FORTUNATE ENOUGH. If you’re fortunate enough to travel, you’re fortunate enough. Adventure is limited only to your imagination and mine was stretched on the ultimate road trip as my family made our semi-annual journey to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. With 400 years of history and 125-miles of Atlantic coast beaches, it is well worth the 24-hour drive from my Oklahoma roots, with plenty to offer along the way. So, jump on I-40 and let me take you there.
It’s not uncommon for my dad to take an unscheduled detour on our journey. To my mom’s horror we took an exit that’s not on her itinerary. It included a stop at Graceland followed by a two-hour side-trip to explore the Linville Gorge…only to find that it was closed! Eventually we ended up at our destination in the quaint town of Duck, North Carolina bordered by the Atlantic on one side and the Currituck Sound on the other. We enjoyed our days boogie boarding, bike riding, and fishing. The afternoon is spent at Currituck Lighthouse. At 162-feet tall, I could see the miles of beaches on the thin strip of land known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The following days would include other lighthouses: Bodie Island, Cape Hatteras and the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the U.S., Ocracoke.
When not touring lighthouses, we visited places like Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head, the tallest sand dune east of the Mississippi River and rumored to conceal the buried treasure of Blackbeard. Tales of pirates abound in Nags Head including the one credited for its namesake. Pirates roamed the beaches at night with lanterns tied around the neck of an old nag causing ships to mistake them for lighthouses and run them into the shore.
History buffs would enjoy the tour of the Wright Brother’s Memorial in Kitty Hawk where the first human flight in an aircraft was taken in 1903. Also of interest was the outdoor drama “The Lost Colony” on Roanoke Island where the first child of the New World was born and legends are told of the disappearance of 115 colonists. The drama is a haunting recap of the struggles faced by early settlers and the mystery of their demise.
All too soon it was time to make the long journey home but our trip was not complete without a weekend stop near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina. We spent a morning rafting the lazy currents of the French Broad River followed by a visit to the historic Biltmore Estate, the largest privately owned residence in America. Although our third visit, we never tire of seeing the 8,000-acres of manicured grounds. Constructed in 1897, the modern conveniences were before their time including a 70,000-gallon indoor swimming pool, a bowling alley and 43 bathrooms!
Our final stop was Chimney Rock Park near Lake Lure. Novices will be thankful for the elevator that carries you to the top of the 315-foot granite slab that gives the park its name. At the top was a 75-mile view that wraps up our vacation with nothing less than perfection.
Although, my family is never to mention the Linville Gorge detour in my mom’s presence, our trip to the Outer Banks made memories that will be with me for the rest of my life. I’ve learned everything from surviving a 24-hour car ride to awareness of unplanned adventures. The possibilities are endless, limited only to our imagination. That is why I am fortunate enough.
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