Over the weekend we enjoyed a nice getaway to the Outer Banks (OBX)! The kids and I had never been (gasp) so we loved checking it off the list and we always love being at our favorite place (the ocean!). We were so grateful Gramma could get away with us. We are all such beach lovers and it had been too long since we had seen the ocean.
It’s pretty crazy that we’ve been all around the country but had never been to the Outer Banks. We had to remedy that quickly before our 2019 travel year was over!
On Friday we started at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and learned all about Roanoke, the lost colony. This was a great start for our colonial history year of study that we will be doing as we travel the east coast in 2020. It’s been so great to watch the Lord direct our studies and we have truly loved this way of learning through travel and experience!!! In 2019, we also learned a lot of history but the major focus has certainly been science. So I feel like this weekend shifted us over to history and was a great start to the new year of travel.
Jamestown (think John Smith, Powhatan, Pocahontas, John Smith) may be the first permanent English settlement in North America but Roanoke was settled in 1587, 20 years before Jamestown. Sadly it was not a successful settlement and in 1590 when Governor John White came back to Roanoke Island (after returning to England looking for relief for the suffering colony)…the island was silent with only “Croatan” carved into a post and “CRO” carved into a tree. The colonists (including White’s daughter and granddaughter Virginia Dare who was the first English child born in America) had promised that if they left they would carve their destination into a tree. White said he tried to search and reach Croatan (now Hatteras/Ocracoke islands) after seeing those carvings but a hurricane prevented him from doing so. We know the feeling. The recent hurricane (Dorian) also prevented us from venturing down to Cape Hatteras, so instead we spent our weekend near Kitty Hawk.
Fort Raleigh also has this great outdoor theatre where they perform “The Lost Colony” and it looked great. We were sad to have missed it and definitely encourage you to see it and tell us about it when it’s season starts again.
So what ever happened to the lost colonists? Theories abound and the kids and I enjoyed reading the book they have in the visitor center where people all over the country have entered their own guesses.
Roanoke Island today has the towns of Manteo and Wanchese, named for 2 leaders of the Algonquin-speaking natives who helped the English settle on Roanoke. They even traveled with Sir Walter Raleigh after his first expedition to the area in 1854. (The settlement in 1857 was the 3rd of the Roanoke voyages). The stories of Manteo and Wanchese were interesting to read. Manteo had a better relationship with the English and was a great peacemaker between the cultures…while Wanchese seemed to be very fearful or very wise depending on how you view it and he kept his distance after returning to Roanoke. After Manteo’s 2nd trip to England, his fate, much like the colony’s, was lost to history.
Roanoke Island is also full of civil war history. The Union took over the island in 1862 and word quickly spread that runaway slaves could find safe haven on the island! Army Chaplain Horace James established a Freedmens Colony to prepare the liberated slaves for life after the war. Missionaries came as teachers and thousands of former slaves were educated and empowered here.
Finally, Roanoke Island was also the place where voice transmissions would first be able to be sent over the airwaves. An Inventor Reginald Fessenden was working from Manteo to try to send voice signals over the airwaves at the same time the Wright Brothers were testing out their gliders to fly – right across the sound from each other. Fessenden was successful in Manteo in 1902 and his voice was carried wireless over the air. Fun fact…. he would return to Massachusetts and in 1906 play the first live music over radio waves which was “Oh Holy Night”.
We got our 25th Junior Ranger badge:
and it was time for a break on the beach and to get out some energy:
We love these skate egg cases we find all the time now.
We found a place right down the road to eat called “I Got Your Crabs” and it had awesome reviews so we tried it out. It. Was. Such. A good find!!! We (me and B) have missed seafood so much this travel year and this was such a good treat for us! The food was so fresh, generously portioned, and at a great price. We are fans! We also loved the story of the restaurant and how the owner started crabbing at age 5, owned his first boat and commercial fishing license at 12, and continued this work all throughout high school to today (and he is still the one to crab daily in the sound). Go check them out in Kitty Hawk! It’s just a tiny little place in a strip mall.
Saturday morning we had another beach walk:
And then we were off for the Wright Brothers National Memorial. E in particular loves the Wright Brothers! The first time I ever really saw her “escape” into a book and get emotionally engaged was when she read the Wright Brothers. She was right there with them with the frustrations and discouragement and then excitement!
(For you adults that can’t get enough of the brothers – read David McCullough’s book on them)
What an incredible story of intelligence, curiosity, family, friendships, perseverance, and faith! Even the photo taken of the first flight is a miracle! The brothers must have been sooo excited when they developed this photo weeks after it was taken. Their new friend (who had never taken a picture before) not only had the perfect timing to capture the first moments in flight but he also got both brothers in the frame!
The area where they replicated that moment is very cool too. FYI we had permission from the ranger to climb all over it!
This memorial is the exact place where the plane took off:
And then the 4 stones that RR is strolling past are the 4 landing sights from each of the flights on Dec 17, 1903.
The landscape has changed so much since 1903. Back then it was just sand sand sand and more sand! And bugs bugs bugs. I enjoyed the park ranger program that explained the changing landscape. Here’s the view from the top of Kill Devil Hill, the dune where the Wright brothers first tested their gliders.
It was such a gorgeous day and it’s a beautiful monument!
I think the inscription that wraps around it says it all:
In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by Genius, achieved by Dauntless Resolution and Unconquerable Faith
Next up was Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Like I mentioned, we couldn’t venture too far south but we loved seeing the Bodie Lighthouse! It was so pretty especially with that Carolina blue sky behind it.
Finally to end the day we were off to Jockeys Ridge State Park, famous as the largest living sand dune on the east coast. B added hang gliding to the bucket list of things he wants to eventually do:
And we enjoyed walking around the dunes.
You know those children who just can’t stand to have sand sticking to them at.all.anywhere????? Well our children aren’t those types 🙂
They had a great time rolling and trying to get sand on every part of everywhere
I don’t know if I would like to be walking on these dunes in the heat of summer…. it would remind me too much of our months in the desert (prickly pear cactus and all!) haha …but it was so beautiful to be out there on this fall evening:
Sunday was a wash out but we enjoyed the NC aquarium on Roanoke before heading back to Rocky Mount:
It was a full and happy weekend !