Sunset at Bodie Lighthouse
(11 Feb 2012)
This past weekend, my best friend Eric and I took a rather spontaneous adventure to the Outer Banks. I had never been, and have been scheming to find a way there for months. It was the perfect get-away before the semester really kicks up with work! And, I’m so very glad that we decided to first make a trip in the off-season. While dealing with the bone-chillingly windy, sometimes drizzly, conditions is a deal-breaker for many people, it provided a fantastic opportunity to explore the numerous nature attractions without the hustle bustle and tourist crowds that I’m sure frequent the area in the warmer months. And, the cost of staying in a fantastic, fantastic inn was greatly reduced (although I can honestly say the rooms and the service are worth the full on-season price – Seaside Inn). But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The original plan was to leave early Saturday morning from Raleigh. Although exhausted earlier in the day on Friday, after a lovely sushi dinner we both found ourselves wired. The plan to be asleep by ten or so, and wake up by five, quickly faded as the clock ticked past midnight. After a while longer of G+ Hangouts, I made the executive decision to get in the car and start driving. For anyone who knows me, this kind of spontaneity during adventures is an expected thing. And so, three hours later, close to five in the morning, Eric and I found ourselves gazing over the beach near Jeannette’s Pier in Nag’s Head, waiting for the sunrise. The unwelcoming weather didn’t make for a fantastic sunrise, and a nap quickly ensued.
Soon enough I had my camera out, and could be found running underneath the pier taking picture after picture and even a good number of videos of the incoming waves. I suppose I should mention that this may have included me barefoot, standing in the shallow water rushing in and out under the pier, doing my best not to contract hypothermia. In any case, the videos in particular are really, really fantastic. I took about 100 video clips over the course of the entire trip, and slowly but surely I’ll learn how to edit them (on a mac, my PC just won’t cut it) and compile them together with some catchy music to further document the trip. Eric found it amusing to concentrate his photography efforts on capturing the ridiculous lengths I go to in order to capture my shots, so I stole one of those photos here:
I’m not insane, just a photographer
The pier itself was impressive as well. After roaming the gift shop (mandatory, as it stands between the entrance to the building and the pier) and adding a pressed penny to my collection, we took a stroll along the pier itself. A historical landmark, Jeanette’s pier has had to be rebuilt numerous times in the past decade due to hurricanes. Notably, in 2003, the NC Aquarium bought the pier and made the decision to throw quite a lot of money at it, constructing the 1,000 foot long all-concrete pier that stands today. It is now considered an education outpost for the aquarium, and attracts swarms of fishermen. Even in the freezing early morning conditions, we encountered many friendly fisherman along the pier. Another one of my favorite photos for the day comes from a group of fisherman who caught a dogfish. We were lucky to be in proximity and chatting with them while the process unfolded, and I learned quite a lot. Immediately upon catching one, it must be gutted, bled and chilled to prevent contamination by ammonia (via urea) in the flesh. I was fascinated by all of this (signs I won’t fail at being a surgeon?) and, while I’ll spare the more graphic shots, here is a neat little shot in black and white:
Fisherman on Jeannette’s Pier
All in all, the pier was well-worth the suggested mandatory donation, and I’d love to return to fish on it. I’ve never truly been fishing, but Eric and I have schemed to remedy this abomination this summer
At this point, we found it advisable to get some much-needed coffee and a bite of breakfast (all this writing and it’s still only morning!?) and head to our next destination: the Wright Brothers National Monument and Kitty Hawk. If I haven’t emphasized it enough yet, I am SO happy that we ventured to the Outer Banks in the off-season! The staff at the monument were helpful and, although I may have drifted off for part of the presentation, very informative. Learning about the mechanics of the first flight machines was fascinating, of course, and the minimal amount of fellow tourists opened up great opportunities for shooting the monument and chatting with a few people without the hustle and bustle found in crowds. I met a really nice older couple from Virginia, for example. Since I’ve already started throwing extra photos into this post, I’ll include one from the monument. (Note: The majority of my pictures are far from edited, and since I have around 500 from the first day, I can’t promise that these are the best of the best, but hopefully they’re still enjoyable!)
Bleak conditions at the Wright Brother’s Memorial
After braving the windy conditions at the monument (again, more awesome videos!), we drove through Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills. The weather didn’t warrant as much exploration of the areas, and before long we found ourselves at Jockey’s Ridge. Eric, although having traveled the Outer Banks as a kid for fishing trips, had never been to this particular attraction and was emphatic about it. Jockey’s Ridge is the largest natural sand dune on the East coast, and peak after peak of sand piles greeted us. The high winds added to the experience, although before too long I was absolutely freezing. We hadn’t been able to find a sled or sandboarding device earlier, but I can’t say I was overly disappointed since 1) the winds were already bone-chilling without flinging oneself down a sand dune and 2) it means a return visit.
Jockey’s Ridge State Park
At this point, sunset was nearing. One of my favorite things about the summer is the longer days, having the sun set by six always seems impossibly early when I’m on adventures. We set off toward Hatteras, where we planned on spending the night, and stopped at a pretty area with a small stream. I had a lot of fun catching the reflection of color in the water, a trend that continued when we reached Bodie lighthouse for the end of the sunset. The picture, above, may not include the lighthouse itself, but I was still pretty pleased.
We reached Hatteras at dark, and our original plan of staying at the Seagull motel (where Eric had always stayed with his father as kid) soon became impossible seeing that the motel was closed during the 0ff-season. I really can’t complain, however, because we ended up at the Seaside Inn, an absolutely fantastic establishment. I can’t remember staying at a nicer place in the U.S. and the nightly rate was particularly fantastic since it was the off-season. Once settled in bed with hot tea, it took me very little time to get to sleep (and what a deep, solid sleep it was!).
Like many of my adventures, the day was packed full of activities from the moment I woke up til I fell asleep. I can’t begin to say how much I love the addition of a DSLR to the mix, and while the task of going through and editing all the pictures from this one day is daunting, it’s the best work break I could ask for. Hopefully I can write up the post for the following day in the next couple hours, and it will be posted by morning