“From its humble beginnings as a scrappy street food, the burger rose to a position of global dominance as the most instantly recognizable sandwich on Earth. Its influence—like that of the United States, which is generally considered the hamburger’s birthplace—is felt the world over.”
Beach Dads are everyone’s super heroes. With Fathers’ Day weekend coming up this the perfect time to honor the guys who make our vacations extra special.
Beach Dads are the men who love to wear funky clothes on vacation; shirts and shorts that suddenly emerge from the darkest corners of the closets where they reside during the rest of the year. And they like to wear hats — lots of cool and interesting hats not seen at any other times or places. Footwear is a whole different topic, but yes, we love our Dads with socks and sandals too!
Beach Dads know how to make sand castles, fly kites, put bait on hooks, and find ghost crabs with flashlights. They are expert car-packers and know all the crazy songs to sing coming down Highway 12. Whether your memories are of Dad looking at a map to find the best route here from faraway places, or your Dad uses a GPS today (which usually can’t find us!), Dads tend to be the drivers for most of the journey. They know exactly which restaurants have the best lunches and snacks, they remember all the gas stations where they always stop, and sometimes they miraculously drive all night so that when you open your eyes, you’re almost here!
When you first ventured into the water, Beach Dad held onto you for dear life as you learned to play in, and respect, the ocean. Beach Dad taught you about tides, and how to find the Big Dipper in the beautiful, dark Hatteras sky. Beach Dads with four-wheel drives locate the perfect spot to spend the day on the beach. Beach Dads can grill the best burgers, catch the biggest fish, and tell the best stories.
Beach Dad mellows out by the end of the vacation, and it’s so good to see Beach Dad and Beach Mom really relax. Dads who work hard all year deserve a break, and an OBX vacation often is the perfect place for that wonderful vacation. But just like Beach Moms, whether you have a Beach Dad, a Mountain Dad, a Lake Dad, a City Dad or a Dad who is now just a precious memory – be sure to pause on Fathers’ Day and say “thank you’ – in person or in your heart.
Happy Fathers’ Day from all of us at Cape Hatteras Motel!
Water, water everywhere – and we’re not just talking about the ocean and sound! That’s how it is on an island when heavy rains come along. It doesn’t have to be a tropical storm, hurricane or nor’easter to create flooding issues. Even a few days of persistent summer thunderstorms can create problems. It is a part of life on a sandbar, where you are situated a few inches above sea level if that. Generally water recedes in a day or two, and life is impacted little if at all. But during the rain, there are some tips on how to prevent any real problems from occurring and most of those tips revolve around, you guessed it – common sense (see last week’s Blog Post for more on that!)
Highway 12 on Hatteras Island from Pea Island South is notorious for flooding. Obey the posted speed limit but when conditions warrant, do drive more slowly. When roads flood, the two lanes really act as one lane in the middle and so it is the courteous, and sensible thing to do, to drive slowly and not create massive wakes and spray for oncoming drivers or nearby pedestrians. Don’t try to pass! The chances of hydroplaning and loss of control of your vehicle are greatly increased when you are going at an unsafe rate of speed for the conditions.
Know the difference between rain flooding and sound or ocean tide. Rain is almost all fresh water, although there can be some salt from the air mixed in. Sound and ocean over-wash are definitely salt water and can do serious damage to your vehicle. If you must travel into over-wash, drive very, very slowly, and be sure to wash your vehicle as soon as possible after your trip. If you are in a very small car (one that is very low to the ground) you may want to think about waiting a while before you venture through the deeper flooding if possible.
There are a number of social media sites that monitor conditions on Highway 12, including NCDOT12 on Facebook. It’s not a bad idea to check their posts if you think you might be driving into some flooding. You can also help them by posting any difficult or unusual situations you may encounter. It is pretty rare these days for the Highway to close completely.
