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Eco Road Trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina from New York -- First Stop, Eastern Shore of Vir

Dock in Cape Charles, Virginia. Via Eastern Shore Virginia Blog

A little trip planned to the Outer Banks is turning into quite a journey. The plans unfolded as a fate that was meant to be. Ford has generously provided a C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid for the road trip. I am psyched to test the car out and learn how easy it will be to plug in while on the road. I hope to be able to try a few "local" excursions while just on electric mode.

My colleague, Jacqueline Lysoussi, is my travel mate. A fellow eco-warrior, we first met, appropriately enough, at a Green Drinks NYC event, the one where I first interviewed Fabian Cousteau. Jacqueline shares my passion for environmental stewardship. She is Executive Director of the White Roof Project. The group focuses on painting black tar roofs white in NYC to help lower heat levels of hot urban roof tops, saving electricity and reducing cooling costs.

Kerry Allison, Executive Director, Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission, curated a brilliant itinerary for us in and around the Cape Charles area. Our first stop on the trip will be Onancock, Virginia where we will meet with Haydon Rochester. He is renovating a 1907 vernacular house along the lines of a Passive House, (although without seeking Passive House Institute, U.S. Certification.) While receiving a tour of the green renovation of this antique house, our Ford C-Max Energi Plug-In Hybrid will be charging at a conveniently located EV charging station a block away at the Inn at Onancock. We are looking forward to meeting the Inn's owners, Lisa and Kris Montagne, at their magnificent 1886 Victorian house.

Rendering of 1907 House in Onancock, Virginia undergoing a green renovation. Image credit Joe Hill/Traditional Design Services.

Our final destination for the day will be Cape Charles. We will be staying at the Cape Charles House. The gracious owners, Bruce and Carol Evans, are excited to be part of our green tour. Our Ford will enjoy an overnight charge plugged in at their wonderful 1912 Colonial Revival which they renovated and transformed into an acclaimed Bed and Breakfast. The location is magnificent being just a few blocks from the beach in the heart of the Cape Charles Historic District.

In Cape Charles we have a kayak excursion planned with Southeast Expeditions and a meeting with Jay Ford, Shorekeeper and Executive Director of Eastern Virginia Shorekeeper. The Eastern Shore of Virginia Visitors Tourism Commission also arranged meetings for us on the shore with Jill Bieri, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Coast Reserve and Margaret Van Clief, Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Virginia Coast Reserve.

The Nature Conservancy is responsible for the protection of some 40,000 acres of barrier islands, marshes, and uplands, helping the eastern shore of Virginia to become the longest running stretch of preserved seashore and coastal wildreness on the Eastern Seaboard. The Eastern Shore of Virginia also has two National Wildlife Refuges and the southern end of Assateague National Seashore. The Nature Conservancy, which is a non-profit, owns and protects 14 of the 18 barrier islands.

Cape Charles House, Cape Charles, Virginia

Upon completing our stops on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, we will then head to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Spending the time exploring Virginia on the way makes perfect sense as a launching point to Cape Hatteras because the Eastern Shore of Virginia is also a kind of Outer Banks, a narrow finger of land separating the Atlantic Ocean from the Chesapeake Bay. The Outer Banks and Eastern Shore of Virginia are sisters in that both are spits of land surrounded by barrier islands, separating the ocean from the main coast. Both regions are also home to some of the largest swaths of protected coastsline in America.

Situated in the scenic Outer Banks region of North Carolina, Cape Hatteras National Seashore is in fact America's first National Seashore, established in 1953. The creation of this national seashore preserve protects a windswept 70-mile stretch of the Outer Banks coastline that encompasses unspoiled beaches, huge sand dunes, wild horses, coastal marshes and barrier islands that are vital for migratory waterfowl, fish and sea creatures. Importantly, with sea levels rising, this protected area also shields the coast from storm surges.

We will be in Buxton, North Carolina (Cape Hatteras) for a few days, stationed at the Cape Hatteras Motel, an intoxicating spot right on the Atlantic Ocean. I am excited to meet Jan Pate and Dave Dawson, proprietors, who are sure to be a wealth of information. I found out already that Jan's son has a green taxi company (EVs) in Charlotte and they are both ready to help us find an outside plug so we can get the Ford EV juiced up.

Cape Hatteras Motel, North Carolina

After spending a few days in Buxton, we travel via Ferry to spend the night on nearby Ocracoke Island, an hour ride from Buxton and Cape Hatteras. Not only does the ferry excursion look absolutely gorgeous, it is also free. Seems almost too good to be true!

On Ocracoke we will be spending the night at The Anchorage Inn, situated right on the waterfront in the heart of Ocracoke Village. We will be connecting with Sundae Horn, Director of Travel and Tourism, Ocracoke Civic and Business Association. Sundae has enthusiastically offered to provide a tour of the pristine beaches and suggestions on what to do on the island. It just can't get better than that.

Anchorage Inn, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

On the way back to NYC from the Outer Banks, we hope to stop in Chestertown, Maryland which is located on the Chester River, between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. While there, we want to check out the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College.

As we follow the coast deeper into the outer banks of North Carolina and back, we hope to meet as many “waterkeepers" and environmental stewards as we can. It's worrisome that drilling for oil and gas has been proposed along this part of the eastern coast of the United States. If this happens, the sensitive coast line of all these precious places will be threatened. The "accidents" will happen. Time and time again we witness oil spills and sweep them under the rug like so much dust and yesterday's news.

If you think I am being strident or exaggerating, Here are 6 Horrible Oil Spills Since Deepwater Horizon That You Probably Didn't Hear About.

Everyone living along the magnificent coastline of the East Coast needs to mobilize and stop oil and gas drilling. "After the Spill", a film shot in Louisiana four years after the BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill, is a must see. (Another title could be: "The Spill That Keeps Spilling".)

Luckily, there is a groundswell of local and regional opposition to offshore drilling in coastal communities!

Please click on picture above from Surfrider Foundation and join their efforts to stop oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic.

Don't buy into the lie that we need dirty energy jobs to support the economy. Rather, we need jobs from clean energy development. And, we need to protect the vibrant tourism and fishing industries on the coasts of Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

I don't know if our journey along the Atlantic coast of our country will make one iota of difference in protecting the environment or inspire anyone else to become an advocate for the environment. But, as Jon Bowermaster, the National Geographic explorer, filmmaker, and director of "After the Spill" said about his journeys and expeditions to educate and inspire environmental consciousness:

"I know we are not going to change the word from the seat of a kayak. But if I am able to bring these stories back and share, If I can manage to change the life of one person, or two or three or four, it is totally worth it."

NOTE: This post was written as part of the series about our Eco Road trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina from New York City. Thanks to Ford Motor Company for lending us the C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid for the journey. Many thanks as well to our hosts along the way: The Cape Charles House, the Cape Hatteras Motel and the Anchorage Inn. And, thanks to Kerry Allison, Executive Director, Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission and Sundae Horn, Director of Travel and Tourism, Ocracoke Civic and Business Association. And, many thanks to my travel companion, Jacqueline Lyoussi, who took so many great pictures and my partners Joe and Chris who help edit the text and images for New York Green Advocate.

Copyright 2015 Paul E McGinniss

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