Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony

Travel Info 19/11/2012:  Southport, NC – Greenville, NC

Travel Info 20/11/2012: Greenville, NC – Swan Quarter, NC – Nag’s Head, NC (2 nights)

Travel Info 22/11/2012: Nag’s Head, NC – Washington DC

Did you know that the ‘DC’ in ‘Washington DC’ stands for ‘District of Columbia’? Pookaverse didn’t.  Neither did the TomTom satnav. It is not part of any state – neither Virginia or Maryland where the countries capital divides itself. That was a frustrating hour. Eventually. Set your Satnav to Country-level then dial-up Washington DC. And that’s the game. So its a 4hr and 45 minute drive to Washington DC tomorrow from ‘The Outer Banks (OBX) of North Carolina. Had to stay another day. The weather has improved. And well. This is an interesting place to visit. Let Pookaverse explain.

No Ferry from Aurora to Washington,  North Carolina till 3:00…only 2:57 minutes to kill then…I know. Let’s play… ‘dismantle the f*ck out of the Satnav’.

We had an uncomfortable day’s drive from Southport. Weather became wild and you just hear it above the hooms coughing – Navajo-style. We initially set off for Washington, NC which involved circumventing an inlet at the mouth of the Pamlico River. All dialed up, the Satnav decided to take us on a tour of some of the most god-forsaken landscape that either hoom has witnessed in a very long time. Well. At least not since Riverton, WY.  For those of you with a map, Pookaverse passed through the town of Aurora. In Roman mythology, Aurora is the goddess of the dawn.

To borrow a phrase from Douglas Adams: A ‘darker tea-time of the soul’ there has seldom been. Before Aurora. And that was before we encountered the Phosphate mine. All because the Satnav had decided that the quickest way to Washington, NC was across the Pamlico river inlet. By Ferry. Which was due at 3:00. In 3 hours time. If at all.

After all it looks pretty wild out there in the bay. And. Do we need a ticket? And. What if it’s full? And what if it doesn’t come?That means. We’ll have to stay in Aurora. If we can. Pookaverse decided to leave the peninsular. The Satnav thought otherwise. It could not for the life of it find Washington, NC. Nor Greenville. That big ‘city’/’town on the map Pookaverse bought in Cape Cod. In red.

The bridge across Roanoke Sound as seen from a boardwalk on the mysterious – and now well colonised – island of Roanoke

For some reason the Satnav thought it was in South Carolina when we dialed-up Greenville. Rohan said: “I think the Satnav means us harm”. Alison agreed. So we switched it off and drove instead. The old fashioned way. Like they did in the olden days. Sailing by the stars. And their wits.

In Greenville a stay at the Quality Inn. Less said about that the better. But you think the term ‘Non-smoking’ should extend to the air vents. There was a big black and friendly receptionist with a winning smile tht made the stay worthwhile. Just the smoke. Another cheapo-special. We’re saving up to stay in Washington DC. Don’t you see.

From Greenville around the peninsular via the Outer Banks Scenic byway starting at the evocatively named Swan Quarter. You see. pookaverse learned from the map that we could catch a Ferry to the Outer Banks from Swan Quarter- namely Ocracoke and travel via the Hatteras island to the mysterious island of Roanoake and a mass disappearance that to this day remains unsolved. More of that in a moment.

Through the more prosperous parts of the eastern coast of Northern Carolina. The squat clapboard ‘bungalow’ huts that we passed by on our trip to Greenville. Dilapadated. Seemingly uninhabitated. save the for the junk cars and the almost prisitne, in some cases, 4×4 parked outside. This was the poorest part of America that Pookaverse has seen so far. The bit that the ‘Travel USA’ brochures miss out.

Trailers in their dozens strung together with clothing lines. A moat of junked and wrecked cars in front of the tacked-on porch. Sometimes someone alone sitting in a chair just watching the road. Dressed for a summer’s heat that has passed by today’s frigid sky. Sometimes black. Sometimes white. Either alone or with others. Friends, relatives – who can tell? And all about. Is swamp. Drained and wild swamp. Brown waters, flaxen reeds. Pampus grass and silver-grey bald pines. Looking spent. Unsettled birds and blackened oaks dripping Spanish moss. And About.

The Waterside Theatre lives up to it’s name…next performance of ‘The Lost Colony’ is May 31 2013 at 8pm… Tickets on sale December 15 2012…They sell like hot cakes apparently

The flax of the cotton fields. This is cotton country. This is where cotton was grown and picked by slaves. Fields brown. Plants Dead. Cotton vibrant against the ground and the grey sky like little fluffs of rabbit tail. When not attached it drifts away on the wind and finds its way onto the roadside. Into the trees. Bushes. Doorways and windowsills. Everywhere.

