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A tourist guide to Outer Banks in North Carolina

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1. Introduction

A remote and removed, thin strip of interconnected barrier islands that stretch about 130 miles along the coast of North Carolina and form outer shores, seem more part of the Atlantic than the continent to which they are attached by dykes, bridges and ferries. Islands in the sand and dunes, whose dunes flow away and flow with sometimes wicked winds, like swaying boats, serve as the threshold for North America – or its end – depending on the direction of travel.

Defined by land or not, a trip here may include sailing, fishing, canoeing, water skiing, parasailing, hang gliding, kite, sand dune climbing, dolphin watching and sand surfing. Above all, however, it is about the first – the first English colonists who leave footprints in the sand, the first pilots who leave footprints in the sand when they conquered a flight, and the sea, dunes and wind that enabled both.

2. From the mountains to the banks

Although these flat, wet islands and patches of the Outer Banks could not more oppose the towering Appalachians that rise in the west, it was from these peaks that emanated, becoming their third edition.

Rivers, which are collections of rainwater, flowed east of them, rapidly falling off the edge of the second or lower topographic feature of Piedmont. Coastal currents, followed by interaction and formation, like clay, of their sediment, came from this mountainous origin 25,000 years ago, after the creation of the dam islands and their water threshold beaches.

Because the currents are not static, their forces, which never rest, still transform and rearrange these masterpieces of the island, because they are subjected to the constantly decaying hands of wind and water. This dynamic phenomenon is the key to their protective nature, because they protect a more permanent continent and, like shock absorbers, often face the first hurricanes and other systems of difficult weather conditions.

These sounds, created and defined by the forces of nature, form the second largest estaurine system in the US after Chesapeake Bay, covering almost 3,000 square miles and draining 30,000 square miles of water.

“A thin, broken strip of islands,” according to the National Park Service, “turns toward the Atlantic Ocean and back again in the sheltered embrace of the continent’s shores and islands off the coast of North Carolina.”

3. Access and orientation

Outer Banks consists of Northern Beaches, with cities such as Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head; Roanoke Island; and Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which consists of the islands of Bodie, Hatteras and Ocracoke.

Scheduled air services are provided to Norfolk and Raleigh-Durham International airports in Virginia and North Carolina, respectively, and charter fights take place at Dare County Regional Airport on Roanoke Island. Private aircraft operate the First Flight Airstrip airfield in Kill Devil Hills and Billy Mitchell airport on Hatteras Island.

Roads to Outer Banks lead US 158 and Wright Memorial Bridge from North and US 64 through the 5.2 mile long Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge, Roanoke Island, Nags Head-Manteo Causeway and Washington Baum Bridge from the west. From the north, the route leads to the four-lane artery 158 USA and traverses the island with a length of 16.5 miles, gaining access to shops, shops, restaurants and attractions. The narrower, two-lane NC 12, also known as “Beach Road” – serves to protect residential communities, hotels and restaurants, often overlooking the Atlantic. The same road leads through the island of Hatteras, and after an additional journey by ferry to the island of Ocracoke.

4. Kitty Hawk

Despite beliefs and books on aviation history, on the contrary, Kitty Hawk was not the site of the first successful flight in the world, although the Wright Brothers stayed in the village. Instead, this historic event occurred about four miles south of it, in Kill Devil Hills. Nevertheless, next to the Aycock Brown Welcome Center there is still an aeronautical attraction that itself offers brochures and travel planning information on monuments, restaurants, entertainment, shops and hotels.

Marked as the Memorial of the Centenary of Flight, it was created by Icarus International and dedicated on November 8, 2003. On the hundredth anniversary of powered flights to celebrate the history, beauty and mysteries of flight and soaring of the human spirit. Set against the open sky of Kitty Hawk to create a contemplative environment, the monument itself consists of 14 wing-shaped stainless steel poles, rising from ten to 20 feet in orbit 120 feet to reflect the distance of the Wright Brothers & # 39; the first flight of December 17, 1903, representing human climbing into the sky and outer space.

“Humanity is a continuum of pioneers,” according to the monument, “sharing timeless dreams and unlimited possibilities of enormous unexplored worlds.”

Black granite panels are engraved on the 100 most important aviation achievements of the last century, and the middle six-meter dome depicts the continents and is marked with the words: “When Orville Wright rose from the sands of Kitty Hawk at 10:35 am December 17, 1903. We were on the road to the moon and beyond. ”

5. Kill Devil Hills

Kill Devil Hills is, of course, the site of the world’s first propelled, controlled and sustained flight, as well as the Wright Brothers National Monument, visible from 158 USA, pays homage to him.

