Category Archives: North Carolina

OBX 4 – Currituck Lighthouse

Our last stop in the Outer Banks was to the Currituck Lighthouse.  We drove through Duck, NC into Corolla Village.


This red-brick lighthouse towers above the northern Outer Banks landscape and visitors can climb the winding staircase, 214 steps in all, to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of Currituck Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Outer Banks.


The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is known as a first order lighthouse, which means it has the largest of seven Fresnel lens sizes. With a 20-second flash cycle (on for 3 seconds, off for 17 seconds), the light can be seen for 18 nautical miles. The distinctive sequence enables the lighthouse not only to warn mariners but also to help identify their locations. Like the other lighthouses on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, this one still serves as an aid to navigation. The beacon comes on automatically every evening at dusk and ceases at dawn.

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To distinguish the Currituck Beach Lighthouse from other regional lighthouses, its exterior was left unpainted and gives today’s visitor a sense of the multitude of bricks used to form the structure. The Currituck Beach Lighthouse was the last major brick lighthouse built on the Outer Banks.

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Lighthouse Facts

Number of steps: 214

Height to focal plane of lens: 158 feet

Height to top of roof: 162 feet

Number of bricks: approximately one million

Thickness of wall at base: 5 feet 8 inches

Thickness of wall at parapet: 3 feet

Position: 34 miles south of the Cape Henry Lighthouse (VA), 32 1/2 miles north-northwest of Bodie Island Lighthouse Coast Survey

Chart: 36° 22’36″ N latitude, 75° 49’51″ W longitude.

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OBX 3 – Wright Bros Memorial

IMG_0145After we left the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse we drove north into Nag’s Head.  Since Mr. Dan is a pilot and talks about flying his planes to the boys and Pixar is releasing a movie called Airplanes this summer, I thought that it would be fun for the boys to learn a little about the first flight ever taken.


A 60-foot (18 m) granite monument, dedicated in 1932, is perched atop 90-foot-tall (27 m) Kill Devil Hill, commemorating the achievement of the Wright brothers. They conducted many of their glider tests on the massive shifting dune that was later stabilized to form Kill Devil Hill. Inscribed in capital letters along the base of the memorial tower is the phrase “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.” Atop the tower is a marine beacon, similar to one found in a lighthouse.








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OBX 2 – Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

IMG_0135Rise and Shine!  The sun is out and the weather couldn’t be more beautiful.  Today we continue our exploration of the Outer Banks.  The lighthouse wasn’t open just yet so we checked out of the motel and headed south to the town of Hatteras.  It’s the furthest point you can drive, from here you take a ferry over to Ocracoke.  There is a lighthouse here and I was sad that we were going to miss it.  The boys and I stopped at a café, grabbed a few lattes, a smoothie, a few breakfast pastries and headed back to visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.








Here’s a little more history about the lighthouses from the OBX.  The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast. Offshore of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada. This current forces southbound ships into a dangerous twelve-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals. Hundreds and possibly thousands of shipwrecks in this area have given it the reputation as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.   The lighthouse is 210 foot height makes it the tallest brick lighthouse structure in the United States and 29th in the world.  The National Park Service acquired ownership of the lighthouse when it was abandoned in 1935. In 1950, when the structure was again found safe for use, new lighting equipment was installed. Now the Coast Guard owns and operates the navigational equipment, while the National Park Service maintains the tower as a historic structure.  1,250,000 bricks were used in construction of the lighthouse and it is 248 steps to the top.










In 1999, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse had to be moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,870 feet (870 m) inland. Due to erosion of the shore, the lighthouse was just 120 feet from the ocean’s edge and was in imminent danger.  The Cape Hatteras Light House Station Relocation Project became known as “The Move of the Millennium.”  It is the tallest masonry structure ever moved (200 feet tall and weighing 5,000 tons).  The boys and I walked out to the original location, it was very close to the water and the Park Ranger told us that the lighthouse would not have survived Hurricane Sandy.

