Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vacationing in Manteo

We spent a wonderfully relaxing weekend in Manteo on Roanoke Island.

The weekend started off with a potentially disastrous hitch. I'd made a booking at an inn that looked really good on its website, but in reality was a run down, very seedy motel. We drove up to reception, took one look inside, looked at each other and decided that if we couldn't find alternative accommodations that we were returning, post haste, to Norfolk.

As luck would have it, we managed to get the last room at The Tranquil House Inn.

We couldn't have stayed at a more perfect inn. The rooms were beautiful, the service outstanding and the guests all friendly and quiet. We were right on the marina with lots of space for the kids to play.

The kids spent hours playing on the pirate ship.

Manteo is a charming town. I found one of the best bookshops I've been in for a long time.

Manteo Booksellers is one of those independent gems that has a busy schedule of author readings and book signings. They also stocked books that I've had to search for on the net. I was in heaven browsing through books that you wouldn't find in a Barnes and Noble in a million years.

I loved how many of the store owners planted herbs instead of purely ornamental plants in their gardens.

We took ourselves off to the Lost Colony on our first day there. We couldn't get over how tiny the ships were that the first colonists sailed on were.

Ben had fun turning the capstan and I finally understood what a capstan was. Lydia gave the word to Ben in his bookclub homework. We looked it up but I still struggled to work out what thing was. (sorry, I didn't take a pic)
Ben and Shira had a lot of fun in the model colonial era military encampment.

Shira enjoyed trying to work the wood working equipment.

Ben spent what felt like hours playing 9 pins. I played 9 pins (or skittles as I knew it) as a child and never knew that it was used in colonial times as a training game for artillery men to practice shooting at the enemy.

On the second day Marc took the kids to Jockey Ridge State Park. This park is a testament to the will of the common man against developers. Locals banded together and managed to get this large sand dune classified as a state park thus protecting it from development.

The kids tell me that it is a real trek up to the top of the dune.

A trek, but worth it.

I've had quite a chuckle over their visit to the park. Ben and Shira have wanted to roll down a sand dune for ages and couldn't wait to visit Jockey Ridge State Park. They climbed their dune and rolled down it, yet the highlight of the visit was playing in a puddle populated with thousands of wriggly black creatures. The kids thought they were tadpoles and Marc thought they were dragonfly larvae. Of course, they didn't take pics of the creatures so we have not been able to work out what they were.

One thing I have learned about kids is that they inevitably enjoy things that wouldn't even enter an adult's horizon.
Another highlight of the trip for them was playing on the giant's chair.

One of the kids' first stops each morning was at the Manteo Weather Tower

The US Weather Bureau once used Coastal Warning Display towers such as this one to fly signal flags to warn mariners of wind shifts or approaching storms. On November 10, 1904, the Weather Bureau established the Manteo Weather Station with Alpheus W. Drinkwater in charge. The Manteo Chamber of Commerce requested that the bureau be given permission to place a tower on the grounds of the Dare County Courthouse.
Since weather news was transmitted by telegraph, Drinkwater, in his role as telegraph operator, was a logical choice for weatherman. He also is noted for sending news of the Wright Brothers’ flight tests to news agencies across the country.
Beyond the symbolic colors and shapes that foretold a rainy day or a flood tide on a northwesterly wind, weather flags, when flown in various combinations of shapes and colors, signaled that it was time to take in the laundry or to set the fishing nets, part of everyday life in the town. At night, two red and one white signal lights flashed storm warnings.

I must say that I am glad we live in the days of Accuweather and its ilk. Reading flags is fun, but reading the detailed weather off the net is so much easier.
The weather tower is next to a reconstruction of the Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse

I never realized that there were lighthouses that weren't in the traditional tower shape.

No trip would be complete without Shira making a painting.

Marc and I plan on returning to the Tranquil House Inn for a romantic weekend as soon as all the summer vacationers have returned home.


Our Home Schooler and Jen said...

The inn and in fact the little town of Manteo

the state park looks very adventurous

great photos

Michelle (The Beartwinsmom) said...

LOVE the pictures! It looks like a place definitely worth visiting.

Rachel Inbar said...

It sounds like you had an amazing vacation! I can't believe how big your kids look... and I'm so jealous about the bookshop :-)