View of Kill Devil Hills from our hotel’s beach. Click twice for the largest view.
Last July, I spent the weekend in the Outer Banks for only the second time in the eight years I lived in North Carolina. My first trip was camping on Ocracoke, the most remote of the islands, so I had never done the typical tourist activities in the more accessible areas, and I wanted to hit them up before we moved. Luckily, friends Laura and Ellen came to the rescue! In one whirlwind weekend, we covered each of these must-sees of the Outer Banks.
1. Jockey’s Ridge State Park
Climbing the dunes. Click twice for the largest view.
Jockey’s Ridge is the largest sand dune formation on the East Coast. Not to brag, or anything, but the West Coast has it beat easily for height. That doesn’t take away from the beauty of these dunes or of the multitudes of people who come to fly a kite in the open air. We visited at sunset and conquered the short, but calf-burning, hike from the parking lot to be rewarded with gorgeous views and kites of all shapes and sizes.
Me with the sunset to my back.
360-view from the Ridge, featuring Laura. Click twice for the largest view.
Exiting through the same path many have walked before.
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One of my goals before we move is to hit up a few North Carolina heritage sights I’ve wanted to explore but have never gotten around to before now. One was checked off the list on Memorial Day when my friend Ellen invited us to join her at Bennett Place in Durham.
What’s Bennett Place? Only where the largest surrender of troops took place at the end of the Civil War! The peace was signed in Hillsborough, but the troop surrender happened at a farmhouse in Durham about halfway between General Sherman’s and General Grant’s headquarters in Greensboro and Raleigh, respectively. The actual farmhouse was a victim of fire, as is often the case. Its chimney survives today.
The rest of the restored home was moved from up the road and decorated to reflect to the time period of the troop surrender.
One of two bedrooms in the farmhouse.
There is also a smokehouse and kitchen on site, in addition to trails, a large meadow,
and the Unity Memorial.
Bennett Place is located in western Durham (4401 Bennett Memorial Drive) and is easily accessible. It is free, though donations are accepted. On a normal day, I’d say 90 minutes would be enough to tour the grounds and the museum in the visitors’ center. But on Memorial Day, they hosted a weekend of events, complete with reenactors from many different US wars, so more time was needed, and I’d imagine that’s the case with any special event. Especially if one of those reenactors whisks you away to teach you Southern dances and games.
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After a great brunch, Ben and I decided to take a stroll around the University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson. President Jefferson also designed most of the notable architecture on the main campus, which is where we took that stroll. No official tour; we went where the pretty buildings and Ben’s Ingress portals called.
We parked in the Corner, which is a typical college town strip of affordable eateries and retail that I’m sure UVA’s students keep busy.
Crossing University Drive brought us to a set of entrance gates and the first appearance of mysterious marks in white paint.
Yep, that’s a double helping of “IMP.” The next mysterious mark was in the building just past the gates, part of the UVA medical center.
Hello, giant “Z”! I imagine it wouldn’t take me long to figure out what all the approved graffiti stands for, but I think I’d prefer to wonder. Across Hospital Drive is a lovely lawn peppered with literary quotes.
Hard to see, but there’s an “IMP” on Brook’s Hall in the distance.
I figured it was the campus’s main lawn, but I discovered how wrong I was as we continued our journey around the side of Brook’s Hall. The Rotunda captured our eye next, as Jefferson designed it to do as the landmark building of the campus.
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