May 28, 2011


We had never been to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, so back in the spring we decided to check out the place. I started doing some searches on the Internet and suggested to stay in bed and breakfasts rather than hotels/motels. So after studying the map book (we actually have an atlas) we came up with an itinerary.

We left early on Sunday morning taking I-20 East, then we took I-95 North. Our first stop was Tarboro, North Carolina. This town was established in 1790. It was a really nice town. We stayed at The Main Street Inn, which was extremely nice. The Innkeepers were Denise and Stewart Sanderson. When we made the reservations Denise told us they would not be there when we arrived, but the key would be in the box and just go on in. I said, "you must be kidding!" Oh no, she said it would be find. So when we arrived our key was waiting and we made our selves at home. We sat on the porch in the swing and greeted the people walking down the street. We had a really nice room on the second floor. The Inn was built in the late 1800s and had been restored to the historical standards established by the town. Many of the houses in the town are on the National Register of Historical Places. It was late Sunday afternoon and we wanted to have a good meal, but it didn't happen in Tarboro. There were only fast food places, so we drove back to Rocky Mount for vegetables at the Cracker Barrel. It was about 20 miles, but worth the drive.

The next morning Denise prepared the most delicious breakfast for us. We also had a wonderful strawberry smoothie. This was definitely a five star B & B.

We were out early headed to the Outer Banks. It was only about a two-hour drive. We were on a four-land highway for most of the trip. Once we reached the Outer Banks we headed south towards Hatteras where we were going to take the ferry over to Okracoke Island. This was the short ride from Hatteras to Okracoke, which was only about 30 minutes. Anybody wanting to take the ferry has to line up, so we had to wait about 20 minutes before the ferry came. Once on the ferry everybody gets out of their vehicles and just walk around and enjoy the boat ride over. Some people washed their windshields and headlight, others went up to the second deck and most just roamed around watching the water and birds. Guess who's working the crowd on the ferry? Hubby down there with the yellow hat is talking to the NCDOT employee. He was on his way to work on Okracoke, he grew up at Hatteras, moved to San Diego, but didn't like it in CA, so he moved back home. His entire family has lived on the Outer Banks all their lives.

Once we arrived on Okracoke we drove to the town part. It is only 12 miles of paved road on the island. We found our lodging for the night. It was adequate, it was clean, but it certainly was not the grand lodging we had the night before. It too was an old home which had sustained damage from hurricanes, but it had been repaired. We were on the third floor. That was rough with all our baggage we thought we had to bring along. There was no TV and when you walked around the bed you had to lean sideways because the ceiling was slanted. This 5' 1" person had to lean because the ceiling was so low. Fortunately, it was cool and we opened the windows and had a really nice breeze through our room.

We roamed all over the island. We visited the lighthouse, had lunch on the water and went to the beach. As you can see there wasn't a crowd at the beach. We did see about six or seven people. Hubby flew his seagull kite and I walked the beach picking up shells. There are no hotels, houses are structures of any type on the beach. It is part of the National Seashore and is protected from any type of construction.

There was a British cemetery not far from our B & B. We roamed around the cemetery for a while then ventured to some of the shops around the island. There were people walking all over and there were people riding bikes and some people were riding gold carts. It was busy, but not real crowded.

Next morning we left, headed back north, caught the ferry back to Hatteras. We stopped at the Hatteras lighthouse and had a great tour of the tallest lighthouse on the east coast of the United States at 198 ft high. Back in 1999 the lighthouse built in 1870 was moved about 600 yards because the sea was eroding the foundation of the lighthouse. This is part of the National Seashore and is part of the National Park Service. There was a young Park Ranger that gave a great talk about the historic lighthouse and how and why it was moved. Basically, the lighthouse was jacked up and placed on rollers to move it the 600 yards, which is approximately one-half mile. Two houses occupied by the keeper and staff were moved first, which was basically a piece of cake compared to the moving of that lighthouse. It took six days to move the structure to the new location. It was a major engineering accomplishment. This lighthouse is brick and not one was lost on the move. Amazing.

Going north we traveled through Nags Head. There were lots of houses and all sorts of commercial development. The houses were right on the beach here, so obviously some parts of the Outer Banks is not part of the National Seashore.

Our next stop was Kitty Hawk. We loved it! There was a great volunteer at this national landmark. Inside the Park Service building was a replica of the first plane the Wright brothers flew with great narrative from the volunteer. The Wright brothers were geniuses. The same principle of flight is still used today on modern planes. They figured out this method with a kite.

We headed further north to Elizabeth City, NC for a Bed and Breakfast found on the Internet. The Pond Inn. We had to circle the city a couple of times, but we finally found the place. It was in an old area of town right across the street from the sound. It was beautiful. Another five-star place for the night. This was a 5,000 sq. ft. house built in the 1930s with all traditional furniture and an elevator to the second floor. The library was heart of yellow pine with beautiful crown molding. The ground of this house were finely groomed with a beautiful lawn and gardens all around the house. There was a row boat available to putter around in the pond.

That evening we had a wonderful meal at the Cedar Tree right on the water in downtown Elizabeth City at the recommendation of the Innkeeper. This is another small town that we would like to visit again.

Next morning we headed further north to Norfolk, VA, then on to Williamsburg, VA, our favorite place. We stayed in a guest home that we have known about for years. Again, the key was in the mail box with a two-page handwritten letter to us from the owner of the house saying she was in Charleston, SC for the week visiting her daughter, but we were to make ourselves at home and her son, who lived around the corner, would check on us. We had the run of the house with more antiques and traditional furniture. This was a great place to stay right at the edge of the restored area.

I took hundreds of photos of Williamsburg, like we don't have any photos. We met friends that live in Williamsburg part time for dinner and lunch. It was great to see them. They too have a love for the place just like us. They are volunteers at Colonial Williamsburg when they are in town.

We have been going to Colonial Williamsburg since 1967 and we have never grown tired of the place. We love the buildings and gardens, but I must admit my favorite thing to do is just roam through the gardens from yard to yard.

This was a great trip. We want to go back to the Outer Banks and stay longer. This trip was more of an exploratory trip to see if we wanted to spend more time there, which we do.

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