Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to welcome back author Cat Michaels as a guest contributor with us today. Ms. Michaels is here to share some more of the sights of her native North Carolina.
Pirates, Ghosts Meet Mystery, History Off The Atlantic’s Graveyard
by Cat Michaels
Ready for a Halloween getaway? One where you can curl up in a quaint cottage by the sea on a dark night to tell spooky tales and dig into legends from history? Join guest blogger Tara, or Sweet T as she is sometimes called, from my book, “Sweet T and the North Wind.” T is popping out of the pages to whisk you away to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, (USA).
People don’t think about going to the beach once summer ends, but the Outer Banks, or OBX as locals say, is a great place for grown-ups and kids to visit in autumn. Room rates and crowds are low. Plus, it rarely gets cold in North Carolina, so just bring a light jacket. Visitors from cold climates will even wear shorts!
These Atlantic barrier islands are the perfect setting to discover tales of spirits who are said to wander these shores. If you imagine with all your heart, you can almost hear them call to you over the sound of crashing waves. But don’t be afraid! People who live on the OBX love visitors, and they have the right attitude about life. Life is slower here. More relaxed and friendly, too.
To reach the Outer Banks’ 125-mile-long stretch of barrier island by car, we’ll hop across tiny islands connected by looooong bridges.
Wherever you are on the Outer Banks, you’re never far from the Atlantic Ocean. The sea is just across the road or beyond a tall sand dune. Though it’s chilly for swimming, we can roll up our jeans and wade in the shallows. It’s so fun walking the sandy beach or chasing seagulls. If you like fishing from the shore, we can do that, too. I’ll bait your hook!
The OBX has four light stations used in olden days to warn sailors of dangerous currents and shoals. In fact, people call the Outer Banks the Graveyard of the Atlantic because nearly 600 ships, including WWII-era German U-boats, sank off its coast since recordings began in the 1500s. Shhhhh! Imagine with me: can you hear the moans of sailors who perished in this Atlantic Graveyard? Do you think they might wander the waters, looking for a safe harbor?
Let’s drive an hour along Highway 12, the only way to get from one part of the OBX to the other, to see the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. In summer, you can climb to the top of the light station for a bird’s eye view, but it’s closed for the season now. But, we can walk around the grounds and stop in the visitors’ center or check out the educational programs and museums, where you can learn about their history and talk to park rangers about what life was like back in the day. The museums have oodles of books for adults and kids about lighthouses and shipwrecks. And a bunches of information about ghostly island legends.
The land along Highway 12 near Hatteras is very narrow. We can walk across it in a couple minutes. Storms often wash away the highway and toss sand onto it from the big dunes, so nobody can drive on the road. What’s the word — Highway 12 becomes impassable! Scientists say the fragile Outer Banks are in danger. They face a 12-inch sea-level rise over the next three decades. Locals report they drive over salt water on the highway every day around Hatteras and Buxton.
Let’s stop in Rodanthe, a town on one the skinniest parts of the OBX. Cat says the town is small and isolated, and it’s a great place to get away from it all. Check out the house used to film North Carolina author Nicholas Spark’s lovey-dovey novel, Nights in Rodanthe. The book has some mushy stuff that Cat likes. I want to stay here on a dark, rainy night and tell spooky tales.
Do you know that Blackbeard the pirate roamed the waters off the Outer Banks? His flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, sank in nearby Beaufort Inlet in June of 1718. Islanders claim his ghost can be seen wandering around the barrier shore, looking for his lost ship. Maybe we’ll bump into him!
Cat’s says we must visit the Wright Brothers National Historic Site at Kill Devil Hills. I wasn’t excited about a boring old historical place until I learned it had a full-sized model of the Wright Brother’s airplane in its own huge building. A park ranger shows how Orville had to lie on his tummy in a teeny seat to pilot the plane. I’d love to bump into Orville’s ghost, so he could tell us all about his first flight. But you know, the true spirit of the Wright Brothers and their exciting invention is found everywhere here.
We’ll get lots of exercise climbing to the top of Kill Devil Hill, where the first plane launched, and walking 852 feet down to the spot where Orville’s first flight ended after 59 seconds. Talk about walking in the footsteps of history. Coolio!
Up for more history and a touch of mystery? Let’s cross back over a long bridge to Roanoke Island, site of the first colony in North America that was settled in the late 1500s. The place is kinda spooky. Those colonists had disappeared without a trace when the colonial governor returned from England to check on them in 1590. To this day, nobody knows what happened to Roanoke’s first citizens. The only clue they left behind was the word ‘Croatoan’ carved onto a wooden post, and nobody can figure out what that meant as a clue to finding them. Now that’s some 400-year-old mystery.
Well, it’s time for me to pop back inside the pages of Sweet T and the North Wind. Cat says our trip helped her find ideas for her next book. Inspiration and setting, she calls it. I wonder what she’ll write about. Hope I get to be in her story.
Thanks for keeping me company on the Outer Banks. I hope you’ll join me on my next journey. Have a safe, fun Halloween and happy spooky tales!
About the Guest Contributor: Cat Michaels
Cat Michaels writes The Sweet T Tales, chapter books with a twist of magic and mystery for beginning readers. A former special educator, communications manager for a high-tech company in another lifetime, and enthusiastic digital-dabbler, Cat lives with her family and writes in North Carolina. She loves traveling to the nearby-to-her Outer Banks in any season.
Find Cat’s books on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cat-Michaels/e/B00GEAJQTQ