Why we love the off-season on the Outer Banks

Off Season on the Outer Banks

duckroad_0Before I became a resident of the beautiful Outer Banks, I lived in a town outside of Richmond, VA. Every Summer I couldn’t wait to get here. We have always stayed, and continue to stay in Duck. The only adjustment my family has made over the years is when we come. We switched from 4th of July week to early June when it’s not as hot. Once we arrived, we were so over-the-moon with excitement we didn’t know what to do first. By the time Thursday arrived during our Sunday-to-Sunday rental, reality started setting in. My vacation was soon coming to an end.

Thankfully, my grandparents and I think alike. One week on the Outer Banks out of the entire year just isn’t enough. They started coming 3 times a year; one week in February, one week in July, and one week in November. Before I transferred to my now alma mater University of Hawai’i, I attended Old Dominion University. This worked out perfect.  I was close enough to the Outer Banks that I was able to visit them all 3 times they came. This was my first time visiting the Outer Banks in the “off-season”. I then realized the year-round beauty this place offers. Before moving to Hawai’i, I knew the Outer Banks was where I would return someday.

The off season is technically defined from Labor Day to Memorial Day. The Outer Banks doesn’t have steady traffic year round. We are a vacation destination so it’s either full swing all day every day or it’s what we call our “off season”. Outer Banks residents look forward to the off-season as much as we look forward to Summer time. We love the warm weather, business, and meeting people from all over the world during our busy Summer months. Here are some things to look forward to in the off-season:

 

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Our favorite DIY Outer Banks Halloween costumes

pumpkin-patchHalloween officially kicks off the holiday season. Once Halloween arrives, you know Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are right around the corner.  Which means time off to spend with family and friends, homes warmed by fires, melt-in-your-mouth recipes, decorating, holiday lights, plugging in the holiday lights for the first time, candles, Holiday music, everything pumpkin and peppermint flavored, and.. and… can you tell my co-workers refer to me as the “holiday cheermeister”?

Now that Halloween is in the near future, the big question arises… What to wear? Halloween can be pretty expensive, especially if you have more than one child to dress. It can also be a game of coordination, which is always fun. Whether you are coordinating with your spouse, family, best friends, pet or maybe all of the above, there are always options. Keeping an eye on the weather may help you make your decision. Then again the weather, at least around here, is so unpredictable it could be anywhere from 60s – low 40s.

Designing and completing a costume with your kids can be such a great experience, turning into a tradition. Allowing kids to have to freedom to pick the colors, and put their own spin on a costume is way more fun than picking one off a shelf at the store. I think the best part about it is having the freedom to think outside the box. I have put together a list of some of my favorite, and totally do-able, DIY Halloween costumes. You don’t have to be a seamstress or an art professor to make these costumes, trust me!

1. Commercial fisherman

fisherman-costumeThis costume is easily doable right out of your kids closet. My favorite part about this Halloween costume is the fishing pole because this is something you and the kids can do together. There are a couple ways to create this costume. There is the “on the boat fisherman” and an “on the shore fisherman”. Really, the only difference is the yellow rain coat for the “on the boat” fisherman. For both costumes you will need:

  • Khaki pants or shorts
  • Tall rain boots/any type of dark boot.
  • Suspenders
  • Fishing pole. If you don’t have a fishing pole, no worries! You could make your entire pole out of cardboard, string, and paper for the fish. By cutting the cardboard to the shape of a rod and reel, you can punch a hole at the end to attach your string that will tie to your paper fish. Whether they want to catch Nemo, or a great white, this is completely up to them. In this picture this little guy used a stick, hemp, and felt to make his fishes!
  • Rain jacket (optional)

2. Surfer dude or Bethany Hamilton

Back view of father and son with surfboards at beach
Back view of father and son with surfboards at beach

This one is by far my favorite costume idea. Not only is it easy to make, but inexpensive and what kid doesn’t want to be a surfer? All you need is:

  • Zinc sunscreen on the nose and cheeks.  (substitute: white makeup/paint)
  • Rash guard  (substitute: White plain t-shirt with surf designs drawn on them.)
  • Board shorts  (substitute: pair of inexpensive shorts you don’t mind drawing on. All you need are fish, sharks, waves or just designs)
  • Flip Flops  (substitute: any shoes you know your kid won’t mind walking around in)
  • Surf board  (substitute: card board or poster board, cut and design your own surf board, shark bite optional.)

shaka-handIf you live in colder temperatures, switch to black pants, long sleeve black hooded shirt, black gloves and booties and it will look just like a wet suit.  If you want to be an Outer Banks Surfer, pull off the wet suit and add a beard full of icicles. I know, they’re crazy for surfing such cold waters. Now all you have to do is master the shaka when you say trick or treat. Surfs up!

3. Sebi, the Surfing Spoon

sebithesurfinspoon_0If you have eaten the best frozen yogurt on the beach, then you have been to Surfin Spoon in Nags Head. From the cutest front door, to the greeting you hear when entering, to all the money stuffed in the ceiling for Surfing for Autism, this is one heck of a place. What better role model than Sebi the Surfing Spoon for a Halloween costume idea? Here is what you need:

  • Coral long sleeve with a hood
  • Coral long pants (Possibly Hanes brand from Walmart)
  • Black felt for the eyebrows and eyes on the hood
  • Surfboard (substitute: cardboard painted and cut in the shape os a surfboard)
  • Black shoes

Sebi didn’t have the ocean first growing up, so he learned to shred his way around town on his skateboard. No worries though, this can be a shredtastical walk around the town without a board too! Photo: Surfinspoon.com

4. Sea Creatures of the Atlantic

We all love and look forward to swimming in the ocean once we arrive on the Outer Banks. Even though we all like to try to forget,  there is a lot going on under the surface of our waters. Our ocean is home to many animals. What better way to remember family vacation than by being a family of sea creatures? There are plenty of animals out there but some of my favorites are dolphin, sea turtle, shark, and octopus! Here are the materials you will need:

Sea Turtle

seaturtlecostumeI know when I was a kid I always dreamed of surfing the EAC and waxing my shell. With Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie just recently coming out, this might also be a hot topic this Halloween. All you need to add is a brown belt around the shell to hold the numb chucks and pick your ninja mask color, and you’ve got a Mutant Ninja Turtle!

