Part 1: Outer Banks, NC – Cape Hatteras National Seashore – April 30 – May 25, 2021

We spent 3 1/2 weeks at this campground and exploring the area. We saw and did so much in the Outer Banks, so I will write 2 blog posts to cover this. This is Part 1. I added some headings to make it easier to skip over sections that may not be of interest to everyone.

Why 3 1/2 weeks in Outer Banks?

While we planned our winter itinerary around our stay at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area,  the Outer Banks, NC was to be the crowning finish of the tour.  Dave camped there numerous times as a kid, with his family and he has always loved it. They had great times catching crabs, cooking over campfires, visiting the lighthouses and playing in the waves all day. Later, Dave and I spent a couple of summer vacations there, when my job required me to take a week of vacation over the July 4th holiday. Simililar to our vacations in South Carolina, we rented a condo on the beach for a week. The high temperatures were in the 95 – 100 range in July. In the mornings, after drinking coffee and watching the sun rise, I would go for a nice long run, while Dave surfed. We would then spend late morning under an umbrella on the beach, head in for lunch and an air-conditioned nap, then head off to our favorite tiki bar for happy hour beers and shrimp.  It was the perfect vacation from a demanding job. We planned to have a similar routine during this trip, only for 3 1/2 weeks in cooler weather, based in our campground and less frequent tiki bar visits.

Campground and campsite

Oregon Inlet Campground is located within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, in Nags Head, NC. It is part of the US National Park system. It’s located south of the more quiet residential area of Nags Head. Driving is allowed on the beach, with on ORV permit,  in the National Seashore area. There are numerous vehicle access points or “ramps”. On the weekends many of the beaches were pretty busy with people fishing. We chose not to drive on the beach, since deflating the tires is required. We did not want to risk any tire issues before the trip home.

We were happy to see that we had selected one of the best campsites. There was a nice amount of space between our site and our neighbors on either side. We also had a view of the dunes behind us. There is a hiking trail, about 1/4 mile long starting next to our site and ending at the beach. It was too long of a hike, over sand dunes to carry  11-foot boards, so we would have to find alternative access to water for paddling or surfing. The showers were pretty rudimentary, activated by pulling a chain. There was no hot water. We would spend the last 3 1/2 weeks having our usual “quickie showers” in the RV.  We had purchased a portable wastewater holding tank, aka “poop trolley” so we would be able to periodically empty our tanks without moving the RV.

Surprise meet-up with friends

A highlight of our winter tour, occurred in the first few days at Oregon Inlet. Our friends, Lindy and Todd happened to be camping in the same campground. We met Lindy years ago, when she was a rep for a surf board and paddleboard company. We attended many stand-up paddleboard races together. Lindy and Todd recently made the leap to full-time RV’ing, splitting their time between a class A motorcoach and an Airstream trailor. It was so fun to spend time with like-minded friends and catch up, after over a year of being isolated from people we know, with few exceptions. Todd prepared a fabulous dinner of venison  bratwurst and grilled Alaskan Salmon (caught by his friend in Alaska). It was a fun time, with two very cool, adventurous people.

When you want to go home, but can’t

On May 7, we learned about the Colonial pipeline being shut down. We topped off the gas tank and planned to minimize any driving for awhile. Within a couple of days, there was no gas in the Nags Head area. Meanwhile, the weather was cold, windy and rainy for many days in a row.  We had tolerated similar weather off and on all winter, but we were getting a bit tired of it.

My foot issues (bone spurs and stiff great toe causing severe, sharp pain) seemed to be getting worse. Every day that was not rainy, I woke up with a knot in my stomach wondering if a hike would have to be cut short due to the pain. I wanted to get to the foot doctor ASAP. I was having upper back, neck and shoulder pain, likely partially due to my worry about my foot being destroyed for life.  A long, hot shower would have been great. There was also a very difficult and sad family situation, which I will leave out of this post, due to the seriousness of it. I only mention it because it contributed greatly to my feeling bad and also to make the point that life goes on, even when you are away from it.  One chilly, rainy day, we were doing laundry at the worst laudromat we had ever been to (broken machines, no baskets, people begging for money, children running around maskless and coughing) and, for the first time on our journey, we both really wanted to go home.  The gas stations were empty, so we had to stay.

