Friday, April 17, 2009

Ocracoma

We're back.  And much like the aftermath of our trip to the Dalmation Coast of Croatia last summer, I am moving in sloooooooow mooooooootion.  I'm in an Ocracoma.  I think it is entirely possible that I have never spent a more relaxing 5 and a half days in my life.  There is only one speed in Ocracoke.  And it is known as "Y'all ain't in no hurry are ya?"  

Though the island isn't all that far away from Raleigh "as the crow flies", it takes quite a long time to get there because you have to go the most bass-ackwards route imaginable (and then take a 40 minute ferry across the inlet.  (Plus, you should plan to queue up for the ferry about 30 to 40 minutes in advance - longer in the high season - to ensure you get a spot.)  Trust me though - it is well worth the drive.

That's not to say we weren't a little stir crazy by the time we hit the final stretch on Highway 12 that runs along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  We spent the last hour of the drive speaking entirely in Boston accents about everything we saw.  "Oh my Gwod, you wanna do a pwontoon adventuah?  It's only fouah dwollahs.  It says to cwall Mahk."  "Hey Heathah, I bet they do hahbouah touahs too."  "Oh yeah, let's eat dinnah at The Sandbah tonight."  And so on a so forth like this.  Bet you wish you had been in the car with us.

We were very happy to finally reach the Hatteras Marina and even happier that we were lucky enough to be among the last few cars that they let on the the ferry.

We finally arrived at our final destination, The Cove B&B.   

It was the absolute picture of restful seaside living.  It's situated on the Pamlico Sound - across the street from the waterfront but we could still see the beautiful sunsets from the balcony on our room.  And one of our favorite things about The Cove was that they had a slew of old bikes you could take and ride all around the island.  

So after we settled into our room, we grabbed a couple and took off.  The Cove is right down the street from the lighthouse so we stopped there first.  The house you see used to be the residence of  the lighthouse keeper and his family but it's now privately owned.

Ocracoke Island lighthouse was built in 1823 and is the second oldest in operation in the United States. 


Then we rode over to Springer's Point, a nature preserve on the sound front.  This area used to be referred to as Teach's Plantation because it's believed to be one of the favored spots of the pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.  He was finally killed in the waters just off Springer's Point in November of 1718.

It's such a secluded and unspoiled area.



And a freaking SPECTACULAR spot for a sunset.  

On Friday, we did a whole lot of nothing.  Unless you count peddling around on the bikes and stopping every now and again for sustenance....  Of course by sustenance, I mean a pitcher of mimosas.  Yes, you read that right.  A pitcher.  Of mimosas.  Why have just one mimosa in a glass when you can get a whole pitcher?

And what better waterfront food than a half pound of cajun spiced peel and eats?

We slap wore ourselves out peeling all those shrimp and rewarded ourselves with an afternoon of napping on the beach.  

And wouldn't you know it, that nap really worked up my appetite.  (Pay no attention to that case of wine on the floor.  It's full of bottled waters.  And other healthy, non-toxicating beverages.)

That evening, we headed back to the beach for a campfire dinner.

Just in time for a beautiful sunset over the dunes.

Mmmm, Nathan's Famous dogs on a stick.  Dinner of champions.


After we had stuffed ourselves full of hotdogs and marshmallows and the sun had properly disappeared, we realized just how dark it was.  We knew there was supposed to be a full moon but it was no where to be found and it was pitch black on the beach.  If it hadn't been for our fire we wouldn't have been able to see our hands in front of our faces.  It was slightly disconcerting that we couldn't see anything past our little 5 foot-ish radius.  

We did have a flashlight though and switched it on occasionally just to check that the tide wasn't coming in on us.  Well, one time when we turned it on, we caught sight of something scurrying across the sand.  Upon closer inspection, we realized there were several somethings scurrying across the sand.  We were surrounded on all sides of our blanket.  But one, in particular, was getting rather brave and kept getting closer and closer.  

But we tried to ignore him since he simply seemed to be enjoying our roaring fire.  So we laid back to stare at the stars since they were particularly glorious due to the missing moon.  I don't think I've ever seen stars like this outside of a planetarium.  You know how you see pictures of galaxies in science books and there are so many tiny stars that you can see what appear to be clouds of light?  Yeah, it was like that.  Amazing.  

So, imagine if you will Jason and I lying there on the blanket, sharing this "in awe of nature" moment.  Peaceful, right?  (My exceptionally bright readers may sense a build up here...)  

