To switch things up a bit this year, my family and a group of friends decided to spend Thanksgiving in the Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina. For those that aren’t familiar with the outer banks, it’s a stretch of land along the coast of North Carolina. From Cville, it’s about a 5 hour drive (although you can definitely get to Virginia beaches in under 3 hours if you need a quick fix of sun & surf).
Unlike many beach areas in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, it hasn’t been overrun with high-rise hotels and has managed to maintain the charm of beach towns of years gone by. Okay, to be fair, it’s changed a lot since my last visit in 2004, but the development has revolved around building more beach houses and strip malls anchored by the likes of Harris Teeter. In my book, that’s a much better scenario than a boardwalk dotted with seedy hotels.
While the temperature ranged from the 40s to the 60s -quite a bit chillier than my summertime trips down there-, it was so nice to get a change of scene and explore the laid back beach towns.
One day, we ventured south to Hatteras. Luckily, we had a 4×4 since the area had been hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. The storm had washed away sand underneath many of the roads which had relied on it as support. To be fair, we had expected to see a little carnage. The area juts off the east coast into the jet stream and is a beyond fragile target for most storms.
On the drive back north to Duck, we passed Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, which covers 400+ acres and is one of the tallest active sand dune systems on the East Coast. I’ve always loved this place. I can remember sledding down the dunes at break neck speeds as a kid. While you can no longer sled down the giant dunes, the park is famous for kite flying and hang gliding. In fact, one of my more adventurous friends in college spent a summer as a hang gliding instructor down here. (The outer banks at large are famous for great winds. In fact, the Wright Bros. made their first flight in Kill Devil Hills and the area is marked by a memorial and museum.)
Even though it was dark, we weren’t disappointed. As we passed the dunes, the night sky was lit by strings of LED lights! What a great surprise:)
After returning from Thanksgiving, the next two weeks will be devoted to wrapping up classes, writing cover letters and prepping for our third round of exams!