Sunday, August 17, 2014

Outer Banks Wild Horses, Historic Lighthouses, Dolphins and the Wright Brothers..oh my!



My family enjoyed a vacation in the town of Corolla, in the Outer Banks, of North Carolina in July--to see more about the house we rented, and the special occasion we celebrated during that week, click here.  We also participated in many fun and interesting activities that week, and visited some wonderful historic sights. I could make a blog post about each one, but I combined them here in a condensed version in order to return to blogging about Colorado very soon.  I hope you'll enjoy this vacation look back--photo rich, I promise!

One of the activities we enjoyed with our grandchildren was a wild horse tour in a large Hummer 4WD Vehicle! There are many wild horse tours to chose from, and unless you are driving a 4WD vehicle while staying on the Outer Banks (also known as the OBX), it is the only way to enter the most northern part of Corolla, on Carova Beach, which is designated as a "4WD Vehicle Only" accessible beach.

(All photos and collages in this blog post will enlarge for easier viewing if they are clicked on)


As you can see by the first photos going across the upper portion of the photo collage above, this portion of the Outer Banks  is separated by protective fencing, that keeps the the wild horses on this part of the island in a natural 7,500 acre sanctuary. This part of the OBX is more secluded, and less populated, has less traffic, and has no stores or restaurants.   The horses are descendants of the mustang wild horses that were brought to the islands by Spanish and possibly, English, explorers around 500 years ago. When you glance at them for the first time, their beauty and grace will take your breath away!


It is advised that viewers of the wild horses remain 50 feet distance and do not feed them under the penalty of a fine.  The Corolla Wild Horse Fund has been set up with the mission to protect, conserve and manage the horses that roam freely on this part of the island.


 Quite a few had local birds riding on their bacs!


The horses find water in fresh water ponds inland, and this is a excellent place to find them in small herds.  They eat native grasses and flowers. The weather is temperate here all year round, so they usually have no problem finding enough native food to eat.


The horses are significantly smaller than modern varieties, with an average height of about 14 feet tall. They are all shades of brown, from honey to almost black chocolate, with thick manes.


If you ever visit the Outer Banks a visit to see the wild horses is definitely something you should do!


I love visiting lighthouses, and the Outer Banks barrier islands has five of them! I was fortunate enough to see three of the five. The first lighthouse was located only a mile and a half away from the house we rented, and my husband and I took a walk over to see it one morning. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse was built in 1875, and is located between the Cape Henry Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse.  It was the last brick lighthouse built in the Outer Banks, and the only one left unpainted. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is known as a first order lighthouse, as it has the largest of seven Fresnel lens sizes. With a 20 second flash cycle the light can be seen for 18 nautical miles. The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners, but also help identify their locations. There are 214 steps inside to the top galley platform, and if you look closely at my photo you can see the line of people waiting to walk to the top!  We did not do the climb, as we wanted to walk around the nearby Historic Corolla Village, and see the sights there.


Also called a Light Station, Bodie Island Lighthouse is the third lighthouse to be constructed at this location, as the first was abandoned due to a poor structure and the second was destroyed by the retreating Confederate Army during the Civil War.  Constructed in 1872, it had a first order Fresnel lens and was manned until 1940 when it was completely automated.  It is located on Roanoke Sound, north of Oregon Inlet, south of Nags Head, at 156 feet, it is one of only a dozen surviving brick tower type lighthouses in the US. It was also open to climb--214 steps to the top!


As my husband and I drove over 84 miles south towards Cape Hatteras (almost two hours driving time) we passed through the beautiful areas of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Both are areas I would love to explore further if we return to the Outer Banks in the future!  The ride was very scenic and I enjoyed snapping photos as we drove along.


I was especially excited to see the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, as I remembered reading about how it was moved inland in 1999, in order to save it from beach erosion. When it was built it stood 1,500 feet from the ocean. By 1999, the lighthouse was within only 100 feet of the ocean! To protect it, it was moved inland 2,900 feet, over a 23 day period. You can read more about that engineering feat at this NPS link, and see an interesting YouTube video about the move at this link

The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast. Offshore of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada. This current forces southbound ships into a dangerous twelve-mile long sandbar called the Diamond Shoals. Hundreds, and possibly thousands, of shipwrecks in this area have made it known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic."


Constructed in 1870, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse was also the third lighthouse constructed in this sight, with the first two found to be insufficient and destroyed. At 210 feet high, it is the highest all brick lighthouse in America! Inside is a spiral staircase of 248 steps, and a climb would equal going up to a 12 story building.  The public is able to buy tickets to climb to the the top, but we did not do that as we had to return back to Corolla in a timely manner to get ready for my son and daughter-in-law's tenth wedding anniversary vow re-newel ceremony that was taking place that afternoon.


