Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area (October 2018)

Each year, we try to gather a group of friends and/or family and head down to the Outer Banks for some fun, fellowship and food. Usually, everyone who comes has a 4wd or AWD vehicle so that our fun includes some time riding the beaches of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and north to the Currituck County beaches beyond Corolla. Our trip has expanded to five nights to take advantage of an off-season special rate at the Cape Pines Motel in Buxton.

This year, thanks to an error in judgment, my truck was disabled and in the shop so all the vehicles were AWD Subarus!

Friend Bruce (North Carolina) and his friend were driving his 2017 Outback, Neighbor Paul (Maryland) and his friend were driving his 2016 Forester and Betty and I were in her 2017 Impreza sedan. It should be noted that Betty made it quite clear that her Impreza would NOT be going on the beach, a wise call. The Outback and Forester have the X-mode for better off highway traction plus the Impreza just does not have the ground clearance for when the sand gets soft and deep.

We left home around 9:00 Wednesday morning and the traffic was surprisingly light with Paul and Carol following. We stopped, as usual, at the Waffle House in Ruther Glen, VA for breakfast. As we neared the 295 turnoff around Richmond, Paul followed the wrong red car off the exit ramp. We recovered and were back together by the time we got to I-64. A minor chuckle moment with no real consequences.

The drive across the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge tunnel (I-664) was bright and sunny making for great views of the Hampton Roads harbor and the convergence of the James, Elizabeth and Nansemond Rivers. The bridge tunnel is named for the first ironclad ships which fought nearby in the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862 as the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (which had been rebuilt from the wreckage of the Merrimac). Local lore had once said that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Hampton Roads Tunnel and Monitor-Merrimac Bridge Tunnel were built as tunnels so that an attack on the bridges would be unable to bottle up the significant Navy Fleet at Norfolk in port. Considering the size of the fleet (both numbers and individual ship size), drawbridges or very tall bridges would be disruptive to any hopes of road traffic or a security threat to the ships themselves as they passed under.

We continued on past Suffolk, Portsmouth and Chesapeake reaching our next scheduled stop at the Border Station. Border Station is located on the state border between VA and NC, taking advantage of tobacco sales taxes in NC and lottery ticket sales in both states. Its also a good stop for reasonably priced gas and to stretch our legs.

We crossed over the Currituck Sound on the Wright Memorial Bridge into Kitty Hawk blending with the Wednesday afternoon traffic rush. Some sights to see along the way, including the Wright Brothers Memorial statue marking the site of their 1903 flight, the old Putt-putt Golf castle poking its head up at Jockey Ridge, Bodie Island Light and arriving at the Oregon Inlet Bridge where the new bridge (to open in January 2019) looked substantially complete although some work still remained. This weekend would be our last time crossing the old 1963 bridge which is beyond its 30 year expected lifespan but survived throughout the numerous court challenges to its replacement.

Just south of the Oregon Inlet Bridge is the Oregon Inlet Lifesaving Station at the north end of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, a portion of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Recreation Area. We continued south through the tri-villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo on Rt. 12 which follows the barrier island of Hatteras and eventually transits to Ocracoke via the ferry. Between the villages, low dunes lie to the east separating us from the ocean and scrub forests lie to the west separating us from the sound. DSCF7636We pass Canadian Hole, so named for the Canadians who trek down for a long weekend kite-surfing and parasailing. We finally arrive in Buxton around 5:00 and find our accommodations at my favorite local motel, Cape Pines. Shortly after getting checked in and settled, we hear from Bruce who has arrived with his guest at the rental house in Frisco, just a bit further south on the island and located right on the sound.

After we got those logistics, we met at the Diamond Shoals Restaurant in Buxton for our first get-together with introductions and food sampling. Based on the amounts eaten, sampling is probably not the right word but real fresh local seafood is a treat too long withheld. While not exactly a foodie roadtrip, a big part of our adventure is the consumption of much food and I’ll try to include the names of the restaurants.

After a hearty meal and a couple of drinks, we all headed back to our respective lodgings with plans to meet at Diamond Shoals for breakfast before heading towards Ocracoke for the day. CHNS requires purchase of vehicle passes to drive on the beach which all had purchased before arrival.

The trip to Ocracoke requires a ride on the free ferry from Hatteras although a passenger-only pay ferry is due to come online soon. This time of year, the ferry leaves each half-hour for the 75 minute ride to the northeast ferry terminal on Ocracoke Island. Depending on volume, you may have to wait for a while. DSCF7515DSCF7516This particular Thursday morning saw us waiting for the second ferry to leave but the weather and the company were pretty nice for conversation while we waited. Part of the abnormally high traffic for that time of day and year is related to the Blackbeard Pirate Jamboree in Ocracoke that coming weekend.

DSCF7520The ferry crew directs you on based on their optimal loading so we got split with Paul to port and Bruce to starboard. After the ferry gets moving, you can wander around and up to the passenger lounge for a better view. DSCF7522 Every time we looked around, Bruce was still sitting in his car talking (Surprise! Not really.) We enjoyed the ride and off-loaded in Ocracoke (to wait for a pilot car to take us through the hurricane dune and road reconstruction zone). But no Bruce? There’s nowhere to get off, where is he? In a few minutes, the crew walks over to his car and lifts the hood and he drives out to meet us. Turns out he was in the car talking because he’d gotten boxed in too tightly to get out of the car and so left the key on to listen to the radio – which also left his auto headlights on and pulled his battery down just a bit too much to restart. He’s always having adventures of some sort!DSCF7534

Reunited, we headed southwest for lunch to Howard’s Pub, just past the airstrip. Howard’s is another favorite must-stop spot when visiting Ocracoke. In addition to great food and a wide beer selection, they have a second level open air deck to view the lower end of the island. The ladies went up to see the view while the guys tended to airing down and other things with the vehicles.DSCF7541

After lunch, we turned across Hwy 12 to Ramp 72 to ride out to Southpoint, one of our favorite spots on the island. Southpoint Road is just under 2 miles of mostly graded dirt and sand which leads to the beach. An off-road permit is required for this area leading down to the beach. At the end of the Southpoint Road, you pass the dunes and the vista opens to the beach and the ocean. Breathtaking! You turn right towards the point and drive past the fishermen and beachgoers through soft sand and hard pack. The soft sand here is why the Impreza stayed at the motel.DSCF7543

