I am dreaming of the beach…

…and most specifically Ocracoke Island, which is one of my top 3 favorite places on Earth.

I got to thinking about this wonderful place because I entered a photography contest for www.outerbanks.org and their 2011 travel guide.  I entered three of my favorites from over the past five years, some of them may be below, but I am not telling specifics.  I do not want to jinx my entries, so keep your fingers crossed for OBX 2011 Official Travel Guide!  You can view the 2010 guide here.

Ocracoke beach, 2009.

I moved to North Carolina by complete chance in 2005, because it was either take a subbing job in Iowa, or start the hunt for my own classroom.  I quite accidentally found job openings in North Carolina and having never set foot in the state, discovered one of my favorite places in the United States.  North Carolina is fortunate enough to have both the mountains and the ocean for its residents to enjoy.  With the eyes of a tourist, and the license plates of a local, I have come to realize what an undiscovered gem this state truly is.  I learned first hand that the South does not always get the credit it deserves — the Outer Banks of North Carolina blows the crowded boardwalks of the Northeast and New England out of the water.  

In the five years I have lived in North Carolina, I have been to the Outer Banks at least every year, and Ocracoke Island if I am lucky.  In 2010 I managed to get there twice.  Ocracoke Island is a part of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  The Outer Banks are a series of islands running semi-parallel to the mainland, made of sand and continually shift and change with the waves, wind, and storms.  This thin strip of land and its waters are a unique ecosystem home to a variety of birds, turtles, crustaceans, wild horses, porpoises, and many more species.  The area has a rich cultural and historical background.  I have included some of my favorite things to do when visiting the Outer Banks.  

pet a stingray or view a shipwreck ecosystem at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island

Roanoke Island Park to celebrate the first English colonies and the lost colony of Roanoke, 
climbing the Cape Hatteras lighthouse

walking the streets of Ocracoke to NC’s oldest lighthouse

deep sea fishing or beach fishing,


taking a ferry – the only way to get to Ocracoke,

flying kites at Jockey’s Ridge State Park – endless sand dunes, 

soaking up sun and salt at the numerous beaches, 

biking the long, flat, sandy, roads with beautiful scenery the entire way,  

stormy days, tidal changes, sea spray, beach combing, sea foam on the beach – the natural beauty of these islands,

relaxing at a dockside bar or restaurants, some of the best scenery in the state of North Carolina.  
Fresh out of college, ready to teach and no idea where my life was taking me, I ended up in North Carolina and homesick for the Midwest.  Yet I grew to love this part of my life and with that my state of North Carolina more than I ever could have imagined.  I could not have thrown a dart in a better location, which is why, if given a chance to get away, I would choose Ocracoke and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.   
I even went with a hundred of my eighth grade students to the Outer Banks for an extended weekend.  It was some of the most fun I have had on the Outer Banks. 




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