The great thing is that sand is porous and it will absorb the water. For those of you from the northern parts of the country, it is not unlike driving in the ice and snow. Just take your time. We will be right here at journey’s end, and we want you here safely!
Visitors to the Outer Banks often become repeat visitors. The spell of OBX is a hard one to break! And so when vacation time rolls around, packing is pretty much a drill. Bathing suits, beach towels, sunscreen, summer reading materials and favorite beverages are on the top of the list. But the start of the summer season is a great time to review that list once more – with family – and talk about three other items that should be packed in the virtual suitcase. These are items that can’t be seen – except through actions – but they will go a long way in making the vacation enjoyable for you, your family, and everyone with whom you come in contact.
The first is patience. Hatteras Island is a small Island. Highway 12 is the only road on and off. In the summer, especially on weekends, traffic is heavy. Speed limits in the villages drop to 35 mph and in some places 25 mph. Many visitors are uncertain about where to go and can make sudden stops and turns. Further north on Saturday and Sunday mornings, traffic can be especially heavy. Planning a trip to Ocracoke means a very early departure, as ferry waits of an hour or more can put a crimp in even the best planned day trip. Lines in the shops can be lengthy and while we have miles and miles of beaches, you likely will have beach neighbors. So patience is truly a virtue. Try to remember you are here for vacation, and try to find the positive in every situation. In a long line of traffic, look at bumper stickers and license plates, sing along with the radio, or actually look at the scenery outside your car window. Try to schedule the day to avoid peak shopping and driving times. Meet your beach neighbors and make new friends.
The second item is common sense. It is surprising how many visitors do things or say things on vacation that they would never, ever consider doing at home. Not only can this involve interactions with others, but also making decisions about personal safety. Hatteras may seem like another world but the same social rules and laws of nature apply here as they do elsewhere. The ocean is unpredictable. Currents are stronger than you are. Period. Our trees may look magical but they won’t protect you from lightening. People here have feelings. Private property means just that. And Park rules and regulations do apply to us all – even if we don’t always agree with them. Don’t risk your life or your holiday by making poor choices.
And finally, pack a bit of courtesy. Remember your Grandma telling you you’ll get what you need more quickly using honey instead of vinegar? It’s true. Being in a motel, or at a campsite, or on the beach with a bunch of strangers sometimes can truly test your patience. But remember everyone is here for the same reason, and unless your neighbor is truly rocking the boat, try to rise above it. If laws are being broken or you feel threatened, by all means contact the authorities. But 99.9% of the time, just moving elsewhere and/or giving the situation some time and space will do the trick and things will return to normal.
Everyone wants a relaxing vacation. Being in a shared space means we all – visitors and locals alike — need to work together to keep things running smoothly. Vacations are supposed to be memorable. By packing these three things along with your suitcases, travel bags and backpacks, you will make it memorable – for all the right reasons!
We have to smile when guests ask us if there are any good seafood restaurants on the island. After all, not only are we a sport fishing capital, but also the island’s history is all about the fish! Commercial fishing was, and is, a way of life for many, many islanders and their families. The lives and stories of the watermen are a rich part of our culture here.
But back to the original question about where to go for seafood when on vacation. Here are some things we tell our guests to help them locate the restaurant that will serve the food they want at the right price point. Truly, on Hatteras Island, the restaurants all serve good seafood. It’s what they do. So it really is a matter of what you are looking for. Is it a special occasion? There are a few white table cloth restaurants with bars and wine lists that are perfect for a birthday, anniversary, proposal, or any other special event.
Are you interested in a sunset? While we do not have oceanfront dining on the island, soundside choices are plentiful and every sunset is beautiful in its own way. Are you traveling with small children? Several restaurants have kid-friendly menus and early dining allows families to get in and out quickly before the later crowds settle in. Do you want to eat where the locals eat? Some of our year-round establishments are favorites with those of us who do enjoy eating out on the off-season. Do you yearn for fried fish, French fries, hush puppies and slaw? There are places that cater to real down home southern cooking without frills.