But the view! We drove to the southern-most part of the point and parked. The view included boats coming and going, Portsmouth Island and the taller buildings in the village, fishermen, pelicans and other sea birds. Carol had never been to the Outer Banks and spent some of her time collecting shells which were plentiful following the recent storms. One of the boats we saw going by was a US Army Corps of Engineers Dredge. DSCF7544DSCF7545DSCF7553DSCF7559DSCF7567DSCF7572DSCF7582After a couple of hours just enjoying ourselves in the sunshine and breezes, we loaded back up with plans to cross back to Hatteras. Communications (and Bruce’s Adventurous streak?) led to the Forester heading into town while Bruce’s Outback headed towards the ferry. Since we were in town, we passed some of the Pirate Festival folk who remained in character, questioning what manner of witchcraft Carol was using in that (iPhone-shaped) box she kept pointing at them. We also swung by the Ocracoke Light which we had seen from the point.DSCF7585DSCF7594

We ended up on two different ferries and decided to just meet up in the morning. Paul, Carol, Betty and I decided it was a good night to dine at the Sandbar and Grille in Buxton. They went for the prime rib (over a pound!) split between the two of them. As we neared the end of the season, the beer selection was somewhat limited from their usual variety but it was more than adequate.

Friday’s forecast had been for rain since before we left home and was getting worse every time it was refreshed. We started with breakfast at the Captain’s Table in Buxton. A favorite dinner spot but first time we had tried them for breakfast. Not bad, just not memorable. We’ll stick to going there for dinner. The predicted rain had not yet started so we detoured by Flambeau Road to get a quick look at the shipwreck there. As sometimes happens, the sand had pretty much covered the entire thing and only one spike showing through a couple of inches.DSCF7596DSCF7597DSCF7598

We had decided this would be a good day to visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, an eclectic collection chronicling the reign of Blackbeard, original settlement of the area, the involvement in early European settlement of North America, and participation in the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the two World Wars. The area has a history of sportfishing, commercial fishing, and hunting going back 100 years and more. This is in addition to the long history as Graveyard of the Atlantic for the many shipwrecks around the Diamond Shoals which stretch out into the Gulf Stream. DSCF7601

As you walk in the front door, the overwhelming display is a partial Fresnel lens from the Cape Hatteras light. During the Civil War, the light was disassembled and hidden in various places around the island to prevent its capture by invading troops.

Other displays include several canvasback duck decoys. Wood was scarce on the islands so the locals developed a method of building hunting decoys using recycled canvas. While we were there, an artisan craftsman was working on making one and we got to watch him for a bit.

German U-Boat activity is well-presented in one display as are numerous bits of equipment and discussion of various diving systems and a display on the lighthouses.DSCF7600

The local sportfishing industry is presented with several record catches and a bit of the history on the developing industry.

Admission to the museum is by donation ($5 is suggested) and includes a gift shop. Also at the information desk that day was Mary Ellen Riddle, the Museum’s Education Curator and Volunteer Coordinator who answered some questions about a particular shipwreck we had spotted. She also has a book on that subject, Outer Banks Shipwreck: Graveyard of the Atlantic. Signed copies were available in the gift shop.

We were all invited to the beach house for dinner that night, provided we helped prepare so the remainder of the day was spent shopping and prepping under the watchful of one of the Carols. Delicious salad, spaghetti with a choice of meat sauce or a vegetarian sauce with garlic bread, Key Lime pie and a selection of wines severely blunted the effects of the cold rain blowing outside the windows. We were joined at dinner by friends, Richard and Becky, she’s a local wildlife rehabilitator and he is involved with the local rescue squad’s communications systems.DSCF7603

The wind-whipped rain did make the drive back to our motel exciting though.

Saturday morning dawned dry but still cloudy, a fine day for touring by car. Bruce and friend decided to spend their time clearing out the beach house while the rest of us decided to take the tour option.

We started out at the Cape Hatteras Light, Cape Point and the old Ligthouse beach. DSCF7607DSCF7609DSCF7611DSCF7613DSCF7614

Next, we headed back by the museum and went out Ramp 55 towards the point. We looked for the Ramp 55 wreck (several theories but no conclusive decision on what it was or when it wrecked) which is sometimes visible in the narrow beach between the dunes and the ocean. DSCF7624 We managed to find it back behind the first row of dunes, not sure whether the dunes had moved or if it had. In any event, it was very much exposed and visible. DSCF7626We got out and walked around and took pictures and more pictures. It was exciting for us, with the part we’d asked Riddle about clearly evident. DSCF7627DSCF7630DSCF7631

Back in the car we cut back to the pole road which follows the powerline poles leading to Ocracoke off the end of the island. We wound up at the tip of the island and noted the road ended sooner compared to previous years (as did the island) with less shallow sandbar extending into the inlet.

We turned north and drove back up to the Canadian Hole to watch the kite-surfing for a while. As we watched them setting up, we discovered that the kites’ frames are blown up like a balloon or inner tube. They stiffen the frames by increasing the pressure. So we learned something as well as being entertained for a bit.DSCF7634DSCF7635DSCF7636DSCF7637DSCF7645

Moving further north, we hit the oceanside beach and rode to the visible part of the wreck of the Pocoantas just offshore. The Pocohontas was a Federal ship involved in the transport of horses for the army fighting the Civil War. Reports vary whether she carried 90 or 110 horses belonging to the Rhode Island Reserves. The Pocohontas was in poor repair and had been battered by the rough seas. In danger of foundering, the captain and crew deliberately beached the wounded vessel after having jettisoned many of the horses at sea. Twenty-four of the horses survived the trip ashore and arrived at Hatteras Inlet the following day with five of the crew. Still visible today is part of the metal supporting structure for the side wheel above the water. The ship is also known as the Richmond.DSCF7653

We traveled further north looking for signs of the G.A. Kohler which is sometimes visible above the surfline. The Kohler went aground in a storm in 1933. She was beached above the normal high tide line where she sat for 10 years. The Kohler was a popular gathering spot for the locals, hosting parties and dances on her decks. In the 1940s, the Kohler was burned to enable salvaging the metal for the war effort. The lowest parts of the ship are sometimes exposed but nothing to be seen today.

We traveled back to Hwy 12 and continued north through the Pea Island Refuge and over the Bonner Bridge and Oregon Inlet to Ramp 4. The area at Ramp 4 is the northern side of the Oregon Inlet channel and is popular with fisherman and beachgoers coming from outside the National Seashore. DSCF7658DSCF7659DSCF7661DSCF7674This particular day, there were several fishermen but the area was not crowded at all. We rode around to a spot almost under the double bridges, the new and the old Bonner Bridge. After some time there, it was time to head south for dinner and back to the motel for the night.

