Back to the East Coast – Outer Banks, NC

Chris and Zeph on the bronze statue of the Wright brother's airplane

Chris and Zeph on the bronze statue of the Wright brother’s airplane

After we said good-bye to our friends in Nashville, we headed back out to the east coast. Chris is a surfer and had seen pics of the Outer Banks surf spots since he was a kid. That was our next destination. The road from Nashville to the Outer Banks of North Carolina is a decently long one, as our traveling goes. We decided to stop for a night in a little town called Wytheville, in Virginia – this was a charming little farming town. The rolling green grass hills of Virginia are quite tranquil and beautiful. It is one of my favorite states so far, as far as driving and scenery goes. After two days of driving east we made it to our destination for this leg of the trip: Cape Hatteras KOA Campground. The KOA was particularly impressive, it had a huge clubhouse, a jumping pillow (just like the one at Sun and Fun Park in Sarasota, FL), some mini golf, really nice laundry facilities and giant private bathrooms (each shower had its own room with a full vanity sink and toilet: unheard of on this trip so far!), and a great location right on the sand against the Atlantic ocean. We parked here for a few nights, intending to live it up at the KOA with full hook-ups (water, 50amp power and sewer) and then head to a more primitive State Park in the area a few days later.

Our KOA campsite

Our KOA campsite

This area of North Carolina was hit badly by Hurricane Irene in 2011. The bathrooms at the KOA had a marker on the wall outside commemorating how high the water went during the storm. That was a good three feet off the ground at least. The Outer Banks are a unique piece of land – a set of barrier islands off the main coast of North Carolina. Think “Nights in Rodanthe” with Richard Gere and Diane Lane. Our KOA campground was actually just outside Rodanthe, in a very small town called Waves. The land there is pretty flat, aside from some sand dunes. I can only imagine the devastation a three foot storm surge would have caused to the area. We could still see plenty of damage as we drove around. The seashore islands here basically run from north to south over probably sixty miles or so. I’d say the widest part of any of the islands we drove through was less than a mile – so it’s a long and narrow strip of land.

Sunset at the KOA

Sunset at the KOA

The Outer Banks are famously where the Wright Brothers took their first engine-powered flight back in the early 1900s. We went to the monument built in their honor in Kittyhawk, about twenty minutes north of our campground. This is fabulous place to see in person. There’s a giant monument on a hill commemorating the first flight of the brothers, a bronzed statue of the actual plane with one of the brothers just about to take off with statues of the other people that were there that day watching with anticipation and hope. There’s a museum with flight artifacts. But the coolest thing there, in my humble opinion, was the field with the four markers denoting the four flights the brothers took on their plane that fateful day. The first official flight was only like fifteen yards, and the next two flights were each only a few feet more than the first. The fourth flight, however, was about one hundred yards and you could walk out to the marker to get a real feel for how far they actually flew. So much history in such a small, windy grass field. So much build up and hard work to that day for those boys. So much magic in such a small moment. It was wonderful and exhilarating to experience this place. It made all the stories you read in elementary school about the Wright Brothers in Kittyhawk taking the world’s first flight come alive!

Chris helping Zeph fly on the Wright Brothers Memorial

Chris helping Zeph fly on the Wright Brothers Memorial

The weather in the Outer Banks is much like I’d imagine Chicago to be: windy. Extremely windy. So windy that it’s hard to be outside some days. Especially if you are a 30 pound almost-two-year-old. We transferred to Oregon Inlet State Park campground for what we thought would be three nights, but that wind kicked up so strong the first night we decided to head to our next destination a few days early to get to gentler weather. Plus we were there at the wrong time of year for the surf so we packed up and headed north a wee bit, back into Virigina, to see some more American history with our own eyes.

The Moho caught in a sandstorm

The Moho caught in a sandstorm