Autumn seems to linger a little longer in the Sound Country. Here’s a few fall scenes we harvested this season that remind us of some of our favorite autumn adventures. Sip on some (hard) cider and enjoy!
A trio of events celebrating the arts kickoff the fall season along the Albemarle Sound. Fans of everything aquatic will appreciate the 5th Annual Surfalorus Film Festival held at various venues along the Outer Banks and Manteo. Get stoked and enjoy the three-day celebration that features the latest, most ripping ocean and surfing documentaries. Pocosin Arts in Columbia invite folks to come out for an evening of art, music, food and fun along the Scuppernong River during their Annual Benefit Auction. And in early October, the Perquimans Arts Council in Hertford hosts their 6th Annual Arts on the Perquimans juried art show that features the works of 40 local artisans. Sounds like fun along the sound and surf so get out this autumn, enjoy the cooler weather and support our region’s arts!
5th Annual Surfalorus Film Festival
September 15-17, 2016
A three-day celebration of coastal North Carolina marine culture and visual arts returns to the Outer Banks. The official website describes the event as “a fun-and-sun filled cinematic synthesis of all things aquatic, showcasing the year’s hottest surf films and ocean documentaries with a series of outdoor sunset screenings and accompanying festivities.” Surfalorus is a premier collaboration between the Dare County Arts Council and the Wilmington, NC-based Cucalorus Film Festival. Check out the following schedule of events and screenings throughout the fest.
TH (9/15), 7pm – Watermen Shorts
Screening begins at 7:30pm at the Outer Banks Brewing Station.
FR (9/16), 7pm – Shaping Shorts
Screening at the Dare County Arts Council. It Ain’t Pretty is the feature at 8:30pm.
SA (9/17), 4pm – The Adventures of NASASA and Forbidden Trim are the featured films screening at the Front Porch Cafe in Nags Head, NC.
SA (9/17, 7:30pm – Screenings begin at 8pm. A series of Breathtaking Shorts, Lopez Loves Shorts and the event’s finale, The Zone at the Outer Banks Brewing Station. For tickets and a complete schedule, click here.
Pocosin Arts’ Annual Benefit Auction
Saturday, September 24, 2016
5:00pm – 9:00pm
Pocosin Arts welcomes you to an evening under the stars to view and bid on more than 100 handcrafted works of art in their silent and live auctions. Tap your toes to the music of the Alligator String Band and enjoy dinner prepared by Kelly’s Outer Banks Restaurant.
Pocosin Arts’ 2016 Benefit Auction Scholarship donations will help create a fund in honor of renowned metalsmith and Professor Robert Ebendorf. Proceeds from the benefit auction enable Pocosin Arts to sustain a variety of programming opportunities for learning, discovery and creative expression for artists of all ages. Marlene True, Pocosin Arts Executive Director recently acknowledged that over 120 scholarships were awarded last year to students who attended Summer Youth Art Camps and After School Art Programs. True added that these contributions have also supported Pocosin Arts’ community outreach programs that provide art instruction in the local schools. To learn more about the benefit and registration, click here. $55 on or before 9/14; $65 on or after 9/15.
Arts on the Perquimans
Saturday, October 1, 2016
10am to 4pm
The Pequimans Arts League (PAL) presents the annual juried arts and crafts show held at the Perquimans County Recreation Center in Hertford, NC.
I recently caught up with Sheryl Corr, President of the Pequimans Arts League. The non-profit organization supports literary, visual and performing arts through educational and cultural arts programs. Corr enthusiastically revealed, “This year’s juried arts and crafts show will include more than 40 vendors with pottery, jewelry, fiber art, wood-turning, photography, painting and much more.” She added, “All of the unique crafts and art are made by artists from, in and around NE North Carolina.”
The popular 6th annual event also features door prizes, a bake sale and a 50/50 raffle. The traveling yarn truck from Knitting Addiction in Kitty Hawk will be caravanning to the event and exhibiting their fine yarns and knitting supplies. Admission: $3. More info.