On Sunday after breakfast at Diamond Shoals in Buxton, we made our way north to the Bodie Island Light next to Oregon Inlet. Although the light was not open for climbing this late in the year, the bright sunshine made for some excellent views.DSCF7678

Next we are headed far north to the beach at Carova. We stopped at Uncle Ike’s for lunch and then onto the beaches of Currituck.

These beaches are not part of the National Seashore. A separate parking pass is required (from Currituck County) to ride these beaches during the summer season but we were late in the year for that. The pass is a new requirement (2018) and is supposed to account for the additional costs to patrol the area and cut down on some of the traffic during summer season. The pass system fees have ontributed to a convenient (and effective) airing station at the old Corolla site next to Currituck Light. (In the past, you either brought your own and risked feeding quarters into ineffective gas station filling machines.) The new restrictions also incude signs that Four Wheel Drive is required as is airing down tires (as opposed to recommended in the National Seashore).

In this area, the beach is the main (only) access road to the houses north of where the pavement ends. In the 1960s, the development was laid out to eventually connect to Sandbridge VA via a paved road along the coast which never materialized. The road would have needed to go through the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Today, a permanent fence line runs along the boundary of the NWR into the ocean to ensure that vehicles and horses do not pass between the two areas.

Oh, did I forget to explain the horses? Historically, the horses likely came to the Outer Banks as shipwreck survivors or as freight to help the Europeans colonize the Atlantic Seaboard. They are feral now after generations and limited to the 1800 acres between the fences at Corolla and at the NC/VA stateline. They are protected by law and supported by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a non-profit. Protections for the horses include legal minimum distances (sound like a restraining order?) and prohibitions on feeding. While horses may like people food, it doesn’t like them. There are also commercial tours to see the horses running from Corolla.

The beach runs from the end of the pavement for around 10 miles. Compared to past years, the beach was narrower between the dunes and oceans and the houses were closer to the water. DSCF7683DSCF7690 DSCF7686We eventually worked our way up to the stateline fence where we got out and stretched and looked around.DSCF7689 We hadn’t seen any horses yet, not unusual for the cooler weather but we did see something we’d not seen before. Coming south along the water from the direction of Sandbridge VA were 3 bicycles! They stopped just north of the fence and the lead rider, a young man, walked through the fence and said in a heavily accented voice. “Can I ask question? Are we in North Carolina?”

We assured him he was in North Carolina as soon as he had come through the gate. The young man was with his family, a boy about 9-10, a girl around 5-6 who had been on the bike with the man, and a woman. It turns out they had ridden down from where they left their car in Sandbridge, a distance of 10-11 miles. The little girl pointed out the “crab hole” to us in her accented second-language English.

The man asked about the trail and looked as to whether it would be an easier route back north but decided the beach, while softer, was flatter and probably shorter. The man asked about a nearby restaurant where they could feed the kids but we informed him the next town was Corolla, about the same distance as returning to Sandbridge. We didn’t have anything to share but I was concerned about their ability to make it before dark so gave them a pocket LED flashlight. The little girl offered me a potato chip in return, which I accepted. I asked if I could take a picture of them and they were a bit reluctant, asking why and such but consented. I debated sharing the picture here with their faces blurred but decided it was more in keeping with their wishes to just save it for my personal collection.

After wishing the biking family well on their travels, we headed off the beach into the houses to see if we could show Carol some horses. They wander about the houses and can often be found near the Carova Beach Townhall and Fire Department building. We passed the firehouse and no horses. DSCF7694 (2)Just beyond that though we hit pay dirt. Well, we only found two but it was enough to say we had found them.DSCF7695 (2)

We headed back out to the beach and south. Along the way, we passed the stumps of the old maritime forest. The barrier islands are constantly moving. Some years ago the sand drifted over the forest and killed the trees. As the island continues moving, it exposed the stumps of the old forest on the beach.DSCF7696

DSCF7698We connected again with the pavement and made our way to the Historic Corolla Village to air up and decided to visit the open Currituck Light. Not enough time to climb before closing but Carol and Paul did go inside and look at the cast iron stairway and some of the fixtures.DSCF7703 DSCF7707We also walked around the lake and checked out the Whalehead Club from the water.DSCF7704

Traveling south into the National Seashore and through the underbrush at dusk, the local deer population was active with several sightings along the way darting back and forth. We managed to avoid any direct contact and stopped for dinner at Oceano’s Bistro in Avon before returning to the Cape Pines in Buxton.

Monday morning arrived too early and it was time to head for home after breakfast at Oceano’s again. Our trip home included the mandatory traditional stops at Border Station and also at Pearce’s Pit BBQ in Williamsburg.
More photos online here

It had been another great trip with familiar and new friends. Now to wait for spring when we do it again.

Desert Expedition III: Nevada – Post 7 — West to East – Nevada to Maryland and Home

