You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
We're nearing the end of our week on the Outer Banks, and we're exhausted. It's time for a day off, recharging batteries by an afternoon with our books by the backyard pool.
It's not a crushingly hot day for it (though I did get a generous sunburn by late afternoon), but it ought to be comfortable and pleasant. 3 March 2022.
Privacy and quiet, a thermos of coldish water, and a table to put one's feet up on; it's all we ask, as long as the sun holds out.
First, we'll abandon the rest of our party to make a quick exploration over to the Atlantic Ocean.
Good examples of the now familiar beachside OBX architecture along the way
Here's the beach -- advertised as a '5 minute walk to the beach', turned out to be an enjoyable 12 minute walk to the beach, at a noncompetitive but normal sort of pace.
We're just down the Sandhill Road cul-de-sac to the public access boardwalk to the reason we're here.
Sea turtles, fantastic! Better than we could have hoped for. Oh . . . we're early.
But not too early to become a Beach Superstar!
The well-known Atlantic Ocean, and here we are!
Beach Superstars 'keep off the dunes', so there's a whole industry of alternative approaches probably running miles down the way.
Very good views. Nobody's thinking of paddling about in the surf, though, or even of lingering for long in this inconvenient wind.
Four months from now, this will all be overrun by excited kids with beach balls and sand buckets and patient parents (but keeping off the dunes).
Speaking of sand buckets, this is a little cul-de-sac off the cul-de-sac called 'Sandbucket Arch'.
The rest of the afternoon proceeded brilliantly being (nearly) blistered by a devious sun, discovering all kinds of engaging gossip about Harold, the last Anglo-Saxon king.
4 March was a day lost with a lot of inconveniences, but . . .
. . . now, on 5 March 2022, we're off for a painstaking examination of the small 'historic' center of the otherwise extraordinarily attenuated Corolla, 20 miles up and down the coastline.
Beginning with the 'Historic Corolla Park' (which Google Maps describes as 'Park with a lighthouse, a mansion & more), featuring the Whalehead Club and much more. And the Currituck Maritime Musuem (sic), for which we won't have time today -- next year perhaps. But first, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse ('Landmark lighthouse with views'), so let's go (but hold the 'views').
That's the Currituck Beach Lighthouse Museum ('souvenir store') just across the way.
That's a nice house on the lighthouse grounds, facing the lighthouse, probably historical in some way.
The rest of our party is becoming impatient, we'll speed up a little.
Which means that we won't have time to lumber up the 220 steps of the 50 meter tower, built in 1875 ('with, quite literally, a million bricks' [brochure]) to shine its light (with 'the largest of the seven Fresnel lenses, visible from 18 nautical miles away') out over the 'Graveyard of the Atlantic'. In any case, it's closed for the season.
The lighthouse evidently suffered the ravages of time, as what or who does not, but was restored by Outer Banks Conservationists and opened to the public in 1991.
Corolla Historic Village is basically one road ('Corolla Village Road') running about 600m parallel to Rte 12, alongside about 600m of swamp out to the Currituck Sound.
This is the two-room village school, built in about 1890 for the children of the lighthouse keepers, 'surfmen' (not the same as 'surfers'), and kids from nearby settlements, with 60 students before WWII, but closed in 1958 after everyone in Corolla went off looking for work and only three families were left in town. After some years as a summer camp and recreation hall, in 1999 it was restored by a local couple, began hosting the Corolla Wild Horse Museum (now just down the street), and reopened in 2012 as a charter school for grades K-8, now called the Water's Edge Village School.
This is the Kind Cup Coffee & Art, also known as the Corolla Village Market Local Art, or alternatively Fresh Art.
Next along the walk, at 1129 Corolla Village Rd, this is Celebration Realty ('We are the Go-To Experts on all things Corolla because we live and work here') in a frankly beautiful setting.
The same fine property from another angle
(Visit https://corolladreamhomes.com/ -- 'Stay tuned for our future BOFFO Website'.)
The same house again (the realtor's probably not prepared to sell this one, worse luck)
Here's the Island Bookstore in a charming building (the 'island' part may refer back to the Whalehead Club, dredged out all round to be called 'Corolla Island' by the first owners in the 1920s).
