Graveyard of the Atlantic

Outer Banks, NC
August 2, 1997


    When we went to the Outer Banks, we got up at 5am, to be on the road by 6am. It is about a four and a half hour trip from Raleigh. It isn't that far in miles, its just that there is no Interstates to get you there. You get on Route 64 and head East, stop when you hit the ocean.

    We first stopped at Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, NC. This tower sits on the northern tip of the outer banks between Currituck Sound and the Atlantic. After that, we got on NC 12 and headed South.

    The next light that we came to was Bodie Island. This light sits right on the Oregon Inlet, between the Croatan Sound and the Atlantic. It is off NC 12, at the end of a service road.

    Continuing on NC 12 for more than 40 miles, Cape Hatteras slowly began to emerge. The closer we got to it, the larger it got. This light is also off of NC 12. We made a left onto a road that leads to the lighthouse parking lot. As we started walking over to the lighthouse, the immense size became much more noticeable.

    We spent a considerable amount of time climbing and photographing Hatteras. I went through two rolls of film, but we wanted to get over to Ocracoke Island too. Back out onto NC 12, and to the ferry dock. That's the only way over to Ocracoke. We were lucky, we didn't have to wait in line, just drove right up onto the ferry.

    The picture above was taken while on the ferry. The whole ride, which includes boarding, the ride over, and dis-boarding takes about 45 minutes. Each ferry held about 25-30 cars. When we were there in August of '97, the ferries were running about every half hour. Make you check the schedule so you can plan for your return trip back to the mainland.

    The ferry dropped us off at the north end of the island, so we made the short trip to the southern tip where the Ocracoke Island Lighthouse and town are. This tower eluded us several times. We were trying to find it simply by looking at the top of it over the trees, but then when we took a road, we found out that it took us away from it, and we could no longer see it. After a short masquerade, we found it.

    Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is much smaller than the other six that dot North Carolina's coast. It stands a mere 60 feet tall, but it is considered an inlet light rather than a coastal light.

    We parked in one of the five parking spaces in front of the lighthouse, and walked down the wooden boardwalk. You can't really get too close to the keeper's quarters since it is a private residence and fenced in. After a few pictures, we headed to the Back Porch Restaurant. Then back up NC 12 to the north end of the Island to catch the ferry back.

    We were naive on this trip. We had planned to get a hotel room over night and then leave in the morning. We stopped back up in Nags Head at a Comfort Inn, and all the rooms were booked. Then we noticed that all the hotels and motels everywhere had no vacancy signs lit. We ended up driving all the way back to Raleigh that night. Moral of the story: If you are going there during tourist season (Summer) make sure you make reservations, and make them early in the season. For the camping type, there are numerous campgrounds out that way, and are much cheaper than the hotel room rates.

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