Although the Wrights were raised in Dayton, Ohio, they conducted all their early experiments in non-propulsion (glider) and propulsion (aircraft) in North Carolina because they offered high dunes for pedestrian take-offs, strong winds to generate lift at minimal ground speed, soft landing sand without a wheel, without damage and isolation from the press and spectators.

According to the Visitor Center museum, which shows sports exhibits, reproductions of a glider from 1902 and a flyman Wright from 1903, Conversations and programs of the National Park Service and a book / souvenir shop – the brothers were inspired and based their designs on the assumed aerodynamic principles by four earlier pioneers: Sir George Cayley (1773–1857), who created the foundation of aerodynamics; Alphonse Penaud (1850-1880), who built a model of a planophone driven by a rubber band and flew 131 feet on it; Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896), who conducted extensive experiments on gliders; and Octave Chanute (1832–1910), which became a virtual clearing house for all aviation-related events and published them in a book entitled ‘Progress in Flying Machines’. The Wright Brothers & # 39; the biplane was actually its own virtual copy.

According to the museum, the monument is the birthplace of aviation. “Here, December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made their first successful energy-driven flight in world history,” he says. “Wrights believed that man-made flight is possible and can be achieved through systematic research.”

This systematic approach, combined with their intuitive mechanical ability and analytical intelligence, allowed them to understand that lifting resists weight and that pressure resists resistance, but, more importantly, this flight can only be overcome by controlling its three transverse, longitudinal and vertical. This lack of understanding caused all previous experimenters to fail.

By developing control surfaces to tame them and thereby maintain aircraft stability, they were able to transform their non-powered gliders subjected to hundreds of pedestrians from nearby Kill Devil Hill into a successful Flyer Wright.

Two reconstructed buildings represent Wright Brothers & # 39; Camp in 1903, That on the left hangar, and on the right their workshop and living quarters with a stove, primitive kitchen, pantry, table and ladder to access the slings hanging on the rafters that served as their bunks.

A commemorative granite boulder marks the starting point of four successful flights on December 17, 1903, and markers placed in the field indicate the distance of each of them and the air time required to reach them.

By taking control of Wright’s Leaflet, while Wilbur served as a “ground crew” and stabilized his wings, Orville left the starting line at 10:35 on this historic day, beating 120 feet in 12 seconds, while Wilbur himself, piloting another attempt, beat 175 feet at the same time. The penultimate fight flew 200 feet in 15 seconds, and the last, longest, defeated 852 feet in 59 seconds, after which damage to the aircraft, along with severe weather at the end of the season, prevented further testing and the brothers returned to Ohio.

According to a boulder erected by the National Aeronautics Association of the USA on December 17, 1928. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the event: “The first successful flight of the aircraft was made from this place by Orville Wright, December 17, 1903, in a machine designed and built by Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright. ”

The former sea of ​​sand and dunes stretching from the first volatile boulder, still interacting with the wind just like the gliders and powered Wright constructions, was now replaced by a sloping green field, but the aerodynamic forces invisibly rubbing against the delicate ends of the grass still caused it to sway, be maybe in the memory of this event over a hundred years later.

The distance from the starting point, marked by the starting track, to the fourth and furthest marker, requires a vigorous walk with the legs with which the man was endowed, but in 1903 it was covered with wings, which the birds were given. The Wrights successfully crossed human and animal species manifested as a machine.

The 60-meter monument, mounted on the 90-meter grassy now dune Kill Devil Hill opposite the First Flight airport with a 3,000-meter runway, is the starting point for hundreds of unpowered Wright glider flights.

“… the sand blinds us” – they wrote then. “Blows through the earth in the clouds. Certainly we can’t complain about this place. We came here for the wind and sand, and we got them. ”

The full-size stainless steel Wright Flyer sculpture, located on the other side of the hill at the base and weighing much more than the original 10,000 pounds aircraft, depicts the historic first flight with photographer John Daniels from a local rescue station, I’m going to take the only photo ever taken.

The Centennial Pavilion, across the parking lot from the combined visitor center, museum and aviation hall, offers movies, aviation and Outer Banks exhibitions.

6. Nags Head

Just a few kilometers south of Kill Devil Hills, in Nags Head, there is another flight attraction, Jockey’s Ridge State Park.