  • Dark green long sleeve hooded shirt
  • Dark green long pants
  • Back pack – stuffed (solely using for the straps for the felt to wrap around)
  • Light brown, light green, and dark green felt (all to make the shell surrounding the back pack) Light brown for the underside of shell and the light green and dark green to make the top of the shell design
  • Brown or black shoes
  • Eyes for gluing onto the hood.

I know when I was a little girl, pink was my favorite color and I had always dreamed of being a sea turtle… So a pink sea turtle is what I had my vision set on. By golly, I thought I was the cutest pink sea turtle to hit the streets! Photo: holdtheoffice.com

Dolphin

dolphin-costumeEveryone loves being on the beaches of the Outer Banks and spotting a family of dolphins swimming through. That is one occurrence that can make everyone stop right in their tracks, stretch their arm out as far as they can, to point and take in the sights of these graceful creatures for a moment. Everything you need is right here:

  • Grey hoodie
  • Grey sweat pants
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Grey felt (or any other type of fabric) to make the fin and flippers
  • Stuffing for the fin and flippers (Can always take an old pillow apart that isn’t used anymore)
  • White fleece to sew the front of the hoodie to make the white stomach of the dolphin.
  • Eyes to glue onto the hood. Photo: Bennettgamel
Shark

sharkcostumeThis is just as easy as the dolphin besides adding one major distinction between sharks and dolphins. Sharks are known as the vicious and scary creatures of the sea, so we can’t forget the jaws and teeth that make them  appear that way. Now the fins will be different shapes but the same idea applies: cut it, stuff it, sew it, add it. All the extra you will need for the shark vs. dolphin is:

  • White and red felt to make the jaws of the shark. Gluing this on the hood, circling the face, it will show the neighbors exactly what kind of creature is ringing their doorbell. Photo: HGTV
Octopus

octopushoodiecostumeI love this costume. Not to mention how easy it is to do, it’s equally as adorable. This costume is completely open to your kid’s imagination. Whether they want a blue, purple, red, or white body, it will be perfect!

  • Hooded sweatshirt any color they choose and a couple sizes bigger than normal.
  • Long pants/ shorts any color they choose
  • Any comfortable walking shoes preferably black, brown, or you can match the color of your kids octopus body.
  • Any additional makeup you would like to add for all your creative moms and dads out there.
  • Stuffing – whether from an old pillow, extra plastic grocery bags, all will do the trick.
  • Limited sewing capabilities to sew legs together and later attach them to the belt.
  • Fabric paint or felt for designs on the shirt, pants, and legs. (optional)

In order to make the legs, leave the sleeves the way they are, but cut upwards from the bottom of the sweatshirt all the way around. You will sew them together in groups of twos to make the legs, so be sure to cut the right amount. You can make the suction spots out of felt or fabric paint.

5. Pirates

piratediycostumeArrrgh, we all have heard the stories of how the pirates used to run these waters surrounding the Outer Banks. From Blackbeard to Jack Sparrow himself, pirates are one of the coolest costumes out there. These are always fun! Maybe you can practice your pirate voice while making it. Here are a couple items you will need:

  • Red/maroon pants. Cut the bottoms to make the costume as rugged as you choose.
  • Black knee high socks
  • White long sleeve shirt
  • At least 2 belts. One belt to hold each sword. Of course you need more than one sword, c’mon it’s Halloween!
  • Sash
  • Eye patch
  • Swords!! Grab some cardboard or poster board, markers, paint and carve the sword of all swords to guard all of your treasures!

These are just a handful of my favorite, optional do-it-yourself, costumes. I picked these because I know, if given the challenge, I could create them. I’m no seamstress that’s for sure, so if I can do them, you can too. Halloween begins the holiday season and usually the general consensus around the holidays is to take a step back and enjoy the loved ones around you. What better way to get that started than by making a costume together?

I couldn’t think of a more beautiful way to kick off the holidays than by spending it on the Outer Banks.  If you haven’t read Why Fall vacations rock on the Outer Banks, I highly suggest doing so. There are plenty of things to do October through New Years. Our list of October events is out, along with our Halloween events blog also! We hope to see you in town soon.

Pet Friendly Outer Banks Dining

Outer Banks Pet Friendly Restaurants

During the Summer months, our pets are limited to the amount of time they spend outside due to such high temperatures. It’s still important that we get them out of the house as much as we can during the not-so-hot parts of the day. What better way than having your pup join you and your family for dinner out on the town?

