We got up around 7:00 to make an early departure. It was a sunny day and not too warm…..yet. We had 215 miles to go today, but it would be on smaller highways and back roads, through small towns. We estimated that it would take us 5 hours and that’s exactly what it turned out to be. We crossed the North Carolina border and headed for Wilmington.
Near Wilmington we made a wrong turn and had to make a u-turn, but other than that we had no trouble in the smaller towns. We crossed the Cape Fear River and could see the USS North Carolina docked in the harbor.
We had lunch on the road and made one stop for gas so that we had a full tank for the Outer Banks. We were anxious to see some of the marinas that we stayed at when we were on our boat trip two years ago. In Swansboro, we got a good look at Dudley’s Marina where we stayed for many nights. It looked pretty much the same.
We crossed the bridge over the Newport River which took us into Morehead City–another marina we stayed at. The Yacht Basin looked very full.
From there it wasn’t far to Beaufort where we spent a few more nights at anchor across from downtown. It brought back great memories. A lot of our drive today brought us very close to the water which had some great views. The highway took us through the Croatian National Forest where the road was narrow and tree-lined.
The traffic was basically non-existent through most of the last 30 miles of our drive todasy. We were basically going to the end of the road on Cedar Island. We traveled through the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge on the North Carolina Scenic Byway. The road passed over the salt marshes which went as far as the eye could see in both directions.
All of a sudden this bridge appeared out of nowhere. It carried us over the salt marsh. One of the locals told us that before that bridge was built, if there was a storm, the road would get washed out. Now the bridge helps to keep traffic moving for the last 20 miles over the marsh.
We finally got to Cedar Island–the Gateway to Outer Banks. The thermometer was reading 95 degrees and it was HOT!
We pulled into the Driftwood Campground at 2:15, which is literally at the end of the road and chose a spot for the night. This campground is right at the entrance to the ferry dock which will come in handy in the morning.
Auggie and I waited in the truck while Bob went to check in at the office. She sent him back to pick out a site and then come and pay.
There were a few “live aboards” in the campground. We were the only ones that were waiting to get on the ferry in the morning.
We could have tried to make the ferry ride today, but we didn’t know exactly what time we would get here. The ferry ride to Okracoke is 2 hours and 15 minutes long. The second ferry ride from Okracoke to Hatteras is another hour, plus the additional time it takes to get from there to our campground. We decided to spend the night here and catch the ferry in the morning. Once we got set up, we took a walk over to the Welcome Center.
At the Welcome Center, I was able to pick up some tourist information about the Outer Banks. We waited there on the porch to watch the 3:00 ferry arrive and unload. A couple of campers and 10 vehicles got off. A bus and 3 cars got on.
From there we walked back over to the office to pay and had an ice cream while we chatted with the owner, a native of Cedar Island.
Right next to our campground, are the Cedar Island Stables where you can ride horses on the beach. The horses were let out to wade in the water. They were beautiful.
Later, Bob took Auggie over to the fence to meet one of the horses, up-close and personal. The horse snorted at Auggie and blew air out of his nose. Auggie freaked out and didn’t want to get close to something that big. Maybe it was the “horsey smell” that turned him off??
We relaxed before dinner with a cocktail. Bob wanted to wash the truck while he had the opportunity, so he did that before dinner too. (That guy works too hard.) The ferry came and went for the last time today and we ate a later dinner.
We will all sleep well tonight.