It finally looks like this year’s unbelievably cold and snowy winter is melting into glorious spring. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and blossoms seem to have sprung up overnight. And with that gorgeous spring weather comes spring fever–we’re all itching to hit the beach!
Luckily we’ve got an advantage–earlier this year we published the fourth edition of Travel North Carolina: Going Native in the Old North State. Written by longtime N.C. residents, the book spans travel hot spots from the coast to the mountains, calling out great places to expore, hike, eat, shop, and more. And with history lessons about some legendary places, the book really covers it all.
I asked Artie Sparrow, a colleague and one of the authors of this edition, if he could recommend a great vacation spot in North Carolina this summer. This is what he had to say:
When I went to the Outer Banks to research Travel North Carolina, I knew that I had to stop at the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station. I’ve been fascinated by the surfmen who manned the station ever since reading about them in Ben Dixon MacNeill’s The Hatterasman. The surfmen did what their name implies: They went out into the surf in rowboats and rescued passengers and sailors from ships that foundered off the North Carolina coast. They were true heroes.
The waters off Hatteras Island are known as the graveyard of the Atlantic for a reason. It’s where the Labrador Current from Canada meets the Gulf Stream from Mexico, creating very turbulent seas. There are constantly shifting shoals that have imperiled mariners since ships began traveling the East Coast. More than 1,000 ships have sunk off Hatteras since records began in 1526.
Naturally, most of the rescues took place when conditions were less than ideal. The surfmen went out into the sea no matter how rough the weather was. Captain Patrick Etheridge’s legendary retort to a reluctant surfman became their motto: “The book says we’ve got to go out. It doesn’t say a damn thing about coming back.”
The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station, located on Highway 12 in Rodanthe, preserves the legacy of these brave men. Visitors can tour the 1874 Station and the larger facilities that were built in 1911. In the summer, active-duty Coast Guard personnel perform the beach apparatus drill, demonstrating the techniques used to rescue sailors from sinking ships.
Fascinating, isn’t it? Even as a N.C. native, I didn’t know the station existed! After hearing Artie’s explanation, how can I not visit it this summer? And if you think the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station is interesting, you should check out Ray McAllister’s Hatteras Island: Keeper of the Outer Banks. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the most legendary part of the Outer Banks.
So now it’s your turn–tell us where you are going this summer. Are you visiting your favorite spot in North Carolina, or will you explore a new destination further away from home?