Some of you have no doubt heard of these projects, all part of the upcoming Visual Studio Team System.
Some of you may also recognize the origin of these names: All three are lighthouses on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I took a "mini" vacation last week to the Outer Banks, and enjoyed it enough that I thought I'd share how fun a trip it was, even this time of year.
First off, I did get to see all three of "our" lighthouses, plus the Bodie Lighthouse (maybe there's some work we're missing?). I got to see Hatteras, Ocracoke, and Bodie both during daylight and lit up at night, which was pretty cool. The Hatteras lighthouse was particularly interesting for several reasons:
- Hatteras (Team Foundation Version Control) is the project I'm most directly involved with,
- Hatteras is the tallest of the lighthouses I saw (and in fact the tallest in the US),
- Hatteras would be in mortal danger of being lost to the sea, if not for an amazing feat of civil engineering. The existing lighthouse's original foundation (circa 1870, if I recall correctly) is no more than 50 feet from the ocean. It was moved over 2800 feet to a new location roughly as far from the beach as it was when first built, in 1999. Yes, that's right - they moved a 130+ year old, 200+ foot tower of brick and concrete over half a mile. Read more about this project here. I'd known about it at the time (being a long-time NC resident), but I'm not sure how much attention this project got outside of the state.
Ocracoke was interesting because you get to Ocracoke Island (from Hatteras Island) by ferry. It's free, which when combined with the view, turns a 40 minute boat ride from a hassle into a vacation highlight in its own right.
We checked off a few other touristy activities - sea kayaking, visiting the Wright Memorial, walking on Jockey's Ridge (that is one big pile of...sand), and seeing some really big sharks at the NC Aquarium. Our 3-hour kayak trip was pretty fun, even though kayaking was new to me (whitewater rafting is a different story). We got pretty lucky weather-wise on Thursday, which helped. Will from Kitty Hawk Sports was an excellent instructor and guide, and I'd recommend KHS to anyone looking for watersports adventure on the Outer Banks.
The other mandatory part of any vacation, of course, is food. Will from KHS was quite helpful here as well -- he suggested both of the two restaurants we enjoyed most. First was an excellent lunch at The Rundown Cafe (don't let the name fool you). The BBQ chicken sandwich was great, the price was very reasonable, and the service was timely. Friday night, we had dinner at the Black Pelican. I had "The BBC" - Italian-style pizza from a wood-fired oven, topped with Bacon, Beef, and Cheese. A friend had the Prime Rib; we each ate half of entrees and then swapped. Great food, fairly reasonable price for a sit-down dinner, good atmosphere and good service. Pretty easily the best pizza I've had, and obviously this is not the kind of pizza they delivery to your door.
In short, for a "Beach Vacation" in November, it worked out very nicely, though it did get cold and windy towards the end. It's not the time to go if you want to swim in the ocean or model a tiny swimsuit; but if the view, the sounds, a historic landmark or 5, and a locale that's NOT a commercial tourist trap sound appealing to you, the Outer Banks is definitely a great place to 'get away from it all' for a few days.
I'll get back to the "Visual Studio" aspects of Hatteras with my next post (never fear).