We had heard great things about the Outter Banks of North Carolina and so this was on our must see list. Ocracoke was the low key gem that many suggested and the target of our next visit. Little did I know that I shared a special bond with this island that goes back almost 20 years. But first, we must take to the seas to get to this barrier island and for this we have to load Ava and the Beast onto another ferry. This one, unlike the others we’ve ridden, costs some cash and reservations were recommended. The ferry was at 10:00am and they asked that you arrive at least 30 minutes prior to that. We had a 2 hour drive so to give us a little margin I wanted to leave the campground at….WHAT??? What time did you say?? 7:00?? In the morning?? Yeah…this is early for us but I am proud to say that we were rolling at 7:15…not too shabby. We loaded onto the ferry and sailed away.
It was a really nice day so we spent about half of the ride up on the sun deck. The second half we spent inside the rig hanging out. It was really funny to be in the rig while it was moving and to look out the windows and see nothing but water going by. The campground was only about a mile from the ferry terminal so we settled in at Teeter’s Campground and ate a quick bit of lunch.
After lunch we got on our bikes and set out to explore the island. The weather was gorgeous and even though it was a weekend it did not feel very busy on the island. Its the shoulder season I guess. It’s a very quaint town and easily navigable by bicycle. Steph led the way out to the Ocracoke lighthouse, the oldest brick lighthouse in America still in operation. We park the bikes and I look up and there it is…the Ocracoke lighthouse! I was extremely familiar with this place. It’s all white tapered body and two windows set on a bright blue sky and a perfect white picket fence leading the way to the base. I guarantee I have never been on this island before….I’ve never even been to North Carolina before…but I knew this lighthouse like an old friend.
For my thesis in grad school I worked with this image A LOT! The brick texture and the swept frequency of the fence as it goes from foreground to background was great for showing an issue with older, single sensor color digital cameras called color aliasing. The result was some colored banding that would show up in the white bricks and the white picket fence. But today’s cameras do not exhibit this problem because somebody came up with a clever solution to this problem! Nope, I’m not the somebody. While I did come up with a solution there were better solutions than mine. If you are ever over at my house, or my parent’s house, or my advisor’s house or the CU library grab a copy of my thesis and flip through to find several figures containing this lighthouse. It may also be in this paper, but its been so long ago I don’t remember. Anyway, I think it is ridiculous that I never had any clue about the origin of the image I used so extensively in my graduate work…until today!
After the lighthouse we rode out to a nature trail. We locked up the bikes and headed down the path which had signs describing the flora and fauna along the way including poison ivy! The trail ended at the beach. A small but fabulously deserted beach. We collected some shells, enjoyed the warm sand between our toes and relaxed in the sun.
Back at home the kids and I played outside while Steph cooked up some supper. It was a very fine day of travel, exploring and a blast from the past thrown in for good measure!
The next day it was all about the beach. Except we had to stop to checkout the “wild” ponies on the island. I was expecting to see some majestic horses running wild across the golden dunes with manes and tails flowing gracefully behind. Nope. It was a fenced in area with some pretty basic looking horses laying down….what the heck, they were all laying down. After that let down it was off to the beach which did not disappoint.
Lots of really interesting shells, the sand was really nice, the water was beautiful and the weather was just perfect. After an hour or so there we decided to try another beach up the road a ways. We took a picnic lunch and found a shady spot in the parking lot before going over the dunes to this beach which was just as great as the first. Between the 5 of us we had a pretty diverse collection of shells as you can see below.
At 2:00 there was a ranger talk up at the visitor’s center so we headed up there and found the ranger all alone. She was very excited to have somebody to share her bird knowledge with. Her presentation was very good and she really focused on the kids. She answered a few of the kids’ questions they had about their Jr Ranger books before going in to get sworn in and receive their badges.
We hit one more beach before the sun went down. It might be our last warm, sandy, play beach of this adventure. I tried to soak up every bit of it. It is sooooo hard for me to think about our time being up in just a couple months. I want to rewind. I want to go back to that first day so filled with nerves driving across the CO/NM border knowing that we would be gone for 6 months. Don’t get me wrong…I love our home and our community in Longmont…but I’m not ready to be done with beaches yet. I’m not ready to be done with this adventure. Fortunately, we still have a couple months. I pray that we enjoy each of these days to the fullest and that the memories last forever.
Beast on the ferry
Ava on the ferry
Coffee on the ferry
Our own beach
Not the best picnic spot
Hiking to beach
I Love Ice Cream!