Saturday, September 30, 2017

Andrew Turns Two!, 9/17/2017

Our grandson, Andrew, turned two on Sunday! His parents rented a pavilion for his party at nearby Frank Liske Park. With a grill and picnic tables it was the perfect location for the kids to run around and the adults to socialize. 

Andrew is a little boy who loves to run! His auntie made him this cool sign for his party. 


All of the kids (small and large) had fun playing at the playground and playing ball. 

Our sweet doggie, Sadie, even got to join in the fun!

Tim, the chef, and friends.

And, of course, family.

Birthday gifts!

Singing and cake time!

Andrew had a blast and so did we!

Isn't it amazing how quickly time flies? It seems like only yesterday when Andrew was born. He is a joy!

Monday, September 25, 2017

North River Camground, September 11 to 16, 2017

Rating:  4.0 on a scale of 5

Location: We made a last-minute change in our itinerary due to the hurricanes this season. Originally I made reservations in the Outer Banks, and then changed them to this campground located in Shawboro, NC (about an hour from Kitty Hawk). This ended up being a good location for our day trips to the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and Elizabeth City.

Lot size: Our site was large and was an easy pull-in overlooking the lake. We had plenty of room for our tow dolly and to park the car. The wifi was good and cable TV is provided as well. 

In addition to the RV sites, there are park models and cabins for rent, and a few motel rooms next to the office. There is a section of the park with seasonal sites.

Amenities: There are lots of amenities offered here. The wifi was much better than most campgrounds (but, it also was not very crowded when we visited). Cable TV is also provided with lots of stations. Paddleboats can be rented for use on the beautiful lake and catch/release fishing is also permitted. 

There are two pools, although they were already closed for the season when we visited. Nearby is a playground and horseshoe pits.

John and I had fun playing miniature golf and air hockey in the game room.

Next to the game room are the bath rooms and laundry room. There is also a deck for guests to use for outdoor grilling/leisure time. 

Our sweet doggie, Sadie, enjoyed walks at this campground, and hanging with the bears. She got into trouble for jumping into the lake a couple of times (it is against the rules!)

Cost: $172.50; $34.50/night

Management: This is a well-run campground. The grounds were immaculate and everything about the campground was very well maintained. Check in was fast and efficient and we were escorted to our site, which is always convenient.

General Comments: We were so pleased with our stay at this beautiful park. For some reason, I had not expected it to be as nice as it was. We would definitely stay here again and recommend it to others interesting in staying in this area. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Visit to Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 9/14/2017

A Visit to Cape Hatteras National SeasThis is the fifth National Seashore we have visited (Padre Island in TX, Cape Reyes in CA, Canaveral in FL, and Cape Cod in MA). And each has its own charm and incredible natural beauty of sand, sea, wind, vegetation, and wildlife. 

Cape Hatteras is comprised of three islands (BrodieHatteras, and Ocracoke) that stretch north to south along the coast of North Carolina

Our first stop was the Whalebone Junction Information Center where we picked up a brochure and National Park Service paper.

Both have information and maps for visiting the National Seashore. 

There are three lighthouses at the National Seashore: Bodie IslandCape Hatteras, and Ocracoke Island. Below are pictures of the Bodie Island Lighthouse. The light-keeper's house is now a gift shop and the location to purchase tickets to climb the lighthouse.

Tickets are $10/adults and $5/seniors, children 11 and under. The minimum height requirement to climb is 42" and maximum weight is 260 pounds. Climbs occur every 30 minutes in the summer. Built in 1872, the Brodie Island Lighthouse still has its original first order Fresnel lens

There is also a boardwalk and platform for viewing wildlife in the island marshes next to the lighthouse. 

The Cape Hatteras Island Visitor Center and Museum was our next stop. It is located in the Double KeepersQuarters (built in 1854). Next door (right) is the Principal Keeper Quarters (1871). 

Exhibits provide historical information about Cape Hatteras. Below are a few of them:
  • The Monitor sank 12 miles off of Cape Hatteras on December 31, 1862. It lies 225' deep and is now a marine sanctuary. 
  • During the Civil War, the Confederates lost control of the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds to the Union forces, threatening North Carolina. 
  • The courageous lighthouse keepers and life-saving crews on the Outer Banks are legendary
  • During WWII, the USS Roper dodged a torpedo fired by U-85, a German U-boat. The Roper subsequently sank it off the coast of the Outer Banks, the first U-boat sunk by the US during the war. 

Located here, is the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (also open for climbing in the summer). Built in 1870, it is the second tallest brick lighthouse in the world at 210' (a park ranger told me the tallest one is in Poland). 

John stayed with Sadie and I climbed the lighthouse ($6/senior). There is a 248-step spiral staircase (equivalent to a 12-story building). 

The photo below is a view to the south of Cape Hatteras itself and the treacherous Diamond Shoals, where shifting sand ridges caused shipwrecks for centuries. Over 600 vessels have sunk in the waters off of the Outer Banks earning the nickname the "graveyard of the Atlantic." Storms still uncover old wrecks along the shores here, but improved technology on ships has dramatically improved safety here.

A view to the north shows how narrow the strip of land is on this part of Hatteras Island.

In 1999, the keeper houses and lighthouse were moved 2,900inland due to the encroaching sea. The lighthouse was just 15' from the ocean at that time and was in imminent danger. The sandy patch to the left in the photo below is where the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was previously located.

Needless to say, the walk down was a lot easier that the one up the stairs. At the bottom is an alcove where a fuel tank stored 300 gallons of kerosene (that had replace whale oil in the 1800s). There was plenty of additional kerosene stored in the oil house near the lighthouse as well. Each morning, the keeper would fill a 5-gallon container (weighing 35-40 pounds) with kerosene and climb the steps to the top

The Buxton Woods Nature Trail can also be found here. We did not hike it because it was so darn hot (and we were here in September!)

Permits for off-road vehicles are available at the Cape Hatteras Seashore visitor centers. There are multiple beach access points all along the seashore. We stopped at this one (#27) for a walk on the beach.

boardwalk to the beach is also located nearby for pedestrians. Sea oats cover the primary dunes along the seashore here. The have extensive root systems (1.5 to 10 meters) below the surface of the beach that stabilizes the dunes. The grass leaves catch the blowing sand while the roots hold the sand in place. 

The beach was gorgeous and there were very few people at the one where we stopped.

Of course, our sweet doggie, Sadie, had to go for a swim, but the water was very rough with a strong undertow. She had fun jumping the waves, though!

As we made our return trip north along Highway 12, we made a quick stop to snap some photos in Rodanthe of the house made famous by the Nights in Rodanthe movie (starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane). Today it is available for rent (sleeps 12). 

My first visit to the barrier islands of North Carolina was as gorgeous as I had hoped it would be!  We did not have time to take the ferry to Ocracoke Island. There is so much more to see here, we will definitely be back!

There are eight towns along the coast here (that are not part of the National Seashore) with vacation rental, hotels, restaurants, and other activities supporting tourism. Four campgrounds are located in the National Seashore with tent, trailer, and motor home sites, but no hook ups

For additional information about the park, go to