OBX in December

We recently spent a long weekend in Waves, North Carolina. Waves is a village in the Outer Banks area. We decided to go by RV and stayed at a fantastic RV park called Camp Hatteras. My husband and I had never been to this area before. It is a very popular destination in the summer. In the winter? Ghost towns. Most businesses are closed and tourists are a rare sighting. In my opinion, it made it the perfect Covid getaway. In early December our family of four strapped bikes to the back of the motorhome, loaded up on Christmas movies and decorations, and headed south. We spent everyday outside and usually got by with hoodies or light jackets. It was a great trip.

Day 1

We stopped at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, NC. National Parks always give me a sense of awe. This is a small park with a big history. After four years of studying flight patterns of birds, experimenting with kites, lugging glider contraptions back and forth through sand spurs and cacti, and failing over and over and over again, Wilbur and Orville Wright succeeded in being the first humans in history to fly. The museum is open and has some fascinating information about their sister, Katherine, pieces of the original craft on display, and a full size replica of their glider. Explore the grounds here and see where the boys camped and trek to the top of Kill Devil Hill to see the huge memorial up close. There’s even an airport if you happen to have your pilot’s license. I found it especially touching to see the letters the boys wrote to their sister. In one, in particular, they were trying to decide if they should keep pushing forward or if they should just cut their losses and come home to Ohio. It struck me how much world history would have been altered if these men had quit.

Our next stop was Camp Hatteras RV Campground. The campground is huge. It spans the whole width of this part of the island. Highway 12 runs down the center and there’s Atlantic Ocean on one side and Pamlico Sound on the other. So, you have the choice of ocean or sound side when you reserve. I wanted to hear the waves from our RV. So, we chose the ocean side. Currently, it’s $55/night for a premium oceanfront full hook up spot. We were about 20 yards from the sand. It was awesome. I’ve never camped on the beach before and I’ve always wanted to. Traveling in the off season made it so reasonably priced. As soon as we arrived, the kids were daring each other to “polar bear plunge” in the ocean. Sure enough, they both got in the water and swore it wasn’t too cold. I stayed on the sand like any sane person would in a sweater and suggested soup for dinner.

The campground and beach feel indulgently deserted this time of year. We gathered seashells and rode bikes through town. We even decorated a tiny Christmas tree and strung lights inside our tiny living room before heading to bed.

Day 2

We woke up early, made hot chocolate and headed to the beach to watch the sunrise. After a giant breakfast in the RV, we went for a bike ride and played miniature golf in the park.

Besides mini golf, the campground has tennis courts, basketball courts, corn hole, and a playground. Staff brings a wagon of equipment outside for it’s outdoor recreation area. Everything is contactless here including check-in. Very few other families were around and we felt really safe.

Later, we made sand castles (well, sand Christmas trees and lighthouses) and flew our kite. We headed back for dinner, Yahtzee, and a Christmas movie. I made fudge in the microwave. Then, we walked back over to the water to build a campfire on the beach. You just fill out a simple form to be permitted to have beach fires. I have always wanted to do this. Being a girl from the mountains, beach bonfire was a bucket list item for me. I was so excited. We built a fire in the sand, had snacks, and sang Christmas carols. It was such a sweet memory to make with my family.

That night, there was a crazy storm, wind and rain shook the rig and kept me up half the night. Storms are commonplace in the Outer Banks. There have been so many here over the years that have caused shipwrecks, that the area has been nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic. That’s why there are so many lighthouses along the coast here.

Day 3

We headed to Nags Head on Day 3 to check out the Bodie Island Lighthouse. This is one of the most recognizable lighthouses in America because of it’s distinctive black and white striped pattern. Lighthouse climbing season is closed. But, my daughter is an amateur photographer and had a blast here capturing beautiful pictures and the tower, light station, and surrounding water. It’s gorgeous here.

Our next stop was Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo. This fort was the site of a lost colony, a civil war battle, and a freeman’s colony. This is a good time to note, that all three National Park maintained sites-the Wright Memorial, the Bodie Light, and Fort Raleigh, have Junior Ranger Programs for the kids. They can earn a wooden Junior Ranger badge unique to each park by completing fun activities and learning more about history. It’s a fabulous program. There are even some online options for when you are stuck at home.

The next morning, we headed back north. Back to our normal lives, but refreshed by salt-air.

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