Sunday, November 18, 2012

What to do in OBX

At Jockey Ridge State Park.

Our front steps
The Outer Banks are a long stretch of barrier islands on the coast of North Carolina. They are divided into Northern and Southern sections. We were in the Northern section with our home base being a beach house on the ocean in Kitty Hawk, NC. The outer banks are not anchored to coral like some other barrier islands thus suffer significant erosion during storms of any magnitude. While Sandy did not hit this area directly, the winds definitely affected the area. Highway 12, the road our house was on, was closed in parts due to over wash and as you can see in this picture, the sand piled up on the non-beach side of the houses, requiring it to be shoveled like snow.

In case you ever visit the area (and runners, you should seriously consider point #1 below!), I've developed a top eight list of things to do in OBX for your consideration!

#1 Run a marathon. I probably would never have visited this area if not for the Outer Banks Marathon and Half Marathon and I'm glad that the race drew me here! If you are a 50 in 50'er or just like destination races, put this one on your list!

Adam and I after the race.

Me running past the Monument.
#2 Visit the Wright Brothers National Monument. Orville and Wilbur Wright were the first ever to fly a powered vehicle back in 1903 at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk. The first flight lasted 12 seconds and traveled just a few tens of feet, but later that day they had a 59 second flight that covered 800+ feet. The first ever time man operated a powered vehicle causing it to fly. Pretty amazing! And just to emphasize the rapid pace of aeronautical progress, one of the Wright brothers was actually in attendance at the launch of one of the space shuttles. Incredible!

#3 Kayak in a Maritime Forest. According to wikipedia a maritime forest is "an ocean coastal wooded habitat found on higher ground than dune areas within range of salt spray". There are very few such forests remaining in the world and one of the largest- over 1800 acres worth- is the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve. My entire family took a leisurely 2 hour paddle in this reserve on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The water was perfectly still and we saw multiple yellow-bellied sliders (turtles) and an interesting bird (not sure what it was to be honest!). The weather was so mild- it was just wonderful to be comfortable out on a boat in November!

Mom and Dad.

The whole gang.

Family photo!

#4 Fly a Kite. My brother and his family are into kites, particularly "power kites" which are larges kites that are designed to create significant pull, some even with the ability to carry people from here to there over water (ex kitesurfing) or even off the ground (kite-jumping, snow kiting, etc). They definitely require core strength to manage properly! We used a nice sunny, windy day on top of a sand dune to play around with some kites.

My Dad being tamed by the kite.

#5 Run down a sand dune. Jockey's Ridge State Park is the largest sand dune in the Eastern United States. There are opportunities for hiking, kite flying, parasailing lessons and general frolicking. Here are a few pictures of the latter. We happened to catch a costume club doing a Star Wars photoshoot on the dune, which was pretty fun as well.

Garrett can fly!

#6 Golf! We had beautiful weather for the first four days of our trip (sunny in the 60s), but it became a bit overcast with intermittent rain for the latter half of the week. But that didn't stop us from doing some golfing! Given the inclement weather, we choose to forgo the many beautiful, more pricy courses for the very reasonably priced Holly Ridge Golf Course. I'm glad we did because the owner was a very friendly chap who gave us a raincheck when I got away too cold after 5 holes the first day despite the fact that it was barely drizzling (certainly no lightning!). The next day we returned and completed the 18 and turns out it was the best round of golf I've EVER had- a 94! My previous best was a bit over 100 (maybe 102?) so this was really a monster golf PR which I was really happy with. I would certainly recommend this course (we ended up going 3 days in a row), but I'd also consider checking out some of the nicer ones (Nags Head, Kilmarlic and Carolina Club) if the weather was more favorable for enjoying the views!

#7 View sunrises and sunsets. The view from our back porch...and our upstairs porch(es)....and the front room....and the screened in porch....and the hot tub were all of this:

In addition, multiple dolphin pods made their way right in front of our house! One solo dolphin was only 20 feet from shore! Absolutely wonderful. The pelicans were fun to watch as well.

#8 Drive through the Brew Thru. Yes, North Carolina has drive thru liquor stores. Go figure on that one. So of course we had to drive thru!

And this was the off season! During regular season there are tons of water sports, mini-putting for the kids, wild horses to see, plenty of activities. To be honest though, I'd recommend the off-season. I can only imagine how packed the place gets during the summer, probably a bit unpleasant.....So bottom line, come for the race, it's a good one! :)

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