Thursday, May 28, 2015

Outer Banks Wildlife

Good evening everyone!  We just had some monster thunder rolling through.  The cats get super nervous when its that loud.  Just being inside the house isn't good enough, they have to hide under a piece of furniture too.  Maybe they know something I don't...

In my last post, I mentioned how much I enjoyed seeing the wildlife on our vacation at the Outer Banks.  I thought I'd share a few pictures of that wildlife tonight.

One of the first animal sightings we had was at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  Look how close these deer let me get!  We saw deer several times over the week, but this encounter was amazing to me because of their complete lack of fear.

The wild rabbits were the most common animal we saw (other than birds of course).

Oracoke Island has a population of wild ponies.  I'm not sure how 'wild' they really are since they've been living in pens for decades (to protect them from cars and vice versa), but they were an enjoyable sight all the same.

A few miles north of our beach cottage was the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. It's known as an excellent place to bird watch.

This tri-colored heron was one of the few birds that I could actually identify.  A lot of them just looked like 'seabirds' to my untrained eye.

There were so many pelicans swooping about.  I think there is something prehistoric about the appearance of these birds.  They fascinate me.  We also saw some sort of duck, migrating just off the shore in wave after wave.  There were literally hundreds of them flying past our cottage.  Don't know what they were, but Alton and I were both fascinated.

Speaking of a prehistoric appearance, how about this lovely old turtle?  He was hanging out with a few friends in one of the ponds in the wildlife refuge.

Probably the animals I was most excited about seeing were the dolphins we watched swimming just north of the Rodanthe Pier.  They were swimming near a group of surfers.  This was only the second time in my life that I'd seen dolphins in the wild, with the first time being on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  I could have watched those guys knifing through the waters for hours if they hadn't swam away from view.

That's all for tonight.  Stay dry and stay safe!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm back; Visiting the OBX

Hello everyone!  It's certainly been a while since I posted.  What can I say?  Life has been busy, and I haven't always felt about sharing what's been going on.  And sometimes I've felt like I couldn't share even if I wanted to.  My stitching is often for design models, and my personal was filled with the rather large task of applying to be adoptive parents.  That's right, Alton and I are hoping to adopt.  We were approved in December, and now we're just waiting for someone to choose us to raise their beloved child.  Some days I wonder if it will ever happen.  Other days I am perfectly at peace, trusting that God will provide us with a baby if and when it is the right time.  I'm sure I'll have more to share about the adoption process in the weeks and months to come, but for now, it's time for some vacation pictures!

Late last month, Alton and I spent a week staying in a cottage on Hatteras Island here in North Carolina.  For those who don't know, OBX is a shortened version of "Outer Banks," the barrier islands on North Carolina's coast.  We didn't have the warmest or sunniest weather while we were there, but we really enjoyed our vacation.  For one thing, it wasn't crowded at all!  It made me super happy that we could walk along the beaches and see no one else at all for long stretches of time.  And, it meant that we got to see a lot more wildlife than we probably would have otherwise.

We headed onto the islands around midday on a Saturday, and immediately stopped at the Bodie Island lighthouse.

The light had just opened for climbing this season on the day before we arrived.  Perfect timing!  It was a lot of stairs, and my asthma certainly made it a challenge to climb.  But the cool weather certainly made it easier to achieve than it would have been mid-summer!  The staircase is actually rather pretty when you look down from the top:

Sort of looks like a seashell pattern, doesn't it?  We took a selfie from the top.  Let me tell you, it is no easy task to take a picture of ourselves with the phone!  There is a foot difference in our heights, so Alton has to crouch a little, I have to stand on tiptoes, and sometimes you can tell we're working really hard at it.  The results sometimes frustrate me, but often just make me laugh.  Sort of like this one:

Odd expressions and all, I think you can tell we're enjoying ourselves.

We actually stayed in the town of Rodanthe, about a block from the house made 'famous' in the Richard Gere movie "Nights in Rodanthe."  No, we haven't seen the movie.  I thought about renting it for us to watch, but it sounds like a cheesy romance, and I really have to be in the right mood for that.  Each night we would open the windows in our bedroom just a little bit and listen to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.  I loved that!  I find that sound so relaxing and peaceful.

Just down the beach from us, in plain view from the cottage, was the Chicamacomico lifesaving station.  Isn't that a cool looking building?  It's the oldest building on the station's sight, and I really love it's unusual look.  The site is now a museum (the station was decommissioned in the 1950s) and we were able to tour several buildings.  In the summer, they do lifesaving drills to show what it would have been like if they had to rescue people from a distressed ship.

Inside the Midgett house, which is on the station grounds, we saw this piece of needlework hanging in one of the bedrooms.  I've never seen anything quite like it.  It's obviously a piece of feed sack with thick wool yarn drawn through it.  Some sort of early 20th century sampler?  A pillow case?  I'm just not sure!  It's interesting though.

We also visited the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, which is the tallest brick lighthouse in North America.  We climbed it too.  Even more steps!  But the views from the top were quite lovely.  You could even see the path that the lighthouse took when they moved it away from the shore back in the 1990s.

We completed our 'lighouse tour' with a visit to Ocracoke Lighthouse on Ocracoke Island.  This one is significantly shorter than the other two we climbed, and it's not open to the public, so no more stairs for us!  Ocracoke was an interesting island to visit.  We saw the lighthouse, the downtown harbor, toured the local historical society's tiny museum, and saw the graveyard where four British sailors were buried in the 1940s. We even found a tiny little museum about Blackbeard the pirate, who was killed just off the shore from this island.

A few months ago, I discovered this website called Roadside America that lists weird roadside attractions from all over the United States.  There were quite a few on the Outer Banks, and I think we saw every one of them listed for the southern islands, including this weird ufo house, complete with odd yard art.  What makes someone decide to build something like this, lol?

We also spent an afternoon exploring the dunes around this abandoned life saving station on Pea Island.  It's boarded up, and they've removed the stairs to the porch, so you can't go inside.  It was interesting to walk around it though.  And from there you can walk up to the mouth of the Oregon Inlet.  We stood on a beach that was entirely empty, but you could see that a massive number of birds had occupied the beach in recent days.  The sand was covered in bird footprints, and, um, bird poo.  Must have been a sight to see when the sands were covered by the birds themselves.

Well, I guess that's enough sharing for today.  We left the Outer Banks the day after an impressive spring storm.  The surf had come up amazingly high that night, and the road off the island was covered with patches of sand.  Nature's power is awe inspiring at times like that!  Til next time (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later), enjoy your days and stay safe!