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Day 99 - NC Outer Banks Islands (Photo's Added)

We visited Pea Island NWR, thousands of swans and egrets, herons, ducks and a few turtles. We also visited two lighthouses and played in the waves a bit.

sunny 65 °F

Logistics:

Miles driven - 63
Weather - fabulous
Camped at Cape Woods Campground in Buxton on Cape Hatteras

Confessions:

(1) The title is misleading - I normally don't put (Photo's Added) unless I first saved a stub entry called (Placeholder), where I wrote a very short blog entry, then go back later and add the photo's. From the statistics I get on this board, it looks like people are assuming that there are no Photo's unless those words are in the title. So I'm taking the opportunity to clarify - unless the title says (Placeholder), the photo's are already in the blog entry!

(2) Mom is much happier without the jackets & coats!

Narrative:

Wow! What a day: summer like weather, lighthouse, beaches and beautiful birds! Absolutely fabulous - and we didn't even have any bubbly (for abfab fans everywhere)!

We reluctantly left the campground on Roanoke Island and drove east, back to the NC outerbanks islands, then continued south. A short time later we came to the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

In 1837, a government survey to determine where to place lighthouses along the NC coast determined that more ships were lost off Body Island than any where else (the spelling has changed over time, the current spelling is Bodie, but if Body was used in an old report, I'll use that also just for fun). The current lighthouse is the last of three, the first was built on a poor foundation and didn't last. The second was blown up by the Confederate Army to keep it from helping the Union. This one was built in 1872 and is still in use, although it needs restoration.

Day_99_-_B..hthouse.jpg

It is 156 feet tall and still has it's first order Fresnel lens. Notice the intricate iron work at the top also.

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According to signage in the museum located in the old lighthouse keeper's house, Congress assigned control of lighthouses to the Treasury Dept in 1789 - shortly after the country was formed. As coastal shipping increased in the 19th century (1800's), mariner's began to protest that the light from American lighthouses was poor, if visible at all. Alhough the Fresnel Lens had been invented in France in 1822, this expensive "foreign" device was shunned by Treasury's miserly administration for years (we never have liked to pay taxes). Loss of property and lives continued along the coast.

In response to this and other concerns, the U.S. Lighthouse Board was created in 1852. In addition to other improvements, the Board installed Fresnel Lens in as many lighthouses as possible. The U.S. Coast Guard absorbd the Lighthouse Board in 1939.

Today, improvements in coastal navigation (I assume they mean GPS) has rendered many lighthouses obsolete. Some have been torn down, but in many cases local communities and lighthouse enthusiasts have raised money to restore and/or maintain these historic and interesting structures.

Anyway, I just thought that was of interest...

Moving on, we continued south across a long, high bridge onto a place called Pea Island. Shortly after arriving on the island, we came to the Pea Island NWR (National Wildlife Refuge). When we first pulled over, there was a pond by the parking lot with turtles! These are some of the first turtles we've seen on this trip.

Day_99_-_P..Sliders.jpg

On the ponds between the highway and Pamlico Sound were thousands of birds - ducks, egrets, heron, swans and brown pelicans. They weren't always close enough to get a good picture - but hopefully you can get an idea how many there were! (This is maybe one of the times I wish I had a great DSLR and more then 12x zoom!) I hope you enjoy the pictures even a fraction as much as we enjoyed seeing the birds... Keep in mind this is December 9th!

Day_99_-_P..__Heron.jpgDay_99_-_P..Takeoff.jpgDa_99_-_Br.._Flight.jpgDay_99_-_P.._Pond_1.jpgDay_99_-_P.._Egrets.jpgDay_99_-_Butterfly.jpgDay_99_-_P..nd_Wasp.jpgDay_99_-_I..Blanket.jpg

Of course, you can't be this close to beaches on such a beautiful day (in December no less!) and not get out to have a little fun. We visited beaches on both sides, the Atlantic Ocean side and Pamlico Sound side. At times, these are only a couple hundred yards apart (in fact, an inlet was washed through the island during Hurricane Isabel in 1998. The government dredged up sand to rebuild the isthmus to fix the road.) Anyway, here's Mom at both beaches - see if you can guess which side is ocean vs sound.

Day_99_-_M..o_Sound.jpgDay_99_-_M..c_Ocean.jpg

Too beautiful, but no camping allowed along here so we continued on to Cape Hatteras. Of course, there is another lighthouse here - interestingly enough named 'Cape Hatteras Lighthouse' (where do they come up with these things, I don't know). Notice how different the paint patterns are? Lighthouses are each painted a unique pattern as well had given a unique light flashing pattern. This way, a ship doesn't mistake one lighthouse for another and think they're on a different place on the map then they are. Another safety feature, probably designed after a few too many shipwrecks.

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Nearby we found a very nice campground and decided to stay for the night. I could have probably stayed much longer, but it turned out this was the last night the campground would be open until next year - and the weather couldn't be expected to remain like this much longer (the outer banks should be cold and windy this time of year), so it's just as well. It sure felt like a summer vacation for today however.

Posted by jl98584 07:55 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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Comments

Very beautiful. The weather here is warm one day then cold the next. Today is sunny and nice. Last night very cool, 35...Ana, David and I went to Austin to the Armadillo Christmas Bizarre.. (of course, spent too much) and went out to eat at a couple little Austin coffee houses. We also went on the "Trail of Lights" a very nice light display Austin puts on every year. It is next to the River (aka Town Lake) It is about a quarter mile of light displays produced by various Austin businesses. Each one with it's own theme. We all liked the one with the water of lights, rain clouds of lights, then a rainbow of lights shows.. this is all to pretty music...
Any way, back to house cleaning etc,,,today.
Enjoy the trip, the lighthouse, beaches etc..look beautiful...

by rllomas

Sounds like fun! They had a light display in the county park where we stayed last night also, I think I got a couple shots I can upload as I get caught up...

by jl98584

Liked the pix. Mom! barefoot in the ocean! good stuff!

by drque

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