April 20th was a beautiful cool day with bright Carolina blue skies. After the first two days of foggy weather it was a welcome change and it took us awhile to get in gear to go. There was laundry to be done but it was just nice to sit and read and take our time at breakfast. When we finally got motivated to go we headed to Buxton Woods, a maritime forest. It is an easy hike with much of it covered with tree canopy but my toes curled when I saw the sign warning about cottonmouth snakes. While Don is very observant I tend to walk around with a camera virtually attached to my face and I often "miss" things. I did not want to step on one. But that didn't get me to put the camera down and I did spot one...far away down on a little island in a pond. He was asleep. Don and I talking about him woke him up and he didn't look please to see us. We continued on though and didn't see another. The signage is informative and the hike is a nice one. We did notice though that the Buxton Woods Conservancy had another trail that was more extensive so we left that for another day.
|As soon as you enter the trail there is a tree canopy|
|The signs are informative and some are "decorated". This little guy inched along the top of this sign and then when he got to the end looked around for a place to go...|
|Through the brush down in a pond I spied what looked like a snake. Zooming in with my camera lens I could see it was...a snake, sleeping and far away from us...|
|But the poor guy couldn't get a nap in with the humans yakking about whether he was poisonous or not!|
|The first decent picture I got of a dragonfly|
|looking out across the marsh|
|a walkway over the wetlands|
|We did not know and could not find out if this is natural or if the trees with this bark had a disease. We suspect the former but they were really beautiful.|
|There were not a lot of flowers in bloom but at one point I happened to look up and see these climbing toward the light|
|As we were leaving I noticed this trees branches. Seen from another angle they looked simply like two branches but this way I got the impression the tree was dancing|
So our day was done and we went back to the campground, hung out talking with some new campers and went to bed early since we were going to Okracoke Island the next day...
April 21 another absolutely perfect day. The sky was bright blue, there was a little breeze and the temperature was a comfortable 72 F/22 C. After breakfast we got into the car and drove south to the ferry that would take us to Okracoke. It wasn't scheduled to leave for awhile so I we visited some of the stores near it and found some local products to give as house presents to people we'd be visiting. The ride over was beautiful. The people parked in front of us had 3 adorable children who kept us entertained with their excitement. The drive from the ferry into the town is quite long and once again bordered by dunes and water on each side. There is a preserve for ponies as well and we passed it on the way, making a note to stop on our way back. By this time we were hungry and ready for lunch. We found a restaurant on the water and had a nice lunch, while talking first to our table mates who were two women who'd been laid off from their jobs and had decided to take a few months to travel and see the country and then the waiter who works each summer and saves his money so he can travel and go mountain climbing. He's off to Mt Kilimanjaro this fall. We strolled through town a bit before getting back on the road back to the ferry but stopped along the way first to see the ponies and then to walk out onto the incredibly HUGE beach. Then on to the ferry and a LONG, long wait. It seemed everyone had decided at the same time to go back and 2 ferries came and went before we finally got on.
Gulls follow the boats both ways
This little guy was just the cutest!
Passing a ferry going back
with the Teddy Bear :-)
The road into Okracoke
Pelican at the restaurant-I miss pelicans. They were such a part of my childhood.
Where we ate lunch
Nicer than some tiny sign you don't see until someone yells at you
The Okracoke Ponies
New grass planted on the dunes
patterns from the winds
There were thousands of trees uprooted during Hurricane Irene and washed up on the shore
and all over the bay
The beach was seriously huge, I almost got tired walking to the water
Don and Phoenix got there long before I did
As we traveled back across the bay there were gulls following and pelicans diving. This gull seems to have decided that the easy way to get a meal was to let the pelican dive for it and then he'd grab it. It didn't work. The pelican swallowed it before he could.
When we finally got back to Kinnakeet we decided to go for a walk on the beach after dinner. The wind was blowing the sand all over and people were flying kites-though not successfully because the winds were too strong.
When we went to Buxton Woods we had noticed that, in addition to the NPS hiking trail, there was a larger area administrated by the Buxton Woods Conservancy and decided to go back to explore it. But, Don wanted to ride his bike, so he rode to the Hatteras Lighthouse and Cadbury, Phoenix and I drove over to pick him up and continue to the woods.
Once again it was a beautiful day with a bit of chill in the air so it was great for his bike ride. We had a bit of trouble with the directions and ended up on a road far from the main route (well, as far as one can get on a barrier island) but ultimately found an entrance. We parked and started up into the woods and Don spied a bald eagle soaring above us.
We had seen them when we lived on the Hudson River in NY, in fact Richard and Don came within 6 feet of one feasting on a fish on the river bank but had not seen them when we lived on Long Island. Since we are both of an age that most of our lives the Bald Eagle was endangered it is still a thrill to see them. They are magnificent raptors. We continued our walk through the woods, Cadbury liking it only in parts,
we saw new growth loblolly pines - the dominant tree in this important maritime forest. Loblollies are used primarily for lumber and pulp wood because they are fast growing, but important as well to protecting this area.
along a ridge and then down through a valley and back to the car where we saw a tortoise making his way across the road.
and fungus growing on a log. (Fair Warning: I find fungi and mushrooms to be beautiful and take pictures of almost every one. These posts will be peppered with them.)
We returned to the campground and I rode up to the Mad Crabber to pick us up a dinner to go which we ate at our site. I then noticed it was almost sunset so set off again to the bay to watch it. There was a lone kiteboarder in the water and a collection of people at the berm watching what would be a beautiful sunset.
And then it was time to get our rig ready for the next leg: a ride up to Corolla, on Currituck the northernmost island, an overnight with Don's cousin in Camden and then on to Williamsburg VA