Day 9 continued…
Leaving VA Beach area we decided to take the road less traveled and drove mostly on state or county roads. We invested in a lovely Rand McNalley – Motor Carriers Addition that allows us to look for height (we’re just over 12 ft) & weight (we’re approximately 18,000 lbs) restricted roads. I personally love looking at maps and it takes me back to pre-GPS days. We may eventually invest in a GPS that allows us to enter our vehicle specification but for now, this is how I navigate.
We arrived in the Outer Banks of North Carolina after about a 3 hour drive. We are learning that 3-4 hours of driving is about our max for a day. We are no strangers to road trips, but with the rig, it takes more out of you.
Okay, okay – you want to know how our FIRST camping experience went?? We made reservations for two nights at the Oregon Inlet Campground, Nags Head, which is part of the Cape Hatteres National Seashore and we LOVED it!! While there were over 70 RV & Tent sites, it was a cozy little place. And the best part – it was just a short walk, over a few sand dunes to the beach! Oh…and the second best part – we could see the Bodie Island Lighthouse blinking out our window!
We opted to try a dry camping site. Dry camping means you do not have any hookups – water, electric or sewer. It’s inexpensive (about $28/night) and we wanted to try out our onboard battery & generator setup. (There is a lot of RV/Camper lingo – I should make a glossary for you!) We have large holding tanks for fresh water, grey water (sink & shower drains) and black (toilets ) and could probably go 5+ days without hookups.
It was a chilly, rainy, windy day when we arrived. We got set up and decided to stay cozy in the camper playing our favorite family card game – Golf! After the rain stopped, we stepped outside to find about 5 inches of water under our camper. And then the winds came… Overnight we had ridiculous winds at 20 – 30 mph with gusts around 40 mph. It was a rocky night – literally!
Pour-over coffee was/is my friend. With the handy gas stove, I fill my whistling tea kettle with water to make my coffee. Lucas usually asks for hot chocolate since he was used to having it with Papa each morning when we were in NY. I occasionally oblige.
With our only full day in OBX, we decided to take in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Wright Brothers Museum and Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
- Cape Hatteras Lighthouse – Buxton, NC
Unfortunately, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was closed so we could only take pictures. Lucas was disappointed we couldn’t climb it. Here we purchased our National Park (NP) Passport book. This book provides a NP map and a way to track what NP’s you visit. Each NP has a stamp or sticker (if you purchase the packet) you are able to put in the book.
After leaving the lighthouse, we drove the rest of the way south to the town of Hatteras. We could still see some damage – tree debris and damaged roofs – from Hurricane Dorian. The most notable, of course, was that the ferry to Ocracoke was only open to residents or property owners – no visitors.
- Wright Brothers Museum – Kitty Hawk, NC
I was excited to share this museum with Lucas & Matthew having visited it about 7 years ago with friends. Here Lucas received a Junior Ranger (JR) booklet and we went to work completing a few activities. For those who aren’t familiar with the JR program, each NP provides a booklet with age appropriate activities typically from 5 yr old to teens. You complete a particular number of activities based on your age. Once the activities are completed, you visit the ranger, get a stamp, say a pledge and receive a badge. It’s a great way to learn as you go and definitely makes it more interesting or Lucas.
We toured the museum, walked the grounds – markers for the first 4 flights, the memorial on the hilltop and replica of the plane from the first flight. It was a beautiful afternoon and nice to be outside. After completing our tasks, Lucas said his first JR pledge and received his first badge. He was so thrilled!
- Jockey’s Ridge State Park – Kitty Hawk, NC
Just down the road a few miles, we arrived at Jockey’s Ridge. This is the tallest, living sand dune on the Atlantic Coast. What a cool, fun place. Lucas could have ran for days. Unfortunately, it was still a bit breezy so we had to be careful not to get sand blown in our eyes. After dinner out, we headed back to the RV.
At this point we realize that we are leaving the AM with no campsite reservation for the night. Unfortunately, the state park just south of Wilmington we wanted to go to was down to first-come, first-serve sites. We decided to go for it.
Lucas & I were hoping to catch the sunrise but it was cloudy. Still a beautiful morning walking the dunes to the ocean.
Packing up the RV, visiting the dump station to drain holding tanks & fill our water and popping in to Bodie Lighthouse for Lucas to complete his Cape Hatteras/Bodie Island JR booklet & receive badge #2 before heading south.