Another favorite outing we had with the entire family was a boat ride--the Bodie Island Dolphin Tour! We passed many magnificent homes along the wetland shores of Pirates Cove in this area until we were well out into the Roanoke Sound. It was fun to watch the bottleneck dolphins swim and frolic in the water. We also saw nesting ospreys. herons, egrets and brown pelicans along our ride.  The boat ride was so relaxing our younger grandson fell asleep on the way back to the dock.  Afterward we went to an "all you can eat" seafood restaurant in the area and indulged on wonderfully fresh seafood.  It was the perfect day!


I would have been remiss to not have visited the Wright Brothers National Memorial on my visit to the Outer Banks. Located in Kill Devil Hills, this area marks the spot where Wilbur and Orville  Wright, after four years of experimentation and dreaming, achieved their first successful flights in 1903! The site has an interesting visitors center where the story of the Wright brothers and their dream of flight is explained, and models of their first glider and the first powered aircraft in history to maintain a sustained flight, are located. The original airplanes are located in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

We listened to an informative Ranger talk about the Wright brothers and enjoyed all the exhibits inside the visitor center. Outside, on the hill the brothers used to help the winds help them take flight, is a 64 foot granite monument dedicated to them in 1932. Atop the monument is a marine beacon, similar to one found in a lighthouse.  Also, along the grounds, are granite markers that show the date and distance of each of their successful flights.


The collage above shows the distance from Kill Devil Hill to the first successful flight marker. There are four markers in the field that show the distance of all four flights the Wright brothers made on Dec 17, 1903.  The last of which is the historic fourth flight, of 852 feet of flight in 59 seconds, with Wilbur as the pilot.  It proved that the aircraft could be controlled and sustained in a "heavier than air" machine, which opened the door to future aeronautic discoveries!


This is the monument on top of Kill Devil Hill with tributes to both Wilbur and Orville Wright located on either side of it.


This is the view looking down from the hill towards the flight markers, the airplane hanger and house the Wright brothers stayed in when they experimented with their flights on December 17, 1903, and the Memorial's Visitor's Center.  There is also a nice view of the Kill Devil Hills community, and Atlantic Ocean from atop the hill.  Most people associate the Wright brothers with the town of Kitty Hawk, as that is the town where news of their successful flight was sent out to the world.


The Wilbur and Orville Wright--"They Taught Us To Fly" memorial plaque located on the National Memorial grounds.  I love to fly, and it was thrilling to pay homage to the men that began it all in the last century!


A last look at more of the happy memories we now have of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I hope you also enjoyed your armchair visit of many of the attractions of this beautiful area of the United States. Someone asked me if I missed living near the seashore, and I have to admit I miss the availability of all the fresh seafood one can find in New York City and all along the east coast, but  I am now in love with the Rocky Mountains and all the beauty I've seen in Colorado.  I have much to show in future blog posts about what we have been doing this summer in our wonderful new state!


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58 comments:

eileeninmd said...

Pat, what a wonderful vacation in the OBX.. I love the lighthouses and the horses with the cattle egrets on their backs.. The boat ride sounds like fun too. The Seafood Restaurant sounds familiar..Wonderful photos from your trip! Thanks for sharing, have a happy week!

Nellie said...

This sounds like an amazing trip, Pat! In the last blog I mentioned in my comment that a daughter and family had vacationed there in late July. Now, our oldest is there! Our youngest hasn't ever been, and she's the one who is really "into" horses and lighthouses!

Daniela said...

What gorgeous places you've visited dearest Pat !
I have no words, but let me say that perhaps, among all these beauties, I've felt such a deep joy inside while watching the photographs of the wild horses .. you're so lucky, here in Italy we cannot watch them free, we haven't wild horses any more for I wonder how many centuries, alas !
Thank you, dear friend, I LOVE so much to come and visit you here, you give me the chance to 'taste' a little of your lovely culture, history and nature, I feel so fortunate to know you <3
Have a beautiful Sunday and new week ahead
Hugs
xox
Dany

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow you guys packed a lot in. I also love lighthouses although I don't feel a need to climb up to the top. I am more interested in what the living accommodations were like down at the bottom.
I've been hearing about those horses almost my whole life and they are definitely on my bucket list. I guess that I had never heard about how one would go see them and it sounds like a tour is the way to go.

Michelle said...

What a beautiful place!

Claudia said...

I've been following on Facebook and today starting to catch up on blogs (be patient!). This is a beautiful posting - not just of the gorgeous Outerbanks - but of family and discovery. Partial to those gorgeous horses and pleased that they are protected. Have to love the bird hitching a ride!

ellen b. said...

