Our last full day in OBX was packed with activities. First, we drove out to Roanoke Island, famous as the site of the "Lost Colony." English colonists settled here in 1587, and soon after Viriginia Dare was the first English child born in America. Worried about hostile native tribes nearby (which had probably wiped out 107 men left there 2 years previously), the colonists persuaded their Governor John White (Virginia's grandfather) to return to England to ask for help. The war with Spain delayed White's return until the summer of 1590 (Virginia's 3rd birthday), but the settlers were gone. There was no sign of a battle or hurried departure, and the only clue was "Croatoan" carved into a nearby tree. The colonists were never found, and there are many theories about their fate, as well as one particularly popular outdoor pageant which has been performed every year since 1937.
We did not see the outdoor pageant, as it shows nightly at 8pm and that is bedtime for bongos. However, we did get tickets for the morning performance of UNC Greensboro's "Broadway for Kids", which probably will not challenge the lost colony's 76-year longevity record. The kids loved it all the same, especially the guy who jumped around on a ladder in cargo shorts and a tuxedo shirt and sang a Tarzan song. I think Tay's favourite was the guy in the unbuttoned waistcoast who sang an Aladdin song.
Roanake Island has a great aquarium that showcases marine life native to North Carolina. Probably the most interesting display was the shark tank, where one of the staff fielded the audience's questions from inside the tank, while another staff member stood guard with a barber pole. She noted that sharks in the wild eat once per week, but these captive sharks eat three times per week, so they aren't that interested in eating anyone who swims with them in the tank. I could buy that explanation. Then she said that most shark attacks are simple misunderstandings where sharks mistake people for someone else. That line of reasoning didn't make me feel any better, since people I have never met often say that I look like someone they know.
There was a great display where you were able to touch various types of rays. Scott was a bit too tentative at first to really get close to one, but I think he touched one in the end. I was told not to stand on the bench to get a photograph, as there is a chance I could fall right in. I suppose they only say that because it has probably already happened before.
If I liked the sharks best, and Scott liked the rays best, then Katie loved the turtle rescue best. There was a section where you could put on a lab coat and take care of a distressed, life-size plastic sea turtle. Each turtle had a little chip in it that you could scan at a diagnostic machine, then the machine would give you instructions on how to treat it. You would then take your turtle over to the treatment center and dress its wounds, give it injections, or even an enema (what?!) before you took it to the recovery tank to swim some laps. Katie rescued at least 3 or 4 turtles, and would still be there today if we hadn't pulled her away to go search for lunch.
We dined in historic downtown Manteo, in a restaurant overlooking the waterfront. It was delightful because they served good food with lots of gluten-free options. Perhaps it was a bit pricey for regular menu items, like grilled cheese or macaroni, but it sure beats eating Wendy's for every meal (which is what we usually do when eating on the run at home).
After some icecream and some souvenir clothing (seriously, you can't leave this place without an OBX shirt or hoodie -- they have so many stores selling the stuff it would just seem wrong to do so), we left Roanoke Island to visit Bodie Island (pronounced "body") to see the lighthouse. This was one of the things on my list because it was not far to drive and they actually let you climb the stairs to the top. Sadly, you need to be part of a paid tour do do the climb there was limited space and a long wait. Instead, we just took some pictures.
Katie looked up at the lighthouse for a few moments and then came running back to us, shouting, "it's falling down on me!" The high angle of the structure and the clouds moving behind it had given her a distinct impression that the 141-year-old lighthouse had suddenly decided to topple over and snuff us out.
Perhaps her fears were justified -- these islands have a reputation for being hostile towards 3-year-old girls from foreign lands.