Traveling to the Outer Banks

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We go to New England for many (most) of our vacations.  And although I’m dreaming international, or cross country, local get-aways  keep me motivated.  Last week we headed south.  The upper Chesapeake is part of our usual two-day trips.  Rarely (in recent years) do we venture further South. This trip was different.    Our first stop was a Hampton Inn in Fruitland-Salisbury MD.  Diane and I usually don’t stay in these chains.  But we had points, many points actually, from our stay in Ann Arbor in the Fall.  So the room was free.  And surprise, we liked it.  The staff were extremely friendly, you know what your get, breakfast was good.  The woman at the desk said the hotel was frequently a “pit stop.”  Perfect for us, in and out.  In the future, we will  use points for other pit stops. We found a decent lunch in Salisbury (The Market Street Inn) and had dinner at Evolution Brewery not far from the Hampton.  Strip mall traveling. .

The Eastern Shore drive through Delaware, Maryland and eventually Virginia toward the Outer Banks has a unique local flavor. Lots of trailers, RV sales, small garden sheds for sale, all kinds of auto and truck sales and repairs.  Most places are “mom and pop” and not national chains. It hasn’t changed in decades.  I’d forgotten about the Chesapeake Bay bridge and tunnel. Wow,an amazing engineering project.  Our weather was beautiful.

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Passing through Virginia Beach (we went there once with the Bonnema’s for a craft show back in the 1970s).   Otherwise not on our radar.  Route 158 toward the Outer Banks has quite a few large farm stands, lots of bill boards advertising seafood and shore activities. I search for a local flavor.

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We arrived. Kitty Hawk. What a surprise.  The main highway is one shopping center after another.  Restaurants, auto services, furniture stores, vacation activities — the best of “Route 1.”  Diane was hungry so we stopped at Henry’s — seniors very welcomed, but I’ll. admit  it was ok.  Then to the Cyprus Moon Inn.  It’s right off the bridge, south, in a small wooded neighborhood on the Sound.

Linda and Greg, the innkeepers, are our age.  They built two houses on the site.  The grounds are overgrown, many large pots of aging plants, aging cedar or cyprus steps and siding.  The rooms were pleasant; porches overlooking the Sound were fantastic.  Breakfast was an tray of fruit and pastry, room coffee, provided the night before.   All pretty informal and casual.  The wind on the Sound was amazing.  Loud and rough.  No kayaking for a few days.

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Day one we drive north to Duck and Corolla.  This is off season but traffic is still slow.  Houses were closer, bigger, more uniform than we had expected.  Our joke was the architects designed with legos.  Not much variation, maybe the color.  At the end of the road we saw the Corolla lighthouse and a few historic buildings, shops. Not much. Only off road vehicles further north.

Day two we drove South.  To Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  It’s not Cape Cod.  We walked around a lighthouse and a birding area.  There are small towns (?) almost.  We went as far as Avon.  Lots of sports, boating, fishing — we watched kite surfing. We did find a great sandwich shop , Brothers, tuna subs with a local sauce.  We tried to eat on the ocean beach but black flies drove us back to the car.  Land wind as we get in New Jersey.  Found a sound access and sat in the sun for a while.  But this is not Cape Cod.  Few access places, just not as user friendly.

Initially we were worried about restaurants on the Outer Banks but we found quite a few with good seafood.  Soft shell crabs were coming in, had I one as an appetizer at Steamers and talked to the owner-chef.  He was buying 600 a day from Randy who had them peel in a tub (ironically near our B and B).  You can clean the crabs or not, and freeze them.  The harvest will be only about a week. Other restaurants,  the Blue Point in Duck and RJs in Kitty Hawk, were both very good. Only one disappointment:  The Salt Box.  Interesting, one night we were shut out due to a wine dinner, ambience and location seemed right, but the chef didn’t know how to cook fresh Rock fish or soft shells.  Very sad.

Day three we headed to Roanoke Island.  Finally a small town, Manteo, with harbor, restaurants,  shops, a few bed and breakfasts (we could have stayed here).  Listened to a great lost colony story by a park ranger at Raleigh Park.  In season they put on a play.  Stopped in a nature center and then drove to Wanachee, a small fishing village (not much), mostly commercial fishing.  Diane did some shopping in Manteo, I bought chocolates and ice cream.

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Each day we returned to Cyprus Moon.  Rested, enjoyed the porch on the Sound,  When the wind calmed down, it would have been kayak friendly.  Not everyone would enjoy the “casualness” of Cyprus Moon.  It bothered Diane more than me but the owners were close to us.  It was an interesting stay off the main road.

Next day.  Rain.  We headed north.

The Mansion House in Snow Hill had a familiar feel.  We checked in, a sound room with a view.  The piano “bar” was still there. George was a familiar face.  We ate downtown, local music venue, not bad food.  Next day drove out to Assateague.  Sun holding out. Walked in dunes, on the beach.  Ponies.  Lunch in Berlin, musical festival.

Overall Snow Hill is a nice stop on the way home.

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We had lunch on Sunday, at Dogfish in Rehoboth. It almost seemed a bit seedy but the food was still good. Rehoboth is interesting; shades of Long Beach Island, but a boardwalk and downtown, maybe we could spend a week here.

Overall a good explore.

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