Saturday, May 19, 2018

Mother’s Day at Currituck Beach in the Outer Banks, North Carolina

Horses on the beach

Last fall, Nicolas discovered Corolla, NC, in the Outer Banks, where you can drive on the beach with no ORV permit required.  20 miles north of Kitty Hawk, the road ends at the sand and there’s 17 miles of beach to drive on until you reach the Virginia state line.

In addition to the off-road adventure, the area is home to wild horses, which are always cool to see wandering on the beach.

With 90+ temperatures predicted for Mother’s Day weekend, it was a perfect time to plan a day at the beach. 

We packed a picnic lunch, and loaded up Nick’s truck  with chairs, his grill, and even Casey!  We didn’t get as early of a start as we wanted to, and with almost a 2-hour drive to get to Corolla, NC, it was almost 2pm by the time hit the sand after stopping to air down the tires on the truck.

Nicolas was having fun in the deep sand,

Getting out on the sand

and Casey was keeping a close watch from the back seat!

Backseat driver

It wasn’t long before we spotted some horses headed towards the water!

Our first glimpse of horses

So cool!

Wild Horses


This is really an amazing area!  The beach, behind the dunes, is lined with beach cottage communities . . .

Beach Houses

and the only access to them is through the sand!

Sand roads

About every half mile or so, there is a “road” that crosses the dunes, and then there are more sand roads that go between the houses . . . and some of them are really narrow!  This one felt more like a trail, than a road!

These are the roads!

It’s a beautiful place for a beach vacation, but I hope your Uber driver has 4-wheel drive!!

Neighborhood behind the dunes

Beach Houses

Back out on the beach, we passed some fellow Spartans,

MSU people all the way out here!

and looked for a spot to set up our picnic.  We spotted another group of horses hanging out on the dunes, and decided that was as good a place as any for a picnic.  Nicolas got the truck backed up by the water, hopefully out of the way of drivers . . . not a lot of “rules of the road” around here!

Parked on the beach

Nice view!

Picnic with a view

This mama horse had her brand-new foal with her, so we walked over to the dunes for a closer look!

Mom and baby

There are dune buggy tours (kindof like Mac Woods at Silver Lake) who take groups of people for rides along the beach in big-wheeled 15-seat vehicles, and a couple of the tours had stopped to take pictures of the horse and her foal.  The tour guides were saying that the foal was just a few days old, and the mother had been keeping it out of sight until today.

It was just barely able to get up on its long legs!

Getting on its feet!

The baby is getting pretty steady on its feet

During the hour or so that we were parked there, it got quite a bit more stable on its feet.  Eventually the group wandered back over the dune, but we saw them again later down by the water.


Selfie with the horses!

Our selfie with the horses

While Tom and I were watching the horses, Nicolas was getting our picnic set up in the back of the truck.

Getting set up

Enjoying the beach

He grilled the burgers and hot dogs that I brought, and I got out the pasta salad and honeydew melon to go with them.

Compared to 92 degrees back in Suffolk, the outside temp in Nick’s truck was reading 68 degrees!  It was definitely warmer than that, though!  Even with a brisk breeze off the ocean, it was very comfortable in the sun.


After lunch, I took a walk on the beach . . . watching out for crazy drivers!  The beach went on for miles and miles!



Selfie on the beach! (It was really windy!)

Walking the beach

Mother’s Day pic with my boy!

Me and my Nicolas

When I got back, we packed up the truck so we could continue our drive on the beach – Nick was determined to drive all the way to the end!

Virginia - the end of the road

There it is – the end of the road!  On the other side of the fence is Virginia, and although the beach continues, Virginia doesn’t allow driving on the sand, so we had to turn around here.

The beach continues, but we can't cross the state line

As the afternoon went on, the tide had been coming in, so the driveable beach was shrinking.  There was one section that got really narrow, and the sand was very deep and dropped off by the water – a couple of trucks were stuck, but Nick just went around them!

He loves his truck!

Nicolas was having fun!

There were beach houses all the way along the beach, too! Some of the walkways down to the ocean were completely covered by drifting sand – apparently nobody had been there yet this year.

Beautiful beach houses

We got turned around, and started the 17-mile drive back to pavement.  As we drove along, we saw several groups of horses coming down to the ocean – they must all come down there in the evening!

Following more horses

I guess they like to walk the beach, too

Another group of horses

We had a really wonderful day – Nick had fun driving on the sand,

Leaving the dunes

Tom and I loved seeing the wild horses,

Running in the sand

and we all enjoyed the beautiful, warm day!

