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Issue #204, Epic Road Trip, June 26, 2018: Kill Devil Hill, Fishheads Restaurant and Bodie Lighthouse, North Carolina

June 26, 2018 We had a fairly active day here in the Outer Banks; although the weather left an impression on my ears, it was also windy and cooler, which made touring about a little more comfortable. Some insect, possibly a spider, bit me in the back of my leg, and I now have a huge welt that has bubbled over with turgidity and itchiness. The first place we explored was Kitty Hawk, the “Birth place of flight”, associated with a large hill called “Kill Devil Hill”, now covered in grass and bushes and topped by a big granite memorial; this is where the Wright Brothers launched their prototype airplanes: first a glider, and then a heavier version that included an engine and propellors.

the birthplace of flight:
a sandy hill with a breeze
determined brothers

wright brothers’ first flight
on a sandy, windswept dune
called kill devil hill

inscribed in granite
the first airborne maneuvers
of the wright brothers

A model of the glider sat in a lot near the parking area, and the kids climbed all over that. Lower in the field were granite markers that measured the distances flown during those first four seminal flights.

Orville and Wilber:
dedicated and focused
attaining their goal

above kitty hawk
a biplane advertising
flight for 50 bucks

The visitors’ center was undergoing renovations, so we could not see all the historical material, but we did catch the end of a lecture under a tent given by a black docent who spoke enthusiastically about the persistence with which Orville and Wilber had given to the problem of wing-and-propellor design, and the single-minded focus they had employed when approaching the challenge. The Wrights were bike mechanics from Ohio who came to the area after a search for a good hill with consistent wind conditions. It was great to see the site first-hand, and the kids liked it; their moods were good, amenable even to walking all over to get to the various sites, which were somewhat spread out.

Orville and Wilber:
dedicated and focused
attaining their goal

above kitty hawk
a biplane advertising
flight for 50 bucks

Orion’s sunburn from Carolina Beach has begun peeling, and so his cheeks and nose look raw and painful; he wore Paige’s turquoise hat the whole day, until he finally bought another at the restaurant on a pier that we went to - “Fish Heads” - following our exploration of Kitty Hawk. The idea for eating down on this pier came from the campground manager, who also suggested some other local places to visit, having grown up here at a time when “the place shut down for winter” (which apparently never happens now). This spot is mostly strip development - everything built on a narrow spit of an island - with vacation homes squeezed into every inch of land that faces the ocean.

At ‘Fish Heads’ we sat right over the ocean on a pier. The entire enterprise combines a small restaurant with a tackle shop, connected to a pier that stretches out over the water. It was a funky beach hang-out, with some good tuna burgers, which Orion and I ate, and some overly-spicy fish tacos which Phoenix started, but I finished. Our waitress asked if we were from Colorado. She had lived in Avon, for awhile.

We walked on the pier after dinner, and then headed further south, entering Cape Hatteras Natural Area, hoping to see the Bodie Lighthouse. Initially we were misdirected by Google maps (my phone is barely working) and drove 11 miles too far south, but eventually figured it out, and turned around in the soft sand at the side of the road and made it to the lighthouse and bought tickets for a 3:50 climb of the 162-foot structure. Only one person at a time can climb each section of stairs, hence the need to spread people out.

While waiting for the tour, we drove over to another beach access, where the kids found a small transparent jellyfish and incorporated it into their spontaneous sand-castle structure. The lighthouse was really fun to climb, and the view from the top was wonderful, revealing the intricate topography of the landscape, with lots of marshes surrounding the lighthouse. The ocean around here is infamous for shipwrecks because of the way the current flows past this spit of land- apparently, the mixing of currents leads to a build-up of sand on the ocean floor, which ships can hit and run aground on. One poster I looked at showed the many casualties and shipwrecks over time. The lighthouse was mainly used to guide ships far enough away from the sand, so they could avoid such a fate.

protecting sailers
from their possible demise:
lighthouse at Bodie

breezier weather
up the carolina coast -
dragging out wool shirt

clear jellyfish used
to emulate swimming pool
in sand castle house

past the tourist crap
seeking what is authentic
in the outer banks

Paige and I spent some time ruminating over the preponderance of RV’s and their ubiquity and acceptance here - well, everywhere, it seems. One particularly large one nearby even had a pirate flag with the inscription “Always On Liberty”, which I looked up on Facebook. The folks who inhabit this rig are an older couple (the guy looks to be a retired military officer).

Anyway, the Cricket sort of fits in here, in the sense that we can ‘plug in’, yet our rig is clearly for people who would rather be spending more time outside, rather than bringing our entire home with us, not to mention the resources it takes in terms of gas and infrastructure to pilot one of those beasts around. I feel somewhat judgmental of being part of this cultural traveling expression of excess - yet I’m sure each one of these rigs contains friendly folks who are just out to experience our great country.

Canal by camper
boat floats by with lobster pots
making morning run

old cemetery
on hill above campsite:
tombs over tourists

forgotten graveyard
headstones lie in disarray-
unlike parked RV’s

the uniform code
of RV slashes and swirls
adorning all rigs

what she does the best:
host with the yellow highlighter
marks up tourist map

elusive neighbors
emerge from RV fortress
and tie up small dogs

at the dump station,
disgorging all of it’s contents:
RV burps some gas

On the way back from all of these adventures, we stopped at “Billy’s Fish Market” to get something for dinner. We learned that the people who run this RV park also own the fish market. We bought one pound of steamed shrimp; then sat on the picnic table outside of the Cricket and ate it. Phoenix and I primarily consumed the lot of them. Orion had a few, but lost interest quickly, and Paige avoided them altogether.

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen