Friday, June 28, 2013

Nags Head Woods Preserve

Today Noelle, Sierra, Mom, Dad and I headed out for a short hike at the Nature Conservancy's Nags Head Woods Preserve. We decided to hike the Roanoke Trail which leads through the woods to Roanoke Sound. We followed a sandy road for a short distance before heading into the woods on the narrow trail.
Eric, Sierra and Grandpa
We passed by several small shallow ponds
Woods and Pond
and then came to a road crossing.

On the other side of the road was a small cemetery belonging to the Tillitt family. There were several very interesting old headstones, some dating back to the 1700's.
Dolly Tillitt Grave
Samuel Tillitt Grave
Thomas Tillett Grave
After exploring the cemetery we moved further down the trail.
We came to an old tree with a huge trunk.
Noelle and Big Tree
Nearby the tree were the ruins of the Tillitt home. All that was left were a few sections of brick foundation.
From the house ruins we headed towards the sound, passing through a grassy wetland on a boardwalk.
Sea of Grass
When we arrived at the sound we saw a small crab
in the sand near the water's edge and took a few family photos there.
At the Sound
Then we retraced our steps back to the parking lot and visitor center. There were two interpreters showing off some of the natural curiosities of the preserve, including a rat snake.
Rat Snake
After checking them out we got back into the car and headed home.           

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Today was a driving day. The whole family loaded into two vehicles and we headed south through Cape Hatteras national Seashore to Cape Hatteras itself. The cape is the site of the famous lighthouse that was moved to protect it from beach erosion.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Monuments
When we finally got to the lighthouse Sierra was hungry. We found a hidden little picnic spot behind the ticket booth where Noelle nursed her. While sitting in the shade near the picnic table I spotted this interesting looking toad.
Because Sierra is too small to go into the lighthouse we just lounged around outside and admired the view while some of the party made the ascent.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Once everyone had made their way  up, down and through the bookstore, we headed back north to Southern Shores, but not before we stopped at a restaurant called I Got Your Crabs to treat Mom and Dad to dinner for their anniversary.   

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jockey's Ridge State Park

Dune grass
Today we headed out early to beat the heat on the East Coast's highest sand dunes at Jockey's Ridge State Park. We came equipped with kites to fly in the consistently strong winds on the dunes. Sierra enjoyed sitting in the sand and running her fingers through it for a bit, while the rest of us flew the kites. It was a fun morning, but it did start to get hot as the day went on.
Noelle flies kite

Walking to Dunes
Sierra in sand
Mom and Dad fly kite

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Today Noelle, Sierra, Mom, Dad and myself headed over to Roanoke Island and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. What an interesting place. However, if it wasn't for the excellent exhibits in the visitor center there just wouldn't be much to the site. We spent over an hour looking at the exhibits and watching a movie that described the first English settlement in what is now the United States.

After looking at the exhibits we went to the picnic area to feed Sierra her lunch and enjoy the shade of some beautiful live oaks.
Family Under Live Oak
We then walked to the small reconstructed section of the fort.
Walking Past Fort Raleigh
Interestingly there was an ibis there foraging for food on dry land.
We passed the fort and found ourselves at the outdoor theater for a play called "The Lost Colony".
From there we headed over to the Elizabethan Gardens, but did not enter due to the steep entrance fee. We then headed back to the car.     

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wright Brothers National Memorial

Today the family headed over to Wright Brothers National Memorial to learn a little bit about the history of aviation. We arrived somewhat early but headed inside the hangar-like museum to check out some of the exhibits. I wish we had checked out the outdoor portions of the memorial as it got hotter and hotter as the day went on. Finally after about an hour and a half inside we headed out into the heat. We checked out a little memorial stone that marks the spot where the first flight took place.
Flight Spot Monument
Then we walked the paved walkway to the memorial itself.
 Sierra and Noelle at Wright Brothers Memorial

There were lots of people up there checking out the memorial with us,
Dad and Memorial
a few skinks as well.
After a few minutes at the monument we were all really hot, tired and hungry. We could see some picnic tables in a shady area under some live oaks and so we made our way in that direction for lunch. it was quite enjoyable eating under the oaks.
Live Oak and Memorial
Sierra and Grandma
We even did a little bit of tree climbing before leaving to head back to the rental house. 
JT Climbs Tree

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sierra's First Time at the Beach

After checking out the Bodie Island Lighthouse area Noelle, Sierra, Parker and I headed south into Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. We stopped at a parking lot at the visitor center and got ready for Sierra's first trip to the beach.
Getting Ready for the Beach
When ready we crossed the highway and climbed the dunes before we could sea the mighty Atlantic.
First Time on Beach for Sierra
There were some visible remains of a shipwreck just offshore which made the site particularly interesting.
This area is, after all, called the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Despite the strong winds which blew sand around and covered our beach towel, we spent some time sitting on the beach. Sierra played with a seashell that we found
Sierra and her Seashell
and she even dipped her toes in the ocean.
Sierra and Daddy at the Beach
In the Ocean
I would say it was a good, short introduction to the beach for our little girl.      

Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Bodie Island Lighthouse

Bodie Island Lighthouse
After arriving on the barrier island that is the Outer Banks in a pouring rain Noelle, Sierra, Parker and I found a sandwich shop for lunch. We then headed into Cape Hatteras National Seashore for the first time. We stopped at Bodie Island to check out the lighthouse there.
Daddy, Sierra and the Lighthouse
We didn't go inside for several reasons. Sierra is too young, we had Parker, and the lighthouse was closed due to lightning. We did however, enjoy seeing the lighthouse and walked a short boardwalk
Bodie Island Lighthouse
to a marshy area overlooking the sound where we saw some egrets and other birds flying and wading in the shallow water.    

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Andrew Johnson's Birthplace in Raleigh, North Carolina

Working at Andrew Johnson National Historic Site has given me a much deeper appreciation for the 17th President of the United States. While I don't find Andrew Johnson to be my favorite president or even one of our most effective Commanders in Chief, he is an interesting historical figure. That's why when I realized we would be driving through Raleigh on our way to the Outer Banks, I knew we just had to stop to see the home of his birth.
Andrew Johnson's Birthplace

Despite the fact that the home is no longer in its original location it was still interesting to see.
Andrew Johnson's Birthplace
We drove in dark clouds all the way from Greensboro to Raleigh, but it wasn't until the moment we arrived at Mordecai Park that the sky opened up and the rain started to fall. Still we took a short walk over to the simple home before getting back on the road to Rocky Mount.   

Guilford Courthouse National Military Park

We spent the night in Greesboro last night and this morning we headed up to Guilford Courthouse National Military Park the site of a Revolutionary War battle back in 1781. This battle, a British victory, turned out to be the high-water mark for the British during the War for American Independence.

Our visit turned out to be mush different then most of our visits to National Park Service sites. Because Parker was with us we weren't able to spend much time in the visitor center so we didn't see the park film or look at many exhibits. Instead we did some walking on the park trails.
Sierra in Wrap
The most noticeable aspect of the park is the preponderance of monuments.
James Morehead Monument
Karrenhappuch Turner Monument
Bugler Gillies Monument
Jethro Sumner Monument
Signers Monument
They are all over the place and I took the opportunity to photograph quite a few of them as we walked.
Noelle, Sierra, and the American Third Line Monument
Delaware Monument
The most conspicuous of the monuments is that built to honor Nathanael Greene whom our new hometown of Greeneville (and Greene County too) is named after.
Nathanael Greene Monument

Besides the many monuments, Sierra enjoyed seeing all the dogs that people were out walking. She liked one particular small dog that when the dog walked away with its owners, Sierra started to cry.