Outer Banks, North Carolina
This is just a short ride but filled with lots of seaside beauty
see bottom for info on ferry schedules
and camping in the NPS campsites
Day 1 - 2/6
Woke up at 4am and drove to Cedar Island to catch the first ferry out. I arrived at 6am, an hour prior to departure. I watched the sunrise and took a picture
The ferry started loading at 6:55 am and I wheeled my bike onto the ferry and sought refuge out of the cold into the lounge. I was a bit tired since I had only slept about 4 hours because I planned this and organized the night before. I slept in a booth for about an hour of the 2 hour and 10 minute ride to Okracoke Island. Then I headed to the back of the lounge area to watch a bit of TV and wooo hooo I got to watch Power Rangers :-)
The ferry arrived at Okracoke at 9:15 and I biked along the water and where some of the docks are.
It was a beautiful morning, with the sound of the ocean and the smell of the sea salt and marsh grasses... gawd I love the smell of the ocean! A gentle breeze rustles the seaside prairie of marsh grasses. I can't help but to reflect back on what I learned about these wonderful grasses which make up the salt marshes, Spartina Patens and Spartina Alterniflora. As a biology major prior to Physical Therapy school I remember studying the intricicies and ecosystems that exist in this world of sea and grass. I also remember the negative impact of man, and even though it is a beautiful morning ride, my mind still wanders out to these marshes wondering how much DDT is in them. They all have DDT which is passed up the food chain in increasingly higher concentrations which eventually kills some of the birds of the sea. Even I have DDT in me as well as everyone else. Beef is sold with DDT but the limit is 4ppm of DDT. But I'm amazed that stuff like this is all around and most are unaware until something drastic happens. Like the man that was overweight, and when he lost a lot of weight he became deathly sick. The weight loss caused his DDT concentrations to increase dramatically. But the general public remains unaware of these things. I am just very happy to be able to see and smell all the beauty I am sensing right now. It just makes me wonder what the future holds for all of nature. So I pedal on by and look for the lighthouse. I stop here for a couple of minutes.
The road was pretty isolated and I only saw 3 cars pass during my ride to the next ferry.
the road ahead
I arrived at 10:20 and rode 15 miles to get to the next ferry. I waited 35 minutes until I was able to board the ferry over to Hatteras Island. In the meantime I ate a snack and drank some power aide.
attempt to hold camera out and take my own pic :)
The ferry ride is about 40 minutes and I arrive at 11:40 and bike through the small town.
I see that the alien space ship restaurant is closed down.
It was open 3 years ago when I was here last.
12:45 -I arrive at Cape Hatteras lighthouse and notice that they finally moved it. There was some controversy wether they should move it or build sea walls to protect it from the encroaching sea.
I was unable to go up to this one because they were still finishing up the construction of moving it inland. I eat some lunch and leave at 1:10 and continue heading north.
2:10pm -I stop and relax by the ocean.
This part of the outer banks is wonderful. I am in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, part of the National Park Service. There are plenty of campsites along the way, which are unfortunately closed this time of year. I take in the ocean for about 15 minutes and then hit the road so I can try to make the 90 miles to the hostel for tent camping in Kitty Hawk.
2:45pm -I approach the bridge from hell!! It was getting cold and windy at this point. I attempted to take a picture of the bridge but I used up the last of my film and I didn't feel like digging into my bag and loading new film. But I did make a point to take a picture from this view facing north on my way back.
The bridge from hell!!!
This bridge connects Pea Island with Bodie Island, and has heavy crosswinds here. The winds get stronger as I approach the bridge and I am determined to stay on my bike and pedal my way across. I'm slowing down to 8mph as the my bike keeps moving side to side. I attempt to stand to make it up the grade but that was a mistake. As soon as I lean my bike while pedalling in standing, it moves the BOB trailer which greatly exaggerates my movements. Next thing I know I'm all over the road and decided it was time to succomb to the forces of nature. I rode it down the other side and that was a bit scary with the strong winds.
I see the Bodie Island lighthouse, but it was getting darker now and a picture would not turn out very well. So I made a point to get a picture on my way back.
Bodie Island Lighthouse
3:00pm -It is getting much colder now and I stop to put on an extra layer of clothes.
3:50pm -I'm starving so I eat an apple and keep moving so I can make my destination before dark.
I ride through an area where the sand dunes seem to be starting to cover the road and the wind blows a bit of salt and sand mixture in my eyes. My right eye is especially burning at this point.
I took this picture on the way back through
5:50pm -I reached Nags Head which means about 10 more miles to Kitty Hawk. I stopped at a gas station and bought some Visine. The drops made my eyes burn really bad as I attempted to wash out the sea salt. Next time I will continually put drops in my eyes each time I stop. The burning was as intense as the times I had the habit of watching a mig welder a bit too much and burnt my eyes. Although, the intensity was the same, this was relieved much quicker.
6:00pm 79.80 miles total It is way too dark, and cold, and windy! So I decided to stop at the Vivianna Motel for the night.
Day 2 - 2/7
9 am -I check out and begin heading back north towards the end of the Outer Banks.
I soon ride through where the first flight took place, Kill Devil Hills. They have a memorial and a museum with a replica of the first plane that the Wright Brothers succesfully flew.
