Roanoke Island Aquarium Renovations-Better Than Ever

Extensive renovations at the Roanoke Island Aquarium have left the otter exhibit alone.
Extensive renovations at the Roanoke Island Aquarium have left the otter exhibit alone.

After a false start and a couple of construction delays, the renovation of the Roanoke Island Aquarium–the Outer Banks only aquarium–is almost complete. It’s open now and even though a couple of the exhibits aren’t quite ready yet, what there is a really exciting.

We should stress that the few exhibits that are not open do not detract from the experience—and the experience is marvelous.

Walk in the lobby and overhead there is a giant high definition TV that shows everyone in closeup. The coolest part of the lobby though are the 3D fish that are swimming by the hole time everyone is looking at their image.

The designers did have the good sense to leave the really good stuff alone, so the otters are still there, playing—seemingly—all day long. The Graveyard of the Atlantic tank—285,000 gallons of seawater, hasn’t been changed.

What has changed, though, is how interactive the whole experience is. There are some great mini-movies explaining the local environment and history. Instead of signs telling visitors about the various animals, designers went to a push button system where users decide how much information they want.

There are some great new exhibits as well. The Delicate Drifters Gallery will feature jellyfish surrounded by soothing light and comfortable seating. Parents may appreciate the gallery more than their children, but it will be a nice break from the excitement of the day.

A very tentative date of August 10 has been given as a grand reopening, although Aquarium officials stress that date is somewhat fluid.


What’s with the OBX Summer Surfing Waves?

Typical summer wave action on the Outer Banks. The fishing has not been bad at all.
Typical summer wave action on the Outer Banks. The fishing has not been bad at all.

Somehow the legendary surf of the Outer Banks just doesn’t seem to be happening this summer. Actually this summer isn’t a lot different than any other summer . . . Outer Banks, summertime, big waves . . . just isn’t going to happen.

Dr. Jeff Hanson has been studying waves just about his entire adult life, currently does the surf forecasting for, but before that he was part of the Field Research Facility  (FRF) at Duck—the Duck Pier. The Duck Pier, surprising as it may be, is considered the preeminent wave research facility worldwide.

He recently wrote an excellent blog for explaining what’s happening, and for surfers hoping for some big wave action, take five or ten minutes to read the blog and lower your expectations.

Basically, what’s happening is the great weather we’re experiencing is at least partially a result of the Bermuda High, a somewhat stationary high pressure area that rotates clockwise creating classic trade wind patterns.

Those trade winds consistently create small waves—knee to waist high—at eight to ten second intervals, good to learn on or maybe a fun ride but not as exciting as the fall waves we experience.

The blog goes into a lot more detail, and surfers especially will probably find what Dr. Hanson has to say interesting. Particularly interesting is a chart of 35 years of wave action recorded by the FRF.

Great info and well written too.


30+ Years for Wright Kite Festival

Chris Shultz of HQ Kites helping a young kite flyer.
Chris Shultz of HQ Kites helping a young kite flyer.

All things considered it was a really nice day for the Wright Kite Festival at the Wright Brothers Monument. Kitty Hawk Kites has been sponsoring the event for a lot of years—30+ by our calculations—and it’s always a good time.

The event was mostly rained out on Saturday, but Sunday the sun was out with a few scattered cloud. The winds . . . well the winds were not perfect for kite flying but they weren’t all that bad either. A little bit light, but the real problem is they were variable; from the east for a little bit . . . then south . . . then southwest . . . then east again.

Nonetheless, there were a lot of kites in the sky. There was a great demonstration of kite ballet—quad line kites dancing to music, the music mostly jazz with a little bit of classical thrown in.

The folks at Kitty Hawk Kites always break out the kite making kits for kids, the sled kites they make really do fly and they’re so small that a child running full tilt is guaranteed to get the kite into the sky.

It was a great chance for adults to try their hand at some of the stunt kites, although even some kids got into the act. We noticed Chris Shultz of HQ Kites flying a power kite with some young enthusiasts.

They must have had a good time because the kids were laughing the whole time.


Nags Head Roll & Stroll-A Summer Tradition

Flaming hula hoop performance in front of Seagreen Gallery.
Flaming hula hoop performance in front of Seagreen Gallery.

Nags Head’s Roll and Stroll has become a great summertime tradition. Held the second Thursday of July annually, it’s a great introduction to the offbeat, high art and funky stores of the Gallery Row District of the town.

The 2016 version had a fair number of strollers about but probably not quite as many as last year—something about Outer Banks temperatures still hovering around 94  or 95 at 5:30 when the stroll began had something to do with it.

Nonetheless, it was great seeing some old friends in the galleries. Glenn Eure made an appearance at his Ghost Fleet Gallery. Glenn has had some health issues lately so ti was great to see him.

As usual he had a number of stories to tell, all of them sounding factual and real, none of them actually coming within a country mile of true.

There were a number of stores and galleries open along the Beach Road and as the sun set and the temperatures began to fall, a few more people did come out.

