So what does a van sleeping in a tent site, a singer with skinny legs and a million dollar view for only $25 per night have in common? We learned they are all related to… More
We wrap up our adventure to NC’s Outer Banks by trying to stuff as much site seeing as humanly possible, at least humanly possible by us at our age, into one last day before we head back inland. It turns out as much as we had explored during our 5 nights on the island we still had a pretty long list of things we wanted to see. That included Bodie Lighthouse, Jockey’s Ridge, Pea Island for shelling and Nags Head Woods Preserve for a hike.
So off we drove from our great little campsite in the Oregon Inlet National Park campground to see as much as we could. First stop… well, we could see it from our campsite so that one was easy… Bodie Lighthouse. Man, we enjoyed this old lighthouse that was full of history. In fact it is the only lighthouse we’ve ever visited that limits how many can be on one flight at a time, one person and how many can visit the lighthouse in one day. Why? Because it still has the original staircase. Most other lighthouses have had improved/safer staircases installed after they became more of a tourist destination but Bodie, pronounced BODY like your BODY, still has the original spiral staircase that keepers climbed many times per day since it was erected. Those stairs are not attached to the wall of the lighthouse and you can actually feel the whole staircase moving a little as you climb, a very unnerving kind of feeling at first. The view at the top is well worth the climb though… we could see home for these 5 nights from the top of the lighthouse… stunning!
There must be a rule or something but if you come to NC’s OBX you must visit Jockey’s Ridge, the largest moving/shifting non-beach-bound sand dunes in the US. We found it to be not as hot as others had suggested it would be but it was a workout to climb to the very top of the highest dune where we could watch a hang gliding class learning to fly and land.
Not far from the saltwater of the coast is a nature preserve that resembles more of a jungle than a coastal hike, known as Nags Head Woods Preserve. The main trail was flooded and we could not hike it so we chose instead to hike the Roanoke trail which took us out and back 1.5 miles to a white sand view of the sound through the actual sound of spring peepers, birds and insects. Something for all your senses to marvel at.
Then we decided we had had enough… we were out of daylight and energy and we skipped Pea Island and headed back to our campsite to batten down the hatches and prepare to leave the following morning for places further inland as we neared to end of yet another awesome adventure trip in our Winnebago Travato van.
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In our last post and video we left you with us having so much fun in Oregon Inlet we had chosen to stay an additional 2 nights there. Why? Well, we loved the Oregon Inlet National Park campground so much we decided to make it our base camp for exploring everything from Oregon Inlet all the way up to Corolla on the northern tip of NC’s Outer Banks. That turned out to be a great, great decision. From the OI campground you can get to Corolla in a little over an hour and everything is so close it was easy to schedule the two days of site seeing so we felt like we got to see almost everything we wanted to see.
So what was there to see? The sweetest stop was Duck Donuts in Duck, NC. There you can watch them cook and create your just made donuts right in front of you and then take that box of goodness out to the boardwalk and eat them with fresh coffee and the view of a male and female osprey tending to their nest of eggs out in the bay. Sweet donuts with a sweet view!!!! Just our kind of activity.
That boardwalk turned out to be the Duck boardwalk that was already on Lynn’s list of things to do so we took a leisurely stroll to the end of the boardwalk and back, stopping in great little shops for us and Maggie and visiting the beautiful Duck Boardwalk Chapel.
Then it was just a short drive to the end of the island and Corolla where we climbed to the top of our favorite lighthouse at the Outer Banks, the Currituck Lighthouse. Old and so well kept with a 360-degree view of the ocean and the sound. Wow! We love lighthouses. You will probably find things like lighthouses that you love when you travel but for us, lighthouses seem to draw us in like we’re a lost vessel coming in from sea.
After all those steps to the top of the lighthouse we found ourselves hungry and almost “hangry”. So lots of discussion about what kind of food and how much we wanted to spend we landed on trying out what we thought would be the “fancy-smancy” restaurant, The Black Pelican. It was not fancy-smancy at all but man was it good. Lots of great food and conversation and tons of laughs at each other made for a perfect meal for a crazy old married couple exploring NC’s OBX.
Then with our bellies and tanks full we stopped at the dump station that serves the Oregon Inlet campground at the Oregon Inlet marina for what has got to the the best dump station sunset view of all time for us.
So what did we think of Oregon Inlet so far? Well, it’s windy but when you’re staying right on the beach on an island you expect it to be windy. The staff was the nicest we’ve ever encountered and our site was impeccably clean and perfect. Everyone around us was quiet and courteous and the hikes to the beach and around the campground were perfect for us and Maggie, making us super glad we’d decided to make this our home base for this part of our trip to the Outer Banks. It’s the perfect place to stay and head south or north on the OBX to explore. It’s close to food, gas, fun activities, museums and shows and lots and lots of restaurants. It was the best choice we had made… so far.
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Our NC OBX trip continues as we head across the new big bridge to Oregon Inlet. Being nimble in the Travato van means we can change our minds and change our plans and that’s just what we did. We left Rodanthe a few days early since we thought we’d seen everything that interested us and the fun that was in and around Oregon Inlet was calling us big time.
So we checked in to the Oregon Inlet National Park campground and were surprised to find that they had done a lot of renovations since being hit by hurricane Florence in 2018 and had added new water and electric pedestals to almost all their sites… so we lucked into a water and electric site and could not have been happier.