The Outer Banks has a wide selection of restaurants serving some of the freshest local ingredients. Here is a selection of these same restaurants that understand the love you have for your pup and welcome them to dine with you on their outdoor patios! Dogs must remain leashed, well behaved, and for Pete’s sake please don’t tie their leash to the table. If you are just looking for things to do with your dog while visiting the Outer Banks, we have that too!

american-pie-pizza American Pie l Kill Devil Hills, NC

Outdoor seating located right on beach road. Delicious pizza, homemade ice cream, and dinner with your family and pup make for a perfect evening.

aqua-restaurant Aqua Restaurant l Duck, NC

Soundfront in the beatiful family oriented town of Duck. They welcome dogs and families for dining on their patio with gorgeous views.

bacchus-wine-cheese-corolla Bacchus Wine and Cheese l Corolla, NC

Located in Monterey Plaza in Corolla. While you wine and dine, your pup can sit with you on their sidewalk dining.

baldies-burgers-obx-dining Baldie’s Burgers & Ice Cream l Southern Shores, NC

Even if it’s for a handmade hamburger, your pup can join you at Baldie’s outdoor patio. Located right here in Southern Shores they have covered outdoor dining.

bk-shuckers BK Shuckers l Kitty Hawk, NC

Don’t miss any game at your favorite sports bar. Dont miss any game with your favorite pup either. BK Shuckers welcomes dogs to their outdoor dining.

captn-franks Capt’n Franks l Kitty Hawk, NC

New with their two story deck for the 2014 year, Capt’n himself welcomes leashed, well behaved pups to both stories of the deck.

jimmys-seafood-buffet Jimmy’s Buffet l Kitty Hawk, NC

Eventhough Jimmy’s is known for their buffet, they welcome dog owners by ordering take out. They offer picnic tables right outside to sit and enjoy.

johns-drive-in John’s Drive In l Kitty Hawk, NC

Infamous on the beach for their milkshakes and dolphin boats. Drive in and you and your pup can enjoy some of John’s best with ocean views.

tropical-smoothie-cafe-nags-head-dinning Tropical Smoothie l Southern Shores, NC

Just a short walk from our office, they offer sidewalk dining that welcomes you and your pup. Whether for a smoothie or a sandwich.

ortegaz Ortegaz Southwest Grill l Manteo, NC

Located in the quiet town of Manteo. Serving a full bar and delicious food that will leave you coming back for more.

sonic-drive-in Sonic l Nags Head, NC

You are welcome to drive in or dine at the covered picnic tables with your pup. Be prepared, this is food your dog will be sure to want.

sooeys-bbq-corolla Sooey’s BBQ l Nags Head, NC

Located just across from Jockey’s Ridge in Jockey’s Ridge Crossing. Some of the best brisket and pulled pork on the beach. Outdoor dining.

steamers-corolla-dining Steamers Shellfish To Go l Corolla, NC

Whether it’s ordering a steamer pot to go, or enjoying your beer on the deck as you watch the sunset over the sound, your pup is welcome at Steamers.

surfin-spoon-froyo-logo-gluten-free Surfin Spoon l Nags Head, NC

Shred the gnar with the surfing spoon with some of the best FroYo in town. Kick back with your pup on their front porch as you dig into barrels of flavors.

mulligans Mulligans l Nags Head, NC

After you and your pup spend the day at the beach, Mulligans welcomes both of you to join them on their outdoor deck. Delicious food, friendly service!

tropical-smoothie-cafe-nags-head-dinning Tropical Smoothie l Southern Shores, NC

Just a short walk from our office, they offer sidewalk dining that welcomes you and your pup. Whether for a smoothie or a sandwich.

zen-pops-kdh-delicious Zen Pops l Kitty Hawk, NC

New location in Harbour Bay Shoppes. Cool off with a delicious homemade Zen Pop with your pup on their sidewalk seating.

Outer Banks Beach Activities for Dogs

An Outer Banks Vacation isn’t a complete vacation without all of our family members, including our furry, 4 legged family members. With over 190 pet friendly vacation rentals we have a wide selection of perfect homes for you and your family! Now that you have the ideal pet friendly home, it’s time to pack! We have put together a Pet Vacation Packing Checklist for all of your packing worries and needs. Now that you have the perfect pet friendly vacation home, the packing done, completed your journey to the beach, you’re probably wondering what can my dog do while on vacation on hot Outer Banks Summer days?

Well, me being the dog lover I am, I really enjoy taking my pup everywhere with me. By doing this, I have learned a few ways to keep them cool but active while at the beach. One thing I always try to do is get out early with my dog, before the day gets really hot. Even if this means 5AM beach time and 6AM bike rides, they need to have fun and burn some energy without being in the heat for too long.

There are also some things they can do along with the family. Keep in mind, if you’re hot, so is your dog and as you need to stay hydrated throughout the day, so does your dog. The following is a list of things to do and places to go with your dog while visiting the Outer Banks. Just a reminder as you venture out with your pup always bring a leash, water, water bowl, and poop pick up bags. If you aren’t aware of the leash laws, check them out as they are different in every town you visit.

riding-bikes-on-the-beach Ride bikes with your pup.

Whether it’s on the road, the beach or any of the beautiful trails the Outer Banks has to offer, your dog will enjoy every moment spent with you.

pet-friendly-skateboard-with-your-dog Skateboard with your pup.

Well, maybe not exactly like the picture but you get the point. Cruising along, taking in the ocean air, pup and cousins by your side.

dreamstime_xs_20987099_0 Play fetch on the beach.

Be sure to get out early! This will help because of the temperature and with a lot of visitors getting to the beach later in the morning.

Woman and dog running toward the sun on summer beach in a beautiful golden sunset. Sport girl and her pet training together. Go for a run on the beach.

