Moving Cross-Country Countdown (T – 7 Days)

Or, My Adventures On Pirate Island–Ocracoke, NC

One of the things I wanted to do before we moved away from North Carolina, possibly never to return, is visit as many cool spots as we can. We recently went to the Wilmington Children’s Museum, Onslow Beach, and a couple other favorite hangouts.

My friend recommended going to Ocracoke Island before we leave. Actually, she said, “You have to go. You have to.” But we only had two weekends left, and one of them is my daughter’s big birthday extravaganza weekend, so I planned a trip to Ocracoke last minute.

You’re not going to believe me, but I really did research the island before we left. The only way to reach the island is a 20-mile ferry ride from Cedars Island. There, the only thing I absolutely wanted to see was the Blackbeard museum and store. Their website claimed the exhibit was open daily from 11am to 5pm (except Easter Sunday).

Also, though MapQuest claimed it was a 5 1/2 hour trip to Ocracoke, I didn’t believe it. I assumed it was a GPS glitch.

Sort of at the drop of a hat, I hustled my daughter into the truck early Sunday morning and we headed off to Cedars Island. I fully expected to be back home by 8pm, at the latest.

In a way, the drive up the North Carolina coast was one of the best parts of the whole trip. We saw so many different kinds of animals (a black snake, a black cat, crows–sort of a macabre pattern beginning). When I spotted the house below, though, I immediately pulled over to take pictures. What a sight!

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The two-story home is so overgrown it’s barely visible through the trees, vines, and grass.
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I love the way the shutters are hanging crookedly, like a haunted house’s should.

This was my first trip on a ferry, and I thought it was amazing! It took us, what with all the stopping to take pictures and ask for directions once, almost three hours to reach the ferry terminal. The departure schedules said we’d missed the early morning ferry, but there was a 10am ferry and a 1pm ferry. Having no idea what we were doing, we rolled up to the boat at ten minutes till ten.

We were instructed to wait in the overflow line. By a stroke of complete, dumb luck, we were waved on the ferry as the very last vehicle.

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Our red pickup was the last vehicle allowed onboard.

Honestly, I didn’t know we were in for a 2 1/2 hour boat ride until we were already at sea. I might have reconsidered the entire trip if I had all the information. I’d assumed a twenty mile trip would take about thirty minutes. How wrong I was!

Luckily, we brought snacks and electronics to help pass the time. Though we didn’t really need the iPad. This was my daughter’s first time on a ferry and she couldn’t control her excitement. We were at the front of the boat, at the back of the boat, upstairs, downstairs, and back again. Which was fine. It helped the time fly by.

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Me enjoying the beautiful weather and the salty air.

The spectacle below blew my mind. I’ve never seen the ocean when you literally couldn’t tell where the water ended and the sky began.

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There’s no horizon! It’s like a sci-fi backdrop.

Once I knew how long a trip this really was, and having no plans to stay overnight and miss school the next day, I knew how important it was going to be to procure a ticket for the return trip as soon as possible. I tried to reserve one on my phone on the ferry, but the internet wasn’t cooperating.

So, as soon as we disembarked, I dragged my daughter into the ferry office. According to the schedule, there was a ferry leaving for Cedars Island at 4pm and a final ferry at 9pm. I wanted to be on the 4pm ferry.

The 4pm ferry was already sold out.

With no other option, I secured passage on the 9pm ferry, and then we set out to explore the island and see absolutely everything Ocracoke had to offer! (We had almost 9 hours to spend, after all.)

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I’m a huge Once Upon a Time fan, specifically a Captain Hook fan, so imagine my fangirl delight when we ate lunch at the Jolly Roger! Arrg!

Sadly, neither Killian Jones nor Emma Swan made an appearance that day.

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With full bellies, we went straight to be beach. It was my daughter’s top priority. And we had a blast! I looked for shark’s teeth while she battled the surf. We both dug in the sand, and she even got me in the water for a few minutes. But at 4pm I told her we had to dry off and move along.

I was afraid Teach’s Hole, the Blackbeard museum and store, would close early on Sundays and I didn’t want to miss it. Visiting Teach’s Hole was literally the only reason I wanted to go to Ocracoke. I’m a fan of pirates, and I wanted to learn the local history. And maybe buy a couple souvenirs.

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Can you read the sign in the window? 🙁

Despite what their website says, Teach’s Hole is closed on Sundays. Yep. Closed.

The best we could do was get our pictures taken in the Blackbeard cutout.

Not exactly what I was hoping for.

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By this time it was around 5pm and we were on the downward slide toward the 9pm ferry.

We took our time at the island’s lighthouse, one of only two still in operation.

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The Springer’s Point trail was amazing. For a couple girls bordering on sunburnt, it was nice to stroll along a nature trail almost completely canopied in trees and bushes. Along the way we saw an old well and an even older cemetery.

The bugs, though, were vicious. My daughter made me walk in front so I’d be her bug shield. And when they tried to attach, I told her to just keep moving. Stopping only encourages them.

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The history of Springer’s Point. Unfortunately, there are no remains of the pirates’ meeting place.

After dinner, we spent the last couple hours playing at the boat launch. My daughter temporarily adopted two hermit crabs, Bob and Earl. They had a lot of fun together.

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A view of one of the island’s tide pools at sunset.

The best surprise of all? The park near the ferries is rampant with fuzzy baby ducks. Luckily, their parents weren’t overly protective and we watched them bumble about in the grass until full dark.

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We didn’t get home until 1am, but overall the trip was one I’ll always remember. Mostly, because the island was unbelievably beautiful, from top to bottom. We weren’t in any rush, so we took our time enjoying everything.

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<3 Anna

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