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Published: October 5th 2008
JOHNNY’S JOURNEYS : NORTH CAROLINA’S OUTER BANKS 2006
APRIL 17, 2006 (Monday)
Got a late start today. Real late. Had to wash and shampoo two dogs. Then dry them, one at a time, of
course. They sure enjoy their quality time, even if I am using a hair dryer on them. Two cats are tracked
down and placed in a pet taxi. Plus, there is the last minute shopping to do. Anyway, we pull out of the
driveway at 1 p.m. That would be 2 p.m. in the Eastern time zone.
Our first stop is scenic (?) Saraland. It is lunchtime and we stop at Wintzell’s Oyster House. Yummy!
I-65 takes us north to Montgomery. Then veer north onto I-85. Pass through my old hometown, like I’ve
done hundreds of times. Pass the Auburn exit, and think about my seven years I lived there during those
college days of long ago. After we passed the Auburn exit, we then saw a sign for Atlanta. Finally! It now
feels like we are on a vacation.
As we cross the Chattahoochee River, into Georgia, we advance the watches and clock one hour. On
I-285 for about 16 miles before we exit onto I-20. Now we’re traveling toward Augusta, and the sun has
set on our first day.
We exit at Lithonia and check into a Motel 6 motel. There is a cajun restaurant, C’est Bon, right next
door. Crawfish bisque, seafood gumbo and barbequed chicken. What a meal! In bed by 11 p.m.
APRIL 18, 2006 (Tuesday)
Slept until 9 this morning. 10 wonderful hours of sleep. Sure needed that. Had a quick breakfast of
muffins. Now we leave Lithonia, on the outskirts of Atlanta.
About 2 & ½ hours later we reach Augusta, Georgia. I had watched some of The Masters Golf
Tournament just one week ago. It was played here in Augusta. Lunchtime and we went to Picadilly.
for a couple of citrus covered tilapia and some fried chicken with lots of good veggies.
Soon we cross the Savannah River and enter South Carolina. This is Bethany’s eleventh state
(at age eleven). Stop and take our traditional picture of the state sign at the welcome center. As we
get to Columbia, S.C., our cell phone rings. Joe Newsom called to check on our whereabouts. Plenty
of interstate driving today. At Florence, I-20 ends and we merge onto I-95 North.
At the welcome center in North Carolina, we stop to stretch our legs. Well, there is a beautiful pond
behind the center. Bethany grabs three pieces of bread. We’re off to feed some geese. Nice reflections
on this clear, pretty little pond. See eight turtles and lots of fish. A very pleasant “stretch break”.
Made it into Fayetteville, North Carolina. Had no trouble finding our hotel: the Fayetteville Inn
and Suites. Check in around 7 p.m. I call my former college roommate, Joe Newsom, and he joins us
about 10 minutes later. Get caught up on the latest news and he has a few souvenirs for us.
Suppertime and we eat at Ruby Tuesdays. Enjoy a good meal then go to Books-A-Million. Bethany
needed another book about papillons. I drive the girls back to the hotel. Decide to gas up the tank, so
we’ll save a few minutes tomorrow morning. In bed at 11 p.m. And will await an early wake-up call.
APRIL 19, 2006 (Wednesday)
4:45 a.m. Got to leave early today. Have a continental breakfast at 6 a.m. Check out and go to Joe’s
apartment. Leave at 7:06. Our scheduled trip (routed my Mapquest) should take 4 hours and 25 minutes.
We need to be at the ferry on Cedar Island by 11:30.
Stop at the entrance to Camp Lejeune. Need a picture of the marine base entrance. A very pretty drive
this morning. The azaleas are in full bloom. We are here at the most scenic week. On a side note: sure
surprised to see so much road-kill on the highway.
Passed through a dozen or so small towns. Some are quite picturesque. Finally arrive at the Cedar Island
Ferry terminal at 11:31. Pay our $15 for the 2 hour and 20 minute boat ride. Buy a few souvenirs and then
drive onto the boat. There are 35 vehicles making the journey to Ocracoke Island. There are a couple of
snack machines in the interior area. Plus, a few televisions. Several pictures and posters inside. One in
particular showed locations of a few hundred shipwrecks which had occurred off the Outer Banks. Rather
sobering thought. Really enjoyed the view as we crossed the Pamlico Sound. Took lots of photos.
Pulled into the ferry terminal about 2:20. It was too early for us to check-in, so we decided to eat lunch.
Nearby was Cap’t. Ben’s restaurant. Seafood, fish-n-chips, and chicken seemed to be what we wanted.
Afterwards, we checked into Blackbeard’s Lodge. It is the oldest hotel on Ocracoke Island, built in 1936.
There are 38 rooms, very quaint, like a little country cottage. Patchwork quilts for the comforter. Lots of
blue and white color schemes. And no phones.
The check-in desk was designed to look like the front of a boat. It had the name “Adventure” on it.
That was the name of Blackbeard’s last ship. Had a life sized wooden carving of the old pirate. It was fun
for us tourists. Brought in the luggage and now it is time to see the sights.
Ocracoke is a small town of about 800 residents. Of course, when it is “high tourist season”, the ferry
boats bring in hundreds more people. Naturally, our first stop is the Ocracoke Lighthouse. Built in 1823,
this is the oldest lighthouse in continuous use in North Carolina. And the second oldest in the U.S.A.
We next visit the British Cemetery. Six English sailors are buried on a tiny plot of land, leased by the N.C.
government. A German U-boat had sunk a British ship in May, 1942 off the coast of the Outer Banks.
Seeing the Union Jack flag flying over American soil is rather unusual. But very appropriate.
Newly opened is Edward Teach’s Hole / Blackbeard’s Museum. Though small, we found it quite
informative. Learned about pirate ships, women pirates, pirate activity in the 1600’s and early 1700’s,
weapons, flags (such as the Jolly Roger), looted treasures, and the history of his last battle, when the most
notorious pirate met his fate in a bloody battle near Teach’s Hole at Ocracoke Inlet November 22, 1718.
In the souvenir shop, there was even treasure from the shipwreck Atocha. Janet bought a coin which
had been recovered from the ocean floor after 272 years. Fascinating!
We saw a sign for a Civil War marker. Yes, there were Union troops fighting Confederate forces in the
early days of the Civil War in 1862. Read the memorial marker to get caught up on the history of this place.
Near Silver Lake Harbor, at the islands edge, we looked out upon Pamlico Sound. This was the “perfect”
place to enjoy the sunset. Cold breezes were blowing in from the sound. But we could not have asked for
a prettier sunset.
Back to Blackbeard’s Lodge to freshen up. Then we walked across the street to the Back Porch Rest-
aurant. Went out to the screened-in porch area. Wonderful food. On the grounds outside our table, was
a pleasant mermaid water fountain. There was also a decorated pony in front of the place.
Back to the room for a good nights sleep. It has been a FUN packed first day at the Outer Banks.
APRIL 20, 2006 (Thursday)
Have a 9:30 breakfast at the nearby Pony Island Restaurant. Check out from Blackbeard’s Lodge
and drive about seven miles north to the Wild Pony corral. The theory is that there was a shipwreck
(or two) in the late 1700’s. And a few dozen ponies swam ashore at Ocracoke. They and their offspring
roamed wild for about 200 years. In the late 1950’s, Ocracoke was home to the nation’s first mounted
Boy Scout troop. In 1959, the wildlife division of the National Park Service gathered the wild ponies
into holding pens. This was for the safety of drivers, as well as the horses. Plus, too many horses had
become comfortable munching in peoples’ gardens. They had become nuisances.
There is a nice boardwalk that took us to the edge of the corral. From the observation post, we could see
the Sound. So peaceful, looking out across these 160 acres. Across the street, we walked to the beaches of
the Atlantic Ocean. A few dozen people there, enjoying the solitude. Of course, Bethany had to walk in
Another ferry terminal was located at the northern tip of this 16 mile long barrier island. We were
fortunate to pull right onto the boat at 11:30. No reservations necessary. Only six cars on this little jaunt
to Hatteras Island. This was a free ferry boat ride. Took about 45 minutes to reach the southern edge of
The first tourist attraction we saw was The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Over 1500 documented
shipwrecks throughout the last 400 years. Such a treacherous stretch of ocean.
Next for us was the most well known lighthouse in North Carolina, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Hoped
to climb to the top of the lighthouse, but by 1:45, it had reached its quota for the daily number of visitors.
Enjoyed looking at the museum there. Back in 1999, the lighthouse was moved from its old location to its
current site. It is now 2900 feet more inland. On the Atlantic’s edge, Bethany and I had to put our feet in
the ocean again. It was fun. We made a quick visit to the former site, where the country’s largest lighthouse
had shone her light over a 20-mile radius. Had steered ships to safety since the 1860’s.
