Monthly Archives: September 2013

Slowing Down On Ocracoke Island

Our site in Frisco Campground on Hatteras Island was magnificent but we can’t resist heading south, across the water, to Ocracoke Island. We’ve neither one visited before and are excited about it. The free ferry (thanks, NC taxpayers) runs often between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island. We drive ten minutes from the campground and are told by the NC Ferries guys, “They are loading now, go ahead.”

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The ferry has only two RVs and eight cars, not quite a full load on the deck, and piles of available seats for pedestrians upstairs. Our Airstream attracts a nice fellow visiting from Israel. He tells us he knows about Airstream history and how many Airstreams are still on the road. “My good friend buys an Airstream and pays an equal amount to ship it from America to Israel”, he tells us. He wants one too.

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This is a short twenty-minute ferry ride and the water is calm. We are welcomed to Ocracoke by this simple sign near the ferry docks, and we tow the short distance down route 12 to the Ocracoke campground operated by National Park Service. This is the only one of four NPS campgrounds allowing advance reservations on the Outer Banks. We don’t need them though.

We have our pick of sites. Our site has good east-west orientation so the sun will rise at the front of the trailer and track across the road side of the trailer and set at the front. The NPS campgrounds sites on Outer Banks have no water, electricity, or sewer connections. Our section (D) in the Ocracoke CG also has voluntary restrictions on generator use.

We’re at the CG early so enjoy a walk to, and time on, the beach. The water temperature is really inviting. Jim dives in and body surfs a little, but has to be careful not to be run aground by the very rough surf. If you’ve ever done it, you’ll always remember the skinning and salt-water sting on your freshly abraded chest.

How Our APRS Locator Looks

How Our APRS Locator Looks

The next day we drive to Ocracoke light house. This is a treat to see, although we cannot walk up or tour the keeper’s house. The light house is not open to viewing, and people live in the keeper’s house. Still, it is great to see this important and very old light house. This is the second oldest light station in the United States!

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We enjoy a day of walking all about Ocracoke Village and spend an hour poring through the Ocracoke Preservation Society’s very nice Williams’ House. This provides us a nice feel about the village history and, through talking with the docent, we also learn about current culture of the full-time residents of the village.

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Our schedule is loose. We’re not needed anywhere, no appointments until next week. So we take a zero day at the Ocracoke CG’s beach. We like it here. The sun is warm, the breeze is cool, the water is perfect for swimming. We still have a little gin, lots of ice, and several citrus juices left. Why hurry?

See you down the road!
Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2013 Dreamstreamr

Top Dog at Frisco CG on Hatteras Island

We were Top Dogs at Frisco Campground on Hatteras Island, between Bodie Island and Ocracoke Island. Frisco Campground had 50% occupancy rate yet we still scored the best campsite. We were on top of a ridge with views east and south all the way to the ocean. Great breezes blew through our site, keeping bugs and heat away.

Oregon Inlet Campground was nice. Frisco Campground is gorgeous! Very hilly, in a sand dunes kind of way, Frisco offers all kinds of camping spaces. We saw spaces with full shade and total privacy, spaces stuck on hillside, and ones like ours in full sun.

Walking in Frisco Campground is really good — varied terrain and lots of turns in the road keeps the walk interesting. The hills are good for our legs and lungs. We walked to the beach a couple of times, not a long hike and downhill all the way from our site.

The best thing about our site was sitting out at sunrise looking over the entire campus. No bugs, nice temperatures, fine breezes, and great views. The only downside is minor — we couldn’t hear the surf noise.

I skipped an important day — moving our Airstream house from Oregon Inlet Campground to Frisco Campground. We stopped at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and at Chicamacomico U.S. Life Saving Station Museum, then Austin’s Seafood in Rodanthe before heading into Frisco.

Pea Island NWR is a nice stop with maybe 18 parking places but with no RV parking. We parked on the highway right of way, apparently okay. We found nice porches, spotting scopes for viewing migratory birds, nice displays, and a great gift shop. A walkway across the highway takes one through the dunes to the beach, too.