The air had turned cooler overnight and the wind had picked up as well. We hadn’t gotten the showers but there had been wind-driven sprinkles. Although we planned to go to Great Basin today, it didn’t look like a great day for being out and about. It was time to head home. Gary and Ace weren’t outside yet but they were both up as I’d heard them stirring around. I packed up and told them I was heading for home.
Ace gave me directions to hit Rt. 50 which should make for a scenic drive home. I was planning to take a bit more time headed east than I had taken going west.
The last 5 miles to US 50 were windy and raining pretty hard. Maybe it would be better once I crossed the ridge.
I drove on through the rain through Eureka and Ely with no signs of clearing.
50 is called the Lincoln Highway and was built to connect the country’s east and west coasts. Parts of the Pony Express routes follow roughly the same lines.
By the time I had reached I80 and the Utah state line, the weather had let up a bit so I decided to hit the Nevada Welcome Station on the way out of state. The woman working at the tourist info desk was a bounty of information. She asked where I was going and I told her I was headed for home after a week of ghost towns. I asked about non-camping accommodations as Betty and I had toyed with making a similar trip without the camping. She told me that in the small mining towns, upwards of 60% of the hotel rooms were occupied by workers at the mines or construction. Further south, where we had been it was closer to 40%. The point being that a trip such as ours without camping that you should make reservations before arriving. She also had two audio CDs provided by BLM for a car tour of the mining areas and the Pony Express routes.
I hit the road and quickly was back into the rain. As I crossed over the Bonneville Salt Flats, I noticed another teardrop headed west.
The scenery continued to be great, even though the rains continued.
Crossing into Wyoming, the rains continued. Spending most of my life on the East Coast, I’m still taken aback when I see a road this long and straight.
In Wyoming, I decided it was time to stop fighting the rain and check into a motel. A hot shower and a comfy bed worked wonders.
The weather continued (sort of like on the trip west) to be unsettled. From the limited weather information, I had thoughts of possibly driving out of it eventually. Radio weather reports and severe warnings usually give the county affected. As a traveler, I’ll usually know what city I’m near but not always what county so word of Tornado Watches for XYZ County just meant somewhere nearby but could have been in front of me or behind me, who knows?
On the whole trip, I’ve mentioned that the only reptiles I saw were lizards. When I stopped at a Nebraska rest area, I’ll admit the thought that crossed my mind was “We’re going to argue natives versus tourists here?”
Nebraska does do well with the promoting local tourism though. Almost every exit had an 8×10 feet sign in color advising of tourist attractions at that or an upcoming exit. Not just “Historic Marker 500 feet”. That’s how I found this original Pony Express station when I had to stop for fuel.
I kept seeing the heavy clouds and lightning and hearing reports of severe weather. Going through my mind was the notion that perhaps I would be in more danger if I stopped for the night than if I just kept going and was aware of what was going on around me. This kept me going until well after midnight and into Iowa where I pulled into a rest stop for some sleep in the Little Guy.
I did discover that Iowa rest stops along I80 all have free wifi!
By the next morning, the sun was shining and it was an uneventful trip through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and into Maryland and home!

It was a great trip with some quality folks. I got to see things I’d never seen and learned more about the area. I also learned a few things about this type of travel (overlanding or travel camping) where you’re in a different place each night. I identified a few things that need adjustment to the truck, the trailer and the way I pack.

Where to next?

More photos from this leg of the trip.

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Desert Expedition III: Nevada – Post 6 – Goldfield, Tonopah, Manhattan, Belmont and Pine Creek Campground

Alas, Monday morning comes and folks have places to be, loved ones to see and commitments to be met. We bid adieu to the others but Gary, Ace and I stayed together with plans to see some more and hoped to make it to Great Basin National Park.
We left and headed back to Tonopah for re-provisioning. Along the way, we passed through Goldfield NV but didn’t stop. Goldfield is more recent town which grew from the discovery of gold in 1902. Mining until 1940, over $86 million was extracted. Much of the town was destroyed by a fire in 1923, although several buildings survived and remain today, notably the Goldfield Hotel, the Consolidated Mines Building (the communications center of the town until 1963), and the schoolhouse. Gold exploration still continues in and around the town today. The hotel is not currently open and some accounts describe it as haunted. There is an ongoing effort to restore many of the old buildings and build the tourist trade. You can find out more at Ghost Town website.
Teddy Roosevelt visited Goldfield and there is a story that Wyatt Earpp came to Goldfield after the Gunfight at the OK Corral but there is little to support that. It is confirmed that his brother, Virgil, worked, lived and died in Goldfield although he is buried in Portland, Oregon.
The school is the building in the right of the picture above.
RV parking behind the casino in Tonopah.
Continuing along to Manhattan, we find another town’s mainstreet which has obvously seen better days.
This church, which sets on a hill above Manhattan’s main street was orignially constructed in Belmont.
We stopped for lunch outside of town and then went on to Belmont, NV.
Although closed this day, there are still accommodations to be had at the old Combination Miining Co. building, including the Old Boots Saloon.
Remains of the bank.
Belmont is the site of a spring used by the Shoshone. In 1865, the discovery of silver ore led to a boom that eventually led to the buildup of a commercial center including schools, a post office, a newspaper and eventually becoming the county seat of Nye County from 1867 to 1905.
Belmont was known as a rowdy town with saloons, a red light district and various ethnic neighborhoods. Roughly $4 million was extracted from the shallow ore.
Courthouse from the days of County seat.
Remnants of the Combination Mining Mill in East Belmont.
We traveled further north and found a spot for the night in the Pine Creek Campground in the Toiyabe National Forest.
The weather forecasts were calling for cold, possible rain/sleet and this spot seemed fairly sheltered.

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Desert Expedition III: Nevada – Post 5 – Silver Peak and Gold Point NV

Sunday we visited Silver Peak and Gold Point. These two fit the definition of a ghost town that is still alive but significantly less-populated than in their peak times.
To get to Silver Peak, we headed back in the direction of Tonopah and the highway. We turned off and stopped at a crossroads at Pearl Springs. In this location, the water supplies for several settlements branched out. We again found koi in the pool. This spot was marked as private property so our views were limited and we moved on.
Signs warned of road construction on our way to Silver Peak. On the approach to SIlver Peak, we spotted a large lake with aqua/turquoise blue water, obviously showing the effects of chemical content. The lake and its surrounding activity are parts of the active lithium mining by Rockwood Lithium, taking place in the area.
Silver Peak still has a post office along with the building that was formerly the post office. There are several commercial buildings, including a 6 unit motel along the center of the town, most of which have sale or lease signs in the window. As a note of comparison, there are photos on the web from 2000 that show many of these buildings having operating businesses.
We left Silver Peak en route to Gold Point. Along the way, Michael experienced his second blowout of the trip.
While we had been in Tonopah on Saturday, Michael had attempted to replace the first blown tire but unfortunately found a merchant who believed that his role was to soak every customer once while you had the chance. This tire store in Tonopah is closed on weekends, there may be others where you would have a much better experience. Among the many other charges, a weekend callout fee was included in the $600 the merchant wanted to replace the first blown out tire. Michael declined and decided to chance it without a spare of his own but his luck didn’t carry him through. In the picture, you can plainly see the blown rear tire while everyone is working on the front. The thought process was to put the off-sized spare on the non-drive front and move the same size front to the rear to avoid excessive wear on the rear driveline. It seemed like a good idea at the time. As it worked out, the odd size tire interfered with the brakes operation and they wound up having to switch the tires back before Michael was able to move. We located another tire store across the line in California that would open on Sunday and had two tires in stock that combined cost less than the one in Tonopah. Michael spoke later of how the guy there was very thorough and customer-oriented. I don’t know the names of the two tire stores involved and don’t wish to mislead but advise the reader to proceed with caution if you’re in a similar situation.
While Michael went off to tend to tires, the rest of us went on to Gold Point with plans to meet up later that day. The meetup didn’t happen until the next morning. This is testimony as to why the longer range HAM radio has a place in desert traveling over the limited range CB radio. Enough about all that.
Gold Point is a tourist destination with an active, though maybe limited, tourism industry to support the preservation of the town. Memorial Day weekend is designated as paranormal weekend and Labor Day weekend also has a theme which escapes me at the moment. As part of the festivities, there was a parade through town which included clowns, the transparent woman and even a unicycle rider.
Gold Point’s preservation/restoration is a project largely credited to Sheriff Stone. To help raise funds for the restoration, several of the houses are available for rent on the weekends. Stone also prepares quite a spread for breakfast and dinner for a reasonable price. We decided to hang around for steak dinner.
There are a number of old fire trucks on the property as well. I never quite got the connection unless its another hobby of a collector.