Ate lunch in Buxton at Wahini’s. They served lots of poboys and sandwiches and had a surfer girl
theme. Passed through several small towns, including Rodanthe. This is the easternmost site of the Outer
Stopped at the Pea River Nature Walking Trail. Near the beginning of this 500 acre pond, we looked
down from the boardwalk bridge. Counted about 15 loggerhead turtles. There were several benches to sit on
and just enjoy the sights and sounds of the wildlife. We were blessed to see wave after wave after wave of
migratory waterfowl. They were flying in the classic v-shaped formation, like a well oiled machine. These
geese and ducks were heading north for the spring and summer. Plenty of marshland to make any bird
happy. It was serendipity. Had not preplanned this little adventure. But it was most enjoyable.
Next we cross the Oregon Inlet bridge. A few miles to the north, we pull over to visit the Bodie Island
Lighthouse. It stood silently on duty, a little ways back from the coast. Built in 1872, it does work at night.
Next stop: Nags Head. No trouble finding our Comfort Inn Oceanfront hotel. Upgraded our reservations
for an “ocean-view” room. Well worth it. From our 6th floor room, we had a magnificent view of the
Atlantic Ocean. With our balcony at an angle, we could see many miles up and down the beach. Thrilled to
see Bodie Island lighthouse at night. One beam of light was followed by another beam 5 seconds later.
After 35 seconds, the pattern repeated.
Bethany and I went outside and walked along the beach. We picked up pretty purple colored shells and
walked in the water. She had a blast running up and down the sand dunes. Fun!
Decided to eat in tonight. I ordered two pizzas, then went and picked them up from the Stone Oven
Pizza shop. Listened to the pounding surf as we munched on pizza. In bed by 9:45.
APRIL 21, 2006 (Friday)
6:15 wakeup call. Scoot out to the balcony with camera and camcorder in hand. Sunrise at 6:21 a.m.
There is no color prettier than pink when daybreaks. Take advantage of the continental breakfast. My
daughter just loves those self-serve waffle makers. We check out at 9 a.m.
Heading to Kitty Hawk. There is an awesome 60 foot tall stone monument atop 90 foot tall Kill Devil
Hill. On the grounds is a life-sized sculpture of the Wright brothers, the famous plane and several of the
workers from that history making day: December 17, 1903.
Went to the exhibition hall and listened to a 40 minute presentation. Lots of details about Wilbur and
Orville’s earlier days and all those experiments for many years before that “12 second flight that changed
the world”. Fascinating! Then we saw lots of stuff at the exhibit hall. Went outside to the EXACT spot
where the plane took off from and the FOUR spots where it successfully landed that day. I had forgotten
from my school days that there were four successful flights that day in December’s freezing weather.
The very first flight lasted 12 seconds and flew 120 feet. Wilbur and Orville alternated on the second and
third flights which went 175 feet and then 200 feet. The fourth and final flight that day flew an amazing
852 feet and lasted 59 seconds. There are large stone markers marking the EXACT spots where these 4
Next door at the pavillion, we saw a very interesting movie / documentary. What a story!!! And then
there are the much needed souvenirs to purchase.
Well, our 3 hours at Kitty Hawk are over. We take the bridge over to Roanoke Island. In Manteo, we
find a wonderful German restaurant called the Weeping Radish for lunch. Have a tasty meal of weiner-
schnitzel, Jaeger schnitzel, sauerbraten, sausage, spaetzle, red cabbage, and 3 small sample bottles of beer.
Felt like we were back in Munich. I always have happy, sentimental thoughts when eating at a German
restaurant. (July 1987 honeymoon trip to Germany).
Time to go and see the Roanoke Island Festival Park. There was a full scale replica of a 69-foot long
English 3-masted sailing boat, the Elizabeth II. There was a crew of living-history interpreters, dressed in
costume-era clothing. Viewed what life in an early settlement would have looked like, including many
hand made games.
At the Roanoke Island Adventure Museum, we watched a fascinating 45 minute film called “Two-Path”.
Presented from the native Indians perspective, it is a story about the Algonquins who lived here when the
first English settlers arrived. Wanchese and Manteo were the two Indians chosen to sail back to England.
