Wednesday, June 10, began with an early morning trip to Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head. By early, I mean that Cindy and I left the house before 8 a.m. I was pretty excited to go, since the purpose of our trip was for me to take beginning hang-gliding lessons off the largest active sand dune east of the Mississippi. After a brief training session in a classroom, we donned our helmets and harnesses and began the trek up to the top of the dune. It felt like we were trudging through the desert, although we were, of course, on the North Carolina coast. Once at the top, each of the students were allotted five training flights. Unfortunately, there was almost no wind, which meant any power to get lift would have to come from my 56 year-old legs propelling this 200 lb. body down the side of a giant sand dune. Fortunately, I did have the assistance of two young men who were there to help each student. They ran alongside our gliders adding extra push.
Of my five “flights,” three I would classify as successful, but two were pretty much jump up and eat sand. By successful, I mean that I may have flown to a height of ten feet and covered a distance of about thirty-five yards. These kites were designed for beginners, which means they go slow, low, and short distances. With no wind, this means they flew lower, slower, and shorter. However, it was great fun, even though it was uncomfortably hot on the dunes. Standing around under the scorching sun, watching others attempt to fly, moving from one side of the dune to the other trying to find some wind, running sprints in soft sand, and climbing back up the dunes after my flights for two hours left me drenched and exhausted. But, I loved it. My poor wife accompanied me to my lessons to take some pictures. The heat and walking in the soft, searing sand took its toll on her as well. I suggested she go inside after my third “flight” and she willingly obliged.
After my hang-gliding lessons, the rest of our fellow vacationers caught up with us and we drove down to Manteo on Roanoke Island for a surprisingly good lunch at Poor Richards Sandwich Shop. Cindy and I had a pulled pork sandwich that came with NC-style BBQ sauce. It was very vinegary and liquidy (are those words?); not my favorite, but not bad. The gang then headed over to the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke. The two kids were frightened by the dinosaur trail we walked before entering into the aquarium itself. We enjoyed watching lots of fishes and turtles. The shark tank was pretty impressive. Even though I live on the water, I still love to see the sea life, even in an aquarium. The visit made me realize how special an existence I have right now. Over the past several months, I have had access to my own expansive aquarium in which I am privileged to dive in and become a part of their world, almost at will. I have swam with sharks, turtles and rays, along with all sorts of colorful fishes. I’m thankful.
From the aquarium, we drove a short distance to the Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island. These gardens are located within the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site where the initial attempts were made by England under Queen Elizabeth I to colonize America. These colonies, planted on Roanoke Island by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587, two decades before Jamestown and Plymouth Rock, did not last long. When supply ships failed to arrive within the next two to three years, the settlement was abandoned and no survivors were found. The details of the demise of this “Lost Colony” remains a mystery. The ten-acre garden provided for a relaxing wall among beautiful trees and flowers as the day wound down.
On our way back to Corolla, we stopped by the Nag’s Head Fishing Pier Restaurant for dinner. The restaurant wasn’t fancy or all that clean appearing, but the food was alright. I had the Shrimp and Crab Norfolk, which I’d recommend. It was really good! When we finally reached our rental home, I was exhausted from a long and tiring, yet fully enjoyable day in the Outer Banks.