9:50 11.2 miles and I reach Kitty Hawk. I decided I wanted a picture of the sign, so I make a U-turn in the road. As my front tire hits the sand in the road completing my turn, BAM! down I go against the asphalt right on my left knee. Ouch, that hurt. I get my picture and keep going.
Again, it is another beautiful morning. I can see and hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore. The sound of the gulls and the smells of the sea are wonderful. The air is cool and the ride is very much enjoyable and easy on this flat road. I see a few guys out surfing this morning
10:45 20.41 miles and I reach Duck, NC. At this point there are nice bike lanes to ride on and the road is very smooth.
notice bike lane here :)
11:50am 30.27 miles -I am a bit hungry and my left knee is hurting a bit from the fall. I stop and eat an apple and a rice krispie treat. I take off a layer of clothes since the sun is peeking out from the clouds now and I'm getting really warm.
There are too many houses up here. Too many extravagant displays of wealth here. The people even name their houses the way people name boats. They have signs at the front with names like "Ambrosia", "Tailwinds", "Sunsational", etc... Then they will have their name and place of where they are from below the sign on many. All I see is a destroyed environment and no more ocean. The houses become very crowded together and are very very large. I can't even hear the ocean anymore because the sound is now blocked. A needless destruction of what used to be a beautiful place.
This house was at the beginning of the long line of hundreds of
homes crowding together.
12:30 36.97 miles - I reached Currituck lighthouse took some pictures and ate lunch by the lighthouse. The temperature is dropping now so I put back on an extra layer of clothes and I leave at 1pm.
The wind gets harder and my knee begins to hurt as I grind against the wind. I have to get back to Nags Head so I can make the next days ride off the Outer Banks. The last ferry out is 4pm so I need to leave from Nags Head the next morning. That will allow me make it through the national seashore area and back to the ferries. With this in mind I push hard against these headwinds, while my knee pain continually gets worse.
4:45pm 65.91 miles total -I reach Kill Devil Hills, NC and the wind is too hard and my knee pain is too much by now. I see the Days Inn sign as I pass "offseason rate $29 and up". I make a dash for the front door as I think about a warm bath and getting ice on my knee. As I suspected my knee was very inflammed and very painful. I turn on the weather channel and they say the winds are 25mph right now. I see that tomorrow the winds will be beginning south and will turn north. Although, they do not say when the winds will change. I am headed back south and need to avoid those darn headwinds.
Day 3 - 2/8
7:45am -I check out and begin my ride , and YES another beautiful morning. This has been heaven with very little traffic and not very many people at all!! I can really enjoy the sounds, the smells and the sights!
8:20am 8.87miles -I pass through Nags Head and reach Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It is a bit cooler so I put on some ear warmers and change into my full fingered gloves.
It is a very easy ride with the tailwind and I can really enjoy the ride. There are plenty of marsh "praries" to see. Aren't they beautiful!
9:00am 16.44miles -I reach Bodie Island lighthouse and take the pictures I wanted to take 2 days ago. I walk a bit trying to get a good picture without the telephone poles in it. See pic above
10:00am -I see a sign that says the ferry terminal is 40 miles away. Allright, it will be a piece of cake to make the 1pm ferry. That would put me on Pea Island at 1:40 and I can really take my time. I would have 15 miles to make the 4pm ferry back to the mainland. If I am an hour later I may not be able to make it when these winds change directions.
11:00am 44.33miles -I stop to stretch and the wind has already begun to change directions. It is getting strong and I'm thinking "geeez, I should've left a bit earlier".
I ride and at first push myself to maintain 20mph but as the winds get stronger my speed gets slower. As low as 8mph at times.
1:00pm 70.53miles -I have been pushing myself against strong headwinds and my left knee has been in excrutiating pain. I round the corner to the ferry terminal pedaling as fast as my hurt knee will let me. But as I ride up the ferry lane I see the ferry just pulling away from the terminal. Oh man this really sucks! That means I have to wait a whole hour for the next ferry. Maybe I should not have stopped to take those pictures. I could've been here at least 10 minutes earlier. I speak to the guys at the terminal and they inform me that the wind is blowing at 30mph.
I'm getting colder now since I have to wait and I'm not riding. I think about having to go 15 miles in 1 hour and 20 minutes to make the last ferry back. Against these winds it'll be a miracle, especially since I'm towing this B.O.B trailer that's loaded down.
2:00pm -I board the ferry and get in the lounge to try to get warm and out of the wind.
2:40pm -I start my final strecth home. Can I make it?
The road here is always a nice ride. Here and the National Seashore are my favorite places. They are unspoiled and refreshing to the soul. Although, I have winds I remain content and even sing a bit. I am glad there is not another person to be seen because my singing is exceptionally bad!! did I say I was tone deaf? :)
3:50pm -I'm riding through the town... how much farther is that ferry terminal? My knee is burning with sharp stabbing pain as I grind away. I can't slow down now.
3:55pm -I hit the ferry terminal lanes and race to the ticket booth. Whew, just in time!!
84.8 miles today
230.51 miles total for the total ride
I hop on the ferry and lay in a booth to relax. I slept for about an hour and then got up in time to watch the sunset marking the end of another day by the ocean.
And thus the end of this little journey :-)
For seasonal ferry schedules call:
For a free visitors guide call:
National Park Service information for the area
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Wright Brothers National Monument
Fort Raliegh National Historic Site