Well, trying to catch up on the stuff we did while on the Outer Banks even though we’ve been home for a month, and gone camping again since then. Lady CurbCrusher used to be a huge lighthouse fan. Over the past few years the fad has waned in the CurbCrusher household, but we still visit lighthouses when the opportunity presents itself. The trip to the Outer Banks gave us the chance to visit four lighthouse, two of which you can climb.
We started our tour by driving as far north as you can on paved roads on the Outer Banks and visited Currituck lighthouse. The trip from Waves was not too bad, the worst part is driving through Duck. In Duck there are no sidewalks and you are separated from the pedestrians, strollers and bikes by a white line painted in the road. So traveling through Duck is done somewhere around the speed of a snail. We stopped at the Currituck visitor center where we were greeted by a way too enthusiastic man that wanted to make sure we knew everything about Currituck that could be visited. We really only wanted to know two things: where is the lighthouse, and can you see the wild horses without driving down the beach. He answered the first question, then said there was a board walk where you could “sometimes” see the horses (We went to the boardwalk, we walked the whole boardwalks, we didn’t see horses, nor do we really believe that anyone has ever seen horses from the boardwalk.) He then proceeded to start talking about ever house, museum and place to visit in Currituck. We finally excused ourselves and left the visitors center.
The lighthouse is open for climbing, yes there was a fee. We went on a Monday and were there around 9:30 and did not wait in line. One of the people there told us that the busiest days were Wednesday and Thursday, when the wait could be 45 minutes to an hour. If I recall correctly, there were 256 stairs to the top, and then the views was fantastic. The pictures of our visit are here.
Following our visit in Currituck, we headed down the coast to Bodie Island light. This lighthouse is located on the Cape Hatteras National Shore, which runs along the Outer Banks for a good ways. You can not climb this lighthouse, but you can walk all the way around it, and the old keepers quarters are house a gift shop. Since there is no climbing, there is no fee, and our visit was fairly short. Pictures of our visit are here.
Well two down and two to go at this point. We took the rest of the day off, and then headed back on the lighthouse trail the next morning. South this time, down past Cape Hatteras Lighthouse to the ferry that takes you to Ocracoke Island. After about 45 minutes “at sea” you arrive at Ocracoke island.
The Ocracoke Island light is another one you just get to look at. It is down a little road to the left as you travel from the ferry landing to the town of Ocracoke. You walk down a path, take a couple of pictures and then head back. We didn’t hang around Ocracoke for very long, we visited the Pirate House since Little CurbCrusher had an interest, had some lunch and headed back towards the ferry.
The big grandaddy of all lighthouse, Cape Hatteras. This lighthouse is in the National Seashore also, but climbing is allowed. It was a bit of an ordeal to climb the lighthouse, but that was mostly the result of the National Park Service having no idea how to deal with a tornado warning.
We arrived at the lighthouse around 2PM and purchased tickets for the climb at 2:30. We wandered over to the museum/keepers house. As we were wandering around the museum, we heard over the NPS radio at the information desk that a waterspout had been sighted. This was followed by the announcement over the radio that a tornado warning was being issued. In turn, was followed was bunch of people asking what that meant. After about five minutes someone decided that they needed to close the lighthouse to climbers, and everyone was encouraged to seek shelter. By this time its about 2:15, and we’ve figured out that we’re probably not going to get a 2:30 climb in. Our big question was “Will the tickets be honored in the order they were issued, or do we need to go to the ticket booth and get a refund/swap in the tickets.” The first two rangers we asked could not answer the question. The third one was more helpful, his response: “No one knows what is going on. We are running around like chickens with our heads cut off because of the weather. But I will get you an answer if you’ll wait right here.” And true to his word, he returned in about three minutes with the answer that when the lighthouse re-opened, they would be working on tickets that were valid for the time it re-opened, not any prior tickets.
The weather did not look too bad. We had driven through some rain on our way from the south, but it was moving to the south. So I just traded in the tickets for a 3:00 climb. About 2:45, they opened the lighthouse back up, and we were able to climb to the top, take some pictures and enjoy the view. Afterward we drove over to the site where the lighthouse had been moved from a few years back, and finally ended our second day of lighthouse visiting.