In our last episode: Rain, monster trucks, rites of passage, and a brewer's welcome.
Many, many thanks to Brian for taking us into his home and showing us the Kitty Hawk nightlife!
For our next attraction, readership, I humbly present to you.....the Outer Banks of North Carolina! The Graveyard of the Atlantic, final resting place of the pirate Blackbeard, and birthplace of flight!
Riding the Outer Banks (OBX) has been, quite possibly, the best detour we've ridden thus far. The 25mph tailwinds allowed us to boogie down the blacktop with ease, carrying us to the birthplace of modern aviation. At the Wright brother's monument and museum, a park ranger explained to us the Wright brother's engineering creativity, which is something of an historical relic in the "Space Age." It took the Wright Bros. over thousands of test designs before they settled on a design for a flying machine. Those gentlemen were no amateurs, and their slavish dedication to discovering flight changed the course of history. Just think, without areospace engineers, we wouldn't have the aluminum that comprises the frame of my bike! Thanks, Orville and Wilbur!
While the venerable Wright Bros. have definitley left their mark on human history, a different feature of the OBX left its mark on my history. The lighthouses! As the tailwinds carried us through the OBX, we passed by the Bodie Island lighthouse, which lit me up. They may not seem like items of marvel, but North Carolina's lighthouses are sentinels that remind us of our seafaring history. The OBX lighthouses are like very huge and important lamps. They tower over the land/seascape to warn sailors of old that certain death awaits them if they approach the intermittent blink of the lights. They are tall, they sport unique paint jobs, and they are cooler than any lifeguard you'll ever meet.
We continued down the OBX's only road and saw a sunset the likes of which you can only see when you're on the open ocean. The OBX is a strip of land no more than a few hundrend yards wide in the middle of the Atlantic, so we saw both sunrise and sunset in epic settings. Perfect.
Those epic settings have to end, do they not? No, readership, they do not. The next day, we planned to ride to land's end, whereupon our arrival was scheduled for 10:30AM. As we arrived at land's end, North Carolina's Department of Transportation provided us with a ferry to Okracoke Island. Unfortunately for your heroes, the former tailwind morphed into a headwind. Pedal as we might, we were not able to arrive at the ferry's morning departure. Ever the improvisors, your heroes did what they do best. They rode their bikes slowly. Slowly down a deserted road bordered on the left by sand dunes and on the right by miles of pristine beach. Perfect.
Along those pristine beaches ran a flock(?) of wild horses (Editor's note: the Okracoke horses are more properly seen in "gaggles"). The conclusion of the slow ride dropped us off at another lighthouse: the Okracoke Lighthouse. We caught the 2 hour ferry back to the mainland in the shadow of the lighthouse as the sun slipped away. Perfect.
We loaded our bikes alongside cars on the ferry, and assumed our seats in the lounge of the ship. Next to us sat Wimp and Midge, a travelling couple themselves. Wimp and Midge had a camper shell on the back of their truck, and they were cruising the OBX with their dogs, Iggy and Chloe. We struck up conversation, and resumed the conversation for the 2 hour ferry ride. Conversation was so good that we all agreed to camp at the same campsite, where Midge fixed a great dinner for us. Wimp pulled out some lawnchairs, and the night carried us past our bedtimes as we hemmed and hawed...