Edenton Bay, North Carolina

Belt of Venus. Edenton Bay, North Carolina

We took a trip to Portsmouth, Virginia to clean up the sailboat so we can sail her down to New Bern, North Carolina. On our way up there we stopped at Edenhouse bridge in Chowan County on Edenton Bay to watch the aftermath of the sunset. It was beautiful and seemed to get better as the night sky approached. We got to the boat about 7:30 pm and settled in for the night. The next day we ran around town getting cleaning supplies and a few things for the boat. We visited the Salty Dog in Oceanview to look around. There were two dinghys, and we have been looking for a great deal on one. To our luck there was an Achilles 10ft inflatable dinghy for $175 bucks! We were so excited!! I can’t wait to take it out.

Sunset at the Marina. Nautical Boats, Portsmouth, VA

We spent the whole day on the boat scrubbing and fixing things. Summer Breeze has to be perfect before we go on this long trip! I hope everything goes smoothly and we have a safe trip. It should be fun! We are more than likely leaving the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I will be posting from the boat!

Oregon Inlet and Dolphins

Before Hurricane Irene came Brian and I visited Oregon Inlet the day the point opened. Oregon Inlet is where the sound meets the ocean in Southern Most Nags head, Outer Banks. It’s called ramp 4, and usually the end (the point) near the bridge is closed during summer months for bird nesting season. Some birds that are protected are the Skimmer, the Piping Plover, and Various Terns. I have mixed emotions on the closings in the outer banks… I’d rather not say but I believe the situation is very unfortunate, I’m torn because I love the birds and love driving on the beach. You can form your own opinion by visiting a few websites… OuterBanksBeachPreservation.com (OBPA), PreserveBeachAccess.org  or you could just watch the video “piping mad“. I don’t want to get into it because I could ramble on and on about this mess. So, back to this 4×4 only awesome beach spot called Oregon Inlet, Which is now no longer accessible because of a wash over due to Hurricane Irene……at least we got to enjoy it one last time.taken with iPhone 4We decided to take my jeep, Edith… Shes a 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ and does very well in the sand. We drove down without the doors on… It was so fun! We spent most of the day sitting in our chairs near the shore line. taken with iPhone 4As the day came to an end we took our dog skippy for a walk and took our cameras with us. There’s always a lot of birds at the point, we even spotted a few Black Terns. I love goning to this end because of all the birds hanging out here, especially when the nesting season is over. Every year I seem to see something I’ve never seen :)

(Photo – Top left : Willet. Bottom left : Juvenile Brown Pelican. Top Right : Skimmer. Bottom Right : Marbled Godwit.)

One of my favorite birds… The Oystercatcher. A black and white wading bird with a long bright red bill. Their bill is used to break into shellfish, and each individual inherits a particular technique from its parents. Despite the name, oystercatchers are not known to eat oysters and in fact favour mussels. Oystercatchers are primarily shorebirds, although they do sometimes breed inland by rivers.

We waited until the sun started to set and headed back towards the ramp. At this time of day the Ocean was smooth as glass… and we could see dolphins playing and jumping clear out of the water. I have lived near the ocean and on the bay my entire life…I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen dolphins off the shore and swimming near our boat. BUT I HAVE NEVER seen them jump out of the water the way they were this day. I enjoyed it so much! All of these shots were taken from the driver’s side of my jeep :)

Of course I had to make a sequence shot! This is my first post using my Canon Rebel T1i and my iPhone 4. I use both cameras religiously.

I made this with an app called PicFrame… but the photos were taken with my canon. If you like the beach shot and my jeep shot, I took those with my iPhone4 and used the Camera+  app. My favorite filters are Clarity, and HDR … I like this app because you can control the intensity. Here’s another shot from Oregon Inlet Fishing Center, where we usually air our tires back up and we also air down there.

“Its a sweet, sweet life…Livin’ by the salty sea” – Jimmy Buffett

P.S. If you haven’t become a fan of my photography, please do! It’s greatly appreciated.  ITS EASY!! If you have facebook, just click “LIKE”
Crystal Thornton Photography

Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Alligator River NWR is absolutely beautiful. They have paddling trails, wildlife drive trails, and nature trails, where you might be fortunate enough to see black bears, alligators, or even red wolves! We’ve been here before…We just wanted to come down again to explore all of the driving trails on 154,000 acres! We did a little “four wheeling” on some of the more muddy and over grown trails. It was a beautiful sunny day!

Brian's muddy TJ from wildlife trails

We were really hoping to see alligators, but it was cold. My dad had visited Alligator River a couple weeks earlier and he told me he saw one… so I know they are here, but I’m sure we won’t see any till this summer. I also wanted t0 see SNOW GEESE! Brian and I over heard a man talking about seeing them here when we were at Pea Island NWR. Unfortunately we didn’t see any.  We saw lots of Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails, and Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Most of them where too far away to photograph.

Lone Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan Family :)

The winter has been really cold this year! Today, it was a little warm and in the upper 50’s. All of the Tree Swallows were going nuts over all the little gnats hovering in the sunshine. I managed to capture a couple of neat shots.