Two new guides have recently been published just in time for the holiday season. The publications conveniently package their products into a resourceful map and guide that showcase the Tar Heel State’s craft spirits and brews. One leads the adventurer along a Craft Distillers Trail while the other entices folks with a comprehensive tour of North Carolina’s 181 breweries and 43 craft beer festivals.
North Carolina’s Craft Spirits
No doubt about it, from early colonial days to prohibition North Carolina has always had a rich heritage in the culture of making spirits. But instead of the bootlegging or moonshiner reputation, today’s legal craft distillers are often described as artisans, scientists and entrepreneurs. The state’s recent craft distillery business is beginning to blossom. Across the state, from the mountains of WNC to the Outer Banks, distilleries are creating spirits crafted from family recipes, locally sourced ingredients and lots of l-o-v-e. Some craft spirit enthusiasts refer to the growing trend as the farm-to-flask movement.
Recent NC legislation has made it a tad bit easier for distillers to sell their artisanal spirits on site with some mandated restrictions. The new law enacted October 1 2015, allows distillery permit holders, which offer guided tours, to sell one bottle, per person, per year.
About the same time the ABC Ominbus Legislation was passed, The NC Distillers Association and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services published a free Passport to the state’s Craft Distillers Trail. The handsome “Collector’s Edition” includes a 30-page pocket guide which features a map, an alphabetical listing of all of the distillers and detailed information about each craft distillery. Sticking with the passport theme, patrons can have their passports stamped at each distillery they visit and true to form, “Each seal is unique as its location.”
Our Albermarle Sound neighbors, Outer Banks Distilling are members of the NC Distillers Association and of course, they’re included in the Craft Distillers Trail. The local distillery is located in historic downtown Manteo and they lay claim as the first legal distillery on the Outer Banks. The small batch distillery creates Kill Devil Rum and Buffalo City Rye, which according to the guide are both named after local lore. I’ve personally enjoyed their delicious “molasses to glasses” premium white rum.
Speaking locally, Scott Smith, one of the four owners of Kill Devil Rum recently informed me that their Carolina pecan honey and seasonally spiced rum has hit the shelves at regional ABC stores. The premium dark rum was hand crafted in Manteo with pecans from Manns Harbor and honey from Wanchese. Can’t get more local than that! The seasonal rum can also be purchased at their distillery located at 510 Budleigh St. Come out and support the guys at Kill Devil Rum and pick up a bottle of rum and a copy of the passport. Last time I checked, the distillery was low on the popular passports. Also check for copies at all NC Welcome Centers. Click here for more info.
The Great N.C. Craft Beer Map
Charlotte-based EDIA Maps published this fun and clever guide in October. It is the brainchild of “map makers and adventure takers” Amanda Fisher and Paul Bright. In their original press release, the cartographers stated that, “The Great N.C. Beer Map provides detailed information on all the craft breweries in the state and can be used as a resource for planning a trip and tracking one’s travels. It is also an educational resource for understanding the art, science, and history of craft brewing.”
Over 200 breweries and beer festivals are featured on the map. Creative sidebars compliment the map and include information about the Science of Ordering, The Wild World of Beer and even an Illustrated History of Beer Games. Sounds like a spendid gift for those who love craft beer and boutique maps. Fisher suggested that The Great N.C. Craft Beer Map is the perfect tool for planning an excursion to various craft breweries in the state. She added, “We wanted to give people an idea of what the brewery experience would be like and what to plan for, while still leaving a few surprises to be discovered.”
Gift one of your friends, family or loved ones this holiday with a unique NC-crafted niche map or poster. Colorful folded maps are available online for $9.99 and unfolded NC beer memorabilia poster versions sell for $29.99. You can also pick up copies at the breweries and various retail locations.
Our community joined people across the nation to give thanks to U.S. military service members on Veterans Day. A grateful local crowd attended the ceremony to pay tribute to American service members who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. A beautiful blue-sky morning provided the perfect backdrop for the annual memorial held at the Chowan County Veterans Memorial.
