Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Beach in the Fall Part Two

Neither my husband or I were sufficiently fortunate to be born into wealthy families. We married when my husband was an intern back in the days when interns were paid very little. I made more money as an RN than he did. We each brought student loans and car payments to the marriage.

Every year we took our vacation in the off season. Why? As the Christmas Spirit told Scrooge, "Because it's all they can afford." We loved the quiet and charming coastal towns of Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Rodanthe and Ocracoke. We stayed in one of the few motels and spent the week on the beach. We drove our Jeep on the sand of the National Seashore and spent the days there, my husband fishing and I reading or walking along the shore. Didn't cost a thing except the drinks and sandwiches we brought with us. It was indeed a wonderful time.

We had not been to the Outer Banks since 1985. We expected to find major changes and we definitely did. Houses dot every inch of ocean-front, even in places I recall to be inlets so many years ago (and will no doubt be inlets again some day). We did indeed find the motel where we stayed, but the nearby fishing pier was lost during Hurricane Isabel. Since it is owned by the State, it is being rebuilt. Private fishing piers lost through hurricanes cannot be rebuilt.

When we last visited, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse was on the ocean itself and already in danger of being swallowed up by the sea. It has since been moved further inland. (You should see a video of the move. Absolutely incredible!)

It was dark and raining when we visited the lighthouse on this trip. It seemed quite odd that it is no longer sitting on the shore.

This is the Bonner Bridge, a two-and-a-half mile long structure that rises and curves and crosses Oregon Inlet to the National Seashore. Built in 1963, the bridge is old and constantly being repaired. It's scary as the dickens, but you have to cross over it to get to the peaceful and beautiful pristine seashore.

We did not have the best weather during our week. This particular morning showed two positive signs; 1) the sun rose behind the clouds, and 2) the sky was not red.

Sure enough! Sun came out and we had a sunny day...the only one of the week.
We drove up to the Currituck Lighthouse which is in such a lovely setting.

The weather resumed its cloudy, scattered showers pattern the day we went to Ocracoke. The island can be reached only by ferry. My husband took this photograph of the other ferry crossing in the opposite direction.

This is the Ocracoke Lighthouse. Why is it that people are absolutely determined to walk right in front of your camera?

I was dismayed to find the Ocracoke Village has really lost a lot of its charm. Everything is geared to the tourists and there are "tourist trap" type shops everywhere.

I couldn't help stopping to photograph this market sign in Rodanthe. I'm not at all certain what the risky business might be...the start-up of a market, or the chances you take in buying their fish.

If I sound a bit bitter about the massive construction on the shores of the Outer Banks, it's because I am. There hasn't been a major direct hurricane strike in quite some time and folks appear to have forgotten what the seas can do. A direct hit will cut new inlets and wipe out a lot of the houses.
Oh, but they do have insurance which I help to underwrite. Yep, my homeowner's insurance is more costly because I help share the cost of insurance for the houses on the beach.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

LOL! Risky Business Seafood!

I know what you mean about people walking into your photos...

Appalachian Lady said...

I don't mind having people in photos of structures because it gives a sense of scale. We went to the Outer Banks last summer for a few days--hadn't been in over 20 years. I couldn't believe all the development either. I hope their insurance is sky high to cover the cost when the inevitable hurricane hits.

Funny name for a seafood restaurant!

Kim said...

I am right there w/ you on disliking too much development. It's a shame how much pristine land can be bought for a bunch of houses and tourist shops. I too like to go to beaches when it is not so crowded as tourists just annoy me even though I am one. Give me the bear beaches and closed down shops anyday.

Pat said...

Someday when I can stop my husband from wanting to go on cruises every year or I get off work more often...we have to take a drive to Cape Hatteras.
We've been to a lot of places but never to North Carolina.
Everybody says it's so beautiful.
Didn't realize there were so many light houses...aren't they cool?
Thanks for the tour.

robin andrea said...

The sky does look very moody there. Still, a coastal vacation is always beautiful no matter the weather. It does boggle the mind that people build houses and businesses right where natural disasters are almost certain to strike. It's happening everywhere. It's like the past has never happened or taught us a thing.

Vicki Lane said...

Simply put, structures on the barrier islands shouldn't be insurable as the islands are in constant flux. I get a little bitter too at my taxes going for 'beach re-nourishment' in front of million dollar homes on beaches the public is banned from.

