Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Not Back to School: September 2007

Well as predicted, mother ocean called us back to visit and I couldn’t think of a better place than the Outer Banks in North Carolina. There are some awesome learning opportunities here.

Our studies this year include Aerospace Engineering, and what better place than the state that was “First in Flight”? Our trip included an afternoon flying kites on the very grounds where Orville and Wilbur Wright launched man into the space-age at Kitty Hawk, well really it is Kill Devil Hills, near Jockey's Ridge State Park, but who’s nitpicking on what we remember from our history? Before we left we studied the plane and the kites that were used at the Wright Brothers Aerospace Museum in Dayton, Ohio, but there's nothing like actually going to the place where flight began!

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse is an interesting step back into maritime history as are all the lighthouses in the area. The Whalehead Club has an interesting. It has been restored and is a fun place to visit, as well as the village that surrounds it. It isn’t as bustling as Roanoke or Williamsburg, as it tells a different story. It is a place where you can launch a kayak, have a picnic, catch a Blue Crab.

Also The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, located in Corolla between the historic Whalehead Club and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse had some awesome daily, free programs. There was a class on crabbing, kayaking on the Currituck sound and other items of interest to homeschoolers of all ages.

Hatteras Lighthouse

Bodie Island Lighthouse

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is an awesome example of maritime life long ago. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is just one aspect you;ll find in this area. Cape Hatteras National Seashore preserves the portion of the Outer Banks of North Carolina from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island, stretching over 70 miles. Included within this section of barrier islands along N.C. Route 12, but outside the National Seashore boundaries, are Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and several privatecommunities.

The Outer Banks area was once dubbed the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" for its treacherous currents, shoals, and storms and Cape Hatteras has a wealth of history relating to shipwrecks, lighthouses, and the US Lifesaving Service. We went in search of the wreck of the Altoona, a fun outing, but kind of a snipe time we'll go better prepared with exact locations and a better map. The Outer Banks folklore is fun to read about and the idea that we were standing on the same beach as Blackbeard was pretty neat seeing how we fancy ourselves as pirates when we go Windjammering....

Currituck Sound Paddlin'

Alligator River Paddlin'

There are many kayaking opportunities at the Outer Banks. We paddled on the Currituck Sound, near the The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education and saw mainly marshy terrain. The Alligator River refuge, about an hour inland offered soem pretty interesting paddling as well, thought there was not an alligator to be found! We were treated to three brown bears munching on something in the middle off a grassy field. I think if we ever go back to the Outer Banks , we'll paddle around the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. It seemed like an interesting place.

Another bit of local lore I was determined to discover this trip to the Outer Banks was the Wild Horses of Corolla. Locally they are known as Banker Horses and are they something to see running out of the dunes. You need 4 wheel drive vehicle to get to the place where the horses live these days, but it is worth that effort.

So all in all, our celebration of "not" back to school was good. The kid got to try out some Aerospace basics learning to fly a stunt kite at Kitty Hawk and he started reading "Walden" by Henry David Thoureau. He says it's a great book about checkin' out. I agree.