Just like you get bored with always running on the road, I’m sure our dogs do too. Mix it up while your on vacation and hit the sand!

nags-head-woods Walking through Nags Head Woods.

Maritime Nature Preserves on the Outer Banks. With it’s tree covered paths, you and your pup will be rucked away from it all. Photo: Nature.org

dreamstime_xs_29323674 Shopping with your dog.

This is a list of stores/shopping centers that are outdoors and allow dogs to walk their walkways. Maybe they can get something while you’re out.

Dogs Welcome on Patio sign posted outside cafe Outdoor dining with your pup.

This is a list of restaurants on the Outer Banks that have a patio and welcome well behaved dogs on a leash.

wright-memorial_6 Wright Memorial.

Our pets may not understand the significance of the Wright Memorial, all they will know is that they are somewhere new with their pack, and that’s enough for them.

jockeys-ridge-4 Jockey’s Ridge.

Who wouldn’t want to run the dunes? Bring your pet with you and your family to watch the sun rise over the ocean or catch the sunset over the sound.

pet-friendly-currituck-heritage-park Walk around Heritage Park & Whalehead Club.

With beautiful open lawns, sound front views, and history all around, this makes for a great area to walk with your pup.

rifp Roanoke Island Festival Park.

This beautiful sound front park allows dogs. With a full event schedule in the evening all Summer long, it’s best to go early morning.

kitty-hawk-seal Kitty Hawk Dog Park.

There’s nothing better than making friends while on vacation, even for your dog. Leash free. Applicationneeds to be filled out prior to entry.

surfing-dog Take them out on a stand up paddle board.

For the experts surfer pups, it’s always a great time. For the beginners, I would start small with little to no waves in the sound.

duck-summer-concert-series Walk along the Duck Trail.

This is a multi use path from one end of town to the other. Winds through the trees and opens up to beautiful views of the Outer Banks.

pet-friendly-estuarine-nature-walk Estuarine Nature Walk.

This is a beautiful 0.3 mile walk out to the Currituck Sound. There is also a 1.5 mile path that veers off the boardwalk.

Outer Bank’s Top 10 Surf Spots

Top 10 Surf Spots

The Outer Banks is full of things to do.  I am grateful to live in an environment when asked: “what do you want to do today?” at least the first 5 to 10 things that come to mind are all outdoors, weather permitting.  From riding bikes, toskating, to playing volleyball, to fishing, to surfing – the Outer Banks adds its special touch to make all of these activities different than anywhere else.  Whether it’s the views of the beach, views of landmarks, sunsets along the sound, to sunrises over the ocean; everything seems better here.

suring-airSurfing is one of those activities.  OBX isn’t Hawai’i, where you have consistent waves, consistent swells, consistent trade winds, and ridable waves 360 days out of the year.  Everything is variable.  Variable winds can change the form and conditions of the waves within minutes of switching directions.  It’s all about timing here on the Outer Banks.  Right swell direction, right wind direction, best timing according to the tides, and whether you feel like surfing with a bunch of guys or take the waves less crowded.  “You have to strike while the irons hot” in other words.  Five AM surf sesh may be the only time the conditions are clean, come 7AM or 8AM the wind could switch and change everything. You’ll get out, turn back looking at the choppy mess out in the water in disbelief that you were just pitted all morning in clean, hollow barrels.

As far as winds go… You tell wind the by direction it’s coming from, not the direction it’s blowing towards.  You always want off shore (blowing from land) winds.  When the wind blows towards the ocean it pushes on the wave and helps it to stand up creating a nice face to drop in.  Depending on what spot you go to, the off shore direction may be different.  Now with that little background on surfing on the Outer Banks, here are what I would list the top 10 surfed spots as:

daniel-pullen-hatteras-top-10_01. Lighthouse l Hatteras, NC

Home of Professional surfer Brett Barley. For the surfers living in town, when you get to take off for the day and get in on some tasty waves down South, it’s a treat. Up before sunrise, cup of joe, boards loaded, and you’re on the way. The whole way down your anticipating your first sight of the ocean and the conditions it’s bringing that morning. This is a pretty well-known spot, so if you snooze, you will lose. Photo:Daniel Pullen

2. Ocracoke Island

Due to the hassle it takes to get there from the rest of the Outer Banks, these spots are usually left to the locals. Sometimes when you don’t want a crowded wave, Ocracoke holds a day of fun with wide open beaches.

3. Duck Research Pier l Duck, NC 

This spot will produce some of the most beautiful and yet heavy waves I have ever seen on the Outer Banks. Usually when there are waves it’s an automatic “let’s go down south”. Duck Research Pier never fails when it’s pumping.

nags-head-pier_04. Nags Head Pier l Nags Head, NC 

Nags Head Pier, depending on the direction of the swell and wind, can be good on both sides. It can and will be very crowded. If you decide to sleep in past 9AM and want front and center in that line up, you will have other plans that day… like waiting your turn.

avon_05. Avon Pier l Avon, NC

Avon Pier hosts the Gromprix Surfing Competition where groms from all over compete to win a free entry into the O’Neil/Sweetwater surf fest. This is a great spot to take the whole family with large beaches, pier convenient store, and fishing. Pictured here is Brett Barley charging the water with all the groms in a session with the pros. (grom: kids surfing 15 and under).