Some places are experimenting a bit more with their menus and offer seafood with global twists and fusion cuisines. Always ask for the fresh, local catch. Shrimp and scallops are usually plentiful and softshell crabs in season are awesome. Oysters from our waters are usually harvested in the cooler months but can be enjoyed at other times of the year and they are wonderful. From light and flaky flounder to more hearty blue fish or meaty tuna, there all sorts of fish to try. Be bold and taste something you haven’t tried before. Fresh fish are amazingly flavorful and healthy and with all the preparations that local chefs utilize, you can enjoy something different all the time.
And of course we do realize that many people do not enjoy seafood or have allergies, so rest assured there are plenty of meat choices, increasing vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, to-die-for pizza places, and many, many restaurants serve homemade desserts.
One thing is for certain, you will not go hungry here on Hatteras Island. Bon apetit!
Photo from Rusty’s Surf & Turf
Locate Restaurants & Specials from Corolla to Hatteras on the Restaurant page of Outer Banks Events Calendar.
Just this weekend, new signs appeared along Highway 12 indicating that our highway is now a National Scenic By-way. We are proud of this designation and hope that when you drive down the island from Oregon Inlet heading south, you will really enjoy the drive. All too often, the scenery and the atmosphere of the island are lost in the rush to get to the motel. It was a smart person indeed who noted that the journey often is more important than the destination. In this case, we would argue the journey is equally as important, because the highway helps you put life on the island in context. There is more to see than just a ribbon of highway sandwiched between dunes and the Sound.
A National Scenic By-way is a highway that has been recognized by the US Department of Transportation for one or more of six “intrinsic qualities” – archeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational or scenic. Happily, areas of Hatteras Island can boast all of those. As you pass through the Pea Island Wildlife Refuge, there is a chance to observe wildlife, especially birds, throughout the year. At the rest area, a quick walk over the dunes gives you a view of the wreck of the “Oriental” – its stack still can be seen just breaking through the surface of the water. This year the Pea Island area is also the site of construction for the replacement bridge where Hurricane Irene broke through and created a new, temporary inlet a few years back.
While the construction zone may not be scenic, it is a reminder of the shifting nature of barrier islands and its vulnerability during all types of storms – hurricanes and nor’easters included. Coming into the Tri-Villages area of Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo you can often see the colorful kite sails of kiteboarders in the Pamlico Sound. Kiteboarding and wind surfing have become more and more popular and these three which filled with shops catering to these sports. The Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station is well worth a visit for learning more about the history of the lifesaving stations (which were the forerunners of today’s Coast Guard) as well as an insight into life on the island years ago. Needless to say it was a far cry from what we enjoy today. You can get a real appreciation for how brave and hardy these individuals were and how traditions like “Old Christmas” took hold.
As you head from the Tri-Villages to Avon, it is interesting to reflect on how narrow the island is in sections. There are a number of parking turn-outs in this section of highway and a quick peek over the top of a dune can often give you miles of seashore to take in all on your own. Avon of course was historically known as “Kinnakeet.” The actual harbor town is off the highway and worth a quick side trip when you have a moment. Coming into Buxton, again the sound can be filled with kiters and windsurfers, but this area now also boasts several family beach areas. Not so many years ago the soundside was the forgotten step- sister of the ocean and only fishermen enjoyed its waters.
As you drive along through Buxton past the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and head on through Frisco and Hatteras, you can get a bit more of a feel of the role watermen once played, and continue to play, in the culture and economy of Hatteras Island. There are museums and docks and harbors that all show and tell these important stories. We’ve heard many people complain that the hour drive from Whalebone Junction to Buxton is “boring.” We say, enjoy the National Scenic By-way for what it offers, and that hour will flash by very quickly. Before you know it you will be here at the Cape Hatteras Motel, a bit wiser for your journey!