In one of 35 North Carolina state parks and four recreational areas that stretch from Mount Mitchell – the highest peak in the west to Jockey’s Ridge in the east, the 425-acre area has the highest dune on the coast that has changed altitude over the years 90 to 110 feet.

The Visitor Center has a museum with photos of the dune and its evolution, as well as exhibitions of the surrounding flora and fauna, and two hiking trails provide first-hand exposure in the park: 45-minute Soundside Nature Trail and 1.5-mile Tracks in the sand . But its jewel is undoubtedly the dune itself and is synonymous with hang gliding. The way Kill Devil Hills was the birthplace of powered flights was also Nags Head for a non-powered flight because sport has its roots in many ways.

Francis Rogallo, like the Wright Brothers, who preceded him for almost five decades, laid the foundation for this sport and is therefore considered “the father of modern hang gliding.” Trying to make flying accessible and accessible to everyone, he soared into the sky in 1948 on a makeshift glider, whose wings were assembled from the kitchen curtains of his wife, saying: “It was my intention to give everyone the opportunity to experience first hand flight.”

Following in the footsteps of Wright in the sand until they disappeared into the sky, he used the same techniques of firing feet, less than five miles from those used in Kill Devil Hills.

Kitty Hawk Kites, who serves Jockey’s Ridge and was founded in 1974, teaches both takeoff and towing hang gliders, and today is the world’s largest flight school with over 300,000 students on its list.

Initial certified instructor lessons include ground clearance, dune foot start, and 5 to 15-foot soaring.

Hang Gliding Spectacular, the longest-held hang gliding competition, is held annually in May at Jockey’s Ridge.

7. Roanoke Island

The island of Roanoke, located between the North Beaches of the Outer Banks and the mainland Dare, eight miles long and two miles wide, is the site of the first English settlement in the New World and has several attractions for its interpretation.

Manteo, its commercial and government center, is a charming coastal city of artists, fishermen, taverns, guesthouses, cafes, souvenir shops, galleries, restaurants, promenades and the 53-slip Shallowbag Bay marina and its history is reflected in street names such as Queen Elizabeth Avenue and Sir Walter Raleigh Street.

Named after the Croatian commander, who returned with the first English explorers at the end of the 16th century, and was incorporated as a city in 1899, it offers several of its own attractions. For example, Magnolia Marketplace is an outdoor pavilion used for city sponsored events. Tranquil House Inn, located on Queen Elizabeth Avenue, resembles the magnificent 19th-century Outer Banks seaside hotel with wooden cypriot, oblique stained glass window, rear verandas overlooking the bay, four-poster beds, continental breakfast, afternoon wine and cheese and its own 1587 Restaurant.

Another attraction is the North Carolina Maritime Museum, the main facility in Beaufort, located at George Washington Creef, which overlooks the Croatian Sound. Before the fire in 1939, the Manteo boat building industry was located nearby, and the current structure was built by the son of Creef the following year to repair the shadboats designed by his father, which then became the state & # 39; official ship.

More a workshop than a museum, it gives visitors the opportunity to see how most volunteers renew and rebuild wooden hulls, although the shadboat itself is exhibited along with other souvenirs.

The promenade leads to another of the city’s attractions, the Roanoke Marshes lighthouse. External reconstruction of square, summer houses with a lighthouse, which led ships through a narrow channel between Pamlico and the Croats, on the southern side of the island in the area called “Roanoke Marshes” in 1877–1955, the original was decommissioned, a year, but swallowed by water when trying to move.

The current replica, with a solid white light, fourth order Fresnel lens, was sacrificed in 2004, during which mayor John Wilson said: “In the coming years, when islanders mingle with guests along the Manteo waterfront, let’s remember this here , where so many ships were built and launched, dreams still light up the road … the lighthouse now casts a calming beam on the night sky … ”

Inside you can see photographs and exhibits from the lighthouse and maritime history.

A fast ride down Queen Elizabeth Avenue and the Cora Mae Bas Bridge leads to Roanoke Island Festival Park, a 25-hectare, discovered, living historical complex that celebrates America’s first English settlement with several plays.

For example, the city of American Indians depicts the coastal Algonquian culture that flourished on Roanoke Island and the surrounding area for thousands of years until 1500, when its nomadic hunter lifestyle was transformed into a more sedentary, agricultural-based lifestyle.

