Coffee, Pastries and a Good Read

Coffe_Ducks_cottage(small)Books or coffee? Coffee or books? Sometimes it is difficult to pick one first, and that may be the key to success for Duck’s Cottage. There is something therapeutic about casually sipping a latte or espresso with an open book in hand while the world rushes by.

Duck’s Cottage Coffee & Books is located in the Waterfront Shops in Duck. It’s located at the southern end of the shops and it’s easy to find because it looks like a rustic cottage. The feeling inside is warm, relaxing and welcoming.

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Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge

Eagle at the Outer BanksAlligator River National Wildlife Refuge isn’t exactly on the Outer Banks but it’s not that far away either, and for anyone looking to learn about the area’s natural history it is worth the trip across the Roanoke Sound.

Created 30 years ago, it’s one of the largest wildlife refuges on the East Coast. It consists of 154,000 acres of marsh, swamp, pocosin, forest and a bombing range-although the range is actually 47,000 acres surrounded by the refuge and not considered part of it.

There is a remarkable diversity of life here. It is the northern reach of the American alligator, although the alligators in this region tend to be smaller than their deep south cousins. This is not without exceptions. This summer a driver struck and killed a 13’ bull alligator that was crossing US 64 at night.

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Local Business Spotlight – Kitty Hawk Kites

Hang gliding LuskForty years later and Kitty Hawk Kites is still going strong!

If there is such a thing as a homegrown retail chain on the Outer Banks, it would have to be Kitty Hawk Kites. From their first location in Nags Head across from Jockey’s Ridge State Park, the company has expanded with stores from Ocracoke to Corolla. Actually, they’ve expanded beyond that with stores in Virginia Beach and Florida.

It didn’t start as a kite store. The business began when John Harris and his early partner, Ralph Buxton, became fascinated by a new kind of glider that had just become available: the hang glider. John and Ralph taught themselves to fly on the dunes of Jockey’s Ridge.

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Outer Banks Mexican Eateries

OBX Mexican FoodSomething about Mexican food always seems perfect for family gatherings. In keeping with our Carolina Designs tradition of highlighting various Outer Banks restaurants, we thought a description of the best Mexican eateries from Corolla to Manteo was in order. Some of them are full-fledged Mexican, and some only resemble Mexican, but all of them come highly recommended. We will start with a personal favorite.

Bad Bean and Baja Grill
Two locations make this incredible restaurant available to all: Bad Bean in Corolla and Baja Grill in the Seagate North Shopping Center in Kill Devil Hills.

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First Family of Food – Pok’s Art

Poks_art_Kitty_HawkIf we could name a first family of the Outer Banks restaurant scene, it would be the family that owns the Thai Room in Kill Devil Hills. This comes to the forefront because Chef Pok, who has been with the Outer Banks Brewing Station for a number of years, has just opened his own take-out place.

Pok’s Art Asia Fusion Kitchen in the Dune Shops in Kitty Hawk is everything that one would expect of a chef with Pok’s reputation. He learned his way around the kitchen at an early age. Sent to the United States from Thailand at age seven, he started working almost immediately in his aunt and uncle’s restaurant.

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Outer Banks Cycling – Ride Safely, Arrive Intact

Early Morning OBX Bike RideTrue Confession: My idea of a perfect way to start the day is a 15 to 20 mile ride through the more hidden places on the Outer Banks. Because I’m on my bike a fair amount, I get to see lots of other riders, especially in the summer, and there are some concerning safety items worth a discussion.

First of all, please wear a helmet. I’ve had a couple of bad bike accidents over the years. In both cases I picked myself up, stiff and missing some skin. After getting my bearings and making sure all ten fingers and ten toes still worked, I looked at my helmet. Two out of two times there was a gouge in it, which could have been my head. Too hot? Sorry, not an excuse in my mind. Can’t hear the traffic? Simply not true. Uncomfortable? That’s why they are adjustable! Just please, wear a helmet.

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Corolla Wild Horses – Managing the Herd (Part 2)

Corolla Horses Matt LuskFor almost 500 years, the Spanish mustangs of Corolla have moved freely along the northern Outer Banks. A direct genetic link to the history of our nation, they are absolute proof that the Spanish were exploring the coast of North America far to the north of their settlements in Florida.

No one is quite sure how the horses came ashore. The most likely scenario would be from a shipwreck off the Currituck Banks, although it is also possible the Spaniards left the horses when they re-embarked on their galleons.

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The Wild Horses of Corolla (Part 1)

Vimo Horse by Karen McCalpinBeautiful, majestic, unforgettable-the Corolla wild horses are an extraordinary part of the Outer Banks experience. Yet, although they run free, there is considerable work that goes into keeping the herd healthy and vibrant.

That became very clear this year when a colt was born with a birth defect. Two days after Vivo was born, it was apparent to monitors from the Corolla Wild Horse Fund that the colt was walking entirely on his back toes, a condition that, in the wild, would wear his hoof down to the soft hoof wall, leaving him crippled and unable to survive.

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Eastern North Carolina Barbecue

NC Eastern Pork BBQJust about everywhere you go in this part of North Carolina, it seems pork barbecue is offered on the menu.  It’s a traditional way of preparing pig, so traditional that it seems to predate colonial times.  

It’s mostly conjecture masquerading as an educated guess, but general consensus is the word “barbecue” came from the language of the Caribbean Native Americans. Their word “barbacoa” seems to translate to a sacred fire pit in which game is cooked over the embers of a fire. 

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The Midnight Ride of Betsy Dowdy

Betsy Dowdy OBXBritish forces were moving in strength against the Patriots, intent on seizing strategic positions. The rebels were brave but seemed unaware of the forces rallying against them. The only hope was a midnight dash by horse to warn fellow countrymen of the danger. Yes, it sounds like Paul Revere, but this is actually the Outer Banks version, and this story features a young heroine named Betsy Dowdy.

It was early December of 1775 and Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of Virginia, had moved south from his base in Norfolk to fortify Great Bridge, the only crossing of the Elizabeth River, effectively isolating eastern North Carolina from the only port available to transport goods.

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