Their best friend, Skyco, stayed behind. Thoroughly enjoyed the informative museum: 400 years of history
on Roanoke Island.
Our next adventure was to the northern tip of the island. We proceeded to the Fort Raleigh National
Historic Site. At the visitor’s center, we watched a 17 minute film on the history of the three Roanoke
voyages and Sir Walter Raleigh’s efforts to establish a colony here. These first English attempts at coloni-
zation occurred between 1584 - 1587.
Enjoyed some of the hiking trails and saw a restored earthworks fort at the exact spot where the English
landed in the New World, some 420 years ago. Walked down a little ways to the waters edge. The large out-
door amphitheatre is here. During the summer months, “The Lost Colony” is presented. This is America’s
longest running outdoor drama, now in its 69th season. It tries to explain the 400 year old mystery. What
happened to 100+ English settlers on Roanoke Island, when Gov. John White departed for England to
gather more supplies in 1587? Upon his return three years later, they found the houses had been taken
down, and the word CROATOAN carved into the palisade that had been built around the settlement. Gov.
White’s daughter and granddaughter, Virginia Dare (first child of English descent born in the New World)
and the other English settlers were NEVER seen again. One theory has them being absorbed into an Indian
tribe called the Croatans. Others speculate that the 117 English were killed by hostile Indians. It will remain
a mystery for years to come.
We made our last vacation stop at the Elizabethan Gardens. Located on the site of the first English
colony. A very peaceful place for strolling. There are more than 500 different varieties of plants, flowers,
shrubs and trees. Covering 10 & ½ acres it includes fountains, a thatched roof gazebo, statues, gnomes
and resting benches. Walked through a fragrance garden, Shakespearean herb garden, a woodlands garden
and a rose garden (though we hit that one at the wrong season).
There is a graceful statue of Virginia Dare, first English child born in the New World. Plus, there is a
beautiful Aphrodite statue in the Sunken Garden. Bethany took over the camcorder for our 45 minutes here.
Should be fun to watch and see the pretty flowers and scenery that grabbed her attention.
Came across a large gathering of people on the Great Lawn. They were rehearsing for a wedding, to be
held the next day.
Now it is 6 p.m. and closing time. Buy a few quick souvenirs. And we are just about the last ones to
leave this gorgeous setting. Its time to leave Roanoke Island and take the Virginia Dare bridge over to the
North Carolina mainland. We have to stop for a few minutes for a swinging draw-bridge. Kind of neat to
see that. A tall masted sailboat was sailing through on the body of water called the Croatan Sound.
There is now a long 5 hour trip ahead of us. We drive through many small towns on this marshy
coastal plain. I enjoy reading some of the caution signs : Deer crossing - next 7 miles ; Red wolf crossing-
next 9 miles ; Bear crossing - next 7 miles.
Stopped at a Chinese buffet for supper in Plymouth. At Rocky Mount, we were able to get onto I-95
South. Finally arrive in Fayetteville around 11:45. Check into another Comfort Inn and bring in a few
suitcases. Take Joe back to his apartment. I’m in bed at midnight. Sure sleep well.
APRIL 22, 2006 (Saturday)
Leisurely get up about 9:30. Another continental breakfast and Bethany sure likes that automatic
waffle maker. Check out of the hotel at noon and go across the street to the IHOP. Super crowded,
but we are going to say our good-byes to Joe. Thunderstorms and lightning are coming this way.
Time to leave and drive south.
Its about 1 p.m. when we leave. Nasty, rainy weather for a couple of hours. Back into the Palmetto
state as we enter South Carolina. Later in the afternoon, we cross the Savannah River and arrive in
Augusta, Georgia. Janet is anxiously awaiting a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts. We have visited several of these
on previous vacations.
The sun sets as we reach Atlanta and we’re still driving on. Make it into Alabama and set the clocks
back one hour. Pass the Auburn University exit and comment about all the new businesses that have
opened at that interchange. My, it sure has grown.
Arrive in Montgomery about 11 p.m. and check into the Baymont Hotel. Have stayed here a few
APRIL 23, 2006 (Sunday)
Have another hotel breakfast and leave our capitol city about 10:30. Stop for some Mexican food in
Mobile before we arrive at our lonely, empty house. Need to go retrieve 4 animals that our nephew was
looking after for the week. Right at 2000 miles on this spring break journey and we’re glad to be home.
Life is good!
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