Bright and cheery, lots of attractive displays
The selection was not huge, but we bought a few books anyway because their cultural politics are beyond reproach. (The history section of our Wisconsin local specializes in Hannity, Tucker, Ingraham, and hagiographies of Reagan, alongside the jigsaw puzzles and humorous greeting cards.)
As a kind of an afterthought to the Island Bookstore, tucked into its parking lot, this is the quaint headquarters of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (Google Maps: 'Wild horse sanctuary with museum', which is slightly misleading, because the wild horses are about a mile to the north, past Raccoon Bay.)
Here's the Corolla Chapel -- the prominent center part of it dates from 1885, the rest has been added incrementally over the years. It's said to be the only year-round church in Corolla and 'a favorite for weddings'.
The sign says that it's open, but as there is no sect or denomination indicated, we'd better play it safe.
That's the attractive Corolla Village Inn with 12 rooms, much larger than it appears in this photo, located near the end of Corolla Village Rd. It's got a classic homey architecture but is apparently newly built -- Google Maps identifies its location but shows a vacant lot. According to https://corollavillageinn.com/, 'You will find a warm welcome, screened porches, gentle breezes, and a quiet little retreat tucked away from the hustle and bustle'.
A little farther out Persimmon St from the Village Inn, we are transfixed by something.
Retracing our steps back towards the Historic Corolla Park
Just passing by the Coastal Explorations establishment . . .
We're struggling to keep up.
The Bridge to Nowhere
-- We mustn't lose sight of the way back.
Kayaks temporarily out of service, but poised
A large lagoon in the middle of the marsh, with an access channel to the Currituck Sound
Out of the marsh and onto the proper shore (at low tide)
Kayak racks awaiting the sporting hordes
-- Can we go back now?
A 600 meter trek in each direction, good views of swamp muck. Mind the step.
Back past the car and through the Currituck Maritime Museum into the Park
That's an 'historic boat basin' surrounded by an 80-foot dock, part of the large Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education out of frame on the right, and the Whalehead Club farther on.
The historic bridge over the access channel to the Sound
And here's one of what the brochure describes as 'the majestic 100-year-old live oaks that grace the property'.
Not much access to the Sound at low tide
The Whalehead Club, of which the locals are evidently very proud. In 1922 a rich couple 'from the north', the Knights, came here for their honeymoon and decided to build a mansion-type hunting lodge as 'the ideal place to indulge their passion for waterfowl hunting'. It's said to be very neat inside -- all Tiffany this and 'nature-inspired Art Nouveau' that -- that took three years to build, and apparently they called it 'Corolla Island'.
After the Knights moved on, or rather passed on (both in 1936), the place was renamed the 'Whalehead Club' by the new owner in 1939 or '40 (supposedly he was trying to build a landing strip and turned up a whalebone). The house was used as a Coast Guard base watching out for German U-boats, but later fell into disrepair over time; however, 'in 1992, Currituck County purchased the property to ensure public Sound access. Restoration began in 1999 [and] by 2002, the property had been restored to a near-identical state as it existed in the 1920s'.
The mansion-cum-museum can be visited with the $7/person tour ($5 for seniors and soldiers, $15 for the Legends, Lore and Ghost Tour, 'and there are no refunds').
And you can put on a nice fête for family and friends if you want to, even (as now) when drizzly rain is threatening.
Our week's over, it's time to go home
We leave this Destination Fun Zone sadly, but at the same time exuberant because both cats are behaving themselves already. Only five hours to go.
Not all of the previous generation of OBXers have prospered as much as the vacation paradise entrepreneurs seem to have done.
Highway I-64 hijinks near Busch Gardens by Williamsburg, a mile and a half line of beached motorcyclists alongside the road.
Probably some kind of esoteric initiation ritual. For the next mile or so, there were disconsolate couples standing by their bikes, staring back up the road, having realized belatedly that the gang was no longer all here.
Farther west on I-64, the clean-up from last week's catastrophic windstorm is continuing, and the speedy boys are still charging up to break into the merged lane at the very last minute. Most of them are driving SUVs.
This is literally a full week that they've been out here carting off all the damage.
Single-lane delays on the eastbound and westbound sides are alternating all the along nearly to Charlottesville.
But now we're home.
Next up: Searching for spring flowers at Sherando Lake and the Montgomery Hall jungle