Friday, October 17, 2008
In order to continue further south from Ocracoke it is necessary to take a long ferry boat ride across the Pamlico Sound to Cedar Island where one may rejoin the mainland highway system. The ride was very pleasant. Also on board the boat was a group of older motorcycle riders from Georgia out on a grand excursion.
From Oregon Inlet we stopped at Cape Hatteras and saw the famous lighthouse and then took the 45 minute "free" ferry boat to Ocracoke Island. The National Seashore campground was also mostly empty. The beach and weather were great, but we were besieged with the the most aggressive mosquitoes whenever the wind would die down. Later we found out that we had contracted the bites of dozens of sand fleas as well. You always want an offshore breeze on the Outer Banks.
From Merchant's Millpond, we made a stop at the Great Dismal Swamp State Park, where Bill rode some of the mountain bike trails in the park. We then headed out to Nags Head and down Bodie Island to the Nation Seashore campground at Oregon Inlet. The campground was scheduled to close for the season the next weekend. We were surprised to see so few campers since this is the prime season for fishing along the outer banks. The weather and the beach were beautiful and the food was not bad either.
We decided to escape for a week to eastern North Carolina. The first night was spent at Merchant's Millpond State Park. This is a beautiful cyprus swamp with a small campground. The Park rents canoes or you can bring your own. There are also remote campsites accessible either by canoe or backpacking. The most notable trail is the Lassiter Trail. This is an easy seven mile hike on a good trail through hardwoods with some views of the cyprus swamp. Your will see a lot of deer here. This park is best from October to May since it is completely infested with ticks and other crawlies in the warm seasons.