Monday, August 17, 2009

Live Blogging From Roanoke Island - Day 2

Outer Banks Day 2- Monday - August 17th

by Roberta Estes

What a beautiful glorious summer day on the Outer Banks.

Today Anne and I rested and prepared for tomorrow’s Virginia Dare Faire. We called this our “girlfriend day” where we just “hung out” and did fun things.

We worked on our research at the house this morning. We have been working on an individual research plan, per county in early eastern NC. Our plan today was to visit various bookstores, so we needed to know what is available and what we need before we ventured out.

We left just in time for lunch. We eventually found “Big Al’s Soda Fountain and Grill” which was conspicuously hidden right on the main drag in Manteo. Big Al’s is quite interesting because the family has a Coca-Cola collection displayed in cases in the lobby. Did you know that there were 3D Coca-Cola glasses or a Coca-Cola Barbie? Well, me either. I do remember those small bottles that used to come out of the old cooler-style dispenser machines and no modern Coke product tastes anything like the frosty cold Cokes in those bottles. Those were the days. Oh, yes, and we did eat there too. Their homemade BBQ is the best!!! Kids were dancing on the dance floor. Just pure all-American fun. Check out their website.

From there we drove across the bridge between Roanoke Island and the mainland which crosses Croatan Sound. Mann’s Harbor is directly across the sound and that’s the location of an Indian village when the colonists were living on Roanoke Island. The Sound at that time was shallow enough to wade the entire distance from the island to the mainland. It’s a little different today, much deeper and erosion has increased the distance between the two land masses.

From Mann’s Harbor, we could look back at Roanoke Island though and gain perspective of what it was like back in 1587. Believe it or not, with the exception of a few visible houses, it’s still quite wooded today and doesn’t look that much different from across the sound on the mainland, if you can ignore the bridge that is.

I also learned something very important about Anne. She walks looking down at all times, looking for artifacts. She didn’t find any today, but you never know. And you won’t find any if you’re not looking, that’s for sure.

Fort Raleigh was known to be on the north end of the island and the remains are within the Fort Raleigh National Park today. There is no entrance fee and the site includes a museum which is small but certainly worth your time. In addition, they have a wonderful Museum shop with maps, books and other items of interest. They have a free 17 minute movie as well, but we didn’t see the movie today. The Visitor Center is a wonderful resource not only for books and the historical items on display, but the rangers and employees there are extremely knowledgeable as well. Anne and I spent way too much time (and money) there but enjoyed every minute of it.

The newest treasure at the Visitor Center is the copper necklace excavated last year at Fort Raleigh. This copper is from England and was brought to trade with the Indians. Whether it was traded and lost, or was lost or left by the colonists themselves or the preceding military expeditions is not clear. Regardless, it is a wonderful and intact find and would certainly have been a highly coveted possession by any Native American of that genre.

Following the Visitor’s Center, Anne and I visited the location of the Lost Colony play to get the lay of the land for the Faire tomorrow. We’re going to be located under the breezeway near the John White pictures. How appropriate. And the breezeway near the restrooms is truly a coveted location. We’re looking forward to tomorrow. Virginia will be 422 tomorrow and she’s one mighty old lady!!

We sat for a few minutes in the outdoor theater in the shade and watched the rehearsal for tonight’s play. We noticed that the young men spent an inordinate amount of time rehearsing the brawl and fight scenes. Everyone seems to enjoy those!

We had to hurry to get to downtown Manteo before the sidewalk gets rolled up between 5 and 6. This beautiful, quaint, waterfront town is indeed an old-fashioned, lovely, walkable downtown that is completely safe and wonderfully inviting. Lots of beautiful, clean, owner-operated shops including the Manteo Bookseller which was our destination. We purchased more books there about the Lost Colony, and now we have enough reading material to last another couple of years. Manteo Booksellers carries truly local titles not available elsewhere. The owner stayed late for us to complete our shopping (although we didn’t realize that until we saw the closing time when as we left the shop) and the shop’s cat wasn’t yet back from his afternoon walk, so I’m betting the owner had to go cat-hunting after we left. You don’t find this kind of service in chain stores, but then again, they do stay open later than 6PM too. No chain stores here to worry about though.

Another stop at the grocery store, and we returned home to cook for cast-party dinner tomorrow night after the last running of the Lost Colony play for the season. (Anne’s cooking, I’m blogging.) Tomorrow’s last performance of the season is special in part because a live baby is included for the part of Virginia Dare instead of the customary doll for the rest of the season. Afterwards, a party is held backstage overlooking the sound for the cast and volunteers and those who work so hard during the production season to make the Lost Colony play the memorable event that it is. No matter how many times you see it in the beautiful outside amphitheater that overlooks the sound, it’s always beautiful and special. Of course the 2008 season introduced the new costumes after the tragic fire in the fall of 2007 that destroyed the costume barn.

After returning home, dinner this evening was a picnic on Anne’s lovely screened-in porch, under the poplar tree, in the quiet peacefulness with the smell of the sea air. I can see clearly why so many people return here year after year, and why Anne had to have her summer home on the island of the Lost Colonists. I thought she had come here to search for them, but now I’m not so sure she isn’t planning on joining them permanently here on the island!

See you all at the Virginia Dare Faire.

Read all posts in the Trip to Roanoke series:

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