The Wright Brothers Memorial was one of the first
places we stopped during our stay on the Outer Banks, mostly because it was a bit drizzly that first morning and we could spend our time inside, looking at artifacts from Wilbur and Orville Wright’s quest to build and fly the first airplane. The museum includes paintings of many individuals who influenced flight, along with short stories about their efforts.
Outside the museum, markers were placed to signify each of the brothers’ first four flights and, at the top of Kill Devil Hill, which was their take-off point, a large monument stands in honor of the aviation pioneers. My parents opted to stay in the car while I walked the long, paved path to the top of Kill Devil Hill. (Signs urge people to stay off the grass because it is littered with prickly pear cactus.)
From the monument I had a great view of the Wright Brothers’ historical first flights — not to mention my first panoramic view of the Outer Banks coastline and the Atlantic Ocean. My only regret was that we didn’t return on a sunnier day to take better photos.
With the weather starting to clear by late afternoon, we found other indoor options to see in the area closest to our home away from home. Manteo, located on Roanoke Island and accessible from the Outer Banks by bridge, is home to the North Carolina Aquarium. Filled with fish species from the coastal and fresh waters of the state, it was neat to see so many species you won’t find in the waters of Minnesota.
It wasn’t until the next day, however, while taking the free ferry from Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island, that we learned more about the fish of the Outer Banks. Joining us on the ferry were several fishermen (the southern Outer Banks are primary fishing villages, as compared to the large hotels, numerous restaurants and seemingly hundreds of gift shops in the area between Kitty Hawk and Nags Head). We had time to chat with one of the fishermen on the 45-minute ferry ride.
On this particular day, he was headed to Ocracoke for some “surf fishing,” after spending the day prior fishing by boat.
He told us he was still tuckered out from his previous day’s adventure — he managed to catch what he believed to be at least a 60-pound stingray. He battled with it for quite a while before getting it close enough to the boat that he could clip the line.
For his day of surf fishing, he was going to use cut up pieces of mullet fish for bait, in hopes of catching some freshwater drum. The way he talked about the fish, I figured it was similar to how we Minnesotans worship the walleye.
Later that day, we stopped at Jennette’s Pier at Nags Head and talked to more fishermen. The pier is rather interesting in that it also contains an aquarium, bait and tackle shop and a gift shop.
From what I read online, the summer months include fishing how-tos from the pier for those who would like to try their hand at fishing. For me, it was just fun to walk down the pier and watch the flurry of activity, whether it was people baiting hooks or reeling in fish, or the surfers down below, waiting and trying to catch a wave.