Our blog is to keep family and friends informed of our motorhome journeys.
We have dreamed of this for many years and finally our dream has come true.
We are looking forward to many happy miles ahead.
One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Drive to Eastern Seashore, VA

13 April 2018

Today we drove the Chesapeake Bay Tunnels and Bridge over to the southern part of the VA Eastern Shore to visit Fort Custis site and Winslow Battery located on the grounds of the Wildlife Center. Also, we drove to Kiptopeke SP to see the WWII Naval Concrete Ships in the Bay.

Facts About the Tunnels

Map of Eastern Shore,VA

We last visited Fort Custis and Winslow Battery-1943-1948 (122) in July of 2010. Since then a 16" gun has been added and restored and more clearing has taken place for easier access. The area is located on the grounds of the  National Wildlife Refuge just past the Eastern Shore Visitor Center on Hwy 13. The Battery had two gun emplacements 500 ft apart connected by an earth covered reinforced concrete magazine and support structure.

Winslow Battery Signage

Gun Signage

Winslow Battery #122

Looking Out

Another View

Steps to Overlook on Top of Battery

Marsh and Atlantic View

Marsh Lookout Walk Platform

Fisherman's Island is inaccessible. It was here in the 1800's that a Quarantine facility was set up for immigrants coming to Baltimore and Newport News, VA. During WWI and WWII the island served as a coastal defense system. No remains today.

Signage About Fisherman Island

During WWII due to shortage of steel and the need for ships to carry cargo and supplies to the military essential for fighting the war effort, ships with concrete hulls were built measuring 120 yards in length and weighing over 5,000 tons. Several of the ships were sunk off Normandy to create a breakwater to protect the guys landing at D-Day. After the war the ships were put in mothballs.

Signage About Concrete Ships

The Virginia Ferry Corporation in need of a jetty to protect the new ferry terminal linking Cape Charles with Hampton Roads,  were granted permission to use 9 of the ships. Some of the ships were in Norfolk and some in Beaumont, TX. They were half sunk in an arc with an opening in the middle for ships to pass. The ferry was closed in 1964 when the bay bridge and tunnels were opened. My photos do not do justice as one would have to get close on a boat. There are much clearer and dramatic photos online.

We will travel the Eastern Shore Tuesday on our way to our next destination Delaware National Guard Campground in Bethany Beach. While here I want to visit the Chincoteague and Assateague area to view the wild horses and other sites.

Pollen is terrible. Will have to do a good cleaning before we depart.

We finally bought an EZPass as we discovered it is good for states up the Eastern coast and other states. Makes it so much easier rather than being billed by plate. Should have gotten it when we arrived.

Weather is nice this week with sunshine and higher temps.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Return to Outer Banks and Tour of Corolla

12 April 2018

Today we decided to return to the Outer Banks as John found a few Civil War sites he missed last week and I wanted to drive up the North end of the Island to Corolla.

On the way to Corolla you pass a small community known as Duck. As of the 2010 census the population year round was 369 with a summer increase to over 20,000. There are no hotels, campgrounds or resorts ..only home rentals and a small inn.
The small town offers, restaurants, shopping, activities, galleries,parks and a boardwalk on the sound side.

Corolla lies between Currituck Sound and the Atlantic Ocean and is the northern most town in the Outer Banks. The year round population is 500 and like Duck and other towns on the Outer Banks, swells to thousands during the summer.  It is home to the Currituck Lighthouse, Historic Corolla Park, Whalehead Club and home to around 119 feral Banker horses. Over 50,000 people each week come to see these horses in the summer. Unfortunately we did not have an ATV, 4-wheel and too late in the day for a tour.

Currituck Light Station first shined its beacon on 1 December 1875 filling the dark space between Cape Henry to the north and Bodie Island to the south.To distinguish it from other lighthouses, its exterior was left unpainted. It is without a doubt the most magnificient lighthose I have seen. Three keepers and their families shared the keeper's house. Two keepers remained until 1937 when it was automated. Over the years the home stood exposed to the elements, was vandalized and invaded by vines.Today, the grounds and home have been completely brought back to restoration and is leased as a private residence for the year round keepers of the property.

Light Station

Keeper's House


We then took a tour of Whalehead built by Edward Knight, Jr and his wife, Marie louise in 1925 in the Art Nouveau style.



Beautiful Live Oak

Sound View

Old Bridge

Another View

The Knight's spent their winters here hunting and entertaining. It was restored in 1992 and is open year round for tours. Photos are not allowed inside..a disappointment. It is said the 21,000 mansion is haunted. The mansion consists of five floors, 14 servants, many bedrooms and bathrooms (I lost count), parlor, dining room, massive kitchen,office, outside structures , boathouse, bridges and canals. The land purchase consisted of over 4 miles..ocean to sound. They named their estate Corolla Island and is now referred to as Whalehead.. The couple only live here 10 years after their passing in 1936. Since then the home has had many different owners and in the 1990's it was abandoned. Today it has been restored and refurnished to the period of the 20' and 30's.

Having toured the Outer Banks south to north, must say we prefer the northern part as it seems, in spite of all the homes, to be less congested and more scenic. Less commercial and quieter.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tour of Outer Banks NC (OBX)

05 April 2018

Today we departed for a day tour of the Outer Banks (OBX). Our drive took us via Hwy 168 thru Currituck County  to Hwy 158 and across the Currituck Sound to the Outer Banks at Kitty Hawk. Not a bad drive of 2 hours. This was my first visit after almost 77 years to visit here even though I was born and lived my summers in NC, it seems we always went to the mountains and other areas.

The Outer Banks have beautiful beaches, sand dunes, homes and businesses. I can just imagine what it is like in the summer season.

Our first stop was at the Visitor Center for maps and info on places we wanted to visit. At the Visitor Center is an outdoor monument display depicting 100 greatest achievements in aviation.

We then drove to Kill Devil Hills to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial, site of the first powered flight on 17 December 1903. The monument sits atop Kill Devil Hill. The reconstructed Flyer by artist Stephen H Smith sits below the monument and is made of stainless steel weighing 10,000 lbs. The brothers took turns flying 4 flights that day ranging from 12 to 59 seconds and length of 120 feet to 852 feet. The last flight was caught by a gust of wind, rolled over and the Flyer was damaged beyond repair. They went back to the drawing board and built an improved flyer and refined their flying skills.

View on Hill
Wright Monument

Legend has it that the name Kill Devil Hills originated years ago when sailing ships carrying rum to the north would wreck along the Outer Banks. When the spoils were found by local residents said the rum was strong enough to kill the devil.

Our next stop was Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island and the Lost Colony. Fort Raleigh was the site of the first English Colony in the New World in 1585 and 1587. It is here that 116 settlers disappeared and have never been found. Roanoke Island has been home to Algonquians,European settlers, Civil War soldiers and African Americans. During the Civil War, Union troops occupied the Island. In 1902, Reginald Fessenden transmitted the human voice using wireless technology from here.

On the reconnaissance exploration in 1584 to settle the coast of North America and to counter Spanish domination, two vessels arrived off the coast. Captains Amadas and Barlowe established relations with the Algonquians who made them feel at home and taught them about tribes in the area. When the English departed, they took with them two Algonquians, Manteo and Wanchese.

In 1585 Raleigh sent 7 ships with some 600 people to Roanoke Island which he named Virginia. The soldiers built an earthen fort to establish a base to raid Spanish ships. Grenville then departed for England leaving some 107 soldiers and colonists behind.Relations with the Algonquians began to sour as the colonists became dependent on food from the Indians and they in turn began to die from European diseases. Lane who was in command killed Chief Wingina. Grenville failed to return with supplies and when a raiding fleet stopped nearby, the colonists accepted an offer to return home.

In 1587 the next voyage brought women and children led by John White with 117 colonists looking for the 15 men left by Grenville. The objective was to go to Chesapeake Bay after searching for the 15 men left behind, but White's pilot refused to  to travel farther and they stayed behind to repair the fort left by the 1585 colonists The situation with the Indians was deteriorating and White left to return to England for supplies leaving the colonists behind. He did not return until 1590 and found no one and it remains a mystery to this day. The colonists said that if they left they would carve on trees their destination. On trees were carved CROATOAN AND CRO which is now Hatteras Island. A hurricane forced the ships to return to England before a search could be made.

Much speculation has been talked and talked as to what really happened..were they slain by the tribe,did they starve, did they make it to Hatteras or did the Spanish slay them. We may never know.

The Freedman's Colony was established here during the Civil War and by 1865 almost 3500 people lived here in log dwellings, a hospital, church, school and sawmill they had built. The colony was decommissioned in 1867.

Roanoke Island is surrounded by Albemarle Sound on the north, Croatan Sound on the west, Pamlico Sound on the south and Roanoke Sound to the east. Fort Raleigh sits on the north end of the island. Manteo pronounced mano is the largest town. It has lots of quaint shops, restaurants and the Festival Park.

We then drove Hwy 12 to the end on Hatteras Island around 60 miles from Nags Head stopping at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1870 at 208 ft and the world's second tallest brick lighthouse.

 The purpose of driving down to the Hatteras Ferry to Ocrakoke was so John could get some photos of fort signs for his website. Our intent was not  to drive that far since it would make for a long day, but we knew we would probably not return.The ferry from Hatteras to Ocrakoke runs daily, is a car ferry and is free. There is a lighthouse on the island.Also by the ferry dock is Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Over 1500 ships have wrecked here due to shallow shoals, storms and war.

We stopped for dinner in Kitty Hawk and got back around 900PM. A very long day. In retrospect we should have spent the night as there was so much we were unable to see. I had wanted to drive the north part from Kitty Hawk to Corolla.

Even tho it was a long day, it was a good day. On the way back across the bridge to Nags Head at Oregon Bay, snapped some pictures of the new bridge construction. Numerous cranes in the air..a sight to see. Looks as if this will be a long project.