There was no written language. As a result, first-hand accounts of English explorers, archaeological finds discovered in the region, as well as the oral tradition of telling stories and crafts formed the basis of the park’s exhibits.

Under Queen Elizabeth I, the first expedition, organized by Sir Walter Raleigh, but undertaken by Captain Arthur Barlowe and scientist Thomas Harriot, arrived on the shores of the New World in 1584. And they both recorded their impressions of the land they hoped for colonization . A reproduction of a small Indian city is representative of the type they encountered.

The basic structure in each Algonquian settlement was the house of “emptiness” or “leader” and was divided into an internal perimeter that was intended for public use and served as a guest and entertainment part as well as internal rooms where private functions took place, such as meetings at high level and family activities.

Several English explorers were greeted by the wife of local leader Granganimeo, and then led to the outside rooms on the outskirts of the house, where they were heated by fire while their feet were washed and their clothes washed before being led to the inner room for the feast.

Another typical settlement structure was a long house. Supported on spars, whose bark was spread from young trees, it adopted a curved roof to reduce susceptibility to wind, and its poles were attached with a rope. His skeleton was then covered with reeds or bark mats.

Mats or skins of animals equally covered a small door to reduce heat loss.

Other homes, outdoor cooking and eating places, and shelters surrounded a long home, and corn and other staples were usually grown on the ground.

The settlements normally supported 100 to 200 rural residents and were released when the land they were on ceased to be cultivated, although the decade between abandonment and re-occupation usually restored farming.

Life in India is additionally illustrated with demonstrations of chaining and preparing meals, kayaks and fishing weirs.

Perhaps the most important point of Roanoke Island Festival Park is the moored and visited ship Elizabeth II, whose crew, like the rest of its places, is served by costume interpreters.

The replica, built in 1983. The North Carolina Maritime Museum on the other side of the bay, 69 feet long and 17 feet wide, consists of the then three-masted merchant ships. Representing a type originally constructed for the transport of a second, or 1585, expedition colonists after Thomas Cavendish pawned his estate for its financing, the ship commemorating the 400th anniversary of the event, uses hand-hewn juniper wood and locust pegs in the keel, frame and plank. Although a relatively small vessel with a displacement of 50 tons and a main mast of 65 feet was intended mainly for European commercial voyages, it also sailed well across the open sea.

In the years 1584–1590, eight English expeditions were carried out, in which 22 ships and 1,200 soldiers, sailors and colonists (including 28 women and children) participated.

On the estate complex, which is the first English military on American soil, there is a sergeant’s tent, forge and blacksmith, lathe with feet and ropes configuration and a palisade.

In addition to these exhibits, the Roanoke Island Festival Park also has a visitor center; the film “The Legend of Two-Path;” Roanoke Adventure Museum; and a significant gift shop.

The chronicle of the first English settlers was compiled at another important attraction of Roanoke Island, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.

Although Sir Walter Raleigh himself never set foot in the New World, he received a statute from Queen Elizabeth I, as already mentioned, to begin the first of three so-called “Roanoke Journeys” to America in 1584. To choose a place for colonization, set up a camp from which you can send raids to Spanish ships and look for precious metals such as gold. Arrived in July.

After returning to England, it was decided that the island, due to the protected shores, was the optimal location, and its land was very well evaluated, as captain Arthur Barlowe expressed in his report to Sir Walter Raleigh.

“We discovered that it was the most pleasant and fertile land,” he wrote, “supplemented with good cedars and a variety of other sweet forests full of currants, flax and many significant commodities … The soil is abundant, sweet, fruitful and healthy for the whole world. ”

The second expedition, sent the following year with 108 soldiers, aimed to make England’s final claim.

In the direction of this more permanent settlement, an earth fort was built on the north side of the island, but the decline in previously friendly relations with Native Americans occurred when they began to succumb to diseases introduced by the English and winter, the not so generous crops and food in the warmer months caused the colonists to become more and more dependent on Native Americans until relations became strained. The killing of the Chief Wingina, the most important event in the history of the fledgling colony, sealed the fate of Europe and from then on they were considered “enemies”.

The promised supply ships, apparently late, prompted them to return to England at the first opportunity – and when Sir Francis Drake sailed to Roanoke Island, the opportunity arose. However, fifteen colonists remained who watched over the fort and the land they had already taken.

Once again crossing the Atlantic during the third trip in 1587, 117 men, women and children, intending to establish a permanent housing estate and more representative for the real population, were promised individual plots.