6. Lillian Street l Kitty Hawk, NC

pelicans-perch-surfing

Near the infamous Pelican’s Perch; One of the last houses standing along a stretch on the beach road. Cons: public parking available, this spot will fill up quick. Pros: there are no homes along this portion of Kitty Hawk, the beaches are uncrowded, wide, with lots of shells to be found, and waves to be had.

kitty-hawk-surfing-copy_07. Kitty Hawk Pier l Kitty Hawk, NC 

Located in front of the Hilton in Kitty Hawk, this is a great spot when staying at the Northern beaches. When the wind direction is right, this spot produces some nice barrels without the long drive down south. Kitty Hawk is also home to ESA Surfing Competitions throughout the year. They welcome all age groups to compete for a spot in the Masters.

8. Chicahauk l Southern Shores, NC 

Home to the Throw Down North of Town surfing competition. A surfing competition for all age groups, and an all around great family fun day.  Located right here in Southern Shores, it’s just a walk from most of our oceanfront properties.

jennettes_09. Jennette’s Pier l Nags Head, NC

Home to the WRV Outer Banks Pro where professional surfers from all over the United States come to battle it out for the grand prize and bragging rights. This spot ranks lower because it’s so well known, that usually when there is any kind of swell in the water, there will also be a ton of guys. It may be crowded, but this beautiful pier makes for a great spot when the waves and winds are hitting just right.

10. Hayman Street l Kill Devil Hills, NC 

A busy public beach access in the heart of Kill Devil Hills. Just about a half mile north of Avalon pier. With a lot of vacation homes, and one of the biggest beach public parking areas in Kill Devil Hills, this spot fills up quick. Depending on the swell direction, the sandbar, and the wind, this spot will break differently just about every time. Either way, this is a fun wave for everyone.

Stay Tuned: surfing etiquette to come.

Wild Horses of Corolla

Spanish mustangs wild horses on the beach in north carolina

From Carova to Ocracoke there are beautiful sights to see all along our picturesque beaches of the Outer Banks. But one vision stands out in particular and this vision has people flocking to our northern beaches for a possibility of seeing; the Wild horses of Corolla. They used to roam the Village of Corolla and areas surrounding, but development of Duck and Corolla in the 1980’s brought danger to the horses. From speeding cars, growth in population and treacherous development this was not the place for the horses.

corolla-wild-horse-fund

Local non-profit Corolla Wild Horse Fund and supporting causes gave the Wild horses protective status. It took Corolla Wild Horse Fund nearly 6 years to get permission and funds to build a sound-to-sea fence and a cattle guard on the paved road. The horses were moved to the Outer Banks’ northern beach called Carova. This is one of the most remote and undeveloped parts of the Outer Banks.

In the 1990’s the Corolla Wild Horse Fund put together a management plan to help protect and conserve the wild horses. At the beginning, the target population was meant to be between 120 and 130, and to never drop less than 110. After the horses were moved north, in 1997 the management plan changed to a population of 60 for managing for extinction.

The history of how the horses arrived on our beaches has many theories. While not confirmed, there are two main theories that most scholars hold to be most accurate.  They are the explorations of Lucas Vasquez de Allyon and the exploration of Richard Greenville.

 

lucas-vasquez-de-allyon

Vasquez de Allyon Theory

Lucas Vasquez de Allyon was a Spanish explorer who received a charter from the Spanish King that gave him the right to explore and colonize majority of the Eastern coast. The Spaniards began taking Indian children as slaves and sending them to the West Indies. As you can imagine, the Spanish explorers ran into great trouble with the Indians and were forced to flee to Florida. Fleeing in the manner they were required to, they left behind all their livestock. Thus being how the wild horses arrived.

 

Greenville Theory

Another theory giving detail of the livestock on the Outer Banks is by Richard Greenville’s explorations directed by Sir Walter Raleigh. They followed the same route in the spring of 1584-1587 that took them to the Canary Islands and across the Atlantic, stopping in the West Indies. Spain and England were at a state of war during these years, but trading still occurred between Spanish colonists of West Indies, and Greenville’s ships.

sir-richard-greenville

 

Eventually the Spaniards invited Greenville and company onshore for feasting, bullfight, sports and more. Here is where Greenville purchased items for the colony such as: horses, cows, sugar, ginger, tobacco, etc. Greenville set off on travels and spotted the American mainland. While bringing the ship into harbor, the worst occurred. The boat was beached. This was detrimental to the colony as most of the supplies were destroyed and/or severely damaged by salt water. It’s led to believe the livestock was lost or swam ashore.

These theories reflect present day facts. The Wild Horses of Corolla carry distinct features of Spanish horses. One particular resemblance is the number of vertebra; they have one less vertebra than most breeds. On top of that they have a mellow and level temperament, high endurance, their size, and astonishing beauty.  These facts point in the direction of Spanish decent and their traumatic history.

It’s very important we all practice safety for the wild horses and ourselves. The key word is wild. As beautiful and graceful as these horses are, they are still wild horses. We shouldn’t attempt to pet them, approach them, or chase them by any means. The Wild Spanish Mustangs are meant to be admired from a distance in all their beauty. It’s important we maintain respect and share our beaches with them as they politely share with us.

Sources:

Corolla’s Wild Horses

History of Banker Spanish Mustangs

North Carolina’s Wild Horses

Wild Horses of Corolla

Spanish mustangs wild horses on the beach in north carolina

From Carova to Ocracoke there are beautiful sights to see all along our picturesque beaches of the Outer Banks. But one vision stands out in particular and this vision has people flocking to our northern beaches for a possibility of seeing; the Wild horses of Corolla. They used to roam the Village of Corolla and areas surrounding, but development of Duck and Corolla in the 1980’s brought danger to the horses. From speeding cars, growth in population and treacherous development this was not the place for the horses.

corolla-wild-horse-fundLocal non-profit Corolla Wild Horse Fund and supporting causes gave the Wild horses protective status. It took Corolla Wild Horse Fund nearly 6 years to get permission and funds to build a sound-to-sea fence and a cattle guard on the paved road. The horses were moved to the Outer Banks’ northern beach called Carova. This is one of the most remote and undeveloped parts of the Outer Banks.