The Seagreen Gallery is a wonderful place to wander through and see how many what may be junk to one person can become art when a person with he right vision comes along.

As evening set out front there was a mesmerizing fire hula hoop demonstration—flames burning from four wicks, as the hoop spun it seemed like a solid streak of light.

Perfect for the evening.


Children’s Theatre at The Lost Colony


Here at Joe Lamb, Jr. we work with a number of Outer Banks organizations, but one of the organizations we are most proud of sponsoring is The Lost Colony.

With a national, actually international reputation, as one of the premier outdoor theatre companies anywhere and the oldest continual outdoor show in North America, The Lost Colony is well-known for telling the story of the 115 English colonists who came to the New World in 1587 and disappeared into the wilderness.

Not as well-known are the children’s productions The Lost Colony actors present.

This summer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, The Lost Colony presents matinee performances of Stella Luna and Other Tales.

Based on the children’s books of Janell Cannon, the stories follow young animals as they experience how important it is to be different and true to themselves.

The production values and acting of the Lost Colony children’s theatre is outstanding—the acting especially is a great introduction to how exciting live theatre can be.

The plays are musicals, so there’s lots for kids to keep a child’s attention during the shows. Shows last about an hour.

#joelambjr.  # thelostcolony

Fireworks Light Up OBX Night Sky

Fireworks at Avalon pPer reflected off the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Fireworks at Avalon pPer reflected off the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

It seems as though there was something for everyone this July 4th on the Outer Banks. A crazy wacky parade in the Town of Duck—their 12 Annual 4th of July Parade. Up at the Whalehead Club it was it was an evening filled with family friendly events capped off with fireworks over the sound.

Manteo was in the act as well with live music and fireworks at Roanoke Island Festival Park. A beautiful setting and a great place for music.

Everyone has a favorite place to to go on Independence Day to see fireworks and we have to admit there is something powerful and wonderful about watching fireworks light up the night sky over the ocean at the edge of a continent.

Kill Devil Hills at Avalon Pier and Nags Head at Nags Head Pier put on quite a show last night. It had rained earlier in the day but by the time the first rocket exploded over the sea, there wasn’t a hint of rain in the air.

The sea was almost calm, and there was a light breeze from the south—near perfect conditions for an evening of fireworks. Reflected off the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the display did not disappoint.

Rhonda Vincent Comes to Roanoke Island Festival Park

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage in performance at Roanoke Island Festival Park Indoor Theatre.
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage in performance at Roanoke Island Festival Park Indoor Theatre.

The Queen came to town on Friday evening and she left little doubt about why she is royalty. The queen in this case was Rhonda Vincent sometimes called the Queen of Bluegrass because she has won so many awards in that style of music, honestly—after hearing what she and her band, The Rage, did with music, limiting her to “bluegrass” is wrong.

Entitled “An Intimate Evening with Rhonda Vincent,” she brought her show to the Indoor Theatre at Roanoke Island Festival Park.  Usually playing to festival crowds and audiences numbering in the thousands, Vincent seemed to relish performing before an audience of at the most 200.

The song selection she and the Rage performed Friday night was far broader in scope than she usually plays. There was, of course, a lot of bluegrass and some gospel—that is the genre she grew up, performing but there were some also a couple of surprises.

Her arrangement of Poco’s hit Crazy Love was original, taking full advantage of the skills of the Rage’s musicians, yet still true to the original.

Everyone in the band got to take a lot of solos, and in an evening where everyone stood out, Brent Burke on dobro was creating a new way to think of the instrument—venturing at one point into what sounded like jazz.

Along with some great music the evening was also filled with a lot of humor—probably because it was so relaxing.

A great show brought to the Outer Banks by Corey Hemilright’s Bluegrass Island. Rhonda Vincent and the Rage will be back in September for the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.


Independence Day Explodes on OBX

Ready to parade at the Town of Duck's annual July 4th celebration.
Ready to parade at the Town of Duck’s annual July 4th celebration.

The Outer Banks is about to explode. Blow up. Light the sky. Ok…not literally, it’s just that July 4th is coming and with all the celebrations of our nations birthday there will be plenty to do and plenty of fireworks.

For people who like to start their day gasping for air as their muscles cry out for relief, check out the Killer Dunes 2-miler. That two miles over the sand dunes of Jockey Ridge State Park is on two miles of consistently soft sand; that two miles will probably feel more like 20 by the end.

A quick shower and the town of Manteo is just 10 minutes away from Jockey’s Ridge. The Independence Day celebration is an all day affair for the town—food, games and entertainment all day long and fireworks at Roanoke Island Festival Park at night.

The Town of Duck knows how to put on a good time and their Annual Independence Day Parade has to be experienced to be described. A touch of insanity, a good dose of humor and a great time for everyone. The parade starts at 9:00 a.m. and although the route never makes it to NC12, traffic gets really backed up in the morning. It’s good to be hard of that.

