Outer Banks North Carolina

Our first stop on our way up the East Coast was the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s been on my list for a long time ever since I heard about the wild Spanish horses that live on Corolla Island.

The Outer Banks wasn’t what I expected. I can’t exactly even say how I feel about the area. It’s kind of an odd place, I’m sure of that.  Much of it was way too commercial and touristy for our liking, and there is way too much (big, ugly) construction going on. But on the other hand, there is tons of really interesting history and beautiful beaches. I’m glad we went, but I’m not sure if I ever need to go back.

On our way to North Carolina we spent several over-nights at Harvest Host locations. We spent Mother’s Day at a vineyard where the girls made me art.

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Ada painting my portrait.

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No idea what she’s pouting about, but she sure is cute.

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Our campground at Cape Hatteras National Seashore on the Outer Banks. The weather was chilly and foggy most of our visit.

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This was the scene just a short walk from our campsite. A beautiful, almost always empty beach on the Atlantic ocean. It was too cold to swim on this side of the islands, and we probably wouldn’t have let the girls in this rough water anyway, but we still had fun playing on the beach.

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And I finally got to check “Wild Horses Tour” off my bucket list.

The horses are descendants of Spanish horses that came over on ships hundreds of years ago. The Spanish ships would wreck on the sandbars along the islands and the crew would unload as much cargo as they could, including the horses who were left to swim to shore and fend for themselves.

The 80 or so remaining horses are contained on the island and protected, mostly by the fact that they’re on an island, but also by a few fences and intense government regulation.

The horses live on sort-of protected land, except for the absurd giant home construction going on there.  They wander through the yards of the McMansions, down roads and along the public beach, and there are huge fines for coming within 50 feet of them and for feeding them. Unfortunately, several have died from likely well-meaning people feeding them. The whole situation is a little surreal.

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Wild horses grazing in someone’s front yard.

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The entire neighborhood is nothing but primitive sand roads.  Whenever there is a significant amount of rain they are impassible. There is a canal where many of the island’s full-time residents keep boats so they can get to food and other supplies in case of floods.
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Oddly placed ancient beachside cemetery.  Shore erosion is a huge problem on the Outer Banks, I’m guessing that this little cemetery was probably at one point further than 20′ away from the shore. Wonder what happens when 20 more feet of shore erodes. To complete this kinda creepy little beach scene, the girls spotted a water moccasin swimming with them here.  He slithered away into that thicket there after they saw him.

 

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We climbed 220 steps to the top of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. It was clearly built before today’s stringent building codes. I’m glad it hasn’t been altered, or worse yet, closed to visitors because of all the possible ways someone could die there. I appreciated seeing the original design, however terrifying it was for me to climb it with my kids.

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Please note the large expanse between the balusters in proportion to my tiny little Cora, and what you can’t really see from this angle is the huge space between each tread. I’m fairly certain even I could have slipped through those cracks!

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If you only knew how panicked I was as this moment.

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Near Currituck Lighthouse is a beautifully restored home from the 1920’s called Whalehead.  They’ve done an incredible job restoring this property and designing the self-guided tour. There was even a scavenger hunt for the kids so that they weren’t totally bored out of their minds while mommy tried to take in a little history / architecture appreciation.  It’s also supposedly haunted by many ghosts, we didn’t see any.

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Speaking of ghosts…the girls got their Jr. Ranger badges at the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site – scene of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  Ada has all sorts of theories about what happened to them. Most of them mirror the theories about how the dinosaurs disappeared. It was fun to see the looks on strangers’ faces when she explained that she thinks a large meteorite took out the colonists, and then provided her proof. People didn’t quite know what to do with that.

IMG_5078Another day, another gorgeous lighthouse. We didn’t climb this one. At about $30 – $40 a pop, one lighthouse is enough. Besides, the grounds around the lighthouse offered plenty to enjoy.

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