Day 1 Friday
The ride was smooth and visibility good as I cruised along past Dover, Georgetown (KGED), Salisbury (KSBY)and Newport News (KPHF). Once south of Newport News and working my way towards First Flight (KFFA) the clouds really made their presence known. The cloud layers were at 1200-1500 scattered and 6000 overcast as we continued south of the Chesapeake Bay. I requested to go off frequency for a weather update and Norfolk acknowledged. Flight watch returned my call quickly and the update confirmed what this mornings report had forecast it also matched what I was looking at. Norfolk approach handed me off to Oceania then in turn to Washington center. The scattered layer was now around 1200 with good ground contact along the coast. I didn't see First Flight but did see Manteo in the distance as it started to rain. A Mooney canceled IFR that was heading into Dare County (KMQI) and I followed suit cancelling flight following. I switched over to MQI's CTAF and heard the Mooney report his position, I was a few miles behind him. I made my position calls and entered the left down wind for runway five at midfield. Base to final over the water and now aligned for landing I noticed I had some geese waddling across the approach end of the runway. As I passed over the shore line Mary was my bird watcher and I decided on landing a tad long to add some safety factor. Smooth landing, geese no factor and a easy taxi to our tie down. I called on unicom for our rental car then shut 679er down for the weekend. Our car was at the plane before we could climb out, that's good service.
With 679er covered and secured at her home away from home, our vacation was officially underway! First order of business was to get my bearings squared away and give the map a quick review. Ah, piece of cake, we headed out of the airport noting the Aquarium location and reading all the local historic attraction signs along our route. It was less then ten miles to the hotel as we traveled through Manteo to the "big road" Rt 64/264, made a left turn and headed over the Washington Baum Bridge,one of the many area bridges we would cross on our vacation excursions. Mary and I both noted places of interest and local stores enroute to the Surfside Hotel. Mary also noted the outlet shops, she was looking for the Coach store (handbags for all the men reading). Sure enough before we got to our turn off there it was, calling her name, Mary...come shop here...Mary.... (more on this later).
Tummy's full we were now on a mission to Manteo. We followed signs to the Festival Park, sort of a picnic park is how I would describe it. The key here is all the shops and galleries within a few blocks of the park. It reminded us of the waterfront at Block Island. We had a blast walking around meeting the shop owners and all the local cats that the shops take care of. A great adventure today and a fun time just spending it together with my Bride. It was time to head back since the sun was peeking out and the thought of beach time was looking good. Once back at the Surfside we noticed the wind was still kicking pretty good so Mary passed on the beach and instead laid out on the balcony of our room. While the Bride worked on her tan I took a nap, typed on the blog and watched football games. When the sun finally fell out of sight Mary and I got showered up and headed out for dinner. Tonight's choice was the Penguin Isle. When we walked in there were two wedding parties getting underway, I figured the food and service must be good. Mary commented that this place is also open all year round so that must say something good too. We were seated upstairs and glanced over the menu's. I knew what I wanted, surf and turf, Mary followed suit. What a nice quiet dinner for the two of us on our last night of vacation, we really enjoyed ourselves.
Almost impossible to top last nights dinner but we thought we would give it a shot at Howard's pub in Ocracoke. Of course today's weather was perfect, bright sunshine hardly a cloud in the sky and no wind to speak of. Mary put in a few hours of tan time while I worked on finishing up my flight plans for the hop to Ocracoke and then from there back home to Wilmington. We did detour on the way to the airport for one picture that Mary wanted to take of a little kitty at one of the shops we visited. This little girl was so cute and so petite one could not help but love the lil' thing. Back my to planning, winds favored the short hop for lunch but it looked like a good head wind the whole way home. I decided that we would top off and make the run to both locations with a non-stop home. All my calculations pointed to 11 gallons remaining upon arrival at Wilmington (ILG).
We had already gassed up the rental, taken the extra pictures and now headed to the airport. I worked on my pre-flight inspection and Mary returned the car and also reminded the line guys we needed to be topped off. The fuel truck was out to meet me as I finished up, only needing to sump the tanks. Bags were packed, car returned and 679er ready to go. I taxied out to runway five and did my run up followed by my departure and climb out to 3000'. Washington Center did not have radar contact but did hand me off to Cherry Point as I crossed Billy Mitchell Field (KHSE). I rode along with approach for a few minutes then cancelled when I had W95 in sight. I announced on CTAF my position and intentions as we entered the left down wind for runway six. Base to final now feeling the winds off the ocean push us around as I make my way to short final. A bit of rockin' and rollin' and some throttle work has us descending below the dunes and setting down for a nice landing. Once below the dunes the torture of the wind isn't that bad at all. The airport has tie downs and I did notice plenty of ropes provided. I called For a ride on unicom and Howard's Pub sent out a six seat golf cart to pick us up. Our Driver pictured minus the golf cart.
Lunch was excellent at the Pub. I had sweet tea, of course, along with scallops, shrimp and coleslaw. Mary had a dozen of clams and you guessed it, oysters and hush puppies. I bet this place is packed on weekends, it just has that look and feel. It reminded us of a local favorite at home Stanley's tavern, sports oriented, great food and service. We each purchased shirts as a souvenir of our stop for lunch. Ocracoke has been on my to do list since I became a pilot, today, mission accomplished.