Thursday, April 21, 2011

Outer Banks Day 4 - Lighthouse Tour

Today was lighthouse day. It took us 11 hours to drive (and ride a ferry) 160 miles round-trip to see three lighthouses. Our first stop was Bodie Island Lighthouse (pronounced "body"). Built in 1872, it is 156 feet tall with 214 stairs to the top. We weren't able to climb this lighthouse because it is currently undergoing renovations. We took an easy hike on a boardwalk that wound through the marsh, where saw several kinds of birds. The marsh lookout also provided the perfect spot to snap a picture.Next stop: Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. This is America's tallest lighthouse at 198 feet, and it is the world's tallest brick lighthouse. It was built in 1870. It used to be right by the ocean, but it was moved to its current location in 1999 to avoid being swallowed up by the sea. We personally weren't able to climb Cape Hatteras because Julia is too little - you need to be able to ascend and descend the lighthouse on your own, and I'm quite certain 257 steps is too much for our Sunshine. You can tell by the giddy smile on Julia's face that she really enjoyed our lighthouse tour, with the National Parks passports in hand. Cape Hatteras was Evelyn's favorite.
In order to get from Cape Hatteras Island to Ocracoke Island, you need to hitch a ride on a ferry. Julia thought we were talking about a fairy, and she honestly couldn't figure out why Evelyn and I said the ferry was a boat with white and yellow stripes. Poor thing, she was so confused! While on the ferry, I had to take a picture of my GPS, with my car in the middle of the water.
Our last stop was Ocracoke Island Lighthouse, which is the second-oldest lighthouse in the United States (built in 1823). This was the shortest lighthouse we saw today, only 65 feet tall. this lighthouse is not open to the public - too bad, because Julia might be able to climb this one. Julia picked Ocracoke as her favorite lighthouse. If you look closely at the base of the lighthouse on the left, you can see the girls peeking over the fence.