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Great End to a Great Summer

Wow! What a spectacular way to wrap up the summer of 2014 on the Outer Banks. Temperatures nudging 90, a nice SSW breeze, water temperatures in the mid 70s . . . it just doesn’t get much better than this.

It’s been a good summer, Hurricane Arthur notwithstanding. That was definitely an oddity. July Hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin aren’t very common in July, and very rare for the Outer Banks. The last July hurricane to come ashore here was Alex at the end of July 2004 and that affected Ocracoke only.

Arthur was here and gone so quickly though, that it hardly caused a ripple, although in typical Outer Banks fashion, rescheduling July 4th fireworks was taken with a shrug and an “of course we can handle this” attitude.

Even though summer is wrapping up, there is still a lot to do this fall. Two September events to put on the reminder list:

The ESAs (Eastern Surf Association) championships are scheduled September 14-20 at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. It’s an amateur competition, but with surfers coming from all over the East Coast the level of performance is excellent.

The 3rd Annual Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival is September 25-28 at Roanoke Island Festival Park. Headliner Ricky Scaggs will be there Saturday night. Friday night it Rhonda Vincent who headlined the past two years and wowed everyone.

Mixed Review for Cristobal Waves on the Outer Banks

We were hoping for better quality waves as Hurricane Cristobal passed a few hundred miles offshore, but the winds from the north never did let up. The waves were there, but with the 6’ break came a lot of chop and some sloppy conditions.

The day wasn’t a complete waste for surfers though. There were a few SUPs riding waves and a couple of surfers got some great rides. A tough trip back to the line though with waves coming in at odd angles on the paddle back out.

It was a great day for kite surfers though. With the winds from the NNE at 15-20 mph and some very rideable waves, the kite surfers we saw seemed to be having the best day on the water.

We’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best. The early forecast calls for some more good waves through tomorrow with gradually diminishing winds. Best time for waves should be in the a.m. although the wind is forecast to remain from the north throughout the morning. 


Surfing for Autism on the Outer Banks

It’s been five years for the annual Surfing for Autism at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head and the event has gained in popularity every year. This year, organizers, said 80 families and maybe a little more than that were in the surf.

It is a free event, as it has always been, and it’s all about giving the kids an experience they could never have otherwise. Yet in watching the families . . . the parents and siblings—and even the spectators—what becomes apparent tis that this event is something that touches everyone.

Great weather this year. A warm day, but certainly not hot, a little bit of chop in the surf but some nice small waves were popping up all day.

Surfing for Autism is a homegrown affair, started by two parents, Mark Slagle and Eileen Lowery, who had children who were autistic.

 The event, which couples experienced surfers—a couple of them are ranked pros—with children living with autism began as a free event and there has never been a charge for it. There never will be either, as the literature put out by Surfing for Autism makes clear: “Because raising a child with autism today has been shown to cost $3.2 million, we also wanted our event to be offered at no cost to participating families.”

Just a good homegrown Outer Banks event and a great day on the beach.

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

American Black Bear family in Aligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo, USFW.


As a barrier island system, the Outer Banks is unlike any other barrier Island system in the world. It’s longer and at its greatest distance from the mainland, it is a farther from the continent that any other similar system.

But as different as the Outer Banks may be, the land immediately to its west is equally as unique. 

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge is about to celebrate it’s 30th anniversary, and the refuge is a seldom visited but remarkable example of how nature adapts to almost any environment.

Huge—at 154,000 acres, it is the second largest refuge on the East Coast (Okefenokee is larger)—it spreads across mainland Dare County and northern Hyde County. 

The environment is a pocosin ecology—a word that means raised swamp in the Algonquin language. Poorly drained and nutrient deficient, the swamps nonetheless, support an extraordinary diversity of life . . . including the American alligator. There is also a thriving black bear population, the only red wolf population in the wild anywhere, a subspecies of deer that has adapted to the scarcity of food by remaining small and an extraordinary array of birds.

Alligator River is jointly administrated with Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the northern end of Hatteras Island. The Visitor Center is on old US 64 about two miles past downtown Manteo.

An Outer Banks 911 Message-Know Your Street Address

The Outer Banks 911 system has shown itself to be as good as any emergency responders anywhere, but they cannot respond to an emergency if they don't know where the emergency is. As this video posted on the Dare County Government Youtube channel makes clear, knowing the street address of a vacation home can be a lifesaver.

33rd Annual New World Festival of the Arts

David Graves and his hand-crafted spriral flutes.

The 33rd Annual New World Festival of the Arts was yesterday and today in Manteo, and it would be tough to imagine a more perfect setting or perfect day for an outdoor art exhibition.

Located in Manteo where the town meets Shallow Bag Bay, it looked like there was a good 80 or 85 exhibiters on hand showing everything from original art, to jewelry, pottery and even a booth with handcrafted flutes.

Although the overall quality and creativity of the art a the show was outstanding, there is always something that stands out as truly different, and this year the spiral flutes by David Graves fell into that category. 

A simple, almost primitive design, the flutes are patterned after Native American concepts. Hand-crafted by Graves who lives in the Gainesville, Florida area, the flutes are made from river cane, a North American bamboo.

The sound of the flutes is haunting and beautiful and although there area only six finger holes, as David explained the variety of notes runs into the 100s.

For the previous 32 years, Eddie Greene of the Christmas Shop has been the driving force behind the show, but over the winter he approached the winter he approached the Dare County Arts Council and asked if they would take the reins.

Kitty Hawk Kites Watermelon Festival, Fun, Fun, Fun

For as long as anyone who has lived or visited the Outer Banks can recall, there has been a Kitty Hawk Kites Watermelon Festival at the main store in Nags Head. It can’t be longer than 40 years ago, because that’s how old KHK is, but the festival started sometime in its early days.

It’s a wonderful day . . . how can anyone criticize a festival that includes watermelon bowling, an ice cream eating contest, watermelon construction projects and of course a watermelon seed spitting contest.

And of course, face painting. We’re not talking about a single rose on a cheek; this is the “whole-face painting”—kids walking around looking like their ready for a street mime show.

Kitty Hawk Kites has built a reputation on being a great place to take kids and the Watermelon Festival is all part of that. Every Wednesday during the summer, it’s kid’s day—and they spread that around to a number of their stores, although the largest and most extensive is by far at their Nags Head location.

But today belonged to the Watermelon Contest . . . a day to make kids giggle and parents smile—and if they weren’t smiling after a couple of minutes, well, the maybe they need to remember what it’s like to be a kid again.


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