In the 1990’s the Corolla Wild Horse Fund put together a management plan to help protect and conserve the wild horses. At the beginning, the target population was meant to be between 120 and 130, and to never drop less than 110. After the horses were moved north, in 1997 the management plan changed to a population of 60 for managing for extinction.

The history of how the horses arrived on our beaches has many theories. While not confirmed, there are two main theories that most scholars hold to be most accurate.  They are the explorations of Lucas Vasquez de Allyon and the exploration of Richard Greenville.

 

lucas-vasquez-de-allyonVasquez de Allyon Theory

Lucas Vasquez de Allyon was a Spanish explorer who received a charter from the Spanish King that gave him the right to explore and colonize majority of the Eastern coast. The Spaniards began taking Indian children as slaves and sending them to the West Indies. As you can imagine, the Spanish explorers ran into great trouble with the Indians and were forced to flee to Florida. Fleeing in the manner they were required to, they left behind all their livestock. Thus being how the wild horses arrived.

Greenville Theory

Another theory giving detail of the livestock on the Outer Banks is by Richard Greenville’s explorations directed by Sir Walter Raleigh. They followed the same route in the spring of 1584-1587 that took them to the Canary Islands and across the Atlantic, stopping in the West Indies. Spain and England were at a state of war during these years, but trading still occurred between Spanish colonists of West Indies, and Greenville’s ships.

 

sir-richard-greenvilleEventually, the Spaniards invited Greenville and company onshore for feasting, bullfight, sports and more. Here is where Greenville purchased items for the colony such as: horses, cows, sugar, ginger, tobacco, etc. Greenville set off on travels and spotted the American mainland. While bringing the ship into harbor, the worst occurred. The boat was beached. This was detrimental to the colony as most of the supplies were destroyed and/or severely damaged by salt water. It’s led to believe the livestock was lost or swam ashore.

These theories reflect present day facts. The Wild Horses of Corolla carry distinct features of Spanish horses. One particular resemblance is the number of vertebra; they have one less vertebra than most breeds. On top of that they have a mellow and level temperament, high endurance, their size, and astonishing beauty.  These facts point in the direction of Spanish decent and their traumatic history.

It’s very important we all practice safety for the wild horses and ourselves. The key word is wild. As beautiful and graceful as these horses are, they are still wild horses. We shouldn’t attempt to pet them, approach them, or chase them by any means. The Wild Spanish Mustangs are meant to be admired from a distance in all their beauty. It’s important we maintain respect and share our beaches with them as they politely share with us.

Sources:

Corolla’s Wild Horses
History of Banker Spanish Mustangs
North Carolina’s Wild Horses

Blackbeard the Pirate

blackbeard_smoke_color_0Ships and their Captains had a 2-year govern of fear in the early 1700’s due to a pirate named Blackbeard.  His real name was never documented, but Edward Teach is given mostly. What was documented was his notorious pirating of the sea, robbing every ship he encountered from North America down to the Caribbean Sea. Blackbeard and his crew ambushed ships carrying cargo and people in the early dawn when the pirate ships were hard to see.

Ironically Blackbeard’s life started off as a privateer in Queen Anne’s War from 1701 to 1714. A privateer is an owner and officer of an armed ship holding a government commission. They are authorized in times of war to capture enemy merchant ships. Mentions of his name involving piracy began circulating around Summer/Fall of 1717.

blackbeards-flag-pirates-of-the-obx-copyHe gradually grew his fleet by taking over ships. Off the coast of Delaware is where he picked up Captain Benjamin Hornigold,  and in the Chesapeake Bay is where he picked up Stede Bonnet. They brought in potential ships by flying their country’s flag to show friendliness; once he had them where he wanted them he flew the flag of Blackbeard. He became such a threat and brought so much terror that ships started automatically surrendering once they saw his flag.

By late Fall of 1717 Blackbeard and his fleet made their way down to the Caribbean, running into the French slave ship “La Concorde” off the Island of Matinique. With the French crew down by many, due to illnesses, the overthrow was easy for Blackbeard. Pirates took La Concorde to the Island of Bequia where the crew and enslaved Africans were put ashore and left with the two smaller ships of the overthrow. With help from a voluntary surrendering cabin boy, Blackbeard seized La Concorde’s gold along with 10 crewmembers including a pilot, 3 surgeons, 2 carpenters, 2 sailors, and a cook. After the over throw Blackbeard renamed La Concorde to Queen Anne’s Revenge.

By May 1718, he had taken over the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea with his 6-vessel fleet. They arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, which was the busiest and most important port of the original colonies. Blackbeard stopped and looted all inbound and outbound ships and demanded a chest of medicine in exchange for letting the ships go. Easily the chest of medicine was given to Blackbeard, he released the captive ships and their crew, and he and his fleet moved on Northward up the coast.