Tree Swallow hovering over water

Tree Swallow swooping in for a gnat snack

While driving on the wildlife trails.  We saw lots and lots of red-tailed hawks. One flew directly over top of the jeep.

Red Tailed Hawk scanning for food

And while I was taking pictures of the Red-tailed, a tree swallow landed right in front of our jeep, and wouldn’t move!

Stubborn Tree Swallow

We enjoyed our sunny day at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I can’t wait to visit in the spring and summer and maybe I’ll get to see some gators or even a Red Wolf! till then…

Kestrel

Camping In The Outerbanks, North Carolina

The original plan we had in mind, was camping in Manteo, North Carolina. We chose (what we thought) was a neat campground right outside of Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. The campground, called “County Line” in East Lake, North Carolina, has no website, or reviews but I figured it was probably a neat campground. It was described online “primitive campsites, freshwater pond/lake, electrical hookups” I also called the owner to ask how her campsites were, She told me that you can camp in the woods, and you’re near a lake – there’s wide open space and plenty of room to pitch a tent, also she said there are paddle boats and all kinds of fun things to do. So we packed our gear and headed south. Manteo is a really neat town. I hear of a really awesome aquarium and there are lots of old marinas in Wancheese, which is just south of Manteo, Probably a really great place to get fresh seafood and a few old fisherman tales. After driving two and a half hours, we start to pass driving trails of Alligator River Refuge, I just can’t wait to go and check them out! Well, we get to the campground and it looks like its someone’s back yard…but most campgrounds that are private are usually their “backyard” so we get out and read the sign, it tells us to put money in a mailbox and go find an area and leave enough space for a car to get by. We decide to take a loop around to check this place out. We passed one camper at the back of the “pond” and that was pretty much the only site. If you had a one or two man tent, you could probably set up around the water, or maybe back towards the bushes but there was definitely not enough space for our 16×16 tent, let alone our camping trailer and the jeep! So we hopped back online and tried to find another campground because that place was a joke! Too bad there aren’t any more campgrounds in the Manteo area that aren’t RV camping resorts, because it is a really beautiful area.
After searching the net for a bit under Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge we decided that we would head North a bit and check out two other campgrounds, Joe and Kay’s Campground being the first. It’s located on the sound, just behind the Wright Brothers National Memorial. This was more like a permanent camper/trailer campground. There were a few tent campsites on the water, near the boat ramp…It was nice, but we wanted something a little more private. The campsites were decent size, but no privacy what so ever. It was starting to get dark, so we definitely needed to find something soon. We just bought this new tent and needed to make sure we could put it up. We had one more campground in mind and were hoping to god this one would be a little better than the others that we had visited. The campground was called Adventure Bound! Sounds fun right? Wrong. It was a big open field behind a hostel/apartment complex. There were a few sites in the woods, but you couldn’t park your vehicle near your site. We decided we would make the best of it and just camp there for the night since there were only two other campsites taken up and they were in the back, under the trees behind the bathhouse by the peacock cage, yes I said peacock. The bathhouses were clean and had warm showers; each campsite had a grill and a picnic table. We set our tent up facing the trees in the field near the Jeep and not to far from the community campfire. It was going well, we set our new tent up in less than ten minutes, started dinner and a nice campfire. We talked to a guy who was camping with friends. They were on a bike trip from Boston, Mass. to the Florida Keys playing shows. They have a band named Attica! Attica! We chatted for a bit, then headed back to his camp. We had the “campground” to ourselves – it was great! Then, a boy scout troop came in, they set up all their tents and we no longer had the campground to ourselves. The next morning the boy scouts were up at the crack of dawn and we decided we were leaving to go to another campground, this time to one we had been to before. Frisco Woods Campground! Frisco Woods is on Hatteras Island on Highway 12. They have electric water sites, primitive sites, and one & two bedroom cabins. We got a site that was near the sound and near the bathhouse, that day is was 90 out and the skeeters were so bad! as the day progressed we set up camp and relaxed. We noticed some clouds rolling in and realized that it would rain. We weren’t sure how the tent would hold up in the rain and didn’t know how hard it was going to rain…we decided to call the office up and see how much it would cost us to upgrade to a cabin. We ended up taking down the tent and packing into a cabin. It didn’t rain very hard, and we probably would have been fine in a tent. It was windy but we managed to still make a fire. We met some neat chicks staying in a cabin next to us. They were sisters and were very nice! We absolutely love Frisco Woods. I would highly recommend staying in this campground if you ever have to camp in the outer banks. Most campgrounds in that area are wide open, no privacy and mostly RV sites. This one is wooded and has nice bathhouses, a pool, camp store, and a beautiful sound. A lot of times there are people wind surfing or kite surfing. It’s fun to watch.

Brown Pelican - Oregon Inlet, NC

Bodie Island Light - Bodie Island, NC

Bodie Island Lighthouse - Bodie, NC

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - Cape Hatteras, NC

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - Cape Hatteras, NC