However, after returning to Roanoke Island to re-supply the original 15, before they went inland to set up their own village, they found no trace of them.

John White, appointed governor of the new colony, returned to England due to a short supply trip, but conflict events – including the lack of ships to sail – prevented his departure until 1590 with subsequent ones at the beginning of the 17th century also failed to locate missing colonists who apparently left only an abandoned fort and some artifacts.

However, they were instructed to notify them if they decide to leave the area or if unforeseen events prove detrimental to their safety, and for this purpose the letters “CRO” were carved on the tree and the full word “CROATAN” appeared on the gate, both in terms of local tribe, and perhaps the reasons for their disappearance.

Although excavations are ongoing, the ultimate reason has never been found, leaving three hypotheses: they died of natural causes, were attacked or voluntarily left, but to the place and by what means it was never established, if in fact this third theory is true.

Part of this story are artifacts discovered during excavations in the fort and exhibited at the Lindsay Warren Visitor Center, whose main attraction is the decorative paneling characteristic of an Elizabethan estate that once decorated the walls of Heronden Hall in Kent, England before it was bought by William Randolph Hearst in 1926 for his own castle in San Simeon, California. The National Park Service purchased it in the 1960s. Rooms like this in the Visitor Center would be common in the homes of wealthy people, such as Sir Walter Raleigh himself.

The outer trail leads to the foundations of the reconstructed earth fort. “On this site,” according to a stone marker before him, “in July and August 1585, Colonists sent from England by Sir Walter Raleigh built a fort, which they called the new fort in Virginia. & # 39; These colonists were the first English settlers in America. They returned to England in July 1586. Together with Sir Francis Drake. Near this place, she was born on August 18, 1587. Virginia Dare, the first English child of America-born parents. ”

The historical account of the first English settlers, described as “a true story of adventure, courage and sacrifice,” which “enriches, educates and entertains”, is called “The Lost Colony” and is performed from late May to late August at the Waterside Theater, an outdoor theater Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Based on the story of Paul Green, the Pulitzer laureate, it was first performed in 1937, but has been active since then and employs over 100 actors, singers and dancers who recreate the events that led to the first colonists & # 39; disappearance through royal performance, Indian dance, epic battles, Elizabethan music and fancy costumes.

Another local attraction is the Elizabethan Gardens, a 10.5-acre botanical garden with brick and sand walkways that offer over a thousand varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers.

“The museum was created to honor the first English colonists who honored these shores,” explains the museum: “History, mystery and fantasy are combined in these special gardens created by the Garden Club in North Carolina in 1951 as a living monument to the first English colonists who came to explore the New World between 1584-1587 and settle on Roanoke Island. ”

According to the sign in front of the House of Gates, a shop with an entrance and a garden shop: “The Symphonic Performance of the Lost Drama Outdoor” sowed the seeds in the creative minds that first predicted the garden. ”

There are many attractions in this peaceful oasis. For example, the statue of Queen Elizabeth I is the largest in the world that honored her, while the smaller statue of Virginia Dare is nearby. Hand-made bricks, gargoyle benches, seasonal flowers, a marble table and a stone bath highlight the garden-framed view of Roanoke Sound from the Overlook terrace. Colony Walk honors lost colonists who once crossed the same coasts and are lined with coast-tolerant plants. Reeds from Norfolk in England were used in thatched roof replicas of a 16th-century gazebo. The Camellia collection contains over 125 species of flowers, and ancient oak has survived since the colonists inhabited the island in 1585.

Another attraction of Roanoke Island is the North Carolina Aquarium, one of the three state facilities on the coast. Located in particular on the banks of the Roanoke Sound River, a short distance from Dare County Regional Airport, it presents the leitmotif of “Waters from external banks”.

The coastal plain of North Carolina, as shown on the “Coastal Freshwaters” screen, provides wildlife with a variety of freshwater habitats. Streams and rivers flow through marshes, pocosins and other wetlands on the way to the sounds. Waterways connect all these habitats, enabling wildlife to move from one to the other.

Albemarle Sound is powered by seven freshwater rivers. To survive in the sound itself, plants and animals must be able to adapt to changes in salinity that arise as a result of rainfall and drafts.

River otters and alligators roam the “Wetlands on the Edge” exhibition, while other exhibitions include those labeled “Marine Communities” and “Open Ocean”.

The focal point of the aquarium is the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” salt water exhibition with an area of ​​285,000 gallons, which has over 200 fish and the largest shark collection in North Carolina.

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