Ferry To Ocracoke Island And Cape Hatteras Outer Banks, North Carolina To Wright Brothers National Monument At Kitty Hawk To Newport News, Virginia
Lucky for us we arrived at Goodwin Hills, North Carolina when we did. I had misread the ferry schedule to the Outer Banks and found out that we actually had to make two ferry trips instead of one and that it would add an extra 2 hours onto our trip for the day. We arrived just before 7 AM, which is when the first ferry pulled out heading for Ocracoke Island. If we would have been a little bit later than that and we would have had to wait an hour or more for the next one.
I've never driven onto a ferry before and found it to be an exciting adventure.
It was a beautiful day and the wind created a nice breeze that kept everyone cool. We sat up on the deck of the ferry and watched the seagulls that followed alongside. One guy had brought some bread and balled little pieces up and threw them in the air. The seagulls would dive and catch them before they hit the deck. I should have taken a nap at this point since it was a long enough journey at nearly an hour and a half, but I couldn't.
We finally arrived at Ocracoke Island. It's beautiful there and has a small town feel to it with little gift shops and the famous lighthouses.
We took a few pictures and looked around a little before hitting the road to drive to the other end of the Ocracoke Island and catch the other ferry, which goes to Cape Hatteras. The speed limit is slow along the roads on the Outer Banks and trying to determine your driving time in terms of miles is unreliable as I found out. We arrived just in time to catch the next ferry. We were very lucky that things went really smooth with this portion of the trip. This ferry was only about half an hour to 45 minutes.
We drove off the ferry and started our way across the long, thin Outer Banks. It's really an amazing leisurely trip with water on either side of you and incredible beach houses. About midway through we stopped at Avon -- I think it was -- and had a bite to eat. They have a lot of tourist type things there like go-karts and bumper boats. The kids and I did some go-kart racing -- as if I wanted to drive anymore -- and hung out for a little while.
|Racing the go-karts on Cape Hatteras|
We got back on the road and headed north stopping occasionally to take a look at the ocean and beaches. We passed through Nags Head and continued on arriving at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. This is where Orville and Wilbur Wright first accomplished powered flight. We stopped at the Wright Brothers National Monument. This is where our National Park Pass that we bought back at the Grand Canyon paid off once again, as we didn't have to pay to get in. I was excited, the wife and our youngest weren't. They stayed down by the car while my oldest and I walked around and headed up towards the monument.
It's a helluva walk up to the monument in the middle of summer and it took a good 10-15 minutes all uphill. We had fun though and looked at the monument for a bit. We then decided to be idiots and ran down the hill, running through weeds and getting a ton of those little pinchy things in our socks.
We got back to the car and drove around the monument. They have a road that circles the monument stopping in a few spots and having more information on the Wright Brothers and their flight. We stopped and got out at a re-creation of the first flight, the plane is made out of metal.
Back on the road heading north we came to this really long bridge that is just so cool. It connects the Outer Banks to the mainland.
|The long impressive bridge from the Outer Banks to the Mainland|
After the bridge we took state route 158, which heads west towards Elizabeth City, North Carolina. I chose this route because I wanted to come into Virginia from the south avoiding all the traffic that goes through the tunnel if you come in from the Norfolk side on the east. It was about an hours drive and then we hooked up with our old friend 17 north that had went through the mainland of North Carolina. The printouts I had gotten from MapQuest from Elizabeth City to Virginia were way off on mileage. We ended up having to drive an extra hour more than we had expected.
We went through this area called The Great Dismal Swamp on the 17, which runs along the North Carolina and Virginia border. The Great Dismal Swamp is such a cool name that I couldn't resist taking this way when I was planning the trip. There was some construction there, but it wasn't that bad. This route heads through a tree lined area that is very beautiful and kept things cool. We joined up with the 664 north that goes through this long and impressive tunnel under the James River. Later it joins up with 64 north, which took us into Newport News, Virginia. We made a few turns off of the 64 to head to my mother's house where we would spend the night.
The driving finally ended at about 7PM. Even with the period of time I had been awake and driving I didn't go to sleep for hours. I hadn't been home in 16 years, ever since I went into the Navy, and it was surreal to see my old bedroom and the places I had stayed up programming all night. I hooked the camera up to the TV after we had dinner and showed them some of the pictures taken along the way. It felt good to take a shower. We hadn't stopped the night before and with the heat, walking around and playing there was enough sweat to go around. Finally, exhausted, we all went to bed and ended day 10 of our trip. Day 11 was to turn out to be another day that tested our endurance.