Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Between ferries...

We are at the park service parking lot in the village of Ocracoke, on Ocracoke Island (map). I'm blogging early, because we will soon stow the dish and drive to the other end of town for dinner. Where we will actually sleep tonight is something of a mystery.

Yesterday we stopped at the Wright Brothers memorial at Kill Devil Hills (adjacent to Kitty Hawk). We had to bypass this site on our last trip through, due to schedule.

In one of our boondocking guides was printed a rumor that overnight parking was possible at the small air strip near the site. This proved to be unfounded, or out of date: prominent signs prohibited "Camping or sleeping in vehicles." (Possibly, sleeping in aircraft might be allowed.) In any case, we had to press on down the island (visiting the Bodie Island lighthouse on the way, another spot we missed a year ago), finally stopping for the night at the "Camp Hatteras" commercial campground in Rodanthe (map). We stayed there last November as well, and we ended up in nearly the same space.

Sometime in the night, the wind picked up, and it remained blustery through most of today. We stopped at the Cape Hatteras light house, which was moved in 1999, en masse, some thousand feet from its original location, which the Atlantic is trying to reclaim. We then continued through the towns of Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras, arriving at the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry landing just in time to see the 2:00 ferry sail away. We settled in to await the 3:00, and a ferryman came by to say that the 4:00 Ocracoke-Cedar Island Ferry had been canceled due to high winds, in case we had been planning to drive through. (We were not: I had already made reservations for a 10:00am ferry tomorrow from Ocracoke to Cedar Island.) I estimated the winds at 30mph steady, with gusts up to 50 or so. Odyssey was rocking quite a bit, and we weren't yet on a ferry!

The ferry ride was uneventful, and quite beautiful, actually. The sound was quite choppy, but the heavy ferry seemed completely unimpacted. After arriving at the southern terminus, we had a pleasant drive along the 13 miles or so of Ocracoke Island -- beautiful and desolate at this time of year -- before arriving here.

We had also read a rumor that one could overnight at the ferry landing here with a morning reservation in the off-season. It is unclear from the wording whether this meant the actual ferry loading lanes, or this Park Service lot we are in now, adjacent to the ferry terminal. Signs posted here, though, clearly indicate (again) no camping or sleeping in vehicles. Parking, however, is allowed for up to 72 hours.

When we are done with dinner at Howard's Pub (the only restaurant open this time of year in the entire village), we will ask them if we can stay overnight. If they turn us down, it looks like we will end up right back here until our 10:00am ferry. We just won't sleep. As far as you know.

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