COROLLA, North Carolina — Twice a year, the Currituck Beach Lighthouse hosts a free lighthouse climb.

For no cost, or a small donation, you can climb all 11 stories — 220 steps and nine landings — of the lighthouse.

Once at the top, you can see the Atlantic Ocean, the Currituck Sound and Virginia, depending on the direction you look.

The lighthouse itself was built in 1873, the last of built on the Outer Banks. According to the site manager, the lighthouse was built to illuminate a “dark spot” — a spot not covered by the Coast Guard’s lighthouse system — along the East Coast between the Bode Island Lighthouse near Nags Head, NC, and a lighthouse in Virginia.

The lighthouse itself is maintained by a nonprofit. The state owns the land, while the federal government keeps the lighthouse light working — a unique private and government partnership.

We also stopped by the beach, so those of us consumed with our fear of heights during the lighthouse climb could decompress a bit.

We went a few miles north to the Currituck Beach Coastal Equine Reserve see if we could find some of the wild horses new Corolla. I thought I heard them, but we only saw some hoove-prints and some piles of horse poop which I think are supposed to be a deterrent for the horses to keep them away from the man-made trails.

Instead of telling you about the adventure, I’m going to share some photos.