A Visit To The Outer Banks

This past August my family and I headed south to North Carolina's Outer Banks and spent a week in a rented house just blocks from the ocean. Although I have traveled up and down the eastern United States many times in my life, this was my first time actually staying along the coast, on land. I have traveled the Intracoastal Waterway by sailboat, but that was thirty years ago and I didn't have the opportunity to stay in one location for very long. This time I got to explore and experience this unique place up close.
  From a botanical perspective I was intrigued by the mash-up of northern temperate and southern semi-tropical plants. Cactus and palms grow alongside hydrangeas and Rosa rugosa. Sea oats (Uniola paniculta) cover the dunes and crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia) blooms every where.

Wild persimmons (Diospyros) grow on the bay side dunes and marshmallow (Althaea) can be found throughout the tidal wetlands. Coming from an ocean side community, I was familiar with much of the flora, but it was the inclusion of species that I would normally associate with much further south that surprised me. 

I came to find out that the coastal community benefited from the moderating effect of the ocean and bays much as it does here on Long Island. And being a few hundred miles further south than where I live, that tempering of the seasonal highs and lows was even more pronounced. In fact, on the barrier beaches and surrounding islands, the yearly lows rarely drop below freezing or go above 90 degrees. If you were to go inland several miles, this would be a very different scenario.
Looking out at the tidal marshes from atop the Bodie Lighthouse.
             Above is a photo of an area near Jockey's Ridge , a giant dune formation near Nag's Head.


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