DNA-X 2014 – #1 On the Road Again….Mystery Tour
Restless, fidgety, chomping at the bit…the Discover North America Expedition team is finally on the road again! After taking a year off, we dreamed of the three past expeditions (2010, 2011, 2012) where we wandered across the continent, exploring our fantastic National Parks, perusing odd Americana, seeking out the secrets that make this continent so great.
Our past three Land Rover vehicles carried us in all conditions with confidence. This year we add a new member to the expedition, a 2013 LR4 outfitted for off road. As past blog readers know, we name our vehicles just to keep the team organized and the new LR4 is named “Blue”. You can probably guess why…?!
Usually we are organized and have a plan…well sometimes. This year the word plan fell into the four-letter word category of no return and so we gave up trying to be organized. We will now proceed with DNA-X 2014 on a whim. Please come along and see where we end up! We hope you enjoy the ride!
We traditionally have started our expeditions in Key West at the most southern point in the U.S., so we aimed Blue south, loaded up our trusty team- Captain Jay, (pilot), Pip the Prairie Dog (co-pilot), Pad (iPad navigator) Bag (purveyor of snacks) Strings, (all weather music wiz) a new member of the team and me who tries to keep them organized (?). After a few days making sure the town was still there and the food was still good, we headed north. One thing we did agree on was to see places we had not and so we headed to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Getting out there requires crossing a series of bridges or taking one of several ferries. This 200-mile ribbon of sand is a series of barrier islands constantly pommeled by the Atlantic Ocean. We landed in the little town of Duck where we holed up at The Sanderling, a quiet resort on the beach. Well, it was quiet until about 7:45am when a series of thunderous booms rattled the windows. Hummm, that sounds like military shelling…? A quick research revealed the booming occurs sporadically, mysteriously and has so since the 1850’s. These explosions are referred to as the Seneca Guns. Many unsatisfactory theories abound…angry ghosts of Indians, UFO’s, sonic booms from the military (not in 1850…) earthquakes, well the list goes on. These phenomena occur in other places around the world, equally unexplained.
The towns of Nags Head and Kitty Hawk are nearby and unfortunately have been squandered by uncontrolled development. An apparent lack of zoning produced haphazard and densely packed houses, many a stone’s throw from the ocean. We found an oasis in The Wright Brothers National Memorial where the brothers launched the first plane to begin the aviation industry. This is a must see with a good museum to explain the history and rangers are stationed around to answer questions.
We drove Blue further south alongHighway 12 to Cape Hatteras. Before the 1960’s the only way to travel along the banks was to drive on the beach or just behind the dunes on soft, shifting sand. This “road” was not for the faint of heart as tides, sand and bugs claimed many a victim. Today the paved road narrows and sometimes gets swallowed up by the ever-shifting sands and ocean water. According to scientists portions of these islands are collapsing and in critical condition. In 2012 there was a backlash from developers and the state since bad news might deter the tourists that keep the economy afloat. Outrage followed from various fronts including comedian Steven Colbert who quipped, “if your science gives you a result you don’t like pass a law saying the result is illegal…problem solved”. Driving on the beach is still allowed in certain areas depending on the season. Fishing, picnicking and lounging are the main summertime activities, for now. We recommend seeing the beautiful Outer Banks sooner than later…