I always enjoy my armchair visits with you. Those horses are amazing. Beautiful scenery.

The Gathering Place said...

Oh, how you make me want to travel! Looks like a charming, interesting place!

Vee said...

What a great family trip! I think I need to go back as I think I've missed a post.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

There's so much to see there in the Outer Banks, and it looks like you took it all in! Those wild horses are really so special. I would love to have seen them. Your photographs of them are gorgeous Pat.

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

What a trip! Simply packed with information and adventures is this post. Enjoyed 'traveling with you' on this one!

Cheryl @ TFD said...

I really enjoyed reading about all the places you visited, Pat, and seeing your wonderful photos! The shot of the bird sitting on the horse is so neat! The beautiful horses all look sleek and healthy. Have a great week and I look forward to seeing what you've been up to in Colorado!

toby said...

I definitely enjoyed my armchair visit - what beautiful areas you've found that I wouldn't have seen otherwise! I can see why you've fallen in love with the area. Maybe we'll have a chance to hit it the next time we're in the US, you've given me new inspiration :)

Lina Gustina said...

Came from BM.
Enjoying your trip photos, especially the wild horses and the lighthouses.
www.1sthappyfamily.com/2014/08/indonesia-independence-day.html

Pondside said...

Such a lot to look at here, Pat - great pictures. I particularly like the shot of the red lighthouse. What a wonderful place you chose for your family holiday!

Kia said...

What a beautiful place for a family trip! :) Lovely images of the horses and the lighthouses.

Linley S said...

Thank you so much for sharing, I certainly enjoyed my armchair visit. The horses had me intrigued.

Mary Cromer said...

Beautiful share. I would love to have seen those wild horses when we came to the Outer Banks. Remember when Hurricane Hugo was coming through...we had driven all the way from KY, made it to the island by ferry and stayed a night. Went for breakfast next morning with our feet never touching the sand and were told we needed to evacuate. So we left that fast and guess what better safe than sorry, but Hugo never came...we missed that entire vacation journey~

Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

Happy Anniversary to them! :) This was an enjoyable tour, yes. My favorite : the wild horses which reminded me of the Misty book / books of my childhood! :)

A Quiet Corner said...

Such a great vacation spot judging by your pix!...:)JP

SmilingSally said...

Hello Pat,

I'm glad that people are told not to feed the horses; their bellys show that they are eating plenty!

What super times you're having! Thanks for making Blue Monday special by sharing.

Have a Beautiful Blue Monday!

Blackberry Lane said...

Hi Pat, I visited this area many years ago and it was fun to see your recent trip photos.

Snap said...

What fun for the whole family! Something for everyone. I'd like the horses and lighthouses! My god-daughter and her husband live in NC now. I feel a visit coming on!

ladyfi said...

What fabulous shots.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

I very much enjoyed my armchair visit of this beautiful part of North Carolina. Your posts always give me the travel bug! What beautiful photos...especially the horses!

Pamela Gordon said...

Pat, I love the coast and the ocean so much and this trip you took to the Outer Banks looks so amazing. There's so much to see and do there and your post makes me want to visit. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and memories with us and I hope you have a great week ahead. Pam

Ann said...

Oh my where do I start? Such natural beauty to enjoy with family. The horses remind me of "Dancing with Wolves". Some of those beautiful homes could be in movies.
Ann

Glenda/MidSouth said...

What a nice vacation - thanks for sharing it with us. Enjoyed reading the history notes also.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are feeling better. Someone told her about the vinegar mixture. Think she said it is mixed with honey to take.

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

What a wonderful place you vacationed at with family. The preserve for the wild horses is nice to see and it sounds like they have lots of space to roam in.
I enjoyed reading about the lighthouses and the other activities.
Thanks for linking to MM.

Old Kitty said...

I love those cheeky herons/ibis? on these magnificent wild horses!! And great to see these animals looking so so so healthy and strong!

Lovely too to see your wonderful family and grandchildren! Awwww!

I love the warning on the Cape Hatteras light station - it's sounds scary but I bet it doesn't put people off! LOL! It's a beauty tough - lovely black and white spirally design on it and great that it was saved!

Huge congrats to your son and daughter-in-law (their wedding anniversary!).

Thank you for sharing your amazing trips to these hidden gems (well I never knew about them until your fab blog!). Take care
x

Betsy Adams said...

What a wonderful trip you had to the Outer Banks. You saw it ALL... NEAT!!!

I love lighthouses --and you saw some beauties... AND--those horses are gorgeous. Another blog friend published a blog post about those wild horses. Interesting!!!

Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

Beth said...

Loved seeing your vacation photos, Pat! The wild horses are awesome. I was a fan of the Misty of Chincoteague book as a youngster, and Pioneer Woman's man is paid by the government to care for wild horses on their property. Awesome!

carol l mckenna said...

Great shots of the corolla horses and your wonderful vacation for OWT ~ It is a beautiful place to visit ~ fond memories ~

artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

Fun60 said...

What a great holiday. Such variety of activities and sights. I enjoyed the post very much.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

What a fabulous trip! You could publish this in a book my friend! I love all of the info that you share. Really amazing to see those wild horses! Enjoy your week! Hugs!

Jeanne said...

Hello Pat, We were gone all day visiting the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC. It is about 78 miles from our mountain home. We have annual passes and when we take our car to be serviced at the dealership we take time to use our passes.Thus, this comment is late today.

We have never been to the Outer Banks in our state. We should take our fifth wheel and spend a month there. After I see all of the wonderful things you did there with your family, I am convinced we would 'love' to visit there. Smile!

I loved your post today. We would definitely go to all the places you have been. Your photos are awesome and interesting. The wild horses, lighthouses and the Wright Brothers are great to see. It would take a month to take it all in.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful trip.
xo, Jeanne

diane b said...

It looks a great place for a vacation with plenty to do and to see. I know we use centimetres but this still seems to be a tall horse at 14 ft. Maybe a typo:The horses are significantly smaller than modern varieties, with an average height of about 14 feet tall.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

I've been looking forward to this post. My husband, a pilot, wants to go this time to the Outer Banks specifically to see the Wright Bros Museum and I'm so glad you've included it. Think where we would be without Orville & Wilber.

We love lighthouses too and I didn't know they moved the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. It must have been because of Hurricane Floyd, which was in 1999 and did a great damage to that area after it about devastated Abaco.

We had wild horses on Great Abaco Island, but they were never as healthy and pretty as these. What a treat to see them. I can't wait to share this with my husband. Thank you!
Sam

Ida said...

Looks and sounds like a fantastic place to visit. I love Lighthouses too and while I'm not a (horse) person per say I do think they are gorgeous animals and seeing them roam free and wild like that would be an amazing experience.

Lorrie said...

What a fun post, Pat. Wild horses, lighthouses, daring men in their flying machines - and those crazy birds on the horses' backs. Fun times you had with your family.

Powell River Books said...

Reminds me of my favourite book as a child, "Misty of Chincoteague" by Marguerite Henry. I desperately wanted a horse of my own, and in junior high got my first one. I renamed her Misty of course. - Margy

Beverly said...

Pat, you captured it all perfectly. Fantastic post and photos. You are the best.♥

Donna said...

What a fun and relaxing vacation...love the lighthouses!!

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I loved seeing the photos of the wild horses, Pat! What a wonderful place to visit and so much to see.

podso said...

Loved seeing these pictures of our state … have been to those places but not for awhile. What a long way you all came for vacation but I'm sure it was worth it! It sounds like you really enjoyed yourselves!

Barb said...

Pat, I enjoyed traveling in the Outer banks with you. I've never been to that area - your photos show the beauty of the place. I love the photos of the dunes.

Jim said...

Beautiful

bj said...

All your photos so interesting..love lighthouses and horses...especially wild ones. :)
Here from OW

Spare Parts and Pics said...

A great series of shots! Really enjoyed them, and thanks for the tour to a part of the country I've not seen.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

What an amazing place! I was fascinated to learn about the Wright Bros. Museum.

Felicia said...

Beautiful images. We enjoyed our stay when we visited the OBX. We stayed on Ocracoke.

Ni de Aqui, Ni de Alla said...

Looks like a vacation with lots of fun. Great pictures!

eileeninmd said...

Pat, thank you so much for linking up your post and critters this week. I loved the horses..have a happy weekend!

Gunilla B├Ąck said...

Lovely photos! The horses are very pretty.

backroadjournal said...

Wonderful photos of a terrific sounding vacation.

Marie said...

I was getting choked up reading this! We lived in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth Va and later Elizabeth City NC and have been to Corolla and the Outer Banks many times! You brought back some wonderful memories! Such great photos, and this post also was chock full of great info. I hope it will encourage people to go. Looks like the wedding anniversary and re-dedication was a wonderful family event, and I can't think of a more wonderful place to have it!

Marie said...

By the way, we live in Tucson now, but we recently took a 13 day trip to the Four Corners area, and Colorado and I have been posting the photos. Hope you'll check out my blog. I also just followed you on Pinterest. Have a great week!

Judy said...

What a wonderful tour!!!