George said...

Thanks for the great pictures from the beach. I really like your lighthouse pictures. We share your feelings about development. Myrtle Beach is now just too 'touristy' for us. It broke our heart when our favorite little motel was torn down to make room for a high-rise!

Cheryl said...

Great post....tku for sharing the early days in your relationship....I find it so interesting, and can imagine those times.....they are beautiful memories, are they not?

I know that we all need homes but I hate to see huge developments in beautiful areas. It happens everywhere, sadly.....

I do love your always make me smile.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Great post...I see this place holds a special memory for you both, sorry it is not the same as it used to be.
I do hope you had a nice visit though. Risky business? I will skip that one. :)

Rudee said...

I don't think I could buy my seafood at that spot!

What a lovely post and as usual, beautiful photos.

Barb said...

Your lighthouse photos are wonderful! Even the cloudy skies provide a wonderful backdrop for the views you had. It's snowing today in Breckenridge!

Jane said...

I enjoyed your pictures. I have yet to visit the Outer Banks, but can appreciate the changes you mention as I've seen the same types of changes at Kure Beach over the last 20+ years. Glad you guys had a great time!


Coffee with Cathy said...

Love your descriptions of the quiet early vacations you and your husband shared. What wonderful memories! No wonder you're bitter about paradise lost. But you gotta love the Risky Business sign! Thanks so much for sharing.

Jayne said...

It's hard to go back to an area again years later and see all the "progress." Like you said, people tend to be lulled into a false sense of security.

denapple said...

I agree with your feelings about people who build on barrier islands. We like to visit Gulf Shores, AL, and they have the same problem. Why would anyone want to build an expensive house on bare sand? Anytime it storms, and not just hurricanes, thay have to bring in dump trucks to haul the sand off the roads! GRRR! Let's petition Congress to make them uninsurable.

Tina said...

Now that's a place I would want to shop..Risky Business Seafood. You wonder sometimes what goes on in people's minds when they are trying to find a creative name for a business or group.
Looks like you had a nice trip..glad you got away and had some fun.

Leedra said...

I have never gotten to the Outer Banks, and have always wanted to go there. It ranks with Alaska. Nice to see it through your eyes, but it sounds like I may have waited longer than I should have before getting there.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. . . I don't understand all that development. Ocracoke is less than five feet above sea level. It makes no sense at all.

Not to mention that all the development is a blight on what used to be the stark, solemn beauty of those little islands.

Oh...I'm sure my brother was out there fishing, regardless of the weather.

Twisted Fencepost said...

Beautiful pictures! I love those lighthouses. I'm gonna have to go up there for a visit. I've never been there before, but everyone I know who visits, loves it there.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for commenting, everyone.

Lynne - It drives my husband a little crazy that I want the people out of the way.

Appalachian Lady - Their insurance may be high, but so is mine. North Carolina allows insurance companies to underwrite risks for the entire state. That makes my insurance higher as well.

Kim - I am amazed at the number of people who go to these wonderful places TO SHOP!

Patsi - The coastline at the Outer Banks is very treacherous. So much so that it's called "The Graveyard of the Atlantic."

Robin - People do forget easily. And so many of the houses are so alike they are almost certainly spec houses built by contractors.

Vicki - I couldn't agree with you more.

Cheryl - Those early memories help to keep us grounded.

Jane - The best thing about the Outer Banks is the National Seashore...the largest amount of undeveloped coastline along the Atlantic.

Marylee - My husband did not go fishing this time. But he did love long walks along the empty seashore.

Dave's Bird Watching Blog said...

Looks like a fun trip, even with some dreary weather. I need to get our family out there...we've only done the southern NC beaches.

KB said...

A trip down memory lane... I went to Nags Head regularly until around 1981 and then one trip in 1988. Never since. I bet that I'd feel the same way that you do. Even in 88, I could tell how built up it was going to be.

But, by going in the off-season, you avoided the crowds and managed to find peaceful and quiet beaches. Great idea, even if the original reason was different!

troutbirder said...

I do like the lighthouses but the touristy atmosphere and overdeveloped beaches.... no thanks

Anonymous said...

It looks like it was a nice day. Thankfully the weather held up.