Sunset at the end of a beautiful day

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all the Moms out there!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Another productive week and birthday celebrations

I need an orange car!

We had another busy week last week . . . and accomplished quite a bit.

Tom finished waxing the RV,

Finishing the detail job

and then it was time to tackle the AquaHot service. 

Time for AquaHot service

While we were in the mountains, we had to use the AquaHot on diesel for heat a few nights, and we started getting a lot of white smoke from the exhaust.  Then, it wouldn’t stay running, and we were getting a strong diesel odor in the RV, and Tom found diesel fluid dripping from the exhaust pipe.

A quick call to Lloyd Degerald (who had done our AquaHot service last year at the HR419 Rally), and he determined that we probably had a gunked up nozzle.  He said it wasn’t a huge problem, but we needed to have the AquaHot serviced.  Lloyd assured Tom that, with a little reading and watching a few YouTube videos, he could do the service himself.

Luckily, once we moved down to Suffolk, we didn’t need the heat anymore, so we had time to do some research. Tom figured out what he needed to do and ordered the necessary parts, and it was time to get started.

First he had to detach the diesel burner from the AquaHot, and remove the combustion chamber.

Dirty combustion chamber

It was very sooty, and so was the inside of the burner.  He spent the next hour or so cleaning everything.

Much better!

Much cleaner now!

Outside is cleaner, too


Diesel burner after cleaningWith the burner cleaned out, it was time to change the nozzle and re-install the combustion chamber.

New nozzle installed

Re-attaching the diesel burner to the AquaHot.

Re-Installing the combustion chamber

With the service complete, we plugged in the connectors and it was time to fire it up.  It fired right up . . . but we were getting smoke . . .

Getting some smoke when we fired it back up

then LOTS of smoke!

Uh oh!  Lots of smoke!

We were smoking out the whole campground!

After several minutes with no reduction in smoke, Tom made a quick call to Lloyd.  He assured us that it is normal to have that much smoke with the amount of diesel fuel we had been pumping into the burner.  He said just to leave it running, and after about 8 minutes, it would stop smoking and the diesel burner would cycle off.  Then, we should run the hot water until we got the burner to fire back up, and it shouldn’t smoke then.

Sure enough, it happened just like he said it would!  Success!

With our projects done, it was time to get back to work on Nick’s camper.  When we replaced his couch, there was a little half wall next to the old one that had to be taken out.  It had an electrical outlet mounted in it, so we ordered a surface mount receptacle, and installed it on the slide wall.

Re-installed Nick's electrical outlet

Then, it was time for the water system.  He’s been getting some odor in hos water, so we sanitized his fresh tank and water lines, and flushed his hot water heater.  The water heater was actually pretty clean, but sanitizing the lines took care of the odor.

That was it – our work was done for the week!

Tom and I both had birthdays on the weekend, and Nick was off Saturday and Sunday, so we had a few outings planned.

Saturday was the Shake, Rattle & Roll Car Show in downtown Suffolk, so when Nick got home from work in the morning, we went downtown to walk around.

Shake, Rattle & Roll in downtown Suffolk

Nick and Tom were in car heaven!

Guy heaven

Several blocks of Main Street were blocked off and lined with cars on both sides.

New and old

There were some real beauties there,

That's a beauty!

and some cool old trucks, too!

Old Ford truck

Interesting truck bed

As usual, lots of Mustangs!



Nice color!

This beauty was “Best in Show” – I love the orange!

Best in Show

The guys spotted a nice Cougar, too,

'67 Cougar

and a couple of Broncos that were in great shape!

Nice Bronco

REALLY nice Bronco!


That's dune ready!

Even a nice VW Bug for Bryce!

VW Bug for Bryce

It was a really hot day, and this guy was getting LOTS of business!

Ice Cream Truck

I think somebody had a little too much ice cream!

Too much ice cream?

Then there was this little guy . . . he had something to say about Toyota!

Smile     Not sure how to caption this one!

From there we went into Norfolk to check out a couple breweries and get some dinner.  Nicolas took us to O’Connor Brewing Co.

O'Connor Brewing Company

Enjoying a brew

We each enjoyed a cold brew (OK, they did, mine was Diet Coke!), and then we went in search of dinner in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, near Old Dominion University.

We had an excellent dinner to wrap up our afternoon, and headed home to the campground.  Nicolas was going out with his friends for the evening, but we had big plans for Sunday . . . more on that in another post.