A special “thank you” goes out to all of our courageous U.S. veterans!
We’re still on our fall discovery tour and taking advantage of good weather and fewer crowds. I call this the “edge effect” which occurs between two seasons. I’ve sneaked in some of my best adventures during these opportunistic times. I’m back on the road and trail and this time I’m exploring Cape Hatteras National Seashore. In 1953, Congress protected this coastal resource, which was designated as being natural and recreational significant to preserve forever. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is administered by the National Park Service, which preserves and protects the windswept seacoast stretching nearly 80 miles. The seashore spans north to south across three islands – Bodie, Hatteras and Ocracoke.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore is open year-round although facilities, programs and activities change with the seasons. For example, the three lighthouses along these islands are not open for climbing after Columbus Day and don’t reopen until the third Friday in April 2016. Cape Point Campground located on Cape Hatteras, is the only National Park Service campground open during the fall through the end of November.
So during the off-season, I’ve personally found you give up a few perks offered during summer’s peak season including interpretive programs but you end up with rewarding self-guided and intimate adventures.
Editor’s note: The Ocracoke Island Lighthouse is not open for climbing year round. Only base tours are available during the summer.
One of the first points of interest on the northern section of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is the Bodie Island Visitor Center & Lighthouse. It is located off of NC 12 between Nags Head and the Oregon Inlet approximately eight miles south of Whalebone Junction (US 158 and US 64 intersection).
From the parking lot in front of the lighthouse, visitors can conveniently discover a variety of habitats including open fields, remote wetlands, maritime forests, salt marshes, beaches and dunes. During a recent trip, the only visitors I observed were wildlife photographers, birders and birds. According to the NC Birding Trail, late fall and early winter is the perfect time to observe wading birds and numerous waterfowl species which migrate and/or winter along Hatteras.
The wildlife trail from the parking area leads visitors along a half-mile boardwalk to an observation deck that overlooks an expansive freshwater pond. The last day of October, I observed Horned Grebes, Northern Shovelors, several Black Scoters, and a Tri-colored Heron feeding among the cordgrass.
Another wildlife area to explore begins at the gravel road near the south end of the parking lot. A gated service road extends out to a tidal creek and a dock owned by a private hunting club. Anglers are often seen fishing this local creek from the dock and small skiffs. I enjoyed watching two fly fisherman or “water whippers” roll casting along the edge of the bank.
Visitors often see marsh rabbits, turtles, crabs along the creek and marshlands. Occasionally, one can hear the short series of clacking sounds from the Clapper Rail but seldom do hikers get a chance to view this large rail species– one that locals refer to as a marsh hen or mud chicken. Both of the walks reward the hiker with wide open vistas, wildlife viewing and of course, strategic views of the 170’ lighthouse.
Bodie Island can be enjoyed as a brief stopover or a half-day excursion. Binoculars are recommended to get up close and personal with our feathered friends. Also, be sure to check the local hunting season scheduled during the fall/winter. The Bodie Island Lighthouse is open daily, 9am to 5pm, September – May; 9am to 6pm. Oh yeah, act like a local and be sure to pronounce Bodie correctly (Body).
October can be one of the best times to visit the Albemarle Sound and the Outer Banks. Autumn ushers in cooler weather, subtle fall colors and secluded beaches. WaveLINKS recently hit the road on a sound-to-sea day trip filled with yummy food, hiking adventures and seasonal discoveries.
1st stop: Belcross Bake Shoppe
The River City Cycling Club includes this delightful bakery along their 33-mile Tarwheel route from Elizabeth City through Camden, NC. After trying one of the bakery’s famous sweet potato biscuits, I found myself willing to extend the distance and cycle all the way from Edenton! Check out their popular ham & cheese or bacon & cheese pinwheel biscuits specially baked on Tuesdays only. Or pick up some their takeout baked goods and sweet treats too. Lunch specials include Shepherds pie, biscuit potpie and a fiesta taco salad. Family owned and very friendly service!
