Part VIII — Five Days On the Outer Banks, Entry for April 9, 2008   1 comment

Image: What Happens When Sand Dunes are Washed Away By the Sea! — kenne (Photo Set)

Five Days On the Outer Banks — Part VIII

Before heading north, Joy called to make reservations for the tour and was told that the only time available was the 6:00 p.m. sunset tour. I started laughing hysterically. Sunset tour??!! Since we had only briefly seen the sun in five days, it seemed so absurd, let appropriate to end our visit to the Outer Banks on Bob’s Wild Horses “Sunset Tour.”

Such a tour should be a natural for taking photos, but I knew the lateness of the day and the dark cloud cover would not make for getting some good photos of the wild horses. Yet, in the end, it was the total experience of seeing the northern part of the Outer Banks that made our decision a good one. I say this since it is my observation that many of the Outer Banks inhabitants are still making the same mistakes of their forefathers by not understanding the forces of nature as did the indigenous people of the Americas. The best way to perceive the Outer Banks is to know they are a series of sand dunes that create a barrier along the North Carolina coast.

“Yet the time will soon come when this simple people must be driven from their homes, pursued by a fate as irresistible as the deluge of old, living behind them all the associations of their race, of their customs and their occupations. . . . Powerless against this tidal wave of sand they must flee away and hide themselves from its fury in a part of the island below the cape…” — John R. Spears, 1890

We are glad that we could see firsthand the continued stupidity of human greed, which is so dramatically displayed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Maybe it was a case of timing or the more just the rolling hills of the northern Outer Backs, but when we arrived in Duck, the strong winds we had experienced for days seemed to have disappeared. What a relief! It was almost as if we had entered another world. Plus, Duck is an attractive, more residential community with less of the tourist commercialism of Nags Head. As our waiter at dinner, that evening said, “ . . . Duck is less “seven-elevenist.”

After stopping a few places along Duck Road, we continued north to Corolla, then about three miles north to Corolla Light to Bob’s Wild Horse Tours. As most normal people guessed, no one else was taking the sunset tour, so we had our own private two-hour tour.

All paved roads end about two miles north of Corolla Light, at which time continued access should only be with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Shifting into all-drive, our driver headed over the sand dunes onto the beach and continued north while watching for the partially covered stumps of an ancient petrified forest. The forest used to be well offshore, but the continued encroachment of the sea now makes the stump remains a natural hazard to vehicles using the shore for a highway. Although we were taking this tour to see the wild horses of the Outer Banks, I was beginning to observe that we were, as if going back in time, experiencing what it was like before paved roads existed on the Outer Banks.

“Back in 1936, a bewildered motorist, struggling through the sandy ruts of the Outer Banks, stopped on top of the great flat near Pea Island where a WPA worker was building sand fences.
He wanted to know which road to take to Hatteras.
‘Take road 108,’ he was told.
A half-hour later, after following one auto track in the sand after another, he had circled back and approached the same man.
‘Which road did you tell me to take to Hatteras?’ he asked.
The boy wearily pointed to the maze of ruts.
‘Take 108. There’s 108 roads to Hatteras.’” (Hatteras Highway, Bill Sharpe – 1952)

As we continued north, I thought we would stop seeing the large beach houses typical to the southern Outer Banks, but I didn’t take into consideration the cowboy mentality that exists about as far east as one can get.

“Never mind that there’s no road. It doesn’t matter that few banks are willing to finance. And even though it costs an average of 20 percent more to building a house because building materials must be brought in by four-wheel drive . . . property values in Carova Beach have increased in the past four years, in some cases by almost 500 percent.” (Lorraine Eaton – 1989)

I’m not sure how far north we drove on the beach, but the driver kept referring to the North Carolina/Virginia state line. Regardless, I had already decided that this might be a great place to visit, but definitely not to live. I was even more convinced of my conclusion when we drove up to two large three-story large beach houses literally sitting on the beach. (Later, on our return at high tide, the sea was up to the structures.)

Shortly after passing the two beach houses, the driver turned west over the dunes into an area subdivided by rutted sand roads searching for wild horses.

“In applying the term wild to these horses, it is not meant that they are as much as deer or wolves, or as the herds of horses, wild for many generations on the great grassy plains of South America or Texas. A man may approach these within gunshot distance without difficult. But he could not get much nearer, without alarming the herd, and causing them (to flee for safety to the marshes, or across water, (to which they take very freely), or to more remote distance on the sands.” (Edmund Ruffin – 1859)

It seemed that we were driving in circles since the gray skies with little light remaining continued to challenge my sense of direction. When we came upon another tour group, we might have continued this uneventful quest to see the wild horses. After the drivers discussed the possible sighting, our driver set off following the other vehicle in the marshes.

In a short time, some horses were spotted, at which time everyone set out on foot to get a closer look. Having little light and needing a tripod, I leaned up against a small tree to steady the camera. Still not having enough light, I increased the ISO and began to take a few photos. Any good photographer knows that one of the essential factors of taking good photographs is timing, so after making the best of the situation, all was now in the hands of Photoshop.

I may never have another opportunity to photograph the Outer Banks, so I remain pleased with what I was able to capture. Unfortunately, so often, life’s most memorable images are not filled with beautiful skies.

Before driving back to Nags Head, we stopped for dinner at a little restaurant and raw bar, “North Banks,” in Corolla’s shopping areas called TimBuck II. Yes, TimBuck II! The food and atmosphere were the best we experienced on the Outer Banks. This is a great way to bring closure to our Five days on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Having come to these shores for April and Jason’s wedding and having done some online exploring of things to do and places to go, we leave with memories that I hope these words and photos will make for lasting first impressions. (Please note that I have avoided referencing April’s wedding in April. But it could have generated a poetic ring if one was poetic!)

“Few travelers take the time to write down descriptions of places they see for the first time or of the people they encounter there. However, something about the Outer Banks causes many visitors to feel that they had better make a record of their first impressions while the memories are fresh. This has been going on periodically for more than four and a half centuries since 1542 to be exact when a Florentine adventurer anchored off the Banks and sent a party ashore for water.” – David Stick, “An Outer Banks Reader.”


Posted April 22, 2008 by kenneturner in Family

One response to “Part VIII — Five Days On the Outer Banks, Entry for April 9, 2008

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  1. Reblogged this on Becoming is Superior to Being and commented:

    April 22, 2008 — kenne


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