Yesterday we made a very scenic drive to the Outer Banks National Seashore. Like yesterday crossing the Delaware Bay, today we drove a while, crossed water, and drove some more to get to our destination. The Delmarva Peninsula is a pleasant drive, the Chesapeake Bay-Bridge is a man-made wonder, and Virgina Beach is a much bigger city than I expected.
The Outer Banks is a chain of barrier islands about a mile wide and 100 miles long, and the north part is very commercial and densely packed with beach businesses and homes, then we drove through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. This renewed our image of what the Outer Banks is supposed to be, with 10 miles of road with solid wilderness, sand dunes and marsh grass on both sides, Atlantic Ocean on the east to Pamlico Sound on the west.
Rodanthe is two towns south of Pea Island and on a different island connected by causeway. The campground is nice and straddles both sides of the road with beach on both sides. It is pretty empty being off-season and there are only about 3 dozen RVs in a campground that will hold 400! We are a stone's throw from the ocean. The weather is good, so we are not sure what is wrong with "off season". Many of the other campers are fishermen and spend their time surf-fishing.
On Tuesday we went to the Orville and Wilbur Wright National Monument at Kitty Hawk. It is a very large monolith on a hill and the original first flights are laid out in a field on the exact location that they occurred. There are also the camp and workshop buildings the Wrights used, a visitors center and a museum. Pretty neat.
On Wednesday we did a 'bird walk' with a ranger at the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge and went south to the town of Hatteras to see the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse & Museum and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the most famous lighthouse in the US. There are lighthouses every 15 miles here and they are each painted in a distinct pattern to help ships at sea to know which lighthouse they are seeing.
There are many, many people in the area for the fishing. You can drive onto the beach here with a permit, and there are beach access ramps about every 5 miles. I guess in most states you cannot drive on the beach, but you can here in the National Seashore. We drove over and took a look at a beach access near Cape Hatteras, and the vehicles were lined up near the high water mark like a parking lot! There were at least a hundred 4WD vehicles lined up and down the beach every 50 feet or so staking a claim to their own little section of beach. They all have PVC pipe mounted on the front or back of the vehicle to store fishing poles, and they drive a PVC into the sand to hold the pole because most of them will have 3-5 poles per person, each with a line in the water.
Hurricaine Sandy is forming in Caribbean, and it now battering Jamaica and Cuba. The prediction is for it to stay out to sea as it comes north, and in about 4 days it will make a left turn to the west and hit land somewhere between Virgina and Cape Cod. If it passes over Virgina we will see some rough weather even though we will be several hundred miles to the south by then. On Thursday we will leave these exposed coastal islands and be back on the mainland, and we may have to detour inland if there is flooding. We are concerned but the locals don't seem too worried as long as the hurricaine does not pass overhead.