Nags Head Woods Ecological Preserve
According to the Nature Conservancy, which owns and manages the preserve, Nags Head Woods is one of North Carolina’s most significant natural areas and one of the Outer Banks’ most important community resources. The 1,400-acre preserve features a variety of fauna and flora including a maritime deciduous forest, a maritime shrub forest, several interdunal ponds, more than 50 species of birds and over 300 species of plants. The ancient wooded dunes afford a steep contrast to the adjacent seaside landscape. Large holly and beech trees remind me of the forested coves in the southern Appalachians.
The preserve offers several hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities – a .5-mile handicap accessible loop trail to longer, more strenuous hikes of up to five miles. We opted to combine a couple of trails including the scenic Roanoke and Discovery Trails. From the visitor’s center parking lot, the trail immediately introduces you to the lush, wooded dunes and fresh water ponds throughout the forest. We picked up the Roanoke Trail after crossing over the sandy Old Nags Head Rd. The 1.5-mile out and back trail meanders through the salt marsh, crosses over a board walk and ends at a beautiful beach and overlook along the Roanoke Sound.
Sorry but we can’t give away all of our secrets! Here’s a hint though, south of milepost 16, beyond the vacation rentals and north of the Bodie Island Lighthouse. Some O’bankers call autumn the tranquil season or the season of tranquility. Sounds good to me especially when I find convenient parking, vacant beaches and a Carolina blue sky all to my lonesome. This is the perfect season to pack a lunch or stop by the deli at Kill Devil Hills Stop N Shop and grab a beach lunch to go. Either way, you won’t be disappointed with your beachside picnic.
I recently heard that the general rule of thumb for the return of migrating Tundra Swans to the Albemarle Peninsula is the first full moon in November. The month before begins another seasonal ritual when southbound boaters sail toward southern latitudes along the Intracoastal Waterway (IRC). My wife and I witnessed this funky phenomenon while taking the road less traveled to Coinjock Marina and Restaurant. Happenstance can lead travelers to some of the most entertaining adventures and this was definitely the case as we enjoyed an autumn sunset while dining along the waterfront of the IRC. The captains and the deckhands amusingly provided the entertainment for the evening. We heard tall tales from the sea. One young sailor talked about snow on the bow just a few weeks ago after he set sail from New England. Another captain and his wife shared adventures of their four-week odyssey and “loose” plans to sail to “Key West and beyond!” All the while, deckhands offered their assistance along the marina’s long fixed face dock.
Coinjock Marina & Restaurant is a mariner’s delight and a favorite stopover for boats making the “cut” between the Currituck Sound and the North River, which empties into the Albemarle Sound. Part of the attraction is the friendly customer service but some of it is the restaurant’s reputation for fine food and drink. Boaters often call in advanced dinner orders for its famous 32 oz. prime rib.
My wife and I chose a selection of specials including their Hatteras Clam Chowder, a ‘skewered’ catch-of-the-day sampler of tuna, shrimp and scallops, along with a tasty appetizer of lump crab cakes. During our meal, over 15 boats came in to dock and nearly all of those on deck had a cheerful smile on their face but no shoes on their feet!
Our day trip along the north side of the Albemarle could be charted exactly like one of the salty dog’s take on his day on the ICW. “Eight bells and all’s well!”
Cheers to cooler weather and lower humidity! For some of us outdoor adventurers, autumn is the perfect season for camping, paddling, hunting, biking and hiking. Here are a few pocket-size and affordable gear options that are sure to lighten your load and sweeten your next outing.
H20 on the Go!
Regardless of your pleasure, safe potable water is essential to any outdoor experience. It can also be one of the most challenging elements to carry. Remember the rhyme, “A pint’s a pound, the world around” so 8 pints to the gallon weighs eight pounds. Three quarts (6 lbs.) per person per day may be sufficient for the average day hiker while a kayaker may get by on less especially during a cool overcast day. A portable filtration system turns streams and springs into a valuable asset and in some cases, a lighter hydration alternative. Whenever I venture into the woods, paddle skinny water or tour back roads of eastern NC, I often include a water filter in my gear checklist.
