September on the NC/SC Coast (Oh, my Maria!)

The plan was – Sheree and I spend a day at Pettigrew State Park  and a day at Oregon Inlet campground, after which, I head solo down the Outer Banks, birding as I go, take the ferries, bird from Cedar Island all the way down to Litchfield Beach, S.C., where I attend the Carolina Bird Club fall meeting, banquet and field trips. And then, along came Maria. 

Day one went well, arriving at Pettigrew State Park just in time to set up “Puff” and enjoy a beautiful sunset over Lake Phelps.  It was our first out-of-town overnight trip with our T@B trailer. All the sites at Pettigrew are powerless, so I had to rely on the trailer battery to power my CPAP, but, I drained the battery too low accidentally by running the fridge on battery after we parked. Made for a long night and a VERY sleepy day. There really is a LOT to learn after buying a travel trailer, even one as small as “Puff”.  More on that in future posts. 

Campsite at Pettigrew State Park

Small campground, no hookups

Pettigrew State Park with the adjacent Somerset Place historic site is really worth the long drive out into the farmlands of eastern North Carolina. It is located on the north shore of Lake Phelps and has some very old tracts of native forest, with many very large cypress and poplar trees.  The campground is small, a dozen sites.  It is a great place to see the night sky, farms are much darker than shopping centers.  There were owls at night as well, once the Boy Scouts went to sleep. 

“Somerset Place is a representative state historic site offering a comprehensive and realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. Originally, this unusual plantation included more than 100,000 densely wooded, mainly swampy acres bordering the five-by-eight mile Lake Phelps, in present-day Washington County. During its 80 years as an active plantation (1785-1865), hundreds of acres were converted into high yielding fields of rice, corn, oats, wheat, beans, peas, and flax; sophisticated sawmills turned out thousands of feet of lumber. By 1865, Somerset Place was one of the upper South’s largest plantations.”

The Outer Banks In and Out

The next day, as we arrived with Puff on the Outer Banks, the weather forecast was sounding ominous.  But hey, we are North Carolinians and we scoff at hurricanes until they get directly in our face.  We did cancel plans for Oregon Inlet camping because I needed to be 100% certain the CPAP would have power at bedtime, so KOA Rodanthe was on the menu.  It served its purpose well, but I would never stay there during “the season”.  We prefer remoteness over conveniences.  The picture to the right is Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge the day we arrived and before the winds picked up. I do not have any rough seas pictures because the sand and sea spray can be very bad on camera equipment.  The next morning it was rough, the roads were beginning to flood and both Ocracoke and Hatteras put mandatory evacuation notices out, for tourists only. Darn it!  It was a parade of RV’s north to Nags Head and east toward Raleigh, but I lost them all,  turning back south for “the Emerald Coast”, where Maria was just a wisp in the night, or so I thought. 

Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

One of 3 Coyote who did not hear or smell me approaching in the strong winds - Pine Knoll Shores

Don’t you love it when last minute plans turn out great? I did not have a reservation at Cedar Point NRA, but they had room, and it was a great place to stay.  Take a video tour of the campground below, then, in the videos to the right,  watch the westerly winds come across the sound at Pine Knoll Shores and across the only road to Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge.  I left the T@B at the campground which enabled me to wander around, up and down Emerald Isle, and my ill-fated trip up to Cedar Island NWR.  Things I liked about Cedar Point campground – sites were roomy, plenty of shade trees, and it was VERY QUIET! ….and I got half-price! (Lifetime NPS Senior Pass)

Cedar Point NF campground

Blustery Pine Knoll Shores

Cedar Island Flooding

When the winds turned out of the west the ocean was flattened and beautiful.

In the clear, finally

Heading further south, Puff, Beppu and I hit the sunny beach at Oak Island lighthouse, then proceeded down into South Carolina for a three-night stay at Myrtle Beach State Park. By now, I was sleeping well in the trailer but would not recommend this park unless you are desperate.  A well-run operation, but campers packed in like sardines. No thanks, but no problem either,  I was just using it as a place to sleep for three nights while I attended the Carolina Bird Club fall meeting and field trips just south at Litchfield Beach.

Check out my birding blog, Two Talons Up, for a continuation of the story. 

Stay tuned for more T@B adventures with Sheree and I and Beppu.

Oak Island Lighthouse

The Oak Island Lighthouse was completed in 1958 at a total cost of $110,000.00. The lights are 169 feet above the water.  There is no spiral staircase as found in most older lighthouses, but instead a series of ships ladders with a total of 131 steps to the lantern gallery level.

A little off-roading in search of the rare Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Myrtle Beach State Park

North Topsail Island - New River Inlet

North Topsail Island - New River Inlet

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