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Thursday, November 20

Sailin' Cross the Devil's Sea (Allman Brothers)

Roanoke Island Festival Park

With only one day left at the Outer Banks, we wanted to make the most of our time!  We pared our options down to four more stops...some longer than others.  At the Roanoke Island Festival Park, we got an intensive history lesson on the area, from the native americans to modern times. 
We kicked off the day with a little duck-hunting at the boat museum...then stepped 400 years back in time.  At the settlement site, we saw settlers from the Roanoke Voyage of 1585. They show what daily life was like for the soldiers and sailors who traversed the Atlantic Ocean to build a permanent colony for England.
With guns in hand, we first had to prove that we were friendly, and not here to attack!  Then we were allowed to enter, learn all about black-smithing, and try our hands at woodworking and pottery making.  The boys spent some time practicing their knot-tying skills (also good for cub scouts!), before we jumped forward in time.
On the Queen Elizabeth II, we got to help 16th century sailors set the sails, plot a course with an astrolabe, and swab the decks.  A good friend of Sir Francis Drake told us about his life and mission, and we helped some slaves below-decks to lift anchor.
Springing forward just a bit, we came to Indian Town, where the various aspects of native american life pop up along the trail.  You can roast meats, build a wigwam, and do a rain dance!
Before the visit was over, the boys ended up as a promotional feature for Festival Park.....and Mom ended up in the stocks!!!!!

North Carolina Aquarium

Always a favorite stop when we were kids, we hopped a mile or so from Festival Park over to the North Carolina Aquarium.  Being at an aquarium when you're actually AT the ocean is a little different from being at one in middle America....not better or worse, just different.  The boys hunted for shark teeth before we headed inside.  And.....what is UP with my children sticking their heads inside of crocodiles and sharks???
The hands-on exhibits were very nice.  There are also outdoor exhibits during the tourist season, but we were off-season.  Just like when my sister and I were young, the boys gravitated toward the room-sized aquarium near the front.  I do believe they could have stood there for hours, but..... was time to feed the sharks!!!  An exhibit where they can actually talk to the guy in the tank with live sharks swimming all around him?  Yes!  This one shark was a scary-looking guy, too...
After chatting with the scuba diver, we headed further into the aquarium and got to learn about the local Carolina coastal wildlife.  They were able to see some animals they had never seen before, and even I found a new one....a Leucistic!  Have you ever seen an albino alligator?

The Christmas Shoppe

So, this place actually touts itself as the Island Gallery now, but it will forevermore be the Christmas Shoppe to me.  As a child, our family would spend part of Thanksgiving playing hopscotch for hours outside of this shop, while my mother and several other folks trampled all over each other to get good Christmas bargains.  When the "fun" was over, we got to go inside ourselves and experience the magic of Christmas for as long as our hearts desired!  Many years ago, you would even look up at a certain spot and see Santa Claus hiding in the rafters, watching to see if you were naughty or nice!
Sadly, the shop is under new ownership now, and I wouldn't say that it's changed for the better.  The new owners seem terribly rude, and we didn't spend that long here.  Santa Claus is no more, and they do not like to be asked about it.  They don't seem to like children, no matter how well-behaved, and the Christmas spirit definitely doesn't reside here anymore.  It's a sad place, really.

One Last Stop

So....we had four stops to make, but this was only three....what was the last stop?  Head with us back over the inter-coastal waterway, and find out tomorrow!

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