Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Outer Banks Lighthouse Hopping

I am very attached to North Carolina. I'm thinking maybe because that's the first place I have lived outside the Philippines. I haven't really lived there for a long time. I was only assigned in North Carolina for an offshore assignment in Raleigh twice (2005 and 2006), for a few months each, by a Philippines-based employer and that's just about it. But I like that state very much and I did enjoy my stay there (except the fact that everything seems to close early) and going there to visit always feel like I'm visiting my hometown. Yeah, I know, weird feeling. It's like claiming something that's not mine. But what can I say, I just have a strong connection to this place.

at Chimney Rock, year 2005

I've lived in Raleigh while in North Carolina but have been to Asheville, Outer Banks and Wilmington, to name a few. I have revisited Asheville last December of 2013 to celebrate New Year's eve with the hubby at Biltmore Estate and that was a lovely visit. We even drove to Tennessee from Biltmore for a quick day trip to see the Parthenon replica in Nashville. I would love to celebrate Christmas or New Year's at Biltmore again. I'd love to see what it looks like when it's filled with snow.

Biltmore Estate during the Chrismas Holidays, 2013/2014

We went back this year for the July 4th long weekend. I wanted to do some lighthouse hopping tour for the calendar project I have in mind. For this trip, we have visited 7 lighthouses total.

Cape Lookout.

The trip started on Thursday night, 7/2. We drove 5 hours to Virginia, to cut the driving time in half, stayed there for the night (at Motel 6 Virginia) and started driving to Harker's Island Visitor Center the next day. There we took the ferry that would take us to Cape Lookout. It was a 4 to 4.5 hours drive from Virginia to Harker's Island Visitor Center and then a 15 to 20 minute ferry ride to Cape Lookout. Our plan is go to the farthest lighthouse in our itinerary and then work our way back up North.

The ferry price is $15/person roundtrip. You can do walk-in or you can book your ticket online thru (we booked the Harkers Island Ferry Gateway to Cape Lookout Lighthouse). It's isolated but the water doesn't look like flood waters. Water is actually inviting. You would see lots of sandbars on your way to Cape Lookout and you can stop to this other island where you can see wild horses. I saw passengers bringing all their coolers and chairs on the ferry, which for me is too daunting. I wish they'll have a bigger boat that can transport cars.

We only stayed there for 2 hours, walked around, sat on the beach then hopped on a ferry to take us back to the visitor center and back to our car. There's no hotel close by the visitor center so our hotel was still some 47 minutes away. We stayed at Sherwood Motel because it's the cheapest I could find. It's not a bad location though and we discovered this one restaurant called Smithsfield's. We ordered their Large BBQ Platter. I like their BBQ pulled pork but if you don't like your BBQ with a tinge of sourness then you might not like Smithsfield's. Their hushpuppies are good, it tastes like corn bread.


The next day, we woke up really early to catch the 7am ferry to
 Ocracoke. It's an hour drive from our hotel to Cedar Ferry Terminal.  Cedar Ferry Terminal is where you'll take the ferry to Ocracoke. We paid $15 for the ferry and that includes our car and 2 passengers. Yes, you can take your car to the ferry. The ferry ride was 2 hours. It was a nice ferry ride being it still early in the morning and it wasn't too hot yet.

ocracoke lighthouse

Ocracoke is a nice quaint little town. We like it! It's like a miniature version of Cape May. We won't mind coming back and stay for a few days next time. When you visit Ocracoke, make sure to stop by Ocracoke Coffee and Co. There's always a long line, but it's worth the wait. And sit outside if it isn't too hot.

mocha freeze and cinnaYUM buns


We spent half a day in Ocracoke then hopped on a ferry again but this time to Hatteras. Ferry from Ocracoke to Hatteras is free! You can also bring your car with you in the ferry. Ocracoke to Hatteras is 55min to 1 hr ferry ride. From Hatteras ferry terminal to the Hatteras lighthouse is about 23 to 30 minutes drive.

We left Hatteras around 3:30 PM and went to Rodanthe. I used to be a Nicholas Sparks fan and I used to have all of his books. Coincidentally, the settings in his books, if not all, are in North Carolina and there is this one book I've read (I've seen the movie version as well) titled "Nights in Rodanthe". So as part of our itinerary, I made sure we get to see the inn on that movie.

But before that we had to grab some lunch and we found this place called Lisa's Pizzeria. It had good ratings from FourSquare so we decided to give it a shot. The hubby had spaghetti supreme (which is very good) and I had polynesian pizza (which is good too) and I rinsed it off with their pink lemonade which, after a long hot day, really hit the spot.

We don't know how to find the inn from the movie so we asked someone from Lisa's and we were surprised to find out that it was actually really close by (you can actually just walk).

Inn at Rodanthe
This inn was used in the movie and was considered a public nuisance and condemned until someone bought it and rescued it. More of the story here.

Bodie Lighthouse.

Bodie lighthouse is not really part of our itinerary for that day (Day2) but since it was still a little early and Bodie lighthouse is on our way to our hotel, we decided to stop by that day too.

my 2nd time. first time was 2006 and that
time i don't remember seeing this walkway

It started to rain on our way to Bodie Island but luckily it stopped for a good 30 minutes that we were able to walk past the lighthouse and into this walkway and was able to take some photos before the rain started pouring again.

after almost a decade ago
And then it's time to rest. We didn't get to our hotel until 5:27 but still enough time to enjoy the beach. We were skimping on hotels during the past 3 nights, but since we are staying at Kitty Hawk the longest, we decided to get a better room and near the ocean and so we booked a suite at Days Inn. We stayed there until it's time to go home.

Currituck Lighthouse.

The next day, we went to the next lighthouse on our list. Since we already saw Bodie, we only need to see one lighthouse that day and that is the Currituck lighthouse. I have been to Currituck before (year 2006) but wanted to see it again because I lost some of my Currituck photos because of a hard disk failure.

2nd time here, 1st time was back in 2006

We got back to our hotel early and we're able to enjoy more Outer Banks' beach time.

enjoying the Outer Banks with a good book on Day 3.

Then, just like that, it's time to go home. We did saw 2 extra lighthouses, but it's in Virginia. Can you guess what they are (without googling)?