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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Lighting the Way

~Monday, May 10, 2021~

Day 330

The wind was insane last night. My guess is Hatteras Island is windy most of the time. But last night definitely took the cake. Luckily the awning fabric over our slides stayed intact, even though we spent most of the night in fear they’d be ripped apart. I don’t think we’ve had the regular awnings out once since we’ve been here. It’s just too windy. But even with the wind, we’re thankful that the temps are favorable…...upper 60’s to mid 70’s during the day. And the nights have been pretty decent too.

Because the winds carried over to today, we decided to alter our plans and not take the ferry ride to Ocracoke Island. We’ll shoot for tomorrow. Instead, we paid a visit to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It instantly reminded me of the lighthouse in St. Augustine, FL with its similar day mark pattern (light and dark) on the exterior. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast.

Offshore of the cape, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift. Southbound ships are forced by this current into a dangerous 12-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals. Possibly thousands of shipwrecks have occurred in this area giving it the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.

Cape Hatteras was authorized in 1794 to receive its first lighthouse when Congress realized the danger posed to Atlantic shipping. It wasn’t until 1803 that the first lighthouse was lit. The original design however, was built too short, not fulfilling its purpose of warning mariners. So in 1853, it was decided that adding another 60 feet and painting red on top of white would make it easier to spot. But over time, that lighthouse was in need of extensive repairs, so Congress decided to instead appropriate funds for a NEW lighthouse which began construction in 1868. The new lighthouse was lit in December of 1870, and the old lighthouse from 1803, demolished. After years of study and debate about threatening beach erosion, this light station was moved 2,900 feet in 1999, fully intact, to its present location. To this day, it remains a beacon that can be seen up to 16 miles off shore. Unfortunately, we weren't able to go inside due to their renovation work, but at least we got to see it without scaffolding all around it, which will be phase 2 of their renovations beginning sometime in the Fall of 2021. What was the lightkeeper’s house,

is now a museum which maps out and highlights the history of the island itself as well as details of the history of the lighthouse. Definitely worth a stop.

We continued north for a bit to check out the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, but the visitor center was closed. The further north we went, the darker the skies became along with really unusual cloud formations. Before you knew it, we were in an intense downpour. Time to turn around. Besides, we have plans to go further north another day, so it was fine to cut the drive short.

With it still light out, and it being a hair wash day (and yes, it is a main (mane?) event….Ha! Ha! Since we are dry camping (no hookups), washing my hair would likely put our tanks over the edge, so I’ll be washing my hair at the campground showers up the hill. The problem…..cold water only. Dodging the rain, I got there and basically washed my hair with cold water with my clothes on (kind of like when you wash your hair in the sink). The tiny frogs were very entertained I’m sure (there must have been 5 or 6 of these cute little guys latched onto the walls of the shower.) With the frogs and an open air shower, it kind of reminded me of our shower in St. Lucia. I could have braided my wet hair and called it a day, but since it was a bit cool and nighttime, I really wanted to blow dry my hair, without running our generator. Alternative……..bathroom outlets! Yes, they have 1 outlet in the bathroom, so off I went to complete my hair task. Now everyone’s happy….my head, my husband, and myself.

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