Arriving in Beaufort Inlet where he marooned most of his crew, (in non-piracy terms it means he left his crew stranded on an island) Blackbeard took about 20 of his most trusted crewmembers with him down to Ocracoke Island. Blackbeard settled, living the easy life knowing his piracy days were coming to an end soon. Most of the 20 crewmembers that came with him left now because there was no profit with Blackbeard anymore.

battle-at-ocracoke-blackbeardVirginia Governor Alexander Spotswood heard of Blackbeard’s settling in Ocracoke and decided enough was enough. He sent 2 sloop ships, which is a type of sailboat with a single mast, commanded by Lt. Robert Maynard to take care of Blackbeard. Maynard had Blackbeard, Queen Anne’s Revenge (that he eventually ran aground in battle), and the few crewmembers he had left, trapped. After a gruesome battle, fear had finally been put to rest in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea with the death ofBlackbeard. Maynard suspended Blackbeard’s severed head on the front bow of his ship for proof of his death, and the sense of accomplishment for taking out a man who brought terror to everyone at sea.

until about 1996 when the Queens Anne’s Revenge was discovered. After about 300 years, almost 4 feet of sand had accumulated on top of the wrecked ship. More recent discoveries include the findings of Blackbeard’s anchor and cannons. On May 27,2011 divers discovered Blackbeard’s 11 ft. 4 in., 3,000 pound anchor. On October 30, 2013 the Coast Guard and team raised 5 cannons from Blackbeard’s ship that he ran aground in 1718. The largest cannon weighed in around 3,000 lbs.

Nothing much was mentioned of Blackbeard or Queen Anne’s Revenge until about 1996 when the Queens Anne’s Revenge was discovered. After about 300 years, almost 4 feet of sand had accumulated on top of the wrecked ship. More recent discoveries include the findings of Blackbeard’s anchor and cannons. On May 27,2011 divers discovered Blackbeard’s 11 ft. 4 in., 3,000 pound anchor. On October 30, 2013 the Coast Guard and team raised 5 cannons fromBlackbeard’s ship that he ran aground in 1718. The largest cannon weighed in around 3,000 lbs.


Sources:

Blackbeard: Pirate Terror at Sea

The Story of Blackbeard

Blackbeard the Pirate

Archeologists find Booty from Pirate Blackbeard’s Ship

Blackbeard’s anchor recovered off NC Coast

Outer Banks Breakfast | Restaurants Guide | Places to Eat

nags-head-pier-smallI like breakfast.  There, I said it!  One of the most delightful experiences you can have on your Outer Banks vacation is a tasty meal out.  One of the most ful”filling” meals out you can eat is breakfast.  Your OBX vacation certainly requires focus and energy, so there is no excuse not to have an enormously satisfying breakfast at the beach.

Contrary to popular belief, there are a nice assortment of gut-busting breakfast joints on the Outer Banks that are sure to please even the pickiest early morning foodie.  Now I’m not talking about meager stop-and-go, poke your head in, egg white sandwich drive thru’s here.  I’m writing about the get in line, pop a squat, read the menu, sit, enjoy, drink tasty coffee, and celebrate enormous portions kinda places!

millers-breakfast-kill-devil-hillsI won’t go into detail and give you a play by play of all of these, because quite frankly, I’m quite addicted to a handful of these.  What I can tell you is that the Outer Banks breakfast scene is fantastic, and that you and your family should seriously consider making breakfast out one of your traditions.  Heck, it’s cheaper than the rest of the meals of the day.  It also fills you up enough to not want to get in your bathing suit until about 3pm – so it’s win-win!

I’ll jump into the breakdown and stop rambling.  There’s something about Outer Banks breakfast restaurants that is truly unique.  The thrill of vacation already sets the mood for the experience to be fantastic, the ambiance (at some places) is soothing and beachy, and finally… the wealth of fresh seafood makes a perfect paring with early morning entrees!

Some Outer Banks breakfast joints are made famous by their breakfast buffets.  The Dunes Restaurant in Nags Head is one of those.  I can remember going to The Dunes when I was younger, and my brother and I would be the only two brave enough to tackle the buffet.  The place has since been renovated, but the buffet is still gut-busting (or tame if you control yourself).

Other OBX breakfast spots are a more traditional, come in – get cozy – stuff your face, kind of places.  The Jolly Roger in Kill Devil Hills is a stellar example of this.  It has a warm and cozy interior, not your typical decor (I dig it), and a bountiful menu of large and in charge food.  Outer Banks breakfast has been spotlighted on the TOP 10 Foods to Try, and you better bet I threw a recommendation to the direction of the Crab Benedict!  I can also testify that the Pier House Restaurant, in the Nags Head Pier, is a fantastic ritual for tasty morning grub at really reasonable prices.  Eating right on the pier has that “aura” of it.  It’s uber cozy – and I like cozy when it comes time to be active early in the morning!

stack-em-high-bobs-eat-and-get-the-out-obx-breakfastThere are also a handful of “cult following” breakfast restaurants on the Outer Banks.  OK, there aren’t cults (or are there?) circulating to breakfast spots here, but these restaurants have a certain fanship that understands there’s just something regulated and ritualistic about them.  Know what I mean?  For example, let’s take Bob’s Grill in Kill Devil Hills.  At first glance you wouldn’t know, oh wait, yes you would.  According to my supervisor, I should not type such language, but Bob’s has a catchy little slogan that is really hard to miss when driving by.  It gets you in the door and reminds you how long your welcome is there.  This is the type of “breakfast mania” mentality I’m hinting at.  Stack ’em High Pancake Houses – both in Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills, have a HUGE following amongst OBX’ers anxious to stuff down some syrup slopped cakes.  The lines pour out the door – and that’s how it is.  Like the Orange Blossom Cafe in Buxton, NC, you kind of just “do what you have to do” to get the good stuff after the wait.

ships-wheel-restaurant-obx-smallSpeaking of cult following pancakes, the Ship’s Wheel Restaurant by the Ebb Tide Motel in Kill Devil Hills has a pancake bigger than my computer screen I’m looking at right this very minute.  I assure you, it’s quite large.  They aren’t widescreen shaped, but they are huge, they are tasty, and you know what?  They are memorable!  That’s what the secret ingredient is for any successful breakfast restaurant here.  Memorable!  Vacation is all about having fun, making memories, forming traditions, and hopefully doing it all over again to forget about your day job (I like my day job).   An Outer Banks breakfast is a perfect combination of all (had to count) 4 of those, and you need to get out and start making a serious tradition of this.  Please.  Thank you!

sam-and-omies-thanks-dad-outer-banksOther breakfast places that need to be mentioned and written down are Henry’s in Kitty Hawk, Miller’s on the beach road in Kill Devil Hills, and Sam & Omie’s right across from Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head!  Get out!  Go, get, scram!  Go eat some OUTER BANKS BREAKFAST!!!!

Soft Shell Crab, an Outer Banks Treat

If you would rather get to the details of soft shell crabbing then skip this first section and go straight to “Soft Shell Crab On The Outer Banks”

soft-shell-crab-sandwichHow I Discovered Soft Shell Crab

When I started dating my wife, a local Outer Banks girl, she introduced me to a few things that were special to her about the Outer Banks.  One of those things was crabbing. I had never been crabbing before, and she made it her mission to give me the experience.  I remember going out with chicken necks on a string, catching 10 or so, steaming them up, and being introduced to the wonderful flavor of blue crab.  While I enjoyed myself, I must admit it was a lot of work to get to the meat.  But to this day my wife doesn’t seem to mind the work to get to the meat.  She loves blue crab.

A couple of month before we were married she wanted to introduce me to another Outer Banks experience, soft shell crab.  She grew up with neighbors who, every spring, were soft shell crab harvesters.  I learned about the process and helped out for an afternoon; as a reward we were given a few to enjoy for dinner. You don’t eat soft shell crab the same way you would hard shell.  They were deep fried whole, missing a few internal parts, and put on a sandwich.  At first I was rather hesitant.  I mean, it looked strange to me and I was expecting it to be hard, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The flavor was kind of like the difference between chicken and fried chicken, but blue crab is so much better!

That was 6 years ago.  Shortly after getting married I stole my wife away to Florida and there we had to make do with frozen snow crab, which wasn’t even close to the same.  Now that we’re back on the Outer Banks, one of the first things my wife wanted to do was to go crabbing.  And recently I’ve reconnected with my wife’s childhood neighbors and reacquainted myself with the soft shell crab industry and I thought I’d share some of what I learned.

Soft Shell Crab On The Outer Banks

Photo taken by Terry Moore for Southern Shores Realty.

How do commercial fishers know Soft Shell Crab season has started? 
In a normal year the season will start somewhere in late April, early May.

Some people will take a net and drag it to see if they catch any “peelers” (a peeler is a crab that has left or is leaving its shell), but what most people do is they set an empty peeler pot and see if one goes into it.  A crab will usually go in for protection. When they’re soft they become vulnerable. But people do it in different ways.

Most who soft shell crab also hard shell crab and they’ll notice that when they begin catching less hard shell crabs then soft shell season is about to begin.

Photo taken by Terry Moore for Southern Shores Realty.

How can a consumer know it’s Soft Shell Crab season?
Visiting your local seafood market often is the best way.  Many say that soft shell crab season starts around the same time as strawberry season (strawberry patches near the area where the crabbing takes place); how accurate that is I don’t know. We do know that the crabs will shed the most around the full moon.

Why are the crabs getting soft? 
They’re shedding their hard shell in order to grow.  When they get out of their shell they are already larger.  And within hours they are hard again and bigger.

Photo taken by Terry Moore for Southern Shores Realty.

What is the strategy in catching the crabs?
When catching hard shell crab you can use chicken or fish in the pot, but when you’re going for soft shell crab you use a “Jimmy” crab. A Jimmy is a male crab.  Crabs mate during soft shell season and placing a large male in the pot will draw in the other crabs.

Once the crabs are caught what is the sorting process?  Where do they go from the crab pot?
You have to identify how close the crab is to shedding.

If you look at the back fin on a crab you’ll see a red line.  The redder that line the faster that crab will shed.  A strong red line means they will most likely shed that day.  If the line is closer to pink then it might be 2 to 4 days before they shed.  And then there is what’s called a “white line peeler”.  That crab is going to peel, but it’s going to be a while.  Also, females are usually a week or two behind the males.

Photo taken by Terry Moore for Southern Shores Realty.

Once the soft have been separated from the hard, how do you know when the soft shell crab is ready to be packaged?
Once they’re soft crabs, they immediately start to harden up. The warmer the water the faster the firm up. You can eat them right away if they’ve turned soft, but if they’re going to be sold then you need to let them harden slightly.

Once the crab is ready it is placed in a cooler until it is cooked.  If the crab is too hard it’s no longer good for cooking through soft shell methods.  If the crab is too soft then it can’t resist the cold of the cooler and it will die.  You can eat a crab that has died, but they don’t taste as good.  Soft shell crabs are sold year around, but those are dead crabs.  The best are those that were cooked while they were still alive.

The lesson here is, if you want to experience the awesome flavor of soft shell crab prepared the way it should be then it needs to be fresh and local.