Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Cost Of Fun

[I'm reliving my vacation from this last week (sigh) for the next few blogs.]

I’m a cheapskate even on vacation. So I found North Carolina to my liking. Entrance to their beautiful state parks, free. Hiking trail guides to Mt. Mitchell, tallest peak east of the Mississippi, free. A drive down the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway, free. Car ferry to Ocracroke Island, former hideout of Blackbeard the pirate, free. How much is all this free stuff worth to a miser like myself? Priceless.

Of course, not all fun is free. And so it was on our vacation. I paid $6 to climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. And $4 a head for entrance to the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills, where they made their historic first flight. We also toured the Labrot and Graham bourbon distillery near Lexington, Kentucky. Our AAA tourbook said the tour was free, but it cost $5 each. For that we got a shot of Woodford Reserve, a chocolate bourbon ball, and learned that 99 percent of bourbon is made in Kentucky though it CAN be made anywhere. And that not all corn whiskey is bourbon (Jack Daniels, for instance).

If you wanted to spend more for your fun, there is certainly opportunity to do that. We didn’t. But for $89, you could get three hours of hang-gliding instruction and five flights at Jockey Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina. The sand dunes there mimic the aerodynamic conditions that were the reason the Wright Brothers set up shop just a few miles down the coast.

If you really have some extra cash, for $1390 you can charter a boat for a day and make a two-hour trip into the Gulfstream of the Atlantic to catch some really big fish. Wendy and I saw a couple of these charter boats pull up to the dock and unload their catch (watching is free!).

What I really thought about doing was bringing a metal detector to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Since pirates frequented this area, I might just turn up some pieces of gold, or even some buried crown jewels! But a park guide explained that this was verboten before I even asked. In fact, he said that if I should happen across some washed up pirate booty, just let it be.

When I told a colleague at work about this, she said, “If I found the crown jewels washed up on shore, I think I would take the jewels and I would run.”

I think I would too.

[A couple people asked for pictures of my vacation. As I’m not as good a photographer as some, er, most, okay, EVERYBODY, the pickings are slim, but following are a few pictures we took.]

Charter fishermen display their catch, Oregon Inlet, Outer Banks, NC

I catch a wave at the beach, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC.

The FREE car ferry to Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, NC

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow that last shot would have been beautiful on a clear day Dave.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Kacey said...

You're supposed to be a huckster for Michigan, Dave --- not the Carolinas! However, sounds like a great trip. I figured out why the ferry ride was cheap --- there's no front end on that boat to keep you from falling in and being keel-hauled!

6:55 PM  
Blogger WordWhiz said...

Wow! I used to live in Tennessee, just up against NC on the Smokies. It's beautiful there. New England is nice, but you can't beat the weather in NC/TN.

Never been to the outter banks area. Would like to go. Looks beautiful!

Glad you had fun!

3:24 AM  
Anonymous cassie-b said...

It sounds like a wonderful vacation. We went to the Outer Banks (Duck) this summer for vacation and went to some of the same places you did.

And the beaches were free - and not over crowded. In NJ, you have to purchase a beach pass.

Great Pictures. Thanks,

4:15 AM  
Blogger Bernadette said...

Great travelogue, Dave! Nothing much happened while you were on vacation, so not to worry.

Dude, you surf?

7:51 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

As a youngster I lived just south down the coast from where you were... the Southport/Oak Island area. After reading about your trip I kind of want to go back for a visit! I haven't been there since I was probably 11 or 12.

12:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful shot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Dave. Glad you had a great time.

6:34 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Glad you had so much fun. My favorite word is "free" too. I like your last picture best....

10:28 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

What a great vacation! We're waiting for the kids to get out of school before we embark on this type of adventure. I loved the picture from the Blue Ridge Parkway. America at its finest.

8:14 AM  
Blogger MSUgal86 said...

Great photos. Looks like a wonderful time. Whenever I am contemplating the prices of things on vacation I always consider the list factor. What list? The things I wish to do before I die! If it falls on the list, I write it off as an expense for a life well-lived.

10:23 AM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Hey Big Dave ! ME TOO! ~ jb///

11:59 AM  
Anonymous toolman said...

i don't see "Doogie" in any of the pictures. is he OK? you didn't leave him on the picnic table again, did you?

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

North Carolina is a place I have not visited so guess I better add it to my list.
It sounds like a wonderful vacation and I am looking forward to hearing more about it.
I bet Doogies is glad that you are home again.

10:59 AM  
Anonymous schnoodlepooh said...

Hey, I got to go on a "free" cruise a few years back and spent of $3,000! The cost of free is going up and up!

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Sounds like you had a great vacation....and I might add, very
I thought your photos were great and I really enjoyed them. Wow....the size of those fish! Were one of them yours?

6:24 AM  
Anonymous squirrel said...

I love love love that picture of the wave!! I love the ocean and I i'm currently using your picture as my desktop backgroud. You're not too bad a photographer, Dave!

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


12:44 AM  

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