There are two ways to reach the Outer Banks from Morehead City in a big motorhome. The inland route is a four-hour, 214 mile journey to Avon, where we were going to be staying. The other option, the one we took, is a 104-miles, 9-hour trip that includes two ferry rides. Yep, we could have gotten there in half the time driving twice the mileage, but where's the fun in that??
We left Morehead City around 8:00 a.m. to make the one-hour drive to Cedar Island, where we would board the ferry for a 10:30 departure. We figured we’d have plenty of time to make breakfast while we sat in line if we got there a little early. We had previously made reservations to make sure there was plenty of room for Scoopy and Toadie and we did keep them hooked up for the ride.
Let me tell you, it was a tight squeeze! Once parked to the attendant's satisfaction, we were unable to open Scoopy's door and were stuck inside. We expressed our dissatisfaction at the situation and he did allow us to maneuver slightly so that we could eek ourselves out, but I think it may be time to lay off the shrimp and grits, if you know what I mean.
The weather was beautiful when we started the 2-1/4 hour journey so we stayed out on the deck for a while. The back deck looked directly onto Scoopy's roof and that led to a few solar convos with folks who were curious about the panels.
By the time we reached Ocracoke Island, the southern tip of the 200-miles stretch known as the Outer Banks, or OBX, the weather had turned cloudy. These are barrier islands off the coast of the state of North Carolina, separating the Atlantic Ocean from the mainland and because there are miles and miles of beachfront, they are a popular vacation destination. Lucky for us, we got there before all the tourists, so we encountered little traffic as we drove the few miles through town to the other side of the island where we would catch yet another ferry to Hatteras Island.
The ferry from Ocracoke to Hatteras is free and priority is given to commercial vehicles. We were a few back in line and as soon as we reached the front, they shut it down. Drat! We waited an hour for the next ferry to arrive only to be denied boarding yet again in favor of a gigantic Bud Light 18-wheeler. Double drat! We waited another hour and finally got to board, and that's why our travel day was nine hours long.
Once on Hatteras, we made the 20-mile drive to the Sands of Time campground in Avon. We were arriving on the OBX about 10 days before the state and national campgrounds opened, so we were happy to find this little gem that is a Passport America park. Full hookups, $25 per night plus electric which meant I could catch up on laundry!
I don't know how other rigs work but I can't run my onboard washer unless the grey tank is open and that means (usually) a sewer connection. There are explicit warnings that doing so creates some kind of spatial anomaly vacuum in the plumbing array and Scoopy will implode or something if I run the machine. That said, I've done it a couple of times accidently, like when Steven tells me he opened the grey tank but he actually didn't. And obviously, we didn't blow up, but still, maybe we just got lucky.
So for the first two days it was chores but mostly rest and laying about because the weather was horrible. We had an absolute deluge for the first 18 hours and the wind, oh my goodness, the wind! For two days it blew 25-35 mph, so not at all beach weather! Steven did go out to photograph one of the lighthouses and to visit the Rodanthe pier and the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station but he very nearly got blown away.
But after the storm came beautiful sunny days. We took the opportunity to have breakfast with a couple we met on the ferry. Bill & Cindy are retired teachers from Michigan and when they found out we were visiting there this summer, well, we all had a lot to talk about! We look forward to meeting up with them again when we arrive for our month-long stay at Wild Cherry in Lake Leelanau. (Can you believe we forgot to get a selfie?)
We also visited several of the beach towns along the main strip (the only strip, really...) from Hatteras to Kitty Hawk, where we visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial and Kill Devil Hill, the place from which they launched their airplane over and over. Unfortunately the museum was closed for renovations but we still enjoyed being there.
We walked some beaches but I have to say they are not as nice as Florida beaches. For me, the big draw here were the houses. Holy cow, the houses were amazing! Those along the beach are three-story McMansions that are built on stilts, so that they really look four stories tall. This affords them a view over the protective sand dunes, but also allows water to flow under the home in the event of a major storm. I don't know how often that happens but it would freak me out a little. I loved walking and looking at all the "gawkitechture".
As luck would have it, there was a seafood shop just around the corner from our campground, and when we went in, we learned a great deal about North Carolina shrimp. Apparently we are way too early in the season for fresh shrimp and the kind we wanted (big fatties!) won't be seen until August. But they did have an unusually long season last year that lasted well into December so that's what we got. Five pounds of big fatties, beheaded but not peeled or deveined. That is a job my friend Kelly has volunteered to do and I'm going to watch her from across the room with a refreshing beverage in my hand. Cheers!
NEXT UP: Assateague Island National Seashore