All the sudden, Jason bolts upright (he may have also screamed like a little girl - I can't recall) and red wine goes flying.  All over my favorite J. Crew baby blue summer weight chinos.  (Miraculously, they did come clean thanks to an overnight soak and a generous spray of OxyClean.)  The reason for this outburst?   A piece of plastic from the wrapper on our cord of wood touched Jason's foot.  And he thought one of the crabs had him.    

I don't know how to explain this next part without sounding like a total cheeseball so I'm just going to go for it....  In the aftermath of the crab attack, we were sitting there still wondering where the moon was.  Then, we both noticed a speck of bright orange in the ocean.  We couldn't figure out what in the world it could be.  It got a bit bigger and both of us thought something might be on fire in the ocean.  

Just then, we realized that it was the moon rising over the water.  I have never seen anything like it in all my life.  It was truly one of the most stunning things I have ever witnessed.  As it rose, it went gradually from fire orange to bright white.  By the time it was fully up, it had lit up the entire beach and was glistening on the water.  With the spray from the breaking waves being reflected in the path of light, I swear to god it was like something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel.

After all the drama of the crab attack and the spectacular show put on by mother nature, we decided to take it easy the next morning.  You know, as opposed to all the hard work we had been doing otherwise.  
  
For lunch, we biked over to the marina for some catch-of-the-day sandwiches.

And hush puppies, of course.  Hush puppies are a staple of any Eastern North Carolina diet.  You eat 'em with seafood.  You eat 'em with bar-b-que.  You eat 'em as a side item.  You eat 'em as a starter.  Hell, I'd even eat 'em for dessert.  They are delicious little deep fried bites of heaven.

Had to work off those hush puppies somehow...

Well, that was exhausting.  Better take a break.  

I know you guys won't believe it (as I can scarcely believe it myself...and I was there...) but we got up at 5:00 am the next day for an Easter sunrise service on the beach.  Considering I've barely set foot in a church since our wedding, (I subscribe more to the church of "Just be a good person and be nice to others" than any organized religion) I figured it was the least I could do.  We were rewarded with a lovely sunrise over the ocean.  

And you really won't believe what we did later that day.  (Again, I can scarcely believe it myself...and I was there...)  We went horseback riding on the beach.  It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.  And both our horses were a bit ornery.  Jason's moreso than mine.  The guy told us to make sure we stayed one behind the other and not to let ours get next to each other because they fight.  Well, that's great.  Seriously?!?  They will fight?!?  WTF?

Unfortunately, Jason had the camera and since it was impossible to do a hand-off (because, you know, our horses might freaking kill each other if they get close), the only photos are of me.  And I look positively freaked the f**k out. 

Since it was a slightly chillier, yet still very sunny and clear day, we decided to take the ferry back over and go see the Cape Hatteras light house.  At 207 feet, it's the tallest in the United States - even with 10 feet of it underground.

No caption could possibly do this photo justice.  I'm special.

Monday was a bit overcast but we couldn't have cared less.  We took to the bikes again and just cycled around the island some more, stopping every now and then at a shop or whatever.

Or to admire the view across the harbor...

Later in the afternoon, we figured it was a perfect day for a beach fire so we grabbed all our accoutrement and headed out.  When we found a spot, Jason sent me on a reconnaissance mission for small sticks and logs.  I spotted a piece of driftwood and went to pick it up.  Umm, holy crap.  That's not driftwood.  That's a freaking SHARK!  Okay, so it was a dead, dried shark.  But still, a SHARK!  

A little roasted marshmallow in the afternoon never hurt anybody...

If you're keeping track (and let's be honest, who among us isn't?), that would be two, count 'em, TWO bags of Cape Cod's I've polished off.  Best. Chips. EVAR.

Beach, fire, books, wine and snacks.  I can think of worse ways to pass a chilly day.

We awoke on Tuesday in utter denial that our holiday was over.  So to eek a bit more mileage out of this vacay, we made a couple of stops on our way back to Raleigh.  First was the lighthouse at Bodie Island (pronounced like "body").  It's been in use since 1872 and operates on one single 1,000 watt bulb.  It's pretty quaint compared to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse but that's part of its charm...

Our final treat was a quick detour to the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island.  We stopped and had lunch at Full Moon Cafe and the crab dip was out of this world.  I could have eaten a vat of it.  Actually, I pretty much did.  If you ever find yourself out this way, do yourself a favor and spend an afternoon in Manteo.  It's such an adorable little town with tons of character and history. 

Well, that's our OBX holiday.  I didn't use my hair straightener one single time.  We drank wine and played cards on our balcