There's nothing like an extended weekend at the beach, especially in the Outer Banks of NC. It was cold, but it still has the best coastline on the Eastern Seaboard in my opinion. Known for its exclusivity and tranquil atmosphere it is the perfect place to get away for a few days. Unexpectedly, it offered a number of opportunities made enjoyable by the colder climate.
The marathon...I probably shoulda prepped a bit more extensively; it was only a half so I survived. I even managed to squeeze out 17th place of the 104 runners in my age group. I know its shocking, but drinking and lack of sleep are not the key to success for running. We worked our way around the northern part of OBX to include Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, and Manteo. There's is a lot more that meets the eye on a cold day at the beach.
At the Birthplace of Flight
I have to admit, not until the third visit to OBX did I stop by one of its most recognized landmarks; the Wrights Brothers Museum and Memorial. Sierra isn't much of a museum type but she was willing to give it a go. Neither of us were disappointed.
It is a rather small venue but very well done. Entry is $4 per person and it is curated by the National Park Service. There is a fully recreated model of the plane they created in 1903, done to exact scale and materials. It is actually capable of flying, just as the original did. I don't think anyone will be laying on the wing and riding it anywhere though.
I never realized but it took years before anyone cared that the Wrights Brothers had achieved flight in America. Its crazy to imagine but nobody really saw the significance. Talk about dropping the ball!
This was partially due to skepticism. People in Europe had been developing failed prototype after failed prototype. People did not see the revolutionary potential in such an ability since most attempts at flight only lasted a few seconds.
The French attempts were shaky, on the edge of control. What Wilbur had done was effortless, graceful, decisive. In other flights he flew over two hours and reached an altitude of 360 feet. "We are as children compared with the Wrights,"
- French pilot.
It wasn't until 1908 when the Wrights signed a contract with the United States Army that this potential was realized. Leave it to Uncle Sam to find new ways to kill people, lol.
One of the most impressive parts of the site was the memorial. It jutted out of the flat space like a carrier on the ocean horizon. It was apparent to see why the Wrights Brothers chose this place as a testing ground because boy was it windy. The sun might be out, but it was anything but warm.
The South can keep their warm climate. I don't get infuriated easily, but stepping outside in the middle of the night and sweating as mosquitoes attack me would definitely qualify. The North is perfect; its freezing, everyone shuts up, goes to the bar on the corner, drinks, plays pool, and pees in the snow. I'm a Yankee living in the South, I have a lot of latent frustration.
What I was trying to say is that it was cold. This gave us opportunities to enjoy a number of things that would be unpleasant to do in the summer months such as the open fields of the Wrights Bros Memorial, the NC sand dunes, and running a half marathon of course.
We found ourselves at Jockey's Ridge State Park, home to the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States. It was perfect for the cool temperature since the sand wasn't burning our feet off.
It offered scenic overlooks of the area and from certain angles gave you the impression you were sitting in a desert. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a photo or two and my wife was able to make the pictures even more interesting with her yoga wizardry.
Running Nags Head and Manteo
Compared to running the marathon in Dubai, OBX was tenfold more aesthetically pleasing. Conditions were nearly perfect, except some wind and a cold bite in the morning sitting at 40-45 degrees. Eventually the sun warmed things just enough. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to start doing marathons due to the views and a lot of variation.
The race took you through some nice neighborhoods with people sitting on there balconies in an assortment of hoodies, blankets, and bedsheets; some with dogs, some with cats. It was like a bunch of really lazy canaries chirping things at me through my headphones.
7:30am and people were drinking beer on their roof with the dog. At that moment some strange jealousy came over me. I paid $100 to run 13.1 miles. They got to drink beer on the roof with their dog and have me entertain them like some kind of traveling jester for free. What was I doing?!............ someone get me a blanket and a beer.
This yahoo (pic right) ran the entire 13.1 miles with a gas mask on. Do I think he is stupid? The answer is yes. Am I impressed? Definitely lol. If you've ever done physical activity in a gas mask then you know it sucks, a lot.
Don't ask me why someone would want to suffocate themselves just a little bit for nearly 2 hrs but whatever rocks your boat dude, and no, he didn't carry the flags the whole way.
The race ended in Manteo; a small town just off the coastline. It is a great place to stop on your way in or out of the area and features small shops, local art & crafts, a microbrewery, and Fort Raliegh which I didn't get around to unfortunately. Surprisingly it also has some decent pizza places as well. Believe me, I would know.
A Little Known Gem: Hatteras in the Fall
If there's one thing that I found most pleasantly unexpected it was walking the beach in the fall. The sunsets are haunting, the ocean is untamed, and the grass is loud. There aren't usually a lot of people in Hatteras but in the off season it was almost abandoned which made you feel like you found an untouched treasure. During our walk, we found what was the coolest piece of driftwood I have come across to date.
The views are great, especially from the room. Nothing like watching ferries coast back and forth and fishing boats come in and cast off.
Its hard not to go on and on but my last parting shot over the bow is the lighthouses. I can't forget to mention them. If your ever in OBX its the perfect ad hoc photo shoot. Climbs to the top are closed around mid NOV unfortunately but its a modest price for a well earned view from the top.
I have visited two, the Bondie Island Lighthouse and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (the tallest stone masonry lighthouse in the United States). They are definitely worth your time. If OBX still doesn't seem appealing to you then idk what to say. It's no Atlantic City or Myrtle Beach, its much better than that...... be better than Myrtle Beach people. Be better...
There's still a ton to see about OBX. Check out all my pictures under #United States#North Carolina#Outer Banks or just click here. How could I forget to show you the UFO house, well here you are folks, happy traveling -Buftravels