North Carolina Hwy 12 is one of the prettiest in the country once you get out of Nags Head.
We made it! After surviving a night in West Virginia, being just awed at the architecture and surroundings of Washington D.C., going full tourist in Williamsburg, VA, plus getting a bona fide history lesson in Jamestowne, we arrived in the Outer Banks safe and sound. It had been way too long since I’ve visited this North Carolina treasure, and experiencing it with Miss Madison was more than I could have ever asked for. Our visit was way too short (two nights, three days), but we made the most of it. All of that great Virginia weather we had the previous two days decided to go on hiatus but we channeled our inner Marine and improvised!
Hey I’m getting the hang of this PicMonkey thingy!
Our accommodations for both nights were at the Cypress House Inn Bed & Breakfast. I’ve never stayed at a B & B, but anytime I’m ever travelling sans Sloane and Miss Madison’s children, this will be our new go-to for lodging. Super cheap (it is the “off season” which definitely helped), and I got to meet Bill. Big Bad Bill has to be one of the most interesting characters I’ve ever come across. Pretty sure he is a former college professor/engineer who spent time in upstate New York and 25 years working in the D.C. area. He has no love lossed fighting D.C. traffic, is a history savant, and loved his NCAA basketball. Like me he’s someone that fell in love with the area only he had the ability to do something about it! This guy is sharp as a tack and what few conversations I had with him, I learned something every time.
Bill and the rest of the denizens of the Cypress Inn were all rooting for my beloved Indiana Hoosiers during their battle against rival University of Kentucky (we won that game, but took a butt kicking against the University of North Carolina later on), and his wife Veda fixed some amazing grub both mornings. Am awesome selection of fruit as an appetizer and followed by a hash brown crusted quiche on day one and some French toast the second day that would make you think Veda had perfected her craft in Paris. If you are ever in the area and looking for some where to lay your weary head, swing on in and tell them that some crazy Hoosier named Gary recommended it. You might get a cross look and reminded to not pace the floor like an expecting parent over a silly basketball game, but I’m pretty sure he won’t hold that again you.
Skipah gives this place two thumbs up and just remembered he needs to write a review on tripadvisor.com!
We arrived late afternoon and, to kill some time before dinner, it was time to go beach combing! Mr. Skipah has nose (literally) for amassing sea shells and this time was no different. What was different is, in March, the Atlantic Ocean is COLD! Thankfully no rogue waves crashed while I was coordinating kamikaze runs in to the surf to grab some mundane oyster shell. I’ve heard local legend of the occasional conch shell washing ashore and I treat this like my own personal golden unicorn, and every time I’ve been here I keep a keen eye out for one. I thought my chances would dramatically improve with fewer visitors in March, but alas I came home conchless but with plenty of memories and pictures!
I was yelling across the pond to all my European friends!
Dinner that evening was at a local favorite known as the Blue Moon Beach Grill, with visions of crab cakes & tuna dancing in my head, I instead stepped out on a limb and opted for the mystery many of us Midwesterners only know as the fish taco. Landlubbers’ reading this it is not a mystery; it is culinary euphoria that I could go on for 2500 words about. It was loaded with locally caught Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish if you are feeling technical) and some kind of local sauce that I would drink out of a straw if they offered it. Needless to say, the Blue Moon is now officially on Skipah’s radar for OBX eateries. Miss Madison opted for boring pasta and really enjoyed it; then proceeded to throw her empty pint glass at me to get me to shut the hell up about the deliciousness of the fish tacos.
Were have fish tacos been all my life? How come nobody has turned me on to this culinary gold yet?
The next day was our only full day in the Outer Banks and we were off to Roanoke Island and the city of Manteo. While not technically a part of the OBX Island chain, the town of Manteo alone is worth the 15 minute drive. First, though, we hit Fort Raleigh National Park to see if we could find the skeleton of Virginia Dare or any other remnants of these mysterious Englishmen of the original “Lost Colony.” Like many before us, we saw a few clues but nothing concrete and headed to the “recreated” Roanoke Island exhibit to see if we could put two and two together.
The Roanoke Island Festival Park is very affordable, somewhat historical, and 100% cheesiness. First stop was through the fake Indian village that I think Sloane and her third grade buddies could do a better job recreating with Legos and construction paper. The Elizabeth II vessel was a pretty good re-creation, and the captain of the ship (actively sails twice a year) was very informative and had an answer for all our questions about modern navigation on a ship was sea worthy 400 years ago. The settlers’ village was another hokey creation, but the blacksmith did manage to make Miss Madison a 17th century version of a nail. The museum was worth the price of admission though, as it told the areas vast history from the early days of settlement up until present day. Also, if you are packing kids along there are plenty of interactive exhibits to ease their boredom of seeing plastic Indian huts and fake burlap.
The ship was cool, the museum even cooler, the villages sillier than paint tasting contest! I got to cross off fake duck hunting from my bucket list so I’ve got that going for me!
Manteo! Not pictured Miss Madison spending over 20,000 grand window shopping!
Sam and Omie’s has a tasty Yellowfin tuna sandwich.
With Manteo in the rear view mirror and our bellies fully replenished with some proper OBX seafood it was time to make the 45 minute journey to Buxton, NC to take in the Cape Hatteras lighthouse and seashore. I’ve only made this drive once (during tourist season it’s more like 90 minutes), and I forgot just how freaking big this lighthouse is. It’s huge! Miss Madison and I were ready to make the climb to the top but it wasn’t open for the season yet. Instead we were more than happy to walk around on the National Seashore fighting gale force winds and eating sand for dessert.
Majestic, and my finest sea shell score ever!
After watching some basketball and conversing with Big Bad Bill on how nuts University of Kentucky fans really are, Miss Madison and I headed out to the highly recommended Kill Devil Grill for a celebratory dinner and good company. Mr. Skipah the seafood blogger was all in on the crab cakes, and if you are a beer connoisseur there are plenty of local microbrews they like to feature. So far the only disappointment of the whole day was the Austin Seafood Company wasn’t due to open for a couple of more days and I didn’t get to eat any of their world famous crab cakes while I was there. The Kill Devil Grill more than filled this void!
These crab cakes more than made up for my earlier disappointment!
About it for now, I’ve got to more photos to edit, and wait until I tell you that time in Corolla, NC when Miss Madison tried to chase a wild horse!