Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Outer Banks Adventure - Part 2



The next morning we got up and got on our way down NC Hwy 64.

Not far from Rocky Mount I noticed a Tyson Road. Of course that perked my interest because that is my middle name and also a family name of my ancestors. After thinking about it, the area just south of there in Greenville, North Carolina, was pretty much infested with Tysons around Revolutionary War times. In fact, one of the local Revolutionary heroes married a Tyson, who was a daughter of one of my ancestors and he and she are buried in a special place near an intersection on 10th Street in Greenville.

I noticed the land was getting flatter and a lot of cotton was grown and unpicked. It looked like it was time to be harvested. Also, near river beds rice was being grown and also something I couldn’t identify – it had bright yellow type leaves.

We crossed over either two or three very wide sounds. From one sound we landed on Roanoke Island, which was one of our main destinations. That is where the Sir Walter Raleigh Fort was and also the Lost Colony. But this time we just barged through. We had other things on our mind.

The first little town on the Outer Banks Islands was Nag’s Head.

We had two things in mind we wanted to see. The Wright Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk and to have lunch at Dirty Dick’s Crab Restaurant. We thought both places might be interesting. Anna and both love crab – well, we love crab cakes more than we do trying to break open those spiny looking things with knots on them. I always make a fool of myself when I try to crack those things open. We both ordered po’boys. I ordered mine with shrimp and Anna ordered hers with oysters.

We thought for what it was it was too expensive. Thirty bucks plus for a two sandwich and Diet Coke lunch?

We rode around looking for the Wright Brothers Memorial. We rode up and down the two parallel roads several times.

Finally, I stopped and asked two “good old boys” sitting around outside a grocery store. Before I got to ask them a black lady asked them for directions for a certain area and they gladly told her. Then it was my turn, they did the same. I think they enjoyed giving directions, it gave them authority, they were just like E.F. Hutton Company, when they spoke, people listened. After they told me the landmarks close by they added, “You can’t miss it.” And I added to myself, “I already have – twice.”

I think the mix-up partly was because there are two communities that seem to overlap each other, one is called Kitty Hawk and the other is called Kill Devil Hill. I still think the Wright Brothers complex is in Kill Devil Hill.

The Wright Brothers Memorial Park looks to be about as bare and about three times the size of a football field. It has a huge sand dune on one end with a tall monument erected, and also on the grounds are two auditoriums, two replicas of the building in their little camp which one was their barracks and one was a hangar, then the museum.

A park ranger gave a humorous witty talk to a crowd of us about the Wright Brothers endeavor. Before they decided on Kitty Hawk they had written the National Weather Service wanting to know what sections of the country could meet their requirements – such as strong winds, and I forgot what all. Chicago came in first, which would have been closer to them, they lived in Ohio. They nixed Chicago because the World’s Fair had just been there and that caused the population to grow. They wanted a place with not many people. Kitty Hawk, with a population of 230 qualified.

The brothers went to Kitty Hawk (or Kill Devil Hill) and set up their operation. They would assemble their air plane, lug it to the top of the big hill and run down, when they felt they were going fast enough one would hop on and glide, with the wind’s help.

It took many trips up and gliding down – each time, they would modify, alter, or adjust something. And it took several years. Once or twice they were about to give up and their sister insisted they keep trying. I wonder if she ran their bicycle shop in their absence? Each year they would go down in the summer and come back in late summer.

Sometimes, to modify the plane they would have to take the contraption back to Ohio, which would take a couple of weeks.

One year – I think it was in 1903, they tried it with a motor which made a propeller spin. They modified and modified which took them up mid December, and they did it. They made the first man made flight.

They tried it three times, each time improving a little. I think the longest and most successful flight was being airborne for just over a minute, maybe two, and traveled about the length of two football fields.

That doesn’t sound like much but considering it was man’s first flight and it was just a little over a hundred years ago and see how far aviation has come, it is amazing.

In fact, it amazes me of the leaps and bounds humans made in aviation by WWI, which was less than 20 years away – by then they were doing aerial dog fights. We made a big advance in ways to kill people… even you could toss bombs out of planes onto a population – wow! If that isn’t progress, I don’t know is.

I should have been there that day in December they went airborne. If I was there they would have been able to stay in the air and go much further. I have the unique ability of twisting my torso and raising one leg they causes physical things being hurled do good things. Every time I have been to a bowling alley I can twist and turn and raise my leg in a hawk’s position and get the rolling ball to make a strike. Of course, that is when I’m watching someone else play. When I played the few times I played, I pretty much control a dud of a ball as it lazily find its way to the gutter on the side and smoothly and quietly rolls down.

One of the park rangers was a little female. After talking to her a while she let us know she wasn’t happy with her rate of pay and being only a part time. She also said even the highest paid rangers there are paid at a low rate of pay, lower than other federal employees – which their job requires a college degree – which just isn’t fair. I felt for her, but if she loves her work of educating slobs like me, who won’t retain it very long anyway, I guess the personal satisfaction in it is worth something.

One thing checked off our mental “to do list” on the Outer Banks.

As we were looking for the Wright Brothers Memorial driving slowly I noticed that their were many houses. Many giant houses, one after another beach front property. On and on. Each big house was surely worth over a million – by the real estate ads in a local paper we picked up the houses were going for over a mil each… where do all these people get their big bucks?

But, to keep us lowly working class people from rebeling and rising up they throw us a bone with a little meat on it – ever so often, probably every half mile or so there would be a small public parking lot and a trail and wooden steps leading over the sand dunes onto the beach.

We took advantage of the freebie and walked down and enjoyed the beach.

Okay, for now we were through with the Nag’s Head area. We got into the car and headed south down the long series of islands.

More to come.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Suzanne said...

Well, I learned a lot about the Wright Brothers. I had no idea they considered Chicago. How interesting!

Actually, the irony is that Chicago got its nickname "the windy city" not from the wind conditions, but from the same World's Fair that drove the Wright brothers away. It seems that Chicagoans bragged a lot about how they'd get the Fair, thus one NYC paper dubbed the city the windy city. And there you have it.

10:41 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Suzanne,
I heard that too about how Chicago got the name of the Windy City.
However, I remember once visiting a friend in Chicago, and down by the shore line I felt enough wind blasting me in the face that I thought the city well deserved that name.

1:31 PM  

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