For over 20 years now Walt and I, with many thousands of dollars from our own money from working, have been purchasing building materials and working on all the different cabins and buildings. It takes thousands of dollars to rebuild and preserve even a small old miner’s cabin, and we have 12, not to mention the other bigger buildings, so it’s been a slow process. Each year we find the price of wood products continues to climb.

It takes a lot of different materials to save a cabin. The only thing we generally do to the outside is put on a roof. We try not to put on any new wood unless absolutely necessary. Rolled asphalt roofing is usually applied first. Then as we get the extra money we put on the cedar shingles.

Inside is a little more complex. These 100 year old cabins and buildings were built without any framing like we build today. The walls are only as thick as the 1 x 12 inch board and bats that were used. We go in and strip the walls down to the original walls and then build a 2 x 4 frame inside. This stabilizes the cabin tremendously. We can then install the electrical wires, insulation, sheet rock, paint and/or old newspapers or old fashioned wall paper, carpet, curtains and finally furniture. From

We visited the open businesses including the saloon and the mercantile and got some hints for a spot to camp that night. We had an interesting discussion with one of the landowners/residents who told us a bit about what its like to live in a place like this. This particular resident has retired and stays in Gold Point mainly but also has a second home elsewhere. The resident specifically asked that details not get shared on the internet so you’re just going to have to visit and find out for yourself. 🙂
After our steak dinner, we wandered around a bit more.
I met a guy in the saloon who was asking about the Little Guy as he also had a teardrop trailer that he and his son had used in one of the parks for their vacation.
Eventually we decided to go find a camping spot away from the crowd. We eventually landed at a dry wash about half mile or so out of town after turning down several spots.

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Desert Expedition III: Nevada – Post 4 – Kawich Range: Rachel, Bellehelen, Golden Bow, Silver Arrow, Tonopah

As we left Delamar, we said our good byes to Frenchie and headed towards pavement again, the circuituous route.
We headed along the powerline road where we saw new high line towers paralleling the old lines. The new towers had no wires though. A turnoff to the west took us into the dry lake bed where the soil (and its accompanying dust) turned nearly white. We came to a formation of rock that was nearly black (at least a few millimeters deep) which included petroglyphs.
We eventually reached pavement at the Great Basin Highway and turned to head into Alamo. The gas station included a deli and really a complete grocery store so we stocked up fuel, aired up the tires, bought a few groceries, unloaded some trash and several of us had an ice cream treat before traveling on. It should be noted that they do not sell beer. We made another stop in Alamo to replenish that. We discussed heading down to a lakeside park for lunch but Martin had a better idea from a trip he’d made through the area some years back.
Left to right, that’s Scott, Ace, Kyli, Keith, Gary, Michael, Martin and Sibastian in a photo taken by Laura.
We started down the Extraterrestrial Highway (NV 375) towards Rachel, NV. The top-secret Area 51 government base is near SR 375 and many travelers have reported UFO observations and other strange alien activity along this road. Such stories prompted the state to officially designate the route as the Extraterrestrial Highway in 1996. The small town of Rachel, located near the center of the highway, caters to tourists and UFO seekers with alien-themed businesses. Although the area receives some tourism due to alleged extraterrestrial activity, SR 375 remains a lightly traveled route. I have previously commented that we had no confirmed UFO or exraterrestrial sightings on our journey but I do have a scar (Scars are like tattoos with better stories!) on my temple where I supposedly walked into a tree in bright daylight for no apparent reason. Extraterrestrial abduction attempt gone bad? You be the judge.
When we got to Rachel, we stopped at the Little A’Le’ Inn for a look around and to grab lunch.
Contiuig north along 375, we turned west through some BLM land towards Reveille area and the old Bellehelen mine site. Along with a newer (1940s?) abandoned wooden building, we found the remnants of older stacked stone structures and some smaller tailings piles.
We also saw evidence of environmental monitoring in the area.
The early mining methods used chemicals such as cyanide and others we know to be very dangerous (and long lasting) today and in our more enlightened state, we are taking the time to clean and monitor the contamination.
As it was getting on into the afternoon, we started looking for a place to set up camp for the night. We were aiming for something a bit better protected from the wind this night and found a flat spot on a hillside. Scott and Laura showed their culinary skills with Pizza and Brownies this night.
In the hillside next to our campsite, we found this. Was it prepared as a home? A fallout shelter? Or just a way of protecting the mine?
Up and off again the next morning at a leisurely pace befitting our vacation status.

This area shows generally on the maps as Reveille (or Old or New Reveille). We visited a couple of smaller mines that we didn’t discover the names for but we did see remnants of more of the stacked stone buildings and a bit of wildlife.
The name Reveille refers to the Reveille Mill which we found at a crossroads along with an empty corral.
Kyli enjoyed a cooling dip and playing with the koi.
We found our next night’s lodgings down in the valley and among the greenery.
Tonight was to be fajita night. Most of the fixings were supplied by Scott & Laura and Martin with the rest of us providing a little something. Thanks for some good eating!
Friday morning we were headed to an old ranch (Don’t remember the name but we thought we would find it empty.) As we approached we saw No Trespassing signs and signs of life so we turned around and headed in the direction of Golden Bow. To get there, we passed through (Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wild horse refuge and were not disappointed.
These two beauties stayed within sight and watched to make sure that all of us had the opportunity to take pictures and also that we left their area.
I saw a ram’s head in this rock formation although someone else said they saw a bird.
Although not as much left standing, there was more evidence of the town at Golden Bow.
Much of this area was originally mined in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the 1940s, much of the tailings piles were reprocessed with more efficient equipment and then again in the 1970s. Since that time, much of the work we see around has more to do with cleanup than mineral extraction.
Our next stop was Silver Arrow.
Looking down a vertical mineshaft.
Once again, we nosed around a bit and grabbed lunch. Silver Arrow is along the edge of restricted US Government space so we headed back out the way we had come in.
We headed towards Tonopah with some thoughts of eating at a restaurant and restocking. We visited the Mining Museum and displays. Betty also happened to catch me on the truck phone in a rare moment when we had signals and I was in the truck. Tried to talk her through some computer problems but she managed to work it out after I dropped signal.
We decided to find camp rather than hang around town for dinner and then go looking in the dark.
We found a good spot on national forest land.
Turns out the Little Guy had some issues with the too stiff suspension and the rough roads. Spent a while cleaning up the mess from that but slept well.

More photos from this leg of the trip.

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Desert Expedition III: Nevada – Post 3 – Helene Graveyard and Delamar NV

On Wednesday morning we headed in search of Delamar NV, a classic mining ghost town which saw its hey day in the 1890s. Gold was discovered there in 1889 and the original mines along with most of the major mines in the immediate area were purchased by Captain Joseph Raphael De Lamar for about $150,000. Some cursory research on the man shows he left his maritime interests and invested in mining claims. The one in Nevada paid off fairly well, producing over $13 million in gold.
Delamar at one time boasted a population of 1500 and amenities such as a hospital, an opera house and a central water system pumping water from a well some 12 miles away. Unfortunately, the gold in these hills was embedded in quartzite which lead to deadly silicosis when ground to dust as in the ore extraction process. One source said the population of Delamar included 400 widows at one point in time. The moniker “widow-maker” was apparently well-deserved. Remaining at Helene is a tailings pile from one excavation and a much-vandalized graveyard. Helene is on the way and just over the crest from Delamar.

Gravestones are pretty much non-existent but the remaining decorative iron work is impressive in its detail and how well-preserved it remains.
Moving on over the hill, we could see a lot more of the remains of the town and the mining and millng operations. It was obvious this had been a significant operation in its day.
We decided we would spend the afternoon investigating further and stay in Delamar for the night.
We found a clear level spot above the mill and along the roadway with enough room for all of us and we hoped some protection from the wind. It commanded a great view of the area.

During the night and early morning, I got quite ill. I’m not sure if it was the excitement, the altitude, something I ate or an allergy pill I’d decided to skip. Although my allergies are pretty mundane fare around home, I’ve discovered that I can be very allergic to rare flowering plants in Hawaiian volcanoes and possibly the Nevada desert. While I’ll spare the details, the morning found me worried about dehydration and seriously considering cancelling the remainder of the trip. As it turns out, I was somewhat weak the next day but after that one night, all seemed to be okay.
Frenchie, on the other hand, was not quite as lucky as he also got ill. He tied the symptoms to a medical issue he’d dealt with a month or so earlier and did leave the trip to visit medical pros to follow up. We heard from him later that he got home okay though. He was missed along the rest of the trip as he is quite an entertaining travel companion.

More photos from this leg of the trip.

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Desert Expedition III: Nevada – Post 2 – Cedar City UT to Rainbow Canyon NV

On Tuesday morning, we were all to meet at Smith’s Market in Cedar City with some time planned to meet and greet and then get on the road.
Timing can be a relative thing but we did all eventually show up and get ready.
Along for the ride were: Scott B and his navigator, Laura in the recently repowered white Ranger; Sib (Sibastian who also is Scott’s father) in his white Ranger; Gary (gwittman) in his red Ranger; Michael (mjmcdowell) in his gray Ranger; Frenchie (Frechiexj) in his white Jeep JK; Martin (martinjmpr) in his maroon 4Runner; Ace (Ace Brown) in his silver FJCruiser with Kyla the golden retriever and Keith (4x4x4doors) in the orange Colorado.
We left Cedar City on UT56 and went off pavement before we got into Nevada. We eventually got into Echo Canyon State Park and found a spot next to the reservoir for lunch.
Our next waypoint was Caliente, the first ghost town of our journey. This is probably a good spot to define exactly what is a ghost town. Many of us think of a place that is totally abandoned and derelict but Merriam-Webster includes towns whose population has significantly declined from previous levels due to the collapse of an industry or resource such as when a mine is closed. Detroit, Michigan would fit the part of the definition that includes a significant decline in population without being completely and totally abandoned. Caliente, Nevada (and several of our other stops) fit that significant decline defintion. Caliente gained its name from the nearby hot springs. The Union-Pacific Railroad came to town in 1905 and the train station, built in 1923, is built in the style of Spanish missions. Today it houses a museum and the town’s municipal offices and a library.
After passing through Calienete, we veered left into Rainbow Canyon and followed the stream and the railroad tracks for a ways.
Climbing out of the canyon, CB radio traffic tells Michael that something doesn’t look right just as he discovers that he has a blowout.
Replacing the tire turns into a group project with Scott providing his racing jack, Martin providing his four way lug wrench and various folks providing labor and advice. Ultimately, its clear the tire is toast and well-beyond repair and we’re back on our way.
We pass onto federally-owned and managed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Different rules apply to passage and camping so ownership and management of the land is significant. We ride along a ridge road and see one other vehicle. Eventually we wind down into lower ground and start looking for a place to spend the night.
This is range land and we happen upon some cattle and a stock tank and nearby clearing that had been used for camping before based on several fire rings in the clearing.
We set up camp for the night. Just before dark, we noticed four horses approaching with great interest. While they checked us out a bit, they decided to go on. Apparently our sheltered location was also used by the to bed down for the night.
As we pulled out in the morning, the cattle followed for a while. One calf showed a particular interest in Martin’s 4Runner and ran after him for possibly a mile! There’s probably an off color joke that fits but I’ll refrain.

More photos from this leg of the trip.

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Desert Expedition III: Nevada – Post 1 – Zooming Across Country

In June 2012, Scott B. over at Expedition Portal starting discussing a third Desert Expedition for early summer 2013. The early planning just talked about a trip to visit ghost towns in Nevada. Several jumped in with possible locations to include and some early commit-ers saying they were in as well as a couple of the “regulars” who had taken part in DE 1 and/or DE2.

In January 2013, my plans to retire in March were firming up so I committed to joining in. Good thing I did as Scott capped off the list shortly thereafter. I said goodbye to my employer and officemates in March and started getting ready.

The roadways indicate that this was a trip for the truck and I decided to take the Little Guy as the truck bed, at 5 feet, is too short for me to sleep in except in emergencies. As provisioning stops would be few and widespread, I had to add capacity for water and fuel. While I probably overdid, I carried about 20 gallons of water and 10 gallons of gasoline in containers. I also carried my Edgestar refrigerator/freezer (works on AC or DC); tools; recovery gear; clothing; and some food with plans to restock and finish loadout with perishables before we met up in Cedar City, Utah. Also included in my packing was my SPOT messenger which allows me to check in with a select group of family and friends with my progress even when cellphone service isn’t an option.

The trip by the numbers:

  • 5482 miles driveway to driveway.
  • 14 days (all good).
  • 2 blown tires (neither were mine but both went to the same guy).
  • Gas: 306 gallons. High price $4.199; low was $3.599.
  • Motel nights 4.
  • Bottles of water consumed by me 22.
  • Post cards sent home 8.
  • Animals: Fish (too many to count in a couple of springs and stock tanks); Reptiles – lizards only (no snakes); Mammals – horses (wild and domestic); donkey; jack rabbits; dog; cattle; pronghorn antelope; 1 dead field mouse.
  • Extra-terrestrials (none confirmed but I can come up with no other explanation for the knot on my head and walking into a tree in a broad daylight outside the Little Ale’ Inn).
  • Good fellow travelers 7 human, 1 canine. Jerks in our party – 0.
  • Pictures taken 1312. (Don’t worry I won’t try to share them all).

I left home Friday morning, May 17th. We were supposed to meet on Tuesday morning and I figured on a nice DSCF0554 leisurely trip out of about 4 days putting me in town on Monday sometime. I planned to get at least part, if not all, the way across Illinois the first day. I had a bit of adrenaline going as well as the uncertainty of how far I’d feel like driving on subsequent days so I got all the way across Illinois and decided to try to get out of range of St. Louis morning traffic. DSCF0565 Using the GPS, I started looking for a Comfort Inn around midnight and got directed to an empty lot. (So much for recently updating the GPS maps!) By that time, I was pretty beat and stopped for gas and a walkaround and then noticed a Walmart at that exit. (Walmart has a general policy — there are exceptions — of allowing RVs, even little ones, to spend the night in their parking lots.) I stopped in and picked up a pan I had not gotten at home and checked to make sure they allowed for overnights. So back out to the edge of the parking lot and a couple of hours of sleep in the Little Guy.

DSCF0566 I woke up before sunrise and got rolling again across Missouri. My route took me on the outskirts of Kansas City in the early morning. Topeka, Kansas was later in the day and looked like it might be more picturesque as it is the capital of the state. While I passed within sight of the capitol building, it was covered in scaffolding for a renovation project. So onward to the wide open plains. Totally different from any part of the country I had seen before and breathtaking. To tell the truth, it was breathtaking the first couple of hundred miles but got repetitive after that.

Scooting across Kansas, there was a couple pulling a Scamp or Casita trailer that seemed to be stopping at the same rest areas. One time, I would pull in as they pulled out and then later they would pull in as I pulled out. We did eventually talk when we reached the Colorado welcome stop. They winter in Florida and were on their way to sons near Ft. Collins for the summer. We spent some time comparing notes on trailers and came to the conclusion that theirs is more livable but in a world of $4.00/gallon gasoline, mine was preferable for towing.

While in Kansas, I saw the occasional pump jack in addition DSCF0580 to wind farms. I guess that Kansas is covering their bets on two different sides of the energy issue. Also in Kansas, I heard reports DSCF0586 of nasty weather which always seemed to be about 40 miles behind me. In a couple of days, the devastating tornado in Moore, OK would hit. I pulled out of the Colorado Welcome Station as the rains hit. I drove out of the rain and back into the sunshine pretty soon but was seeing clouds on the peaks around Denver. Seemed like a good time for gas, so I pulled into a rundown looking truckstop. The gas pumps wouldn’t accept my credit card and I assumed it was related to the seedy look of the station and paid cash. Several declined purchases later, I called the credit card company. You know that ad where the couple is thrilled that the Bank has stopped their card from being fraudulently used in a foreign country? Its not all smiles when you’re trying to use your card and find that your bank (or credit union) decides that buying gas on a cross country trip is “suspicious activity”. Just 20 minutes on hold and we can get this all taken care of. Sheesh! DSCF0623.
Buying gas proved to be a good idea as the trek up the mountains and through the pass was sucking down some fuel. As I neared Vail, we added precipitation into the mix and it was sticking.
It was close to dark, I didn’t know what the roads or the weather had in store for me and my efforts to find a motel that night before hadn’t turned out well so I holed up in the Comfort Inn in Eagle CO for the night. A hot shower and comfy bed sure felt good. It had been a long day (or two). I figured I had about 450 miles to go before Monday night so I was in good shape.

Sunday morning found me paralleling and in sight of the Colorado River for a while. The engineering of stacking an Interstate Highway on top of the river and squeezing the railroad tracks in there as well impressed me. And don’t forget to squeeze in a parking lot and river access, too!
As I moved into Utah, things didn’t really level out but the slopes seemed to be gentle and the views longer. The weather was still mixed but mostly good driving weather.

And what does every 4×4 driver think of when they think of Utah? Moab, of course. So here I am, easily a day ahead of schedule within 30 miles of 4×4 Mecca. So what do I do?
I take the safe way out. No one knows quite where I am, I don’t really know my way around and I have this great trip in front of me. So, Moab is close but oh, so far away. Something else to stay on the “to do” list for now.
The views are breathtaking but the locals have seen them before. I got an earful at this rest area after driving through a construction zone at the speed limit (65) for holding up these nice folks…but in spite of me, they still had time to stop and catch the view at the rest area?
I pulled into Cedar City on Sunday afternoon a full day ahead of my schedule. Luckily my motel had a room available but not the room I had reserved for Monday night. It was fine by me. I sorted the stuff in the truck, did some shopping/provisioning and filled my gas and water jugs. I even got my walk in while doing some sightseeing.
Cedar City has an extensive Veterans Memorial Park which I enjoyed. I was surprised to find water running in the rain gutters along the road. I figured it to be waterline maintenance or such but later figured it was the runoff from lawnsprinklers which seemed to be running everywhere with no particular concern for missing the grass.
Cedar City also has an “historic” downtown Main Street which includes a drugstore complete with old-fashioned soda fountain in the old Sheep Association building. Take note of the bronze statues of historic figures on the sidewalks. Similar idea to the OBX Pegasus statues and DC’s donkeys and elephants but classier.

More photos from this leg of the trip.

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Columbus Day: Starting off Ugly and Staying out of the rain

Monday, October 8:

The federal recognition of Christopher Columbus’ landing in the Caribbean occurs on a Monday making for a 3 day weekend for those whose work recognizes this as a holiday. We were lucky that both Ryan’s and Keith’s employers considered it a day off.

We cleared the room and checked out. Had a few more things we wanted to see and we needed to get home. First stop was the Orange Blossom Cafe  to procure a legendary Apple Ugly. Sweets for breakfast wasn’t really going to be enough so next stop was Diamond Shoals Restaurant  for a real breakfast involving eggs and bacon and we were headed north.

.Today’s plans include a trip up to Carova at the northern end of the barrier islands to hopefully find the wild horses. Betty and Keith’s last trip had been particularly productive in that regard and we hoped to share with Ryan.

The ride up Hatteras Island was more scenic than it had been coming in (since it was daylight and sunny!). We got to see the parasails in Canadian Hole and stopped to take a look at the renovations at Bodie Island Light. After we got to Nags Head, we shifted over to the beach road to find some recognizable landmarks from Ryan’s last trip (1993?). We had stayed at the Sea Oatel then (long gone) and the Holiday Inn Express (still there) and had really enjoyed the Keeper’s Galley restaurant (also gone, now a Sushi place).

Somewhere along the way, it started to rain. When we got to Corolla, we took a short hop over to the beach access on Albacore St. to visit another beached shipwreck we had discovered on a previous trip. We drove down a little ways to see what we’d come to see and then proceeded to go back the way we came.

A drift had built up on the Albacore Street ramp which had been no big deal on the way down to the beach but in going up the ramp, we found ourselves high-centered and blocking the ramp. We tried several things to get the truck loose and were in the process of digging as it appeared our only hope was to eliminate the sand drift that had high centered us. The winch didn’t help as it wasn’t functioning correctly and there was nothing to anchor to. (Note to self: Investigate pull pal.)

While we were digging, we saw a white pickup top the ramp and give us a short blast on the siren. In it were two young men who walked over and took a look and then told us they were headed down to the next ramp and would be back in a few to help get us out.

I continued digging while they circled around and came down the beach from another ramp. We hooked my tow strap to their truck and a gentle pull had us moving again.

Recognizing the insignia on the truck as being Corolla Ocean Rescue  I asked if there was a charge for the tow or even a suggested donation which they declined. Told me they were just doing their job of keeping the ramp clear for emergency use. Not quite sure I totally buy that but I sure appreciated their appearance and their help. Ryan noted the wardrobe of sweatsuits and bare feet.

Maybe they figured they’d have to haul this old guy to the hospital (or worse) if they let him keep digging. In any event, in my mind this is worthy of a shout out and much appreciated.

After we got down on the beach again, we headed north to the next ramp (why hadn’t I thought of that before getting stuck?) and headed back into Corolla for a restroom, place to change my wet jeans and maybe some lunch as the hour was advancing. We found it in the form of Dunkin Donuts.

We then headed on in the rain seeking the wild horses. We got a look at the Currituck Light as we drove by.

We rode all the way up to the VA/NC line and saw none. OK, now what? Sometimes you see a few in the vicinity of the Post Office and Fire Department so we head over that way. More rain and no horses. Oh well, we tried. Time to throw in the towel and head for home.

As we pull past the town hall building, Betty spies something over there in the woods. We back up and sure enough, there is ONE horse huddled under a tree to stay out of the rain. At least someone has sense to come in out of the rain. That was not someone inside the truck. We snap a couple of wet and blurry pics and head towards home. We do make a quick stop for a couple of souvenirs and for gas and we’re off. By the time we got to the Border Station in Moyock, it was pouring rain which made it fun to get in and out and to refill the tires to regular pressure. I will commend their coin-op air for tires as being one of the best I’ve run into, sufficient pressure to be effective and it runs long enough to get to all four tires. Border Station is located on the VA/NC line with parts of the store in one state and part in the other. Some things are treated differently tax wise in one state over the other so the gas pumps are in VA and the cigarettes and fast food are in NC.

Much less traffic and a much quicker trip home than it had been down. We stopped at a Waffle House in Newport News for dinner. Wish we had been earlier to allow for some sightseeing there or to hit up Pitts BBQ in Williamsburg but it didn’t work out that way. We made it home around 11:00. We didn’t get quite as much rest and relaxation as we usually do on our OBX runs but it was still an enjoyable trip where we got to see our favorite beach and some great friends.

Next time, we’ll plan a little longer stay.

Catching a few sights

Sunday, October 7: Sunday morning found us meeting at the Diamond Shoals for breakfast and some entertaining conversations. After that, Bruce was off to other tasks for the day and the others headed in the general direction of Ocracoke with an intermediate stop in Hatteras Village.

No trip to the Outer Banks would be complete without a visit to the famous Hatteras Light. We visited the old lighthouse site and the circle of stones marking its location. From there, it was easy to see just how far they had to move the gigantic structure. We also went up to the current location and the ladies cruised the gift shop and the keeper’s house.

Betty and Keith have come to depend upon the Flambeau Rd.shipwreck to be our “go to” example of a Graveyard of the Atlantic visual aid and it didn’t disappoint. While not as exposed as it had been during our last visit, there was a sufficient exposure to satisfy. Nearby, we found a lane prepared for an unhatched sea turtle nest.

From there, another peaceful ride on the ferry not unlike the day before followed by lunch at Howard’s Pub in Ocracoke. In our multiple crossings, Sarah pointed out that the ferries now each wore the colors of  one of the colleges or universities in the NC State system.

We made it to Sarah’s ferry to the mainland with time to spare for a bit more conversation and promises to get back together soon.

On our way back north, we stopped and explored the beach around the Hatteras landing including a trip down the Pole Rd to spend a little time watching the ferries and other traffic in the channel from the sound side. The shifts in the channel brought the marine traffic very close to the shore there and allowed for some fun pictures.

We left the Pole Rd and headed back to Avon where dinner was at Dirty Dick’s. Although we had tried, we didn’t manage to get Ryan tired of shrimp this trip. Hopefully we’ll get another chance in the future.

Back to our room at the Cape Pines for showers and an early bedtime after another great day on the Banks.