Droning Over OBX

If you’re not from the east coast of the US, you may not be entirely familiar with the Outer Banks, an enormous barrier island beach vacation destination in North Carolina. The term “OBX” to describe them is a relatively recent marketing invention; I don’t recall ever hearing it when I was a kid. In fact, the term “Outer Banks” itself only dates from the 1930’s.

The area is one of the longest pleasure beaches in the world: a 200-mile (320 km) strong of barrier islands more or less waiting to be destroyed by a hurricane. Unlike many barrier islands, OBX is (are?) not anchored by a coral reef, making them particularly vulnerable. Mother Nature likes un-anchored barrier islands to be movable: the oceanward sides of them erode away while the landward sides silt up and eventually merge with the mainland. Wave action then causes the barrier to re-form on the ocean side, and the cycle begins anew.

The problem, of course, is that houses are a lot less mobile than sand, and so the tourism and real estate powers-that-be engage in a constant and ultimately losing battle with the laws of physics.  But until that final capitulation occurs, it’s a great place to vacation, and my family and I have done so regularly. The tradition is to rent one of the gigantic multi-bedroom beach houses and to overeat for a week. Such houses are lined up along the beach, patiently generating tourist revenue and awaiting their destruction.

OBX 2018 Canon-044-Edit

This year was no exception, the new twist being that I now had a drone to fly. So here’s our house from the air (it’s the one in the foreground), followed by two panoramic views of the beach itself. (The lower one is looking northward at sunset.)

OBX 2018-003

OBX 2018-001

OBX sunset drone

That pier on the left side of the middle photo has a name of some historical significance. Here’s a ground-based shot that gives it away:

OBX 2018 Canon-037 In case you’re not viewing this on a big screen, it says “Kitty Hawk Pier”. Here’s a drone’s-eye view of it.

OBX 2018-002

This is the area where the Wright brothers inaugurated the air travel age in 1903, and do not imagine for one moment that the local tourism gurus let you forget it. The actual event took place a mile or two from this pier, in Kill Devil Hills, and there is of course a memorial there. There is also the actual course of the flight marked out, and you can easily walk its length in about 30 seconds as it is only 120′ (36m) long. (For comparison, the wingspan of a 747 is about 60% longer than that.) The flight took 12 seconds, and their luggage showed up three days later.

Another historical name that pops up frequently in the area is Virginia Dare. Roads, restaurants, you name it, she’s everywhere. Which is somewhat remarkable, because her sole claim to fame is being born here, the first child born to English settlers in the New World. That was in August 1587. Three months later her grandfather sailed back to England on a supply run, and when he returned Virginia, her parents, and the entire colony had disappeared altogether, thereby creating one of the enduring mysteries of American history. Ms. Dare — or at least her name — has had quite a good run of it since then, however, as everything from a soft drink to an icon of women’s suffrage, which is not a bad legacy considering that absolutely nothing else is known about her.

I’ll end this note with a non-drone picture, taken at night underneath the pier. I post it here entirely because (a) I like how the shot came out (it’s a 3-second time exposure) and (b) it’s my blog, dammit.

OBX 2018 Canon-024

Our next travel adventure will be in less than 4 weeks, to Iceland, Paris, and Prague. Watch this space!

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Categories: US Mainland | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Droning Over OBX

  1. Jeanne Isaacman

    How come when I click on the photographs in the email nothing comes up? What am I doing wrong?

  2. Why do those aerial views remind me of Jaws?? The sky in your second photo from up above is gorgeous!

    • Yeah, the photo needs that ominous soundtrack: DA dum DA dum DA dum…

      As for the sky in the sunset shot, thanks! It was a beautiful sky with that color gradation, but I amplified the effect by an editing technique called “”tone mapping” that pulls out the full dynamic range.

  3. Michie Bissell

    Rich, Thanks for the photos. I’m assuming with another trip coming up you and Alice are doing well. Are you still traveling with the other couple? Senior moment, can’t remember their names. Tom and I, with some friends spent a week in Amsterdam, time in Copenhagen, and then cruised the Baltic’s, ending in Stockholm for a few days. Then to Santa Barbara and Manhattan Beach for a week. Keith and her family have rented a house in Italy, and then all went to Turks and Cacaos. She and I both are glad to be home. Question? Who makes the drone you have? I’m interested in buying stock in a drone company.🤔 Hi to Alice, and my best, Michie

    On Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 4:23 PM Rich and Alice Go Globetrotting wrote:

    > richandalice posted: “If you’re not from the east coast of the US, you may > not be entirely familiar with the Outer Banks, an enormous barrier island > beach vacation destination in North Carolina. The term “OBX” to describe > them is a relatively recent marketing invention; I don'” >

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