Morning Glories In The Sand

A short narrative about our vacation, with no references to spiritual angst, theological questions, or the other stuff I usually ponder over incessantly.

After an absence of 2 years, Elizabeth and I have returned this year to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a short vacation. You may also hear this area referred to as Cape Hatteras. When I say that is my favorite place in the world, it may be so only because I haven’t20190616_104121 seen something better, something that I could have also fallen in love with had I traveled more extensively. But for what it is, and the places I do know, I love it. It is the ocean, and the ocean has gripped my heart ever since I saw my first glimpse of the Atlantic at eight years of age.

My paternal grandmother moved from her grandiose mansion in Drexel Hill Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, to a much smaller three bedroom house on the outskirts of Daytona Beach Florida. I vividly remember the little house because of its stucco exterior – the same color as the gaudy, plastic pink flamingos sold in the roadside tourist traps that dotted our drive down US Route 1. The color left an impression on me, as did the magnificence of the ocean when I first saw it. It is interesting for me just sit on the deck of our rental house, listen to the roaring of the breakers, and contemplate that this is the same peaceful repetition was taking place 62 years ago when I was a boy.

Cape Hatteras is unique, a finger of land jutting out into the ocean, separated from mainland North Carolina by a large sound, created by the separation. It is not so much even land as it is a giant and fairly stable sandbar. The whole island is sand – sand everywhere! It is a popular vacation spot for people within a couple of hundred miles. Diamond 12 - IIAround the Washington DC area, you will spot many cars with small round stickers that say “OBX,” which is shorthand for Outer Banks. Also common are small stickers with the number 12 in a black diamond, standing for NC State Road 12, which runs from Nags Head down to the tip of the island.

Oh, how do I love thee, Hatteras?  Let me count the ways!  First and foremost, it is QUIET! At the southernmost part of Nags Head, Route 12, which runs parallel to 158, turns left and heads into Cape Hatteras National Park. You leave behind miles of businesses and tourist traps slammed together on either side of 158. From the crowded hustle of cars, people, and buildings all jammed together, you enter this:

This is living!

Yes, there are tourist attractions along Route 12, but they are few and far between. The whole place lacks the noise and hustle of places like Ocean City Maryland or Rehoboth Beach Delaware. The pace of the island reflects this. One senses a much slower pace, a relaxation which  for me is more in line with me being seventy years old and wishing just to take it easy, rather than being ten and wanting to do everything as fast as I can, running from amusement to amusement until I had worn my parents out.

The next charming thing about Hatteras Island is the houses. I can’t say for sure, but it seems to me that someone at some time decided to paint his house in pastel colors and it has become quite popular. Here is a small collection of the various colors you will see on the island:

20190620_132319    20190620_132400    20190620_131828

20190620_132011    20190620_132934  20190620_132032

The majority of the houses on the island are rentals you can live in for a week as we just did. They dot the landscape and add a cheerful feeling to the island.

And then there is the ocean, which offers swimming, fishing, surfing, and numerous water sports such as boogie boarding and windsurfing.  My favorite place to fish is the Avon Pier. I also like to surf cast, standing knee-deep in the water and going through the rhythm of casting, feeling for a nibble, and then trying to hook the fish with a sharp tug on the line.  When I get a little bored, I sink the pole into the sand (in a pole holder) and let the ocean refresh me, although I wasn’t too interested in doing that this time. The waters have been a little less friendly this year with reports of both sharks and Portuguese Man-O-War in the area.

It was a quiet vacation this year.  It took me about three days to wind down and get into the nice, slow rhythm of being away from crazed traffic, repair orders to fulfill, and other responsibilities which were waiting for me when I returned home. I spent a fair amount of time just sitting and observing – not even thinking too deeply on all the things that I write about here.  Just trying to be in the moment and enjoy it.

Two Morning GloriesOne of the things I enjoyed was the Morning Glories. In our past trips, we didn’t see many of them, but in the cul-de-sac where we stayed this year they were everywhere! A single color to all of them – bright pink – as if some Johnny Appleseed of flowers went about and threw seeds everywhere.  Somehow they find enough nourishment in the sandy soil to thrive.Field of Flowers

I’m back home now.  Vacation is over, too short as all vacations are. Monday morning I told one of my friends that when I went downstairs into my office, there were seventeen flying monkeys sitting on the desk and I was busy getting them back into their cages. I told Elizabeth (again) that if and when she wants to sell her house and move to Hatteras, she will get absolutely no objection from me. On the way back, Elizabeth suggested that we might go back for another week at the end of the summer.

I’m all for that!


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