Here on the road to Swan Quarter, where once there was swamp. Now there is rich farm land. Well cultivated. Overlooked by proud colonial-style mansions. Still interspersed by those rotting caricatures of houses. On land that may have been in the family for generations. On the poorer plots. The older houses of parents and grandparents are left to whale-rib. While new clapboard or brick-built ‘bungalows’ are raised. A  physical history that tells more of a story than a gravestone.

Here stands a stage prop…bearing the message…passed down through the centuries to become legend

This was slave country. The swamp that stood here drained by thousands of African and Caribbean slaves and then replanted with cotton. And rice. The product surprisingly that made this part of North Carolina rich. It considers itself to be a southern state. It was a confederate state.

At Swan Quarter, like some parts of our drive down the scenic byway,  you could be forgiven for thinking from certain angles that you are back in an English village. In medieval times. Save for the attachments of modern conveniences. Pookaverse paid $15 dollars, rang home and waited for the ferry. It was fortunate that we found out that Hatteras Island was impassable.

Hurricane Sandy has torn up the precipitous Highway 12 between Islands. And the sea has reclaimed it. The startling young woman at the Ferry station had one pure brown eye and one pure blue eye helped Pookaverse out.  The condition is called Heterochromia iridum. We could not travel to Ocracoke and beyond. Only to Ocracoke and back. It’s 2:45hrs on the ferry. That time. Again. That ferry. Again.

We asked for a refund and got it. And drove the rest of the Outer Banks Scenic byway to Roanoake Island.

It was signposted frequently. As ‘The Lost Colony 30 miles’. Then Travelling across Roanoke  sound on a bridge that was easily the equivalent of the 7-mile bridge that Pookaverse crossed in the Florida keys. Only shorter. Then through Manteo and it’s mock-elizabethen buildings and street names. The town itself named after the ‘civilised’ member of the Croatan tribe who visited London) and on to Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. On the south of Roanoke Island is the town of Wanchese. Named after the ruler of the Roanoke Native American tribe.

For it was here on this marsh land that an expedition of 116 English Colonists disembarked at the island to create a permanent settlement led by led by John White, an artist and friend of the colonies sponsor Sir Walter Raleigh. Previous expeditions from England as early as 1584 had met with the local Croatan and Roanoke Native American tribes.

The ampitheatre from the other side…sand lies all through the auditorium though it is not possible to tell if it is part of the act or carried here by the side-swipe created by the recent passing of Hurricane Sandy

Initially accepting, the demands for food and the widespread outbreak of European-born diseases amongst the Algonquin Native Americans had led to bloodshed and hostility mainly propagated by this previous attempt to colonise.  John White’s attempts to re-harmonise relations with the tribes were unsuccessful. At this time, Virginia Dare was born. White’s Grandaughter and the first European child born in the Americas.

With escalating tensions and the murder of one of the colonists, White followed the wishes of the colony who implored him to return to England with fresh supplies to replace their dwindling reserves. White did so and promised to return the next year. He did not. As England was at war with the Spanish and all ships were commandeered by the British Navy. It took White a further 3 years to obtain funding and a ship to return back to to Roanoke colony. On his return, the colony of Roanoke had disappeared.

Behind the theatre…the wild Roanoke sound…

On one of the timber fence posts that formed the wall of the earthern fort built to defend against Spanish interests, the word ‘Croatoan’ had been carved. This referred to the island of Hatteras (in the Outer Banks) as it is now known. As there was no Maltese cross inscribed above the name, white knew from a previous agreement with the colony leader that the colonists had left of their own free will.

The remains of an Earthen Fort… restored in 1960 after extensive archaeological investigation….

Despite an attempt driven back by hurricane weather to reach Hatteras Island, John White was forced to return. The fate of the colonists is subject to many diverse theories and remains a mystery to day.

One theory involves their voluntary integration into the local Croatan tribe. Where fair-complexioned tribesmen met with later expeditions possessing the capability to speak in English. Learnt from books read to them by their parents. Though this has never been substantiated. It is a theory that fascinates.

A different view of the restored Earthern Fort reconstructed as it would have been constructed in 1585 when it was first built on this site…

At least this is what came out of the filmed presentation at the Visitor Centre. And a visit to the only surviving remains of the earthern fort. What was surprising was the thrall that this story holds over the area. Pookaverse visited the open-air auditorium wiht a spectacular backdrop of stormy Roanoke sound. Where each year since it’s first performance in 1937, The Lost Colony has been performed and still goes on to be performed each year in this auditorium attracting thousands of people. It is the second-longest running outdoor play performed in the USA.

Pookaverse has travelled  over 15,000 miles to date – exact numbers to follow when we’re done. At this point, it has felt that we have never been closer to a version of England. Long past. Long lost. And sight of a good old knees-up.

The question beckons. What would those 116 colonists – exact position unknown – make of this spectacle that has arisen in their honour?


6 Responses to “Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony”

  1. jose Says:

    What a fascinating part of history, loved it. 15,000 miles behind you, very brave to silence Brian Blessed.

  2. Terri and Andrew Says:

    Many thanks for your recent updates, glad you are enjoying your adventures. After reading the space centre blog we both felt Rohan is a secret Mr Ben fan and wanted to wear the spacesuit and fly to the moon!! Glad you also did some old fashioned driving without Brian Blessed!!
    Hope you are feeling better as we write we have 72 flood alerts in the UK and gale force winds are battering the UK…I think Sandy may have come to visit us?!!
    Safe travels and keep safe. With lots of Love, Terri and Andrew xx

  3. Anne Says:

    Hope that you are both feeling way better – puts my slightly tired / slightly snivelly typical British cold in the shade somewhat!! I have finally succumbed and put the heating on (much to Molly’s delight I think!!) It has been raining lots recently and the skies are definately grey – grey – grey!! Chocolate shop is still warm & inviting – and they have the Christmas decorations up – whoopie!! Interestingly they have developed some new chocolates – including “marmite” flavour. I love marmite. I love chocolate. The combination of the two – yuck, yuck, yuck – don’t ever go there!!!

    I was wondering about the pop shop – how many of the 600 flavours were nice – and how many were not so? It was interesting to see the differences in what you have seen recently – the high technology of the space race vs. the theatre with the show of the first European community in the area all those years ago. I guess it is still the human spirit doing exactly the same thing – going where no man (or woman) has gone before – and all that. Hopefully not taking quite so many diseases with us. I like the idea of being absorbed in to the local community rather than being killed / eaten by it.

    Must be interesting with all the Gaza / Israel news – too see what the American take on it is – whether there is biased reporting etc Will you still be in America when they hit that deadline for the two parties to sort out the budget or they go in to meltdown or something?

    You wil be pleased to know that you have a Conservative candidate for your Police & Crime Commissioner (assuming you are come back to the Thames Valley). Massive public turn out of 12.8% – wow!! They said it was voter apathy – but loads of people were saying it was a direct protest vs the politisation of the police. Guess what? There is going to be a review!! (Another one – that is all we seem to have at the moment). Just another one of those things that we are adopting from America that the American’s keep telling us not to adopt.

    Still not sorted out the Christmas do yet – Jan has taken ownership of it and is proving a bit remiss in her duties – we are now also considering The Old Thatched Inn and The Woolpack – I have a sneaking suspicion it will end up being a packet of twiglets at Hilary’s house. She is back from Dubai – visiting her son. I think it went well, but she too had the lurgie – says she just can’t shift it – so haven’t see much of her either.

    Anyway – got to go – your in depth discussion of laundry products is reminding me that I have a whole shed load of ironing to do. I might be forced to watch either a) the highlights of the rugby (England vs South Africa) – we threw it away at the end or b) the Brazilian grand prix – shows you how little there is on TV over the weekend!!! Still – I have planned my Christmas cake – and got the basics to start marzipanning and making the decorations (3 tier – white – sparkly ribbon – varying shades of pink snowflakes position up all 3 tiers – and I am sorting out some nice pink jewellery beads – so hopefully nice and sparkly in a grown up sort of way). As the halloween cake was a stupendous success (Best ever apparently) – I need to make sure that this one is “awesome”!!!!!!!!!!

    Take care & e mail / tweet – whatever it is we are doing on the net – soon.


  4. Anne Says:

    Quick question – apropos of absolutely nothing – “Do American’s eat brussel sprouts?”

    • pookaverse Says:

      No. They do not use the complimentary fitness centres in the hotels either. However. It could be said that they take as much interest in the weather as we do in England. If not more. 🙂

  5. pookaverse Says:

    Actually we spotted brussel sprouts in a lovely food market in Philly yesterday so we stand corrected.
    The planned Christmas cake sounds amazing, we will need photos and btw how about a photo of your Halloween cake? Can you manage the technology? Not sure I could myself so don’t worry if you can’t. I remember being guided by your goodself this time last year in Christmas cake decoration and the fab results we got so thank you once again for that and I shall look forward to having another go next year.
    We are finally coughing slightly less but not looking forward to a long overnight flight to Chile, via Toronto, tomorrow evening, gawd help anybody sitting by us. We will have our cough medicine and fishermans friends to hand to quell the racket.
    Been reading up and planning Chile trip, looking forward to it as all sounds amazing, big culture shock on its way but sounds fab. Hope to do some trekking but not fit enough to do 4/5 day hike around Torres del Paine, just shorter day hikes hopefully.Might even work off some flab!

    Happy cake decorating.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: