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.

“Quick” Trip to Hatteras with Family and Friends

Friday, Oct. 5 Worked all day but kept going because I knew the beach was beckoning. We pulled away from Ryan’s place on schedule around 6:00. Destination: Three days in Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area. We’d made reservations at the Cape Pines Motel  which had been recommended for years from folks staying there but was somehow never our chosen landing base camp. During the shoulder season, their office closes at 10:00 pm so we knew we’d need to call ahead to have them leave the light on for us.

We figured a slow trip but had no idea just how much traffic there could be on 95 on the Friday evening of a three day (for many) weekend. We’d managed to avoid that particular trap with planning before. About 9:00 (3 hours into the trip), we called Cape Pines from Stafford and told them we expected to get there around 2:00. They left us instructions for getting in and we were to come down Saturday morning and take care of the registration details. It turned out to be about 3:30. One of our longest times for that trip. But it was worth it!

We hoped to meet Ryan’s friend and former roommate Sarah in Ocracoke over the weekend and also our friend Bruce who would be staying at the Cape Pines.

Saturday, Oct. 6 : The alarm went off promptly at 8:00. Darn it! Using the cell phone alarm made it an unusual noise and not an automatic reach out and slap it so we were up.

It was a beautiful morning despite the rapidity with which it arrived. We got all checked in and then met Bruce over at Diamond Shoals for breakfast and headed towards Ocracoke to meet Sarah.

We had heard there was a bit of a backup on the Hatteras to Ocracoke ferry because of shoaling and the need to run smaller ferries at slower speeds. During the day, departures are still every 30 minutes so the wait wasn’t that long.  There were a couple of large vehicles (a motorhome towing a vehicle and a gasoline tanker) so we feared being delayed but turned out not to be a problem as the tanker was going later.

The ferry was crowded and we slowed in a couple of spots to clear the dredge and the returning ferry in the narrow channel.  It was a new experience for Ryan and we enjoyed the time in the sun. After disembarking at the northern end of Ocracoke, we headed to the south end of the island through the village to meet Sarah where the big ferry had dropped her as she left her car on the mainland.

She reported the ride was pleasant but not well-suited for reading as she had just too much motion going on to be comfortable. We left the trucks and started walking the street. Our obligatory stop at Mermaid’s Folly  was fruitful with a new skirt joining us. Bruce and Keith left the ladies to move the trucks from the one hour parking zone.  We rejoined the ladies on Howard Street at the Village Craftsmen.  Managed to spot an old graveyard inside someone’s yard.  Also managed to spy a 1940 Buick looking all spiffy and well-preserved. Somehow, the ladies had managed to avoid seeing the dead snake in the road which was a good thing.

It had been a while since breakfast and lunch was in order. We decided to try Dajio  which had been recommended but never tried. We had been missing a treat. Various sandwiches and the bisque were delectable and just the right amount of food for our hungry group. For reference, the ladies room is apparently interesting as well. We spotted numerous rental golf carts and scooters and discussed those as ways to get about on the island.

We headed back to the trucks to go take care of the paying of the toll (or whatever you call the fee to drive on the beach now) and then off in the general direction of the beach with a stop by the Ocracoke Lighthouse  . and then to Keith’s favorite part of Ocracoke, Southpoint and the beaches.

There had been chatter in the truck about this and that but as we cleared the dune line, it got real quiet and then we heard from the backseat just one word, “Wow.”  We rode down to the point and got out to walk about a bit. This is heaven. Pictures do a better job than words but don’t adequately capture it.

After a bit, we got back in the truck (with someone unknowingly leaving his “nice” flip flops setting on the front bumper) and drove north as far as the closure for a turtle nest and then back to the pavement by way of the airport  and then north to the pony pens. Today there were a few out in the enclosure but none near to the observation platform.

Then it was back to the Hatteras Ferry where we shared the ride with the gasoline tanker we had seen earlier. The combination of its weight with the shoaling channel and the smaller ferry left us with empty spaces as the sun began to set.

Dinner was next on the agenda and Rusty’s was the place.  A big breakfast and lunch left Betty and Keith not finishing but the sea air had awakened Ryan’s appetite. We’ll just leave it that Rusty’s crew did not disappoint and there were no empty plates!

Our next stop was the Hatteras Island Inn  where Ryan and Sarah were staying the night. Worth mentioning is that the long-awaited freshening seems to have gotten started inside the rooms with fresh paint and a generally cheerier appearance. The planned improvements in amenities and outside freshening aren’t there yet but there’s hope. The ladies reported satisfaction with their accommodations when we met for breakfast next morning.

The remaining three of us headed to the Cape Pines and fairly quickly called it a night. Apparently little sleep and sea air brought the sandman quickly.


Getting An Ugly, Moving off the main roads

There seems to be a pattern to our visits to Buxton. We’ve done it a couple of times before and did again this time. We make the reservations with a day to be home before returning to work and then extend for the extra night. While it doesn’t allow for the day of rest from the trip before returning to work, the extra day of chillin’ at the shore tends to even it all out. The weather was warm and sunny and near perfect beach weather.

After telling the front desk we’d be here another night, we went to the much talked about Orange Blossom Bakery to finally taste the famous Apple Ugly. While I’ve heard lots of folks discuss them, I’ve never really heard anyone say exactly what they are. We were clued in at the party last night that it’s a deep-fried pastry with a sugar glaze that sounded a bit like what we would call an apple fritter. I think what actually convinced us to try them was a recommendation that their coffee was terrific! And sure enough, it was! We recommend the morning blend coffee when you go in for your apple ugly!

Much of the time in our visits has been spent going from place to place, primarily along the beach (when that was an option) or else along Hwy. 12. Recognizing that there was much of the villages that was not along the main highway, we did some exploring back into the residential areas. We started into Buxton Woods where we discovered the elementary school and a new residential facility (perhaps this is the one being built for teacher housing?). We also discovered some of the low hills that make Buxton one of the high spots on the island. We wandered on up to Brigand’s Bay and just beyond in the soundside residential areas.

We crossed over to the beach at Blly Mitchell (Ramp 49) where once again, we found the path along the beach limited to only one in and out with a retrace necessary. Heading further north, we stopped for lunch at the Atlantic Coast Cafe (again) by the Avon pier. Last night’s dinner was not a fluke, lunch was also quite good. We looked through the shop at the Avon pier and then moved north along the beach some more and stopped to see the Kinnakeet Life Saving station which has been undergoing restoration for a couple of years now. We went on past it to the sound side where we stopped to watch the windsurfers get underway. It looked a bit like this may have been the conclusion of a class where one of the surfers was doing his solo run. After watching them get going and snapping a few pics, we went into the residential area of Avon and stopped to see the sailboarders zipping back and forth.

We spent some time catching up on the blog and pictures and then went to dinner at the Diamond Shoals where Betty had the Tomato Basil Crab Bisque with nice chunks of crab. Keith went for the salad bar with the gilled shrimp. We finished off with the high chocolate and peanut butter pie! The Diamond Shoals has added a sushi bar and done away with the aquariums. We had heard the large eel had died this past winter.

Back to the room. It appears there are about 5 rooms occupied tonight. We settled in to watch some tv and further typing and picture editing. Looks like we’re headed for home on Monday.

Ocracoke, New Folks and a Hot Idea

The morning started out with a light misty rain which would continue most of the day but the day would end with some new sights and meeting some new people.

We started out with Breakfast at the Hatteras Island Inn and decided to head for Ocracoke. We wanted to do some shopping and look around some in the village where we hadn’t before.

We arrived at the ferry dock at about 20 past the hour, not sure what the schedule was today since we had watched the crossings on Friday being more frequent than the advertised on the hour sailings. As it turned out, they are still on the hour but will put a second boat in service when the need makes itself known. We were to ride the Croatoan, one of the newer, larger ferries with the portion of the deck that’s covered. Sharing the ride with us were some of the folks who are in town for Bike Week in the OBX, the motorcycle kind.

The ferry was to be packed. The motorcycles were not all one big group when they got on but when the crew saw the second contingent of bikes, they had two of the cars back out from under the cover to allow all the motorcycles to be sheltered. Sure it took a few extra minutes but it demonstrates putting your guests’ comfort first with just a little extra effort. Good show!

When we arrived on Ocracoke Island, the rain continued and the line stretched from the dock around the curve, past the visitor parking area. A significant part of the line was motorcycles and their riders waiting in the rain. Well, truth be told, a significant part of the line was motorcycles and their drivers as their passengers stood under the shelter out of the rain. I heard one of the riders relating how she had asked about the priority system which allows residents to jump to the head of the line and why those folks riding motorcycles in the rain didn’t qualify as priority. The story was told with some good nature so let’s give credit. Of course, she hadn’t yet gotten to experience the ferry crew making a space under the cover for the motorcycles and their riders.

We stopped at Howard’s for lunch as per usual, along with many many motorcyclists. Although we usually chow down hearty, we decided to go a bit lighter this time and got a “small” pizza. Small wasn’t especially and their crusts are thick so it filled more than we expected. It was tasty as Howard’s food usually is.

We next went into town to shop at Mermaid’s Folly which seems to be the only place we can find a particular maker of skirt but they had none in the right size this time.

Our next stop was a ride out to the beach and to see the area around the South Point. Plenty of strings and signs and a few fisherman were braving the rain. The rough waters didn’t seem to be helping them at all. We turned and headed north to what I believe may be the only place in the entire Recreation Area where you can ride from one ramp to the next on the beach, that being between ramps 70 and 72. The beach was blocked just north of 70. Cruising up the highway later, it appeared you might be able to enter and exit at ramp 67 as well but you wouldn’t be able to get to the next ramp. Supposedly, under the new ORV plan, the Park Service may add a few ramps to allow some spots where you can enter through one ramp and exit at the next one instead of doubling the traffic as you enter then backtrack to the same point to exit. Time will tell, I guess.

We went back into the village to see some of the backstreets. We went past the school, several inns and shops but none that seemed worth a special stop. So it was back to the ferry and ride over to Hatteras again.

We swung by the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum which was about to close so we skipped i(hours are 10-4, Monday through Saturday). Next we decided to try again to find the Ramp 55 wreck. Per the latitude and longitude coordinates, we sat on top of the spot but saw nothing.

Net we drove out the pole road and reached the soundside where it became clear how close the channel has shifted to shore. Repeated dredging when you can’t/don’t move the sand any significant distance just doesn’t hold long.

Back to the Hatteras Island Inn and gave a call to Rob Schonk. We had been trying to get together for a face-tot-face this weekend and finally managed to join he and his wife Linda for dinner at the Atlantic Coast Cafe in Avon. Betty had the grilled shrimp and Keith had the special which was crab cake, coconut shrimp and herbed mahi-mahi. We think this may qualify as the best meal we’ve had so far this trip.

After dinner, we horned in on an invitation to meet JAM and some of the folks from the OBC forums at JAM’s place. As I’m horrible with names, I won’t try to name all the folks we met there but will speak highly of the great hospitality and some interesting folks. We are appreciative both for the hospitality and the invite.

Keith was particularly taken by the bonfire keg which is a stainless steel keg which has had one end removed and vent holes. Very efficient burner and clever idea. Conveniently its also sized right for the grill and lid from a weber. Keith is now on the search for a stainless steel keg for himself.

Considerable discussion of life on Hatteras Island and the ongoing issues with the NPS including the Congressional hearings relative to HR 4094 and a companion bill in the Senate.

Then it was back to the hotel to settle in for the evening.

Transition South, Another Wreck, a Different Beach

Friday was a transition day moving from the northern beaches around Corolla down south to Hatteras Island and our reservations in Buxton.
We started our morning with breakfast at the Hampton and got underway about 10:30 or so. We took the bypass until the KMart and then cut over to the beach road with plans to stop at the Croatan Surf Club in search of another wreck which sometimes appears on the beach there. We parked at the Albemarle Public Access and walked along the beach to the beach of the Croatan but found nothing to indicate our missing wreck. Sometimes the tide and erosion work for you, sometimes they don’t.
We moved on down the beach and through Nags Head to come out on Highway 12. Our next stop was the Bodie Island Light where renovations have recommenced after stopping last year when the NPS reached the extent of their budget.
Next stop was the top of the Bonner Bridge. Ongoing construction work there results is a section of one lane road on the aging span controlled by a temporary traffic light. Too early for our check-in, we meandered onto the Hatteras Deli for lunch. The fresh yellowfin tuna salad sandwich and the open faced “Matey” (thin sliced roast beef and melted cheese) were delicious and just right for lunch. Our next stop was a repeat visit to the beached wreck off Flambeau Rd.

Since we knew that driving on the beach was in our plans, we went to the ORV Permit office to pay our $50 for a weekly pass and view the 7 minute indoctrination film. The only folks there were the two NPS employees and us. One employee directed us to filling out the form, compared the registration and driver’s license and started the DVD player. She also escorted us into the third room where a second employee took our cash, printed a receipt and handed us our pass. He also instructed us to keep the paperwork in the vehicle.
Next stop was the Hatteras Inn Buxton (formerly the Comfort Inn) to check in. Then we headed back to Coquina Beach (on the north side of Oregon Inlet) to try once again to find the wreck of the Laura Barnes. We had seen it in about 1996 when we visited and it was marked by the highway and was located between the double row of dunes and was largely visible. Nowadays, the dune line has shifted westward and a section about 3 feet in length is visible on the sea side of the first row of dunes. Maybe not an exciting find to others, but significant to us.

Dinner at Rusty’s was up next. We both had the bay scallops broiled. Betty had coleslaw and red potatoes, Keith had mashers and collards. A very tasty dinner indeed which left no room for dessert. Back to the room and settle in for the night.

Halloween at the Beach: Part 3 Visiting the Moonscape

Saturday morning we headed over to the Red Drum for a headlight and a tire gage as I discovered the digital gage in the console had a dead battery. While there, I met Mr. John Couch of OBPA and internet fame. He is president of the OBPA, one of the organizations fighting to maintain access for pedestrians, sportsmen and other folks who use the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area for recreation. In conversations with Rob Schonk, the principal in the Robert and Jean Schonk Foundation, Rob recommended that I make the time to make Mr. Couch’s acquaintance. After installing the new headlight, we headed to Frisco and Wave Hopper to gather Bruce, Jeremy and Rosemary for some time on the beach.

We headed over to Ocracoke in spite of the weather forecast. The day was to be windy and the forecast was accurate on that account. The predicted rain held off however. The wind was strong off the sound and made the landing of the ferry somewhat exciting with the captain using the pilings to bounce his way into the slip.

We headed to Howard’s Pub, one of our favorite lunch spots. Bruce had the chowder, Betty had grilled shrimp, Keith had marinated tuna steak, Jeremy had the tuna steak sandwich and Rosemary had the grilled tuna salad. The food was excellent as usual. After lunch, we headed into town to do a little shopping and found our way to Mermaid’s Folly and Craftsmen Paradise on Howard Street. It was a successful trip. Everyone found something to their liking and connected on some items which we couldn’t find.

Next we headed for the beach, more particularly the South Point. It was a surreal sort of moonscape actually having been flattened with only the occasional small dune still there. The wet sand was pretty hard requiring the four wheel drive rarely. Looking over the inlet to Portsmouth Island you could see shafts of sunlight coming through.

The loose sand was blowing across the hard wet sand making interesting patterns and beginning to form ridges and small dunes.

As we headed back towards the ramp off the beach, we noticed a pair in a pickup that seemed to be making more downward progress than forward. It was a pair of fisherman whose four wheel drive was malfunctioning. After lending them a shovel which wasn’t enough to get them out, a tug on our towstrap got them back over to the hard surface and on their way. As we got to the ramp, Bruce saw Jeremy and Rosemary headed up the ramp and began to follow them off the beach and back towards the ferry on Highway 12. Keith and Betty lost sight of him but decided that was the direction he was headed. Of course, Keith and Betty also had Jeremy and Rosemary in the rearview mirror. After failing to see Bruce, we gave him a call to inform him that he was lost as we did not know where he was. It turns out that Bruce was following a different dark-colored F150. But as it was getting time to head back to Hatteras Island, it worked out for the best.

We commented earlier about the difficulties getting the ferry into the dock but the weather had worsened and the docking of the ferry to take us back was quite a spectacle. One gets torn between fascination with the difficulty in putting the ferry where it belongs and admiration to the captain for doing so in spite of the conditions. At one point, the ferry was perpendicular to the slip and hard against all three pilings and the engines roaring at near full throttle with little effect. Eventually the ferry came into the slip and we pulled out only a few minutes after our scheduled 5:30 departure. We found out Sunday that the ferry had stopped running with the 6:30 departure Saturday evening. Had we stayed on Ocracoke for dinner, we may have stayed the night or whenever the schedule resumed.

The five of us had dinner at Diamond Shoals Restaurant in Buxton and bade our farewells to our friends. Across the street to our hotel and the nightly computer checks, tv, shower and bed.

Halloween at the Beach: Part 2 Hunting for Shipwrecks and the Aftermath of Irene


Friday, Betty and Keith had breakfast at the Hatteras Island Inn (formerly the Comfort Inn) and then set about our day which included a stop at the Really, Really Free Market in Salvo. Friends at home had filled two storage containers with needed and requested items. We had a piece of carpet and some clothing to contribute as well. The carpet remnant, we were told, was being set aside for a local 80 year old woman who had been through this ordeal without insurance and was putting things at home back together.

Betty and Keith had set out to locate some of the many shipwrecks for which we had found GPS coordinates. After finding one last spring, that seemed like it would make for fun.

As we headed north from Salvo, we took a bit more time to check off the main highway for remaining damage. The KOA campground was open for business. They had cleared the portion near the ocean and were working their way back toward the highway. The camping cabins (basically shell sheds with built-in bunk beds) looked to be basically undamaged but had been floated off their footings. The ones that appeared undamaged had water damage to worry about but were structurally sound. The bathhouses all had siding taken away to allow drying out.

The Chicomacomico Lifesaving Station was closed. Reports on the interwebs had indicated there was much cleanup to be done as well as resetting on footers.

We drove again over the new bridge and stopped to get some pictures by walking through the dune line to the beach and coming around. The speed with which the current moved through the inlet was impressive. I’ve tried to get some pictures but am not sure they really convey the current. It makes one wonder how much more the inlet will open in the unfortified sections with time. We stopped at the Coquina Beach day use area to see if we could find the remains of the shipwreck there. Like most of the wrecks, changing sand profiles will expose or cover from season to season. We didn’t find it this time.

Next we headed further north to Nags Head for lunch. Having heard so much about Sam and Omie’s across from the new pier. They were busy and we had about a 20 minute wait. The food was good, the clientele and food were local as well. Betty had the mushroom and crab soup and an order of onion rings. Keith had the scallop cake Sam-wich, think crab cakes make with scallop bits. If we lived nearby, they would be on our regular rotation for lunch but don’t qualify for driving 50 miles just to eat there. Good and repeatable but not a special treat to work for. When we came out, it had started to rain lightly.

We turned south again to the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Bodie Island Light was/is under a major renovation. When the funding ran out, they took down the scaffolding until more funding allows them to continue the work. The light is removed from the structure for now and will be replaced when the renovations resume.

Next stop is the Oregon Inlet fishing pier. During Irene, all the fishing boats left for less exposed locations. The flooding damaged the piers which delayed the reopening and return of the fleet. Now with new piers installed, life appears to be near normal again.

Before leaving home, we had entered the GPS coordinates for several known shipwrecks which are sometimes visible from the beach. As we passed Salvo, we noted three showed on our track as being nearby. We entered the beach access ramp 23. The GPS coordinates revealed three near to the ramp. The first was just as you entered the beach. According to the coordinates, we were literally right on top of it. If the coordinates were correct, this particular wreck wasn’t visible at this time but there were two others in the vicinity. As we drove north on the beach, we saw what looked like it could be a buoy that had blown up on the beach similar to one we had seen on a past trip to Carova. As we got closer, we realized that we had found the remains of a sidewheeler that had wrecked on the beach in 1862. It was just offshore, inside the breakers. The pieces we saw were iron and probably the remains of part of the propulsion machinery. We were 1 for 4.

We moved further down the island and decided that timing was such we could probably hit the shopping area at the ferry landing and move on to another wreck site that we had seen last spring. The remains of an unidentified ship, probably a schooner, can be found at the end of Flambeau Road in Hatteras Village. We parked and walked over the low dune line on a boardwalk. Considerably more of the wreck was visible than had been in either of our spring visits. We then joined Jeremy and Rosemary, Bruce, and Janet for dinner at the rented house, Wave Hopper. As we pulled in the carport, we noticed a nail lying on the concrete. As we looked around, we noticed a few more, and then a few more. By the time we had arrived at the top floor, we had picked up easily two dozen or more ranging from roofing nails to siding nails to 10 penny galvanized nails. Apparently a roofer had been doing some patchwork after the hurricane and been less than meticulous about picking up loose nails. To the best of our knowledge, no one’s tires helped us pick them up. Our delicious dinner was a cooperative effort on their part and included salad, red potatoes and individual shrimp and scallop casseroles. Accompanying our dinner was a Chilean grape merlot which had been bottled by Jeremy. For dessert, Rosemary had made a sweet potato pie. We enjoyed our meal and some fine company afterwards.

We headed for the hotel around 9:30. It’s about a 6 mile drive and midway we met a Dare County Sheriff’s Deputy coming the other way. Just as we pull even with him, he flashes the blue lights and pulls a u-turn after we pass. Assuming he is responding to an emergency call, we slow down and move over to let him pass but he just stays right behind us with the blues flashing. We pull over and turn on the interior lights while waiting for him to walk up and introduce himself and state his business. It turns out we have blown a headlight and he is concerned for our safety since the local deer population has been rather active. In fact, we had observed a pack of raccoons the previous night.

After asking where we were going and where we had been, he advises us of an auto parts store near our hotel and asks if I’d had anything to drink. I honestly replied that I’d had a glass of wine with dinner several hours earlier. He asks for my license and goes back to his car. When he returns, he has the mobile breathalyzer and asks for a sample. He goes back to the car and returns a few minutes later and informs me that I’m not impaired. While a number of things pass through my mind, the only thing out of my mouth (thankfully the filter was working) was thank you and have a good night.

We head back to the hotel, check email, and get ready for bed.

Halloween at the Beach: Part 1

We got underway around 10:00 Thursday morning. This trip is somewhat traditional for us as we have headed to the beach on Halloween weekend for several years. The trip has had several labels, including the S10 trip, CORE and Friends and now Keith and Friends as the attendee list varies from year to year although the numbers have dwindled. I think this may be among our lowest turnout for the October trip as there are six of us: Betty and Keith, Jeremy and Rosemary, Bruce and Janet. But the numbers aren’t as important as the people themselves and the trip itself.

Because of the devastation wreaked on the northern end of Hatteras Island by Hurricane Irene, the trip itself had been in doubt but NC DOT managed to get the temporary bridge across New New Inlet, the break in Pea Island which had cut off access from the islands to go north on Route 12. The only access for some time was via an emergency ferry for residents only, then later access was available via a 2.5 hour ferry ride from Swan Quarter to Ocracoke Island and then the 45 minute ferry from Ocracoke Island to Hatteras Village at the lower end of Hatteras Island. The temporary bridge opened about two weeks ago and all access has been restored to the Islands. You can still see significant damage to the northern villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo. Some of the best coverage and photographs of the current state and the damages can be seen at

We stopped at the Aunt Sarah’s pancake house at Exit 104 which has become a staple for us. We arrived at Buxton about 6:30 (a little later than we had planned) and gave Janet and Bruce a call after we got checked in. They turned out to be a little bit behind us and we made arrangements to meet at the Captain’s Table for dinner. Jeremy and Rosemary also came up from Frisco (they had arrived earlier) and joined us. It was good to do some catching up as well as enjoy the excellent food and service. After dinner, we decided to join them at Wave Hopper (the house they rented) for some more conversation and Bruce shared some great music with us. Jeremy, especially since retiring from USN after 21 years earlier this month, had been making some wine which he shared. Excellent! Bruce had also stopped in Raleigh and delivered a couple of internet purchases I was making. We headed back to the motel with plans to get together Friday for dinner at the house.