The trip from Morgantown began with an all-day drive to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, punctuated by a rapid-fire visit along the way to see my good friend Missy Cummings in Richmond, Virginia. If you are a history buff, with particular interest in the Civil War, then a visit to Richmond is a must. You can hardly walk a block downtown without seeing a museum, a historic landmark, or beautiful architecture. The Tredegar Iron Works is a must-see so allow several hours for that. I really do need to get back there in the future for a couple days of loitering.
Superstorm Sandy had knocked out the traditional way into Ocracoke via Highway 12 coming from the north through Cape Hatteras. Hence, the next morning, I drove a couple hours east over to Swanquarter, North Carolina and got on the ferry run by the state. The cost for me and my car was 15 bucks one-way for what turned out to be a relaxing and beautiful 2.5 hour cruise across Pamlico Sound. I took the time to do some reading and writing as the oceanic environment stirred the muse within!
|Getting ready for departure at Swanquarter, NC.|
Once on the island, there were very few people around. If you do go in the winter, the downside is that you will not have many options for food and lodging. On the other hand, if you are willing to do some negotiating with the entrepreneurs, then you can score a room at a reduced rate. Being the only person at the hotel I stayed at, I was able to get a room on the top floor with an ocean view for 1/3 the summer rate! Unfortunately, I could not locate a restaurant serving my primary food source (pancakes), so I "got by" on some judicious menu selections at Gaffer's Sports Pub for lunch and dinner. All kidding aside, their homemade nacho chip appetizers are killer good if you are experiencing a moment of culinary indiscretion.
I managed to connect with my friend Emily Smith-Zimmerman who actually lives on the island. We ended up going down to the beach and spent some time looking for dolphins and whales apparently foraging in the area. It was a gorgeous day, just warm enough, with a touch of wind. Hardly anyone was on the beach. Mint!!! Afterward, I took a walk out in a park at the edge of the village called Springer's Point to catch the end of the day.
|Ocean sunset stirs the heart. It always does ...|
If you do decide to haul your bike down here for a winter trip, then take care to bring along an array of of clothing layers in order to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. Also bring along some oily rags to wipe down your bike after your ride as any exposed metal will rust from the ocean air.
|Ready, set, go!|
|View from my room one morning. What did I do right?!|