No One is Going To Ride These Wild Horses

No One is Going To Ride These Wild Horses

Happy Chinese New Year!  It’s the year of the horse in the Chinese zodiac calendar.  The year of the horse comes around every 12 years and has appeared in the past in 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990 and 2002.  If you are not born on a horse year, 2014 is supposed to be a great year to travel because it will be filled with good luck.  Good news for me!

We are taking our lucky selves and travelling to the Outer Banks of North Carolina in April.  I hope we see the wild horses which live along the nearly 11 miles of beach around Corolla in the Outer Banks

google doodle

Image: google doodle

They are wild Spanish mustangs who roam freely and are deemed a cultural treasure by the state of North Carolina.

Corolla Horses

Image: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

The history of these horses goes back to colonial times. The Spanish tried to colonise the area around what is now North Carolina.  They, however, met resistance from the Native Americans who lived there (probably because they were stealing Native American children to send as slaves to the West Indies).  The Spanish eventually left for their colonies in Florida which were better protected and abandoned their horses.

corolla horse

Image: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

The horses eventually became feral and fended for themselves.  They learned to survive off the dune grass, acorns and persimmons and sources of freshwater that was found in their habitat.  They are an incredibly hardy bunch in order to have survived for nearly 500 years without human intervention.

Corolla Horse

Image: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Until recently, the Outer Banks of North Carolina were some of the least developed areas in the United States.  They are a series of sand dunes which protect the coast of North Carolina from the Atlantic Coast and on the non-Atlantic side are separated from the mainland by more water.

corolla horses

Image: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Some interesting facts about these wild horses:

  • It is against North Carolina law to touch or feed a wild horse.
  • Wild horses that have to be taken off site for treatment are not allowed back onto the Banks in case they bring any disease back into the herd from horses they met while being treated.
  • There are approximately 25 harems in the herd.  A harem consists of one stallion and several mares.
  • Stallions without a harem live together in groups.

Experts have confirmed through DNA evidence that these horses are direct descendants of the Spanish horses imported by the Spaniards in the 16th century.  The Spanish horses the Conquistadores took to the New World had been among the best from the Spanish royal horse farms.  Their beauty is evident even today.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UR7weE_NCM?rel=0]

My children can’t wait to see these horses for themselves!  Truth be told, neither can I.

Resolving to Travel

Resolving to Travel

My New Year’s resolutions tend to fall by the wayside quickly.  Usually by January 2nd.  So, can a resolution be something you are going to do anyway? We travel a lot and it’s fun trying to narrow down the options of where we want to go.  So, I’m resolving to set out some of our travel plans.  I think of it as a win/win.

world travel

Here are some places that have caught my fancy and I’m lining up the options for Mr. N and me to discuss.

Val d’Isere, France

We’ve been skiing at Val d’Isere with friends the last 2 years.  We liked it so much we are going again!  Skiing can be a bit of a hassle with young children so we are sticking with the tried and tested.

val d'isere

Normandy, France

We are planning on going this year to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.   The commemoration will occur from June through August with a series of fireworks, parades etc.  This event may also be the last major anniversary attended by soldiers who were present for the actual battle.

d-day anniversary kiss

photo: www.the70-thenormandy.com

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA

We also spend time at our summer house in the USA when we are not renting it out.  Summer wouldn’t be the same for our children until they get their fix of this idyllic island.

vineyard sign

Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA

No doubt, we’ll spend time with our friends and family up and down the East Coast of the USA.  My parents have retired to a particularly beautiful part of Pennsylvania which is only over the border from Southern New Jersey. I love the rolling farmland and national parks a fairly short drive away (for the USA).  For example, on Christmas Day we went to Washington Crossing Historic Park.  They had a re-enactment of George Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas Day 1776 which I will write about later.

washington crossing

The Outer Banks, North Carolina, USA

One trip we are planning is renting a house with friends in the Outer Banks, a series of barrier islands of the coast of North Carolina.  We will definitely visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial and my airplane-mad son will be delighted.  On a remote sandbar in North Carolina, history was made when an aircraft made its first flight in 1903.  Populated with wild horses, scenic drives, beautiful beaches, the Outer Banks are a very popular American tourist destination.

mustangs

OK, that’s as far as I have gotten.  I’m going to wait to spring my wish to go to Egypt on Mr. N at a later date.  I’ve wanted to go for ages and the children have now studied Ancient Egypt at school. I think they would love to see for themselves all the cool things about which they have learned.  Mr. N is understandably worried about the safety issues of travelling there at this time.

So, what are your travel plans for this year?  Have you thought that far ahead?