The Sawyer MINI is one of the most versatile and effective portable filtration systems that I’ve personally used. According to Sawyer’s product details listed on their website, the MINI removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli. It also removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.
The high performance filter fits in the palm of your hand and attaches directly to the reusable drinking pouch, standard disposable bottles and hydration packs. Or simply use the system’s straw to drink directly from your water source. A cleaning plunger provides easy backwashing after extended use.
Our second piece of gear pairs well with the Sawyer MINI especially if you like hot beverages or tasty food while exploring overnight adventures. Again if you prefer palm-size convenience and lightweight options, you’re sure to appreciate the MSR Rapid Cooking Pocketrocket™ ultralite canister stove. It’s one, two, three and your ready to fire up some cowboy coffee or cook a delicious one-pot meal. The stove and valve body fit inside a small plastic case. Simply connect the stove with an IsoPro canister, (80/20 blend of isobutane and propane), then light a match over the edge of the burner head, open the flame adjuster valve and presto, you’re ready to boil the pint of water you just filtered in only a few minutes! The glove-friendly flame adjuster control is a nice addition and is easy to ‘dial in’ from simmer to full boil positions.
Collapsible & Adaptable
Our last autumn gear tip features an innovative design and eliminates the waste of plastic disposable bottles. Hydropak is a company whose slogan boasts, “Always Innovate. Never Compromise.” Their outdoor athletes-tested personal hydration products are quickly becoming one of the most popular and most functional products in the industry. They have been designing multi-purpose and collapsible bottles, flasks and reservoirs for the past 12 years. One of my favorite bottles is the Hydrapak™ 500 ml (17 oz.) Softflask™. The flask is made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film body with a molded screw cap. The leak-proof design is easy to use and it collapses to a fifth of the original size when empty. The bottle includes a comfortable high flow soft silicone bite valve, twist shutoff valve, dust cap and nylon finger loop. The softflask works well for paddle boarding, running and cycling and it neatly packs away when empty. The sportflask™ line also includes 350 (12 oz.) & 750 ml. (77 oz.) bottles.
So all you gear geeks out there, be sure to give these products a field test during your next autumn adventure.
Here’s a couple of special fundraisers to help welcome the fall season. These exciting opportunities feature two unique sound side centers. One event includes a benefit auction hosted by a regional arts center. The other fundraiser presents a family friendly paddling tour which benefits a local environmental/sustainable agriculture organization. Get out and support these organizations, which help promote a better understanding and appreciation of the cultural and natural resources of eastern NC. Have fun, plug-in and get involved!
Annual Benefit Auction at Pocosin Arts
5 – 9 pm
Come out for an exciting evening of art, music, local seafood and fun! Pocosin Arts has been promoting the arts of the Albemarle Sound region with classes, workshops and retreats for more than 20 years. The non-profit center is located on the historic waterfront in Columbia, NC along the Scuppernong River.
Several established and emerging artists have generously donated their mixed-media works of art. Featured artists include resident ceramic artist, Matt Repsher and renowned North Carolina artist Robert Johnson. Johnson’s work blends surreal landscape paintings and ‘field guide’ inspired botanical sketches. His paintings have been exhibited in the North Carolina Museum of Art, The Eno Gallery, The Asheville Art Museum and The Morris Museum of Art. All proceed benefit Pocosin Arts.
Click here to register and to view the complete schedule of events. $
Spruill Farm Fun Paddle
7am – 3pm
Enjoy a fun full day of paddling, food and adventure along Kendrick Creek and the Albemarle Sound. The 5–7 mile excursion benefits the Spruill Farm Conservation Project, a 110-acre farm that engages in sustainable farming, environmental research and education. A light breakfast and full lunch will be served.
To guarantee a commemorative t-shirt, register online by Friday (10/16), 2pm. Registration day of event 7–8:30am. Participants may bring their own boats or kayak/canoe rentals can be reserved in advance at Roanoke Outdoor Adventures. $