Lots of fireworks too in the evening. Everywhere from the Whalehead Club in Corolla to Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo. A tip from a long time resident—the beach is great place to watch the fireworks. Another tip—the Whalehead Club is always spectacular.

4th of July Events

2016 Killer Dunes 2-Miler & Fun Run


Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Nags Head

A2 mile course on the tallest natural sand dune system in the Eastern United States! Quarter-mile Fun Run also available for all ages. Proceeds benefit Friends of Jockey’s Ridge.

12th Annual Town of Duck 4th of July Parade

9:00 a.m.

Town of Duck

After the parade, Duck Town Park features a Dixieland band, watermelon and the awarding of trophies.

Town of Manteo 4th of July Celebration

Celebrate the birth of our nation with a day filled with activities.

July 4th Celebration with Town of Manteo Fireworks/Live Concert

Roanoke Island Festival Park Outdoor Pavilion

Music and Fireworks-Lawn chairs, blankets and picnics and families and friends. The nation celebrates July 4th at Roanoke IslandFestivalPark. A patriotic concert will began at 8

The Town of Kill Devil Hills 4th of July

Avon Pier

Town Of Nags Head Fireworks Spectacular

Nags Head Fishing Pier

Town of Manteo Fireworks

Downtown Manteo. Fireworks begin at 9:30 at RIFP.

Whalehead Club-24th Annual Independence Day Celebration

Corolla Festival of Fireworks Monday, July 4th, 2016 from 12pm – 9pm

The 24th Annual Independence Day Celebration in Corolla offers an afternoon of family activities. Food vendors, a cornhole tournament, watermelon eating contest, and children’s games. Admission and parking are free; event starts at 5:00 p.m. with a fireworks display at dusk.


Currituck Banks Reserve-A Different Side to the Outer Banks

End of the Currituck Reserve Boardwalk Trail leading to Currituck Sound.
End of the Currituck Reserve Boardwalk Trail leading to Currituck Sound.

The Outer Banks is a surprising place. Almost all of our visitors come for the sun, the sand and the chance to sit on a beach and do as little as possible. After two or three days of that, it can begin to drag a bit and then the exploration of the Outer Banks really begins.

There is a remarkable history here—check out The Lost Colony, the longest running outdoor drama in the United States. Joe Lamb, Jr. is a proud sponsor of the play and it’s a great evening of entertainment. there is more recent history at the Whalehead Club or any of the lighthouses that dot the coast.

There is also a wilderness side to the Outer Banks; the western shoreline that borders the sounds is a place of dense forests and surprising beauty.

One of the most accessible is the Currituck Banks Reserve in Corolla. The trailhead and parking lot is about mile past the Currituck Beach Lighthouse at a sharp righthand turn in the road.

There are actually two trails—a .3 mile boardwalk and a .75 primitive trail. Those are one way distances so double them for the full length.

The boardwalk trail is suitable for anyone. Towering pines line the path creating a canopy of green. The trail ends with an overview of the northern end of Currituck Sound.

The primitive trail should be fine for anyone eight years and up, although it’s important that children know to stay on the trail. There are two stairs about 25 yards from the beginning of the boardwalk that is the beginning of the trail. Look for the blue blazons that mark the path.

A good pair of walking or running shoes, or even sturdy sandals, should be fine, although flip-flops would be pushing your luck a bit.

The trail winds through an extensive grove of live oak, twisted and shaped by the relentless winds of the Outer Banks. It ends at a marsh on the edge of the sound.

This is a great introduction to a side of the Outer Banks that is often overlooked.

Late spring to early fall, insect repellant is a must.


David Crowder Comes to OBX

David Crowder (long beard and guitar) with group performing "Old Time Religion."
David Crowder (long beard and guitar) with group performing “Old Time Religion.”

David Crowder—sort of a superstar of Christian rock music—has never been to the Outer Banks before. That came out in the concert he gave at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo on Wednesday evening.

Crowder, who’s music is tends toward rock with an interesting dose of bluegrass and country thrown in, looks like something from the backwoods of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His music though, is as modern and well-performed as anything out there.

Since his lyrics are heavily Christian and religion based, it would be easy to dismiss him as just another Christian musician—and there are a lot of them. But Crowder writes arrangements for his music that transcends any one genre and is really worth a listen.

His songs seem to start with a bluegrass feel, often featuring banjo or mandolin—but they build to a full throated rock sound featuring electric guitars, classic rock bass played on a synthesizer and two drummers—although one of the drummers plays a marching band bass and a kerosene tin can.

Different, fun to listen to and a fun show and worth checking out if he comes back to the Outer Banks.

Oh . . . about not being on the Outer Banks before. He felt it would be great if all 2000 people or so at the concert could get together on the beach. Since that didn’t seem practical, he gathered his band together, brought out one microphone and did a great but simple version of “Give Me That Old Time Religion.”

#Davidcrowder  #Joelambjr