1874 Chicamacomico Life Saving Station

1874 Chicamacomico Life Saving Station

The U.S. Lifesaving Station Museum was really cool. How did this 1874 building survive all those storms? Against all odds, it seems to us. So many hurricanes, so much destruction and relocation of man-made assets over many years, yet this almost 140 year-old coastal life saving station is in great condition. Its survival depended too upon withstanding relocations by storms and by crews.

We’d worked up a healthy appetite for fresh steamed seafood and, based upon a recommendation from Andy Thomson, we tried Austin’s Seafood in Rodanthe. No seating, your choice of steamed or fried, and ready in only ten minutes. This was perfect for us. We carried our bagful of shrimp, crab legs and two ears of corn to Frisco Campground where we feasted on our hot very fresh steamed seafood. Wow, thanks Andy!

picture of us at the lighthouse deck

257 steps up to the deck at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

While at Frisco we spent a day sightseeing. Climbing the 257 steps to the top of nearby Cape Hatteras lighthouse is best done in the cool of the morning. It was 80 degrees by the time we got there, a little cooler than our expected high temps. The climb was easy and quick and so worthwhile. Winds were around 25mph at the top, well higher than at ground, and we could see forever from the observation deck. Crowds were light so we were able to spend awhile enjoying the view.

Next we drove down to Hatteras Village which was a bit of a disappointment. Almost nothing vintage there, perhaps attributable to wipe-outs by hurricanes time after time. A museum, Graveyard of the Atlantic, provided a literally chilling experience. It couldn’t have been over 65 degrees in there. Brrrrr.

The museum has some nice displays. We came away, though, shaking our heads at the absence of any coherent thread throughout the exhibits. There were six or eight separate displays in the big hall, including a ghost ship (it ran aground under full sail and the responders found not a single person, dead or alive, aboard), to the Civil War, to a two-wall display of one, two, and three stage SCUBA regulators, the history of sport fishing in Hatteras, and the Titanic.

The display on the regulators didn’t address their significance in wreck-diving or how advances in design and technology changed diving. Sort of the same throughout the exhibit hall — nice displays with a few really interesting information boards, but the curating didn’t do anything for us.

We were going to comment about the Titanic exhibit in particular but the person at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum’s information desk was pointedly NOT addressing visitors — she seemed thoroughly engrossed in her paperback. Bound to improve, if they have an alternate means of receiving feedback.

picture of Hatteras US Weather Bureau Bluilding

US Weather Bureau 1901 Building

Our last touring stop in Hatteras Village was the US Weather Bureau Station. This was built in 1901 and served until 1946 as a Weather Bureau Station with lookouts and manual recording of hourly weather observations. Their website claims this is the only station of its kind that remains in its original state.

The building served various purposes after decommissioning in 1946, and was restored in 2005 to its original appearance. The building now houses the Visitors Bureau and several rooms with displays about service as a Weather Bureau Station. We enjoyed the displays and seeing the excellent condition of this old building.

The Visitor Bureau folks were very nice and helpful discussing our trip’s next legs, from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island and then to Cedar Island. That’s another story for another day. Until then,

See you down the road!
Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2013 Dreamstreamr

No Shade on Cape Hatteras National Seashore

We left off our last post talking about camping in the shade and not using the available shore power to keep the batteries up. Our batteries went the furthest down we’ve ever recorded, to 60 percent of full. Voltage was still showing at 12.2 to 12.3, and we were preparing for a long drive to the N.C. coast. We thought we’d see how we would make out with solar only.

Full-timers supposedly enjoy all the best freedoms. You know, freedom from house payments or maintenance, yard work, roof leaks, gutter cleaning, painting schedules, and many others. We seem, though, to frequently be going to and fro some very agreeable commitment. The key, I guess, is we ARE doing what we like. This is our first time in six years to just bop around our home state without feeling like we had to be anywhere on time.

We’re going to the Outer Banks to just be there. There’s plenty of time, unless a tropical storm heads our way, before we need to head back for appointments. Per our style, we’re making no camping reservations — it’s after Labor Day so we expect plenty of space in the National Park campgrounds.

Outer Banks sign

We entered Outer Banks at Manteo

Our driving day was sunny and we camped our first few days in full sun at Oregon Inlet Campground, a National Parks campground near Nags Head. Our batteries came up to 87 percent full on the second day at the beach. Because we used two and three fans around the clock the first week and were recharging our portable electronics (laptops, phone), our batteries would go down as low as 70 percent overnight and didn’t charge above 82 percent for the next several days. This was never a problem, it showed us we were charging nearly the same as we were using.