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OBX 1 – Bodie Lighthouse

IMG_0109After we left South Carolina, the boys and I headed eight hours north and east over to the Outer Banks.  This is one place that I always wanted to go see and since the boys and I are on a lighthouse mission, this just seemed like the best next stop.  By the time we arrived it was later in the afternoon and the sky was overcast and windy.  This first lighthouse that we came to was the Bodie Lighthouse.  This current lighthouse is the third that has stood in this vicinity of Bodie Island on the Outer Banks in North Carolina and was built in 1872. It stands 156 feet (48 m) tall and is located on the Roanoke Sound side of the first island that is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. While some people (including North Carolinians not from the Outer Banks) pronounce the name with a long “o” sound, it is traditionally pronounced as body. This is derived from the original name of the area, which was “Bodies Island”, after the Body family from whom the land was purchased. Folklore would have you believe it is due to the number of dead sailors washed ashore from this portion of the Atlantic Ocean, which is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic.  An impressive array of ships have been sunk due to storms, shoals, and German U-boats in World War II.





Our next stop was the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  This lighthouse is right next to our motel, so we thought we would swing by and check it out.  Due to lightening in the area we were not allowed up into the lighthouse, so we wandered down to the beach and the boys ran off some of their energy from the long car ride.

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We checked into the motel, the boys went for a swim, we grabbed a pizza for dinner at a local arcade, and called it a day.

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Enjoying The View

Day two of our trip to the mountains, consisted of a drive through Smoky Mountain National Park.  We were hoping that the higher that we went in elevation, the more the leaves would have changed their color and the temperature would be cooler…we were right.  Sometimes it is a little hard for us to tell whether the fog over the mountains is lifting or if it is moving in to stay.  Instead of stopping at a few look out points on the way over to the other side, we decided that we would wait it out and see if the visibility improved at all.  It didn’t, in fact it got worse.  That was okay though, it all added to the fall experience.  We stopped at Newfoundland Gap for a few photos, but the wind cutting through was freezing and we all raced back to the car…. 🙂












The view from Aunt Barbara’s deck.


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Off To The Biltmore Estate

This year for Columbus Day weekend, mom and I decided to take the boys north to feel a little fall.  With only a couple of days to play, we thought that one day in Asheville would be a great stop.  We had lunch downtown, stopped and wandered through a small festival, and then headed over to the Biltmore.  Davy loves history, so visiting the Biltmore Estate or ‘the big house’ as he called it was just his kind of thing.  They even had a children’s pamphlet which gave clues on each level to play I Spy. We went on the tour, stopped in the gift shop, and then drove around the property, it really is so beautiful there.  For dinner, we headed back to Franklin and met up with Aunt Barbara and Ikey at Fat Buddies…Yum!





Davy gets a hold of my camera while waiting in line to enter….














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Memorial Day Weekend 2011 – Chimney Rock

Davy just finished his last day of school and with a long weekend ahead of us, we decided to pack up and spend the weekend in North Carolina.  Davy loves the mountains so much and we had the time, so this gift was for him.  After we had our celebratory lunch, we went home and packed the car, and we were off.  The ride up was easy and we pulled in around 11pm.  Here’s sweet Matty sleeping on the way up.

When we woke up on Saturday morning, we decided to head over to Asheville and do a little exploring.  We stopped at the BP for a cup of coffee and a sausage biscuit and then headed out.  We figured by the time we got there it would be the perfect time for brunch.  Asheville has so many independent places to eat at, but we had such a great meal at Tupelo Honey the last time we decided to take mom there so she could see it for herself.

As we pulled into Asheville, we saw a sign for the Asheville Farmers Market!  In the spirit of being spontaneous, we decided to go and check it out.  I love Farmer’s Markets.  There were several different hangers all filled with produce, plants, meats, jams, jellies, honey, etc.  We were not disappointed and ended up having a honey taste test.  Yum!  We bought Blueberry Honey, pure Wildflower Honey, Sourwood Honey, and some Hotter than Hell Chow Chow.

We were officially starving so off to Tupelo Honey.  It was actually a good thing that we stopped because they didn’t open until after 9.  We had a half hour wait, so the boys played across the street.

Once you sit down at the table, they bring out biscuits, jelly, and honey.  Here are the boys eating theirs.  For brunch I had a sweet potato pecan pancake, mom had a grilled chicken sandwich, and Andy had fried chicken with biscuits and red-eye gravy.

We decided today that we would check out Chimney Rock; so we headed southeast out of Asheville and about 25 miles later we were there.  Chimney Rock is located in Chimney Rock State Park and is apart of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.  The rock is at and elevation of 2, 280 and you can see out up to 75 miles.  When climbing up to Chimney Rock it is roughly 400 stairs.  We parked at the bottom, took a bus to the entrance and then began our climb.  Davy and I went ahead first, Andy carried Matty, and mom followed in the rear.

