Ok, so, we're in the planning stages here folks. Our new-ish 4x4 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk hasn't been set free onto one of North Carolina's many drivable beaches yet...but we're planning on it. We were going to drive on Emerald Isle this winter but were easily distracted by the new drone.
We drove over to the Cape Lookout Visitor's Center on Harkers Island (this is one of many visitor centers for Cape Lookout National Seashore - here's the others). We browsed exhibits in the building and eventually purchased passenger ferry tickets to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse. We shoved off, quickly stopped by nearby Shackleford Banks to drop off visitors (pictured below), and eventually arrived at a dock on the cape near the lighthouse.
Cape Lookout National Seashore includes 3 large undeveloped barrier islands that stretch over 50 miles (the islands are South Core Banks, North Core Banks, and Portsmouth Island). You can get to all three using various park and/or private ferry services. Some of these services are how we will one day get our 4x4 vehicle to the islands.
On this trip we were just trying to feel out the vibe of the place. This lighthouse side of the island has another small visitors center to explore, you can beach it on the bay or ocean side of the island, climb the lighthouse, fish, or just relax and search for shells. Like many spots along the coast, all trash you bring to the island must come back with you. I'm always a little suspect of these systems while our state is still trying to kick itslitter habit. While walking the beach on the ocean side we saw quite a few vehicles and I started pondering the specifics of getting our Jeep out here. Here's what learned (in the form of tons of helpful links!).
Driving, Parking, & Getting There
*Here's some general info from the park about driving at Cape Lookout National Seashore
*Here's alist of the ferries that can transport passengers and vehicles from the mainland, it's gonna cost you $75 and up to get your vehicle out here, the boats leave from different places on the mainland
*You should have 4-wheel drive, gear to get you unstuck from the sand, and deflate your tires to around 20 psi for more coverage/grip in the sand
*You'll need to pick up a free ORV Education Certificate decal (online or at the park) to display on your ride
*There is longterm parking available on the islands - for folks who want to leave their rig there and passenger ferry back and forth to save $
*Here's a great blog post about driving on the islands/beach
Camping and Cabins to Extend the Trip
*Cabins to rent
*Camping (you can actually make a campfire!)
*Paddling from the mainland to the islands
*Here's amap of all of the islands
I'm going to leave you with a few more links regarding Portsmouth Island - the smallest of the three islands and home to Portsmouth Village - a cool and deserted historical seaside village. The park info doesn't really mention driving here, probably because the possibility of a flooded road. Some of the other info makes it seem easy.
*Visiting Portsmouth Village
*Somehistory and how to get there
*Driving there - flooded roads, bugs, and more!
*Portsmouth Island ATV tours (this looks fun)
We had a great time in our short visit and are excited about planning a longer stay with the Jeep. Since the cost is pretty high to get out there ($75 for our vehicle), it seems smart to camp by your ride or book a cabin to get the most out of it. More on that story as it develops!
~Paul & Amber everyonestravelclub.com
There's a few local islands I stare at all of the time but haven't actually explored yet. One of those is Dudley Island, part of Eastern North Carolina's Hammocks Beach State Park (recently added). Now, I didn't actually know that this island was part of the park until after the trip, but none-the-less, I'm glad it is and it's being protected.
We left the Point at Emerald Isle and paddled across the Bogue Inlet to reach Dudley Island. A higher tide is preferred as there is a giant sandbar between Emerald and Dudley. If you launched from the Point like us it's best to paddle away from the ocean a little bit to avoid the confused seas caused by the Inlet. Moral of the story - you probably won't be able to paddle in a straight line from island to island.
Once we navigated our way across, we found a few nice beaches to land our kayaks. Strangely there is lot of mud on this side of the island so don't be surprised when your feet get sticky as you step ashore. Because there's more soil, there's interesting grass growing (pictured above) that gives this island a different feel than the surrounding ones. There is a good deal of beach to walk on (on the oceanside of the island). For a good part of the season the interior of the island is off limits due to nesting birds. There are posted signs with dates.
We played on the beach, took a few pics, and back we paddled! A nice trip with some expected navigational challenges crossing the Inlet. On our return we paddled back over to the Point and up near the Emerald Isle Coast Guard Station to duck the current and wind. This probably isn't a great trip if it's your first few times in a kayak, but if you feel comfortable and have a little experience it will be fun (if you plan ahead!). Also, parking is limited to a neighborhood park near the Point - it will be hard to find a space at busier times.
Paddle safe everyone!
~Paul, Amber, & Eleanor EVERYONESTRAVELCLUB.COM
Emerald Isle Woods
Emerald Isle Town Boat Launch
Cedar Point Tideland Trail & Boat Launch
Hammocks Beach State Park - Bear Island
Ever since I was a little guy, my Dad would take our family to the annual air show. It was an annual adventure of crowds, jets, event food, and the hope that I could come home with at least one super, awesome, new toy plane. Did we go every year? I don't know, it seemed like it.
Fast forward, jeez, 30 years (wow, 30 years!?!?) and here we are, my father and I, rekindling our air show tradition, this time in North Carolina. For us, the air show is part American ingenuity, part American bravado, but it for me it really boils down to a whole lot of nostalgia. For this post we're going to compare the two large air shows in Eastern-ish North Carolina - the Wings Over Wayne air show at Johnson Air Force Base and the MCAS Cherry Point Air Show at Cherry Point.
If you're from Eastern North Carolina chances are you may have been to, heard about, or at least avoided the traffic of the area's two bi-annual air shows (they alternate so there is a show every year). Seymour Johnson AFB is inland, in Goldsboro, NC. The MCAS Cherry Point airshow is in the town of Havelock, NC, closer to the coast.
The experience is what's most similar about these two events. Some specifics:
1. It's probably going to be hot.
2. You'll arrive and be surprised at how efficient the military is in handling the large volume of cars and parking.
3. You'll board a trolley or bus after you park and ride it to the event.
4. You'll go through security, the line will be long, but still efficient.
5. You'll split your time between sitting in a crowd of chairs watching the show and wandering the grounds looking at jets and food.
6. There are kid zones at both venues. Lots of bouncy houses and stuff.
7. The jets and planes on display will be similar.
8. The Blue Angels will fly last.
9. You might scoff at the food/drink prices at first, but the heat will wear you down.
10. Did I mention it's probably going to be hot?
I just attended the MCAS air show yesterday (2018) and the Johnson air show last year (2017), so I'm comparing these years. This short list definitely isn't comprehensive, I'm sure I missed some stuff as I wandered the hot tarmac trying to find shade. They really are very similar events. Did I mention they were both hot?
1. You enter the event spaces at different locations. The thing I noticed at Cherry Point yesterday was that we entered at one side of the event space. If you put in the time to walk all the way across to the other side to put down your chairs, you had a lot more room and could sit closer to the fence. Views were better, it was less crowded. At Johnson we entered more in the center of the event space so folks were more equally spaced.
2. I noticed more 3rd party food vendors at Johnson AFB. At Cherry Point it seemed most of the food vendors (not all) were in house. They were still good, but there was a little less variety.
3. Bud vs Miller. Budweiser sponsored the Johnson AFB last year - that means at least you could get a Goose Island IPA or a Shock Top. At Cherry Point it was Miller this year. Now, you may like a Coors Light, but for $7? I was thankful that Miller owns Blue Moon so, yeah, that was the choice for me. #beersnob
4. Leaving the show. We left both events at the same time (about 3/4 the way through the finale - the Blue Angels). Johnson AFB was way more organized in the departure. Cherry Point just left everyone (uhhh, thousands of people) hanging at the end: unorganized and poorly executed trolly pickups followed by traffic jam central. At Johnson staff got us into a marked line, we got on the bus, got off, got to our car, and drove out easily.
Food & kid stuff
Big kid stuff: Tesla!
Tips for your next air show
All right. I've sat for hours in the hot sun at these events thinking of these things for you. Listen to me. Hear me. Take notes.
1. Get there early. Especially at Cherry Point, this helps you park your car closer to the event. When the event is over it's an easy walk back to your vehicle and you can avoid the shuttle busses if you have to. And you can see a lot of stuff before it gets crowded.
2. Bring chairs. You have to have chairs.
3. Don't bring prohibited stuff. Check the website for these items before you come.
4. Bring a soft cooler. Now, there is no alcohol allowed and coolers are mentioned as a no-no on the air show websites, however, they must be referring to giant coolers filled with ice. We took an over the shoulder soft cooler to both air shows and made it in no problem. Strangely, the signs at the event that list prohibited items did not include coolers.
5. There are water refill stations - bring a reusable water bottle.
6. Plan to spend some money on food and drinks. Food was reasonably priced - you could get lunch for $10 and be happy. Beer, smoothies, etc. were kinda pricey for the area. $7 beers, $9 smoothie, you get the idea.
7. Put on sunblock, wear a giant straw hat, wear sunglasses (and I never wear sunglasses). Johnson AFB last year was the hottest place I've ever been (and I'm a pretty healthy-ish dude).
8. Be prepared to walk a lot. I clocked only 4.5 miles yesterday at Cherry Point, it felt like longer. #heat
9. Crying kids at air shows is the sound of freedom. Bring ear plugs for the little ones. Even better - the big lawn mower ear plug headphone looking things. P.S. The kiddos are still gonna cry about the sound...but really they're crying because the event for them kinda sucks (even after you bought them the headphone-ear plug thingys, the overpriced toy, and food).
10. Come late, leave early? It's not very traditional, but if you've been to a million of these air shows why not show up late to avoid the security rush, walk around and take pictures, hit up the bouncy houses with the little ones, buy a toy, get a smoothie, and roll out before everyone gets mad (see #9).
So there you have it. I endured the heat two years in a row! This year was even better as I was mentally prepared for how the day would flow. Was there anything I missed? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
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