Saturday morning greeted us bright and clear, with a light, cooling breeze helping to keep the temperature down. After a relaxing morning in camp spent reading and taking care of some chores (we use a Verizon Jet Pack to connect our devices and computers to the internet) we hopped on the bikes to ride up to Nags Head and beyond. Our ultimate goal was to make it back to the Wright Brothers Memorial to pick up a small souvenir we’d forgotten to buy when we visited two days earlier.
After a short stint on Highway 12 we turned off onto South Old Oregon Inlet Dr. to begin what would be almost fifteen miles of pedaling before hitting the memorial. It’s a long ride on a straight flat road. On the way you pass house after house with a rental sign out front, listing the rental number for you to contact the leasing agent if you are interested in the property. As I viewed an accumulation of these signs, it made me glad to know we’d come before the height of the season because when all of these houses are rented, this place must get really crowded.
We arrived at the Memorial, parked the bikes momentarily, purchased the needed souvenir and began the long ride back to camp. Along the way we stopped briefly at a local bike store to pick up some Chamois Buttr, which I find to be highly effective in reducing the occurrence of saddle sores and had forgotten to bring with us on the trip. As we approached the southern end of Nags Head proper we stopped at Booty Treats, for a refreshing and revitalizing helping of ice cream.
The final eight or so miles back to camp gave us thirty-six for the day, a good effort. We’d brought some back-up camp food with us and had that for dinner; a can of Brunswick Stew, box of rice and a packaged Tikka Masala that you heat up in its packaging. After a long ride it went down easy and to fully relax, we watched a DVD on the entertainment unit in the car, reminding us of the times we’d done so in Europe.
Having enjoyed a good ride the day before, Sunday, our last day at the Outer Banks would be one of sightseeing. Our first stop was the Bodie Island Light Station, just up the road from camp. The third of three light stations erected on this site, stretching from the original in 1847 to this one completed in 1872, it stands 165 high and you climb just over 200 steps to get to the top, equal to climbing a 10-story building.
The narrow stairs have a handrail only on one side, two-way traffic, and 9 landings. Given the number of narrow stairwells and towers I ascended in Europe last year, this one seemed easy and when we exited out on to the walkway circling the light, the strong winds blowing across the island nearly took my hat with them.
We left the light station and continued north a few miles to Highway 64, turned left and crossed Roanoke Sound on the Nags Head / Manteo Causeway to Roanoke Island, heading north once there to our first destination, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. In 1585 a group of men dispatched by Sir Walter Raleigh to this spot attempted to establish the first English colony in the United States. Survivors of this expedition returned to England at the end of the first year and two years later another replaced it, this time with women and children along with hope of creating a permanent colony. Led by John White, the fort was rebuilt and in August 1587, White’s granddaughter, Virginia Dare, became the first English child born in the New World. White returned to England for provisions not long after but was delayed in returning until 1590. When he arrived he found no trace of those he’d left behind, thus the legacy of the “Lost Colonists. These events are recounted dramatically in the outdoor play, “The Lost Colony” in a beautiful theater constructed on the waterfront.
We left the site and began to work our way back to the bridge to take us over to Bodie Island, but first went in search of a recreation of the Elizabeth II a 69-foot 16th-century sailing ship, one of seven in Sir Walter Raleigh’s 1585 expedition to establish England’s first New World colony. We parked close by and walked across a small bridge, interrupted for a few moments to take a Facetime call from Jessica, conducted while a group of kids took turns jumping off into the water. Done with our call we walked to the entrance of the local theme park that contains the Elizabeth II, Roanoke Island Festival Park.
With some time on our hands we decided to pay the admission fee and spent the balance of the afternoon there, exploring this Williamsburg like attraction with its historical displays and live narrators demonstrating crafts and customs of the time period portrayed, that of that the first colonies. This early in the season it wasn’t crowded; indeed we were concerned for the financial viability of the place given how few people were there. But the displays were quite informative and we left knowing a bit more about the first colonists than we did when we arrived.
We’d noticed a microbrewery while walking over to the park, just a block or so from where we parked the car and stopped in for a beer to get us on the road. The Full Moon Café and Brewery is a small and friendly place in this quaint part of the island, the town of Manteo. We entered the brewery side of the operation, just four seats at the bar and 2-3 high topped tables and ordered a couple of pints. While enjoying the beers we struck up a conversation with another couple, he having worked for a number of years for Boeing on top secret projects in the California high desert near Palmdale.
We ordered another pint to share and the Crab Dip appetizer, a generous serving of au gratin lump crab, more than enough for four yet alone just the two of us. We finished up our drinks and food and still a bit hungry made our way straight to the Blue Moon for one more pass at their menu. I had in mind their fish and chips and once seated at the bar, we ordered a portion to split. Here is the balance of my review for them from Trip Advisor:
Two days later, after a fun afternoon over on Roanoke Island complete with a couple of beers and a crab dip appetizer at a brew pub there, we returned to the Blue Moon for another pass. We sat at the bar again, enjoying the company of our bartender, ordering a drink special, the Lavender Lemonade (Tito’s Vodka, Lavender simple syrup, and fresh squeezed lemonade) for Joanna and a beer for me. We split an order of Fish and Chips and weren’t disappointed; two large portions apiece of local Mahi-Mahi, hand cut fries, house made slaw and a side of jalapeño remoulade.
The fish was firm and fresh, fries cooked just right, crispy but with some body. We finished up and with a bit of arm-twisting I convinced Joanna to go for a desert with that Italian Lemon Cake my end goal. It came to the bar with a gigantic topping of fresh whipped cream, a good way to start. It was a dense but moist cake filled with a lemon infused mascarpone icing. Just the right combination of sweet and sour, a perfect way to end a delightful meal and to convince us that if Carolyn suggest a restaurant in the future, we’ll be sure to go there.
After a day of discussion we decided to forgo the ferry trips south. As it turned out in order to catch the Ocracoke ferry in time to make it to the Cedar Island Ferry terminal by 7:00 am, we’d need to break camp at 3:00 am, doable but not desirable unless its your only option. We cancelled our reservation and prepared to leave early the next day, but not so early we’d be taking the tent down in the dark. The wisdom of our decision was affirmed the next morning when we awoke to heavy dew, the tent sopping wet. I can only imagine how much fun it would have been dismantling it in the dark.
Our visit to the Outer Islands had been wonderful, every day memorable and we felt that we’d had covered most of it, leaving plenty of sights unseen to warrant a return visit. Except for the many bug bites (particularly those pesky no-see-ums), we’d managed to camp, ride, and hike without incident. As The Terminator so eloquently puts it, “We’ll be back.”
Verizon Jet Pack: http://www.verizonwireless.com/internet-devices/jetpack-mifi-6620l/
Chamois Buttr: https://chamoisbuttr.com/
Booty Treats: http://bootytreats.com/
Bodie Island Light Station: http://www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/bils.htm
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site: http://www.nps.gov/fora/index.htm
Elizabeth II: http://www.outerbanks.com/elizabeth-ii.html
Roanoke Island Festival Park: http://www.roanokeisland.com/
Full Moon Café and Brewery: http://thefullmooncafe.com/