Here’s Davy and I half way up to Chimney Rock.

Now, when you get to Chimney Rock lookout, of course there is a trail to go even higher and we weren’t going to give up there.  We had to go to the top to check it out!  Exclamation Point is at an elevation of 2,480 ft and is the pinnacle of the park, and essentially we just hiked 3/4’s of mile straight up.  We were so proud of Davy and Matty.  Davy didn’t complain one time, in fact he loved it, and little Matty wanted to hike it too…he’s just a little slow.  Here we are at the top.  :O)

After we hiked back down to the entrance of the trail, we met up with mom and decided to hike on over to Hickory Nut Falls.  It was also 3/4 of a mile to get there; meaning that we ended up hiking 3 miles today.  This waterfall is one of the highest falls east of the Mississippi.

By the time we got back to the bus we were hot and tired….but we were so glad that we went the extra distance.  The views and the waterfall were beautiful.  At the Chimney Rock lookout we spotted Lake Lure and decided to drive over and get a better look at it.  There was a really cute little village, a beautiful resort, and a beach on the lake.  This beach reminded me of one that you would see in a movie.  It was very clean, crowded, lots of things to do, and with a gorgeous backdrop.  Matty fell asleep in the car, Davy took one look at the water slides, and we had to stop for him.  :O)

One of the neatest things that they had here on the beach was a water balloon firing station.  You could purchase the balloons at the check-in desk, the kids would fill them up with water, and then they would launch them at each other.  Davy loved this!

After we left the lake, we headed back towards Asheville.  All of us were starving so we stopped at their local Mellow Mushroom for some pizza.  Yum Yum!!!  The weather was beautiful so we ate outside.  Today was a great adventurous day!!!














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Western North Carolina Fun

This summer we took a family vacation up to North Carolina. As Davy would say, “we love going to the mountains” and as any parent of young children know, when on vacation there really isn’t any down time…especially with boys.  This trip was no different.  From the moment we mentioned to Davy that we would be going to the “mountains”, he more or less had our trip planned. 

The one activity that we did the most was hiking.  We were so proud of him.  From smaller hikes in the National Park, or to our longest hike Glen Falls.  This trail goes straight down the mountain and then you have to hike straight back up the mountain, a little over two miles and he didn’t complain once.

 One our favorite outings this trip was renting a pontoon boat on Fontana Lake.  The boys had such a good time running around the boat, driving the boat, jumping off the boat, and the weather and scenery were just gorgeous.  The lake stretches from the Nantahala River, to the Little Tennessee River, and backs up the National Park.  We were expecting the water to be cold; however, if I didn’t know any better I would say that it was warmer than our pool.  We also got to see the Great Smoky Mountain Train go by; the passengers waved at Davy, he was so excited and waved back.


Other activities that we did were:

  • Waterfalls
  • Drove to Highlands to walk around
  • Drove to Glenville Lake and Bear Lake
  • Played in the river in Cherokee
  • Gem Mining
  • Vegetable picking
  • Chased and caught Fireflies

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Smoky Mountain National Park

One of our favorite places to visit while in North Carolina  is the Smoky Mountain National Park.  This year we spent a lot of time in the park.  It was a great place to go with the boys.  We drove through to Gatlinburg, hiked at Newfound Gap, part of the Appalachian Trail, Laurel Falls, and Clingman’s Dome, played in a waterfall, and saw a few animals…beware of black bears while hiking!  Yikes!

Davy did such a good job hiking, he earned his first walking stick complete with trail badges.

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Boating on Lake Fontana

This outing was one of the boy’s favorite on our trip this summer.  We rented a pontoon boat for half of a day from Alarka Boat Dock outside of Bryson City.  It was surprisingly cheap and a lot of fun.  Lake Fontana is surrounded by either the Smoky Mountain National Park or the Nantahala National Park so the scenery is breathtaking.  While boating we saw some of the most gorgeous homes that lined the Little Tennessee River.  We saw the Great Smoky Mountain train and the passengers waved to Davy.  He was so excited and waved back.  Several times we stopped the boat to swim;  the water was cool and refreshing… We were expecting it to be stone cold since it is winter runoff, but if we didn’t know any better we would have said that it was warmer than our pool.  All in all the half day was the perfect amount of time to spend on the boat.  Next time we will bring an inner-tube and a fishing pole…

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