When Orville Wright lifted from the sands of Kitty Hawk at 10:35 on the morning of Dec. 17, 1903 , we were on our ways to the moon and beyond”(Placard at Brothers Memorial”)
Visiting the The Outer Banks of North Carolina proved to be a difficult yet rewarding challenge for my wife and I as we made our way south along the eastern seaboard coastline of the United States. It soon became clear that the limited bridge access to and from the mainland was primarily designed to provide access to the tourist- driven, towns of Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, and Kill Devil Hills only. Clearly, it would take a great deal of driving time to traverse the barrier islands of the entire 131 mile long, scenic byway. As a result we decided that we would limit our time spent to the historic, Wright Brothers National Memorial followed by a loop venture for a few miles along the remote Cape Hatteras portion of this highway. While inclement weather had become our norm for a good portion of our 2017 road trip. we would be fortunate that our Outer Banks tour on Wednesday would comfortably take place without rain or wind appearance.
I anticipated stopping merely for a brief glance of “authentic” history at the Kitty Hawk site of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first successful flight of a powered airplane. Yet an aviation exhibit outside the Outer Banks Welcome Center convinced me to observe this significant event on a wider scale. At the adjoining “Monument To A Century of Flight” walk path, I thus gained more in-depth understanding of aviation history as I walked amongst the impressive series of black granite obelisks, there.
Seeking firsthand evidence about the first flight at the site of the Wright Brothers National Memorial, we noted a grassy field with airstrip clearing dominated by the impressive heights of Kill Devil Hill. Passing various markers along our walk around this obscure, takeoff site, we viewed actual photographs of the twelve second, first flight takeoff. Our followup hike up the steep hill to view the Wright Brothers monument gave a clear perspective about their numerous challenges in glider use to obtain lift, thrust, and control” conditions necessary for flight. On the far side of the hill, we now descended to view a replica of the original 1903 Wright flyer. The appearance of realistic, human sculptures around the plane clearly provided the impression that the residents in the Kitty Hawk community as well as close friends were critical factors in the success of their mission.
Cape Hatteras marked the beginning of an “environmentally protected” portion of our tour of the Outer Banks Highway. The natural beauty there provided by lonely beaches, historic lighthouses, and wind sculptured dunes certainly tempted us to drive down to the end of these barrier islands, Yet a realization that a lengthy journey by car ferry to the mainland as the only transportation option seemed impractical for us as a day trip only. We would thus settle for a quiet walk along the Atlantic beach followed by a brief, driving tour of colorful, stilted houses along the Hatteras coast today.
Summer’s arrival means heading back to South Florida as home seems important to both of us now. Reassessing the impact of our recent travels, we continue to show great interest in this nomadic and generally economical way of maximizing our quality of life in retirement Perhaps our ambitions exceed our energy at times as witnessed by the inclusion of a challenging tour of India as a sidetrack to our 2017 car trip. Yet soon we will grow restless to “hit the road” again and I will expand my interest in blogging to find new sites of traveler interest. Stay tuned.