The pipeline eventually started running and within a few days we could get gas. At that point, we were getting ready for our scheduled second dose of the Moderna COVID vaccine at the local Walmart. We really wanted to have that as soon as possible. Also, the forcast was looking promising, with sunny, 80-degree weather coming in a few days. We decided to stay.

Bodie Lighthouse and Coquina Beach

The Bodie lighthouse is about 2.5 miles north of the campground. We really enjoyed being able to see the lighthouse multiple times a day, from locations around the campground, and being able to visit it more than once, since we had so much time.  There is a boardwalk behind the lighthouse, with beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Coquina beach is located across from the entrance to the lighthouse. It became our favorite local beach, as it was a  short drive from the campground, a short walk from the parking lot, there were no vehicles allowed on that beach and very few people used it.  It would have provided perfect access to the ocean for surfing or paddling, if the conditions had been decent.

Wright Brothers Museaum

The Wright Brothers Museum is my favorite National Park Service museum.  Its a great experience to learn about the Wright brothers, their planes and first flights.  There you can see the first succssful launching and landing points and replicas of the planes.  Everyone visiting the Outer Banks, should go to this museum.

Duck, NC

We had attempted to visit Duck, during a previous July 4th vacation, but never made it there due to an intolerable traffic jam. On a cool, windy weekday in May, the traffic was no problem.  Duck is a fairly small community, with a boardwalk connecting the many shopping areas, restaurants, and town park. There were few visitors the day we were there, so we felt comfortable checking out a few galleries and shops, including Kitty Hawk Kites. We walked the entire boardwalk and  stopped at a nice place for a microbrew on an outdoor deck, with views of Currituck Sound.

Manteo, NC and Elizabethan Gardens

Much to my surprise one morning, Dave suggested going to visit the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, There are hiking trails in the area, but my foot was not able to hike that day. The gardens were an easy alternative for a slow walk and some new scenery. The gardens  were created as a living memorial to the time when Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colonists, about 155 of them, lived there over 400 years ago, in 1587.  It was the first English settlement on the continent.  The governor of the colony went to England for supplies, and when he returned  3 years later, the people were gone. No one knows what became of them.  The gardens are adjacent to the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. The fort is not much more than a mound of dirt, so I don’t have photos.  It was nice that we nearly had the place to ourselves, as it was off season.  The down side of visiting in May, is that few flowers were blooming, yet, and the butterfly house had no butterflies.

Manteo is located on Roanoke Island.   It’s a very cute town, with a harbor area, and was a little more crowded than the gardens. We plan to spend more time there next year, when there is no pandemic.


Oregon Inlet Campground, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Walking on the beach at Oregon Inlet Campground, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Oregon Inlet Fishing center near Oregon Inlet Campground, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Oregon Inlet Fishing center near Oregon Inlet Campground, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Bodie Island Light Station, very close to Oregon Inlet Campground and Coquina Beach
Bodie Island Light Station, very close to Oregon Inlet Campground and Coquina Beach
Slushie enjoying one of many rainy days at Oregon Inlet Campground, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Walking on the beach on a chilly morning at Oregon Inlet Campground, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
A rare hot day at Coquina Beach, Cape Hatteras National Seashore (wind was from the west and blocked by the dunes!)
A photogenic crab at Coquina Beach, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Enjoying a beer on the boardwalk in Duck, NC
Walking the boardwalk in Duck, NC
We attempted to hit every hiking trail in the area. Roanoke Island Marshes Game Land
Best shrimp burrito I ever had! We made them ourselves with fresh, local shrimp.
Elizabethan Gardens at the
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo, NC
Elizabethan Gardens at the
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo, NC
Statue of Virginia Dare, first English baby born on the continent in 1587. She was part of the Roanoke Colony, also known as “The Lost Colony”, as there is no record of where they disappeared to. Elizabethan Gardens at the
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo, NC
Japanese Camellia (Camellia Japonica), the most prevalent flower in the garden, as most others were not yet blooming. Elizabethan Gardens at the
Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo, NC
This ancient oak is believed to be more than 600 years old, based on tree borings. It would have been alive when the “Lost Colony” lived on Roanoke Island in the mid 1500’s. Elizabethan Gardens, Manteo, NC