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Our beach access at Frisco CG

We had a 200 yard+ walk to the beautiful soft sandy beach from our campsite in the Oregon Inlet Campground. The CG offers flush toilets, cold showers (which we enjoyed more than we expected — it was hot enough outside), and nice, if slightly distant beach access. Best of all, this campground afforded us great access to Kill Devil Hills (for our Ohio friends, “THE birthplace of Aviation”), Duck Donuts, and Jennettes Pier.

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THE Birthplace of Aviation, eh?

We spent our first sightseeing day at the Wright Brothers National Memorial, enjoying the Visitors Center, walking up the hill to the huge 1932 monument, and touring several nice exhibits on the grounds. Inside the Visitors Center we listened to a Park Service employee describe the events preceding and during the famous first flight.

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Fun coffee house with tasty rolls

The revisiting of Wright Brothers tireless efforts, including over 1,000 trial flights, wore us slap out. It was time for our afternoon coffee fix, with maybe a little sweet roll for good measure. We used Yelp to hunt for a coffee shop — no problem really, there are several on Bodie Island. Duck Donuts caught our business and it was really good. We had a glazed and a plain donut each, took spare plain donuts for later, and had a great cup of coffee. We’ll look forward to returning to Duck Donuts sometime.

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Hot and Fresh!

The extra donuts? We put one under a scoop of ice cream for each of us for a delicious and well-deserved dessert a day later. It was the perfect finish for a fun meal.

Our second sightseeing day was to Manteo, on Roanoke Island. We found the Lost Colony at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and also spent over an hour in the Elizabethan Gardens, on the same campus. The Lost Colony exhibit is wonderfully curated, and might leave one believing the colonists weren’t so much lost as perhaps dispersed and absorbed into not-so-distant villages. A mystery we didn’t solve is how anyone decided to name this thing “Fort Raleigh”.

It doesn’t seem to have constituted much of a fort except for small earthworks apparently built by the new colonists after their governor returned to England to fetch supplies and help. When he returned, three years later, all he found was the defensive earthworks. All the colonists, including his daughter, son-in-law, and his granddaughter were gone without a trace. Fort Raleigh? Revisionist history, I think.

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Entrance to Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo

Finally, we very slowly toured the Elizabethan Gardens. This is one of four projects of the Garden Club of North Carolina, and surely the most impressive. We didn’t realize, though, one of the instigators for this project was Mrs Charles A Cannon of Cannon Mills and Cannon Foundation, Kannpolis NC. She was visiting in 1950 with friends and apparently suggested the garden would be a fine project for the Garden Club. Great idea, and it became more than anyone could have believed. We enjoyed our afternoon slowly wandering throughout these gorgeous grounds.

Next we head to Hatteras Island and Frisco Campground. Maybe we’ll get our batteries fully charged there?

See you down the road!
Jim and Debbie

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©2007-2013 Dreamstreamr

Sitting in the Shade

We’re at a rally of our airstream club, Carolinas Unit of NC, encamped under grand white oak trees. The trees around us are massive, strong and broad. They form a beautiful grove of sheltering long-limbed giants. Throughout the day they allow sunlight to filter through a little. And they add to the night-time darkness, allowing starlight only in the center clearing.

Rally camping in the shade

Rally camping in the shade

Camping in the shade, we can keep the trailer cooler but cannot maintain the batteries with our solar panels. We’re in our third day and still have 80 percent battery capacity remaining despite lots of laptop charging, use of water pump and fans, and lighting throughout the day and evening the previous two days. Battery voltage is sitting at 12.5, so everything is in good shape inside.

Camping in the shade we enjoy the shadows and calm filtered light entering our trailer. Sort of makes an argument for remote solar panels, I guess. But ours are so easy to work with, ninety-five percent of the time sitting in bright sunlight atop our trailer.

Oh — there is shore power too. But Jim enjoys seeing how many days we can thrive on just batteries and solar re-charging. Call it our small contribution to reduced carbon footprint.

See you down the road!
Jim and Debbie

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visit our website

©2007-2013 Dreamstreamr