We left the lovely Asheville campsite, aiming to drive right across North Carolina to Kitty Hawk on the east coast, but we knew it was too far to go in one hit and then camp. We broke our journey half way at a tatty-looking, but cheap and clean, motel, which had recently changed ownership and was undergoing renovations.
There was not a decent restaurant nearby, so we ordered takeout from a good local family restaurant and the two steaks that arrived were delicious, although I was again confused as to why American restaurants insist on putting cheese on side salads. The advantage of staying in a motel was that we were on the road bright and early the next morning
and we stopped at a very nice roadside cafe, where the locals seemed a little uncertain of us at first, (althoughit didnt take long for them to thaw) but the food was delicious and we enjoyed the sign on the wall
We watched (rather weirdly) part of a football match between Manchester City and Liverpool on the TV, which we NEVER EVER do at home. There was a Frozen themed party set up all ready for the owner’s granddaughter birthday the next day, which contrasted rather sweetly with all the rugged looking hunters that filled up half the place.
We managed to find a lovely campsite within reach of Kitty Hawk relatively early in the afternoon.
The place was quite busy, because it was a Saturday and they had to put us on an RV site because we wanted electricity. It was a chilly evening, but Tim built a fire and we sat by it, enjoying a beer for quite a short while before some of the other people came over to talk to us. Dan wouldn’t sit down with us, as he had his family, but was a very friendly chap.
Our immediate neighbours ended up bringing their chairs over and spent all evening with us. Linda was very familiar with the UK, as she had been married to an Englishman and had traveled over there several times. She is a huge fan of English beer and quite liked our Cold Mountain ale. She was fascinating to talk to, as she had an interest in a huge range of things. Guy was a hoot and an incredibly kind man. He had previously come out to warn us to be careful where we pitched the tent, as it had flooded recently. They have a massive RV, but it is their home. Guy and Linda spend quite a large part of the year volunteering at various national parks, including Death Valley. I was worried that they might be cold if they came out to join us, but they are experienced campers and they were both well prepared. Linda looked rather more like a small child sent out into the snow than I usually do, despite my usual four jackets, and she made far less fuss about the cold than I do.… They are a really lovely couple, especially as they found each other late in life, both having lost their partners to cancer and the most lovely thing is that they both believe that they are lucky to have found each other.
The next day was horrible; it did not stop raining from about three in the morning until about four in the afternoon. We spent most of the day huddled in the tent, because we didn’t want to get soaked through taking the awning down on Camel to go for a ride. (How sappy is that?) We spent the whole day in our pyjamas (OK, with other clothes on top) and only left the tent to get food or dash over to the ‘facilities’. Towards the end of the day it became very worrying to observe the progress of the puddle by our tent, as it was nearly deep enough to get over the top of our Shed Shoes (a bit like very jolly Crocks)
so the water had to be over an inch deep. Amazingly, the tent did not leak, despite the fact that the floor has a series of zips in it to allow you to open it up for the wood burning stove. We think that lack of seepage was due to the footprint we made from pond liner, as we seemed to float on top.
We actually quite enjoyed the day as it was an excuse to be really lazy and to read and to play silly computer games all day long.
We spent the whole of the next day drying things out (the Bushpack had filled up very nastily with water) and shopping, but we did cook a meal for Guy and Linda in the evening. Tim, yet again, built a fantastic campfire and we had a lovely evening with them, killing ourselves with laughter (helped along by their generous contributions of wine and beer) and we didn’t want to go inside, but I found myself to be REALLY cold by about nine o’clock (it felt as if my bum was about to fall off), so we called it a night. That night was SOOOO cold, about minus 6 degrees C; we could see frost forming on the tent, even before we went in. I wore two layers of everything, including my rather fetching purple fleece PJs. Even so, I was really cold; you could feel that the underside of the duvet was cold to the touch, even under three extra layers of blankets. I refused to get up until the sun came out, but we were told that the frost over the place had looked like snow and there was still ice on parts of the tent when I came out. (I took this photo the next day when it was a little warmer!)
On Tuesday we drove out to the Outer Banks, a series of islands where the Wright brothers developed their aircraft. We always though the first flight was in Kitty Hawk, but it was actually south from there at the poetically named Kill Devil Hill, a sand dune next to a nice flat area of sand.
They chose to come there from their bicycle shop in Ohio because they wanted the strong local onshore winds to test their glider designs and the locals also seemed very welcoming (as they are nowadays!). The state park set up in their honour is a nice little place which explains their scientific and engineering developments.
It also has life-sized models of their planes and stone markers showing how well they did on their first four flights.
(Tim wandered off at one stage and I wondered what he was up to. It turns out that the first flight of 120ft took about 12 seconds and Tim thought that a) he could run that fast nowadays, despite not being very fit at the moment and b) Usain Bolt could beat it by masses!)
They also had reconstructions of both their workshops and their living accommodation. The only niggle for us foreigners was the wall of fame, a long series of portraits following the great moments in flight, which looked great, at first. It had, amongst all the early flyers, the first guys on the moon Emelia Erhart and and and….
When we looked a little closer we realised that there were only four non American portraits in the whole place. No Concord, no first non-stop flight across the Atlantic…. Oh well, I guess we should have been prepared after being told that America won D Day for us in “Saving Private Ryan” (not that we were not grateful for them coming in with us).
That evening we ordered more wood from the campsite and the owner was rather concerned about us being cold and so he gave us some extra logs plus a whole big stack of offcuts from his woodwork to use as kindling. The fire was magnificent and I found that, if I slowly rotated in front of it my bum didn’t feel quite so bad. Guy and Linda kindly bought us pizza and we had a great time yet again. Its lovely to make new friends and when they heard that we like whiskey, they brought out some very nice Canadian club and the whole evening went with a swing….. Hic!