Back to Civilization
The lack of hookups at the Camp Hatteras National Seashore campground was great – it was peaceful and quiet, and dry camping let us immerse ourselves in the natural wonder of the place. But – let’s face it – eventually, you need to go to WalMart.
We also needed electricity and water to go back to “normal” life. So, we did the only thing we could – we scooted north. We ended stopping after about 40 miles in the town of Waves at Camp Hatteras campground. There are many private campgrounds in the area; we chose Camp Hatteras due to reviews and the fact that it had beach access. That’s an important feature!
We got Trudy set up in record time – we’re getting better at that whole process! Fortunately Hannah sounded the alarm when I was bumping out the living room slide – it was about to smack into the electrical hookup post! So we pulled in the slides, lifted the stabilizing jacks, and rolled back a few inches. Patience and attention are critical to a successful setup. That can be challenging after driving for 3-4 hours with a toddler!
Taking It All In
Camp Hatteras has convenient beach access. Unfortunately, the beach at this point of the Outer Banks pales to its southern brethren – it’s not nearly as wide, much softer, and steeply drops off right where the tide comes in. The water gets deep quickly – probably 6+ feet deep within 10 feet – so its hard (and probably dangerous) to ride the waves.
That’s alright, though, because we can’t spend time together in the waves anyway and Camp Hatteras has lots of other stuff to do. There are lots of courts and fields for sports, bikes to rent, 3 pools, a hot tub, and sound access across the road.
Before we hit the road, Hannah picked up a tricycle for $5 for Calla that you could steer from the back. It nearly takes up a whole basement compartment by itself, but we decided to bring it. And she LOVES it.
Bad news, though – in my haste to put things away during the rain at First Landing State Park, I accidentally wedged the steering arm into the living room slide guide. When we pulled the slide in the next time, it gave the arm a nice 90 degree bend. I tried to fix it with the tools I have in Trudy, but couldn’t get it straight enough to function. We drove an hour to Walmart one evening and picked up a new (but not improved) version of her Radio Flyer! She was the talk of the campground – everyone was jealous of her new wheels.
The sunsets are obviously better on the east coast of the Outer Banks than the southern coast (where we were in Frisco). Camp Hatteras is unique in that it spans both the sound side and the ocean side of the island. A quick tricycle push across the highway and you’re ready for awesome sunsets and great sound access.
Hannah caught an awesome picture of the sunset in one of Trudy’s window. We want to be clear – we’re not endorsing General RV. That sticker needs peeled off ASAP!
Exploring the Dunes
When we passed through the area going south, we noticed the awesome view of Jockey’s Ridge State Park along the coast near Kittyhawk. We decided to check it out since it was pretty close (40 minutes north). It’s a really cool place to visit. The amount of sand in that park is insane! And the craziest part is that they don’t really know how it got there.
There seems to be a constant wind at the park. Enough of one that you can take hang gliding lessons there! We didn’t see anyone gliding, but there were some kites being flown. The wind also blows around enough sand to “blur out” the ground a bit – it gives the place a hazy sort of aura.
We hiked around the dunes a bit, let Calla play some, and left. It’s an interesting place but there’s not much to do there besides flying things. There was also a good amount of water in the valleys due to all of the recent rain. We initially thought we had to wade through some nasty sand mud to get to the dunes but ended up finding a dryer path behind some brush. The place was pretty empty – I’m sure it’s much different during the summer.
Our First Brush with Disaster
We woke up one morning to a surprise! RV manufacturers try to save weight and money wherever they can (no, that’s not a surprise). For example, sinks and faucets have a cheap feel and movement to them. The cold water knob on our bathroom sink faucet has resistance to it before it actually turns off, meaning that in order to fully turn off the water, you have to unnaturally turn it past being tight.
Does anyone know what happens when you don’t turn a faucet knob all the way off before bed? We do. You slowly fill the gray water tank. The water then finds the low spot in your plumbing system and comes to haunt you. And then you wake up to puddles in the RV and water pouring out of the shower. We had puddles in the bathroom, the living room, and wet carpet in the bedroom, too. We had every towel on duty that morning.
The floating vinyl flooring we put down in Trudy is waterproof. As luck would have it, the water flowed right toward the seam of the floor, which allowed it to get under the floor. I knew the water was sitting between the floor and the waterproof underlayment under it, so up the floor came. We ended up removing the flooring in the affected area and mopping and fanning the place until it was acceptably dry. And, of course, the floor had to come up backwards (from a tongue and groove perspective), which led to some choice words and some raised seams after it was all put back together.
We figured it was dry (enough) after having fans on blast for a few days. There may still be a little bit of water between the underlayment and the flooring planks, but I’m not ready to pull up the entire floor at a campsite.
We watched Irma progress closely throughout our visit to the Outer Banks. There was a chance initially that she could smack right into the East Coast. She ended up devastating Florida instead, and the Outer Banks were basically spared entirely.
We didn’t know what to do for a few days – the models and predictions all showed Irma sparing the Outer Banks, but having your family and entire lives in an RV a few hundred yards from the ocean on a narrow little island seemed like a terrible idea. But, on the other hand, the models showed that it would be worse basically anywhere else!
We considered staying longer at Camp Hatteras but ended up heading inland a bit. We ended up at a campground near Raleigh, NC. We had a day of rain there from Irma, but I’ll take that any day compared to what she did in Florida! More on Raleigh Oaks next time!