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.

Picture of Ocean through Dunes

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.

Wright Bros iconic photo

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.

picture of Duck Donuts sign

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.

picture of fresh donuts

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.

picture of gate house

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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