Out time for this portion of the OI visit included walking on the beach, finding a beached whale, visiting the infamous Wright Brothers Monument and Jeanette’s Pier which included getting to watch the surfing competition that was going on while we were there. Oh yeah, we also cooked a few awesome meals in the van while we were there since this portion of the Outer Banks is actually a little more populated and had several grocery stores to allow us to stock up on supplies and food.
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As you meander up the coast of NC’s Outer Banks you’ll find many quaint little villages that have popped up over the years. One such village is the one known for it’s kite surfing in the sound, Rodanthe.
We had a site right on the bay, literally right on the water, where we could watch the sunset each night spend a large part of each day mesmerized by those out on the water kite surfing. If you’re not familiar with kite surfing it is a sport that is exactly what it sounds like would be, a person is pulled across the water while steer a huge sail kite and combines lots of skills most of us only dream of having. It was fun to watch the beginners who were content to just get up on the water and move a few feet before being dosed again only to get up and try it again hoping to one day be like the experts. The experts came in a few levels. One level is content to just buzz back and forth as fast as they can letting the 20-25mph wind carry them a mile or two and then they do a 180 and head back the other way. There’s also the expert group who don’t travel distances but you’ll see them imitating birds and dolphins as they take to the air with any little wave that comes up.
So mostly in Rodanthe that’s what we did. We sat there at our waterfront camping spot and watched in awe as all three levels of kite surfers took advantage of the protected waters of the bay that was free of boats because the water never got above waist deep at any point and it was free of kayaks and canoes because of the constant wind they’d be fighting.
Throw in a visit to a civil war graveyard where slaves who fled slavery and ended up working at the island’s life saving station were buried, a visit to the beach where we saw a huge shark that had just washed in and was beached and lots of quaint, fun shops to visit… and well you’ll see what it was a laid back, just our kind of place to visit place.
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People ask us all the time “what’s the best part about traveling in your Travato van”? Well for us it might just be the “GETTING THERE”. There’s just something amazing about driving your tiny home to campgrounds, grocery stores, malls, national parks and even on ferries. Well… and just about anywhere you’d drive your car or truck. And then you look back in the rearview mirror and there’s your home… with you entertainment system, your food, your clothes and your bathroom. It’s just a WOW moment every time we stop and think about it. As we leave our campsite in Ocracoke and drive down majestic Highway 12 the drive alone is worth the time and cost of this trip. But then we reach the end of the highway, because… we’re on an island. What now? Well, in line we go to get on the free ferry over to another island and the little community of Buxton, NC. When you board a ferry in your Travato camper van we’re betting like us you’ll appreciate just how small it is. For us it was like parking a minivan in line with other smaller vehicles. There are many other advantages to traveling with this small house on wheels but nothing makes us smile like the getting there feeling. So much so that instead of dreading leaving day while RV’ing now we actually look forward to it.
During this portion of the trip Maggie comes face to face with a huge Water Moccasin at Cape Point Campground. Luckily she escaped unharmed but man, it sure scared us to death. When you spend time out in the wilderness you’re going to see things. Things like deer walking right up to you, or hundreds of geese singing to the sunset or even a huge water moccasin snake that scared the life out of us.
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There’s nothing like being able to camp right next to a beach. Add to that our first time taking our Travato on a ferry, the Travato’s first time on an island and getting to experience the land of Black Beard and the true NC Outer Banks at a time when tourists are few and far between. All those firsts and that lack of crowds made for a wonderful trip to NC’s little island village of Ocracoke.
Ferry Ride In A Winnebago Travato 59K – Even though we worried about the actual ferry ride to the island… would we fit easily, would it be difficult to park the Travato, would Captain Upchuck get sick… everything was perfect. What a beautiful way to travel to a remote island. Putting the Travato on the ferry was no more difficult than parking a mini-van. Easy!
Remoteness and Quaintness of Ocracoke Island – When you arrive at NC’s Outer Banks you realize you are in a remote area… not Alaska remote, but few places on the coast of the US are as remote as NC’s Outer Banks. You won’t find restaurant chains or national grocery stores or Walmart… but that gives it a quaint feeling that forces you to slow down and make do. It’s that making do that gives this the feel of really camping.
Camping In Travato Right Beside The Ocean – We stayed at the National Park Campground, which had no electric or water or sewer but what it did have was spectacular… it had a walk over the dunes from your campsite to a remote beach on the Atlantic Ocean. And it had a 3-mile bike ride to the cool little village of Ocracoke.
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With the van modifications done and everything ready, we head out to a familiar place to start our journey to the northern most point of NC’s Outer Banks. Where else for us but Myrtle Beach, SC. With family from all over the country there we decide we should start our trip early and spend some time with those we love. Not only that we were able to go to dinner and shoot a little pool with great friends we met while camping that just happened to be in the area.
We ate at 3 great restaurants while we were there. First a return visit to Nacho Hippo Mexican restaurant where the Bang Bang Shrimp tacos were out of this world good. Then it was on to what may very well be our favorite seafood restaurant, the Hook and Barrel. Not only was the seafood great but our wait staff was awesome and you’ve got to see how my mom made that young lady laugh and laugh. Then a goodbye dinner with friends at California Pizza. Whew! What a way to start a trip that has the goal of getting as much great food as you can.
If you missed our episode about getting the van ready for this trip, here’s the link to that: https://youtu.be/Aj9zeaU_3xs.
If this is your first time here we hope you’ll consider following along and subscribing. Here’s the link for that: http://youtube.com/c/VANTREKKINGlifestyle?sub_confirmation=1
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