During Christmas of 2008 I was with my family and we were talking about past vacations and realized that we had been to most of the states in the US. We each counted them up and I had been to 43 of 50. I decided I wanted to try and get to all 50 before my 31st birthday in August of 2012. I went to South Carolina in April of 2009, (used my vacation time in 2010 to go to China, Australia and New Zealand instead…) Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in March of 2011, and Vermont in May of 2011, putting me at 48. I only had North Carolina and Hawaii left (yes it is very sad that Hawaii is 1 of the last 2). I went to Peru and got married in 2012, which both ended up pushing back my goal. Both of which I felt were very good reasons :). Vu and I had airplane tickets to go to North Carolina the first year we were married, but we ended up having to cancel that trip and after that we bought the house and then Vu started grad school, so vacation plans got put on hold.
At the end of August, the day after my 34th birthday, I flew to my parents home in Atlanta, Georgia, along with my twin sister Rachel, and the 4 of us spent the week in North Carolina, finally checking off number 49! Yay!!!
I flew in a day earlier than Rachel and went to a Brave’s baseball game with my dad. Because if you can’t tell… I like lists… especially travel lists… and goals… so Rachel and I also happen to have a goal to attend a baseball game at every stadium. However, we aren’t doing very good at this goal. This was just my 4th one (there are 30 in case you don’t know).
We packed up and drove to the Outer Banks on Saturday, August 29th. We were able to stop in Charlotte and visit an old friend, MelBelle, and her family. It was so good to see them, it has been a long time. We rented a house in Kill Devil Kills that was right across the street from the beach, with a deck and chairs overlooking the beach. It was really nice. And of course we played games every night, which was fun. Vu doesn’t really like games so we hardly ever play, but my family loves them.
We went to church in the morning, then spent the afternoon driving part way down the coast. We stopped at the Bodie Island Lighthouse.
We also stopped at some random beach along the way and walked out along it for a while. There were lots of birds congregating that would all fly away as we approached. I ended up getting sun burned pretty bad that day. Thank you Seattle + fair skin + no sunblock. After we got back to the house we went out on our beach in the moonlight, and there were some huge waves from the storm that was coming in. It was crazy. I love the ocean.
Since we knew it was going to be a rainy day we headed up north to the city of Duck to do some shopping. We also went to the Currituck light house. I liked that they didn’t paint the brinks on this one.
There was a really pretty little marina/park area right next to the lighthouse that we walked around afterwards. Can you see this bridge in the picture above from the top of the lighthouse? It’s partway hidden behind some trees. We had dinner at the Black Pelican near the house that night, and it was really good. It was a suggestion from some locals and it was packed even though we ate early for dinner. I of course didn’t have seafood, but everyone else did.
In the morning we took another walk along our beach down to the pier. The storm had passed and the waves were much calmer. It was also much more humid and hot, which was not my favorite.
We went to Kitty Hawk in the afternoon to see the Wright Brother’s memorial, and it might have been one of my favorite things. It was awesome. I was really sad Vu wasn’t there because he would have loved it. We listened to a Ranger program about the brothers that was so good. It even made me start to tear up near the end. It was very inspiring. I loved that one year before their first flight they were on the verge of giving up due to disappointment over their failures and they said that “man would fly but not for one thousand years”. But they didn’t give up and it is carved in the memorial that it was “achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith”. And then 64 years after their first flight man walked on the moon. I mean seriously. I kept thinking, if they had given up, what would the world look like? And they were not scientists. Just regular people with a passion for flight.
They have a replica of the first “flyer” in the visitor center.
That first day they flew 4 times, a little further each time. These are the markers for their starting point and the distance of each flight. You can see the rail their “flyer” slid on before take off. And the fourth flight marker way off in the distance.
That afternoon we read on the deck and had an amazing sunset.
We drove down the coast again, but this time went much further down to Hatteras and stopped at the lighthouse. We maybe like lighthouses. This one is the tallest one of the 3 we visited.
They actually had to move this lighthouse because the beach eroded around it. You can see the bath they moved it on, they had to cut down all the trees. It would have been at the top of the picture in the middle right on the beach. You can see some of the old roads going into the ocean. I didn’t know you could move a lighthouse. It was on a track with hydraulic pumps and moved over the course of a few months, a little bit each day. Crazy. The girl standing next to us at the top may have thrown up her ice cream. That was a first for me to witness. It didn’t hit anyone below in case you were wondering.
We were going to go over to the Island of Ocrakoke, but you have to take a ferry, and it was about a 2 hour wait one way, so we just headed back up. We stopped at some of the sand dunes on the way back, and the sand was so hot. I love the green brush in the sand on the ocean. So pretty.
Dad bought a kite and we took it out when we got back. It wasn’t the windiest of days, so it was hard to get it to stay up. It was also harder to control than I thought. I don’t remember every actually flying a kite before, so that was fun to do, especially right next to the spot where the Wright Brothers started flying their kites to learn about flight. Dad had a lot of fun with it.
Rachel and Dad got up early the day before to see the sunrise and it was amazing, so I made the sacrifice and got up at 6:00 am EAST COAST TIME to try and see it too, when anyone who knows me knows I am NOT a morning person and do not like anything pre-9:00 am. I didn’t think it was nearly as good as the one they saw and was really sad about that, and then got up at 6:00 am the next 2 days as well trying to get a good one. I didn’t think any of them were that good, but then when I looked at the pictures, they actually are pretty in their own way. All 3 mornings there was a thick low hanging cloud covering the horizon which prevented the nice pinks and reds that they saw, but it was still pretty. Dad got up soon after I did and spotted tonz of dolphins which was really fun. I didn’t get any pictures of them unfortunately.
We spent the whole day at the beach, it was so nice and relaxing. Especially because I was so tired. Dad and Rachel went out body boarding for a while, then we went in and had lunch and played games when it was really hot. I burned my feet on the sand going in, it was sooo hot.
Then Dad and I (with a little bit of help from Rachel at the beginning hauling water back and forth) built a sandcastle.
My second sunrise was really foggy, which made everything slightly pink, which was pretty. You can see our sandcastle. 🙂
Rachel’s foot hurt, so she stayed home and hung out on the beach and Dad, Mom and I went to Roanoke and visited the “Lost Colony” site. We learned a little bit about it at the visitor center, then went and saw the “fort” that they had built and the tree where they found the tree carved “CRO” when they came back looking for the colony. CRO is the beginning of the Indian’s word for Hatteras. So I know that this is like the big US mystery and all, but I have to admit it kind of drives me a bit crazy not knowing what happened to them. I hate unsolved mysteries. I mean, seriously no trace other than the tree cravings? What happened?!? Anyway.
There is an Elizabethan garden right next to the site to commemorate the Lost Colony settlers, since they came from England during that time period. It was really pretty. I love these sunken square gardens with fountains in the center. I could have an Elizabethan garden. If someone else planted it. And took care of it.
This tree is old enough to have been around when the colonists were here. If only it could tell us what happened…
That afternoon we sat on the beach and read and Dad flew his kite some more. The seagulls were really attracted to it for some reason, and hovered right around it for quite a while. Another storm was heading it, so it was much more windy this time, a lot more fun for him.