Monday, May 18, 2015

NC Nags Head, Roanoke Island

     Welcome to Nags Head and Roanoke Island, NC.

     On the inland side the two islands mark the divide between Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.

     The result is that you can watch a both sunrise and sunset over the water - from the same spot.

     I got nifty with the shadows there.  I know a photographer that shoots almost exclusively photos with heavy shadows - I wish I had his eye for that.

     Nags head has two piers - this one has small wind turbines for electrical power.

     It is hard to get a perspective from the ground just how thin this strip of land is.  This was taken coming over the bridge from Roanoke Island to Nags Head.  Not much resistance to storms there.

     As we saw yesterday, these sandbars are moving toward the shore of North Carolina at the rate of about a half mile a century.  With this much money in real estate, everyone tries to slow the migration of sand as best they can.

     Dunes pile up quickly and sweep into parking lots and over decks.

     It is like watching an ultra-slow motion leak in a dyke.

     The area has lots of charm, and a bit of the fishing industry left.

     Here and there are boats whose days of ocean worthiness have passed, and are now relegated to decoration.

     I am not sure if this is a very rapidly growing vine or if the crab pots don't see that much use.  

     The blue crabs have just molted their shells, so there are advertisements all around for soft shell crabs.

    It is worth taking a day to explore Roanoke Island a bit.  It is the location of the third of the North Carolina Aquariums that line the shore.  We saw the first two at Fort Fisher and the second on Bogue Bank.

     The aquarium sits right out on the sound, and has a great dock to sit on and take in the view.

     In the distance you can see the bridge connecting the islands to the mainland.

     Chelsea Miller helped us today.

     She came here to help the aquarium with their social media sites, and ends up doing some PR on the side.  Here she is showing us the operating room in the turtle rescue center.

     These huge tanks are amazing - this one is close to 300,000 gallons of water.  At 7 pounds or so a gallon, that is a lot of weight.

     Back at Myrtle Beach's aquarium we saw a bit of how they are constructed.

     My favorite part of an aquarium is watching the children watch the fish.  They are in complete awe at creatures that they probably had no idea existed.

     All of the North Carolina aquariums have been real kid-friendly, with all the displays open low so they are at the children's eye level.

     There is an albino alligator here - well it has a tiny bit of pigmentation so it isn't full albino.  I forget the name for it.

     There is a big ray tank that the children can pet them in.  The rays grow back their stinger about once every two months, so they have to be constantly trimmed.  The rays are turned loose into the sound when they get too big for the tank, but before released they are allowed to grow the stinger all the way back.  

     The sea turtle center is open to viewing, and handles a wide variety of issues.  

     As we saw back on Jekyll Island in Georgia, there was an unusually large number of cold stunned turtles this year.  Another turtle was hit by a boat propellor and was having work done.

     I always get a kick out of watching my fellow photographers whose job it is to hawk photos at these attractions.

     You have to have a good outlook on life to remain upbeat doing this all the time.

     There is a new outdoor exhibit set to open this weekend.

     A trail has been cut through a nearby wooded area, and life sized dinosaurs are on display.

     These are the animated sort that bob their heads and snarl a bit when you walk by.  

     Just up the street is the location of the first English colony here, along with an outdoor theater and gardens.

     The backdrop of the theater is the sound - a really pretty place to watch a show.

     The show is the longest running play in the United States, and is based on historical accounts of the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  This was an English settlement in the 1580's that disappeared while the founder went to England for provisions.  From all accounts of folks I talked with, it is a great play to attend.  The show has been attended by over 4 million since opening on July 4th of 1937.  Over the years many well known actors such as Andy Griffith have gotten their start here.

     For an outdoor theater in a marine environment, the place is in great repair.  I like the detail on the stage.

     Just across the woods is the remains of the settlement, called Fort Raleigh,  and a visitors center.  At this point all that is left of the fort are some mounds of dirt.

     Artifacts have been hard to come by - there are a few trinkets and tools that have been found.  

     On August 18th of 1587 one Virginia Dare was born here, the first English child born in the Americas.  The surrounding county is named Dare County, and her birthday is celebrated here each year.

     Adjacent to the Theater and fort are large Elizabethan Gardens..

     In 1951 the Garden Club of North Carolina voted to lease a tract of ten acres for 99 years and put in formal gardens.

     It started out rather humble but has grown over the years.

     It has been a continual effort since, and with its location on a bluff overlooking the sound it is quite scenic.  It is well worth a visit if for nothing else to just quiet ones self and enjoy the atmosphere.

     That brings us to today's "Faces in the Crowd" - a random fellow I spotted at the theater.

     And today's parting shot:

     On the personal front, I saw a fellow struggling to carry an air conditioner up the stairs at a hotel, so I offered to lend a hand.  Turns out he was the maintenance man, and was leaving the next day to care for his ailing father in Idaho.  Through him I got to know several of the crew at the hotel, who have given me access to showers, a hot tub and breakfast buffet.  Life is good.

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Make it a great day !!