Destination: Top of the Lighthouse at Corolla NC
Ride as far as the pavement will allow on Route 12 and you’ll find (at risk of not sounding as manly and macho as I obviously am, I’m going to use the adjective ‘charming’) charming Corolla. Marking the northern tip of the Outer Banks is a tall brick stanchion rising far above other buildings in town. This beacon is the most beautiful, in my opinion, of all the North Carolina coastal lighthouses. All others are plastered and uniquely painted. In contrast, this one was left bare and weathered showing the thousands upon thousands of bricks laid back in the days of rickety scaffolding, before hard hats, safety harnesses and OSHA regulations. Still in great shape after 137 years of tolerating the harshest of weather, the true craftsmanship of her construction is obvious.
The top of the Currituck Beach Light Station makes a great touring destination. Climb the 214 steps of the ornate iron spiral staircase up this 162 foot tower for an awe inspiring view. To the north you’ll see the undeveloped and protected estuary. Look directly down and view Historic Corolla. Winds were gusting to 40 miles per hour on our visit, so we clung close together as we took a wind reading for the keeper. This and all the other lighthouses on the Outer Banks are not just historical artifacts; they still work to ‘fill the dark spaces’ and warn sailors navigating the hazardous Carolina coast.
Once back on ground level, after your knees have stopped shaking, visit the Currituck Banks North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (part of the larger North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve). You’ll find a long boardwalk trail twisting through a maritime forest. The Boston Globe describes this as one of the ‘most beautiful nature preserves’. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the wild ponies that live here on the Currituck Banks. Like the dingo of the Australian outback, these vicious animals have been known to carry away small children. Okay, that’s not true, but this trip report was getting a bit boring.
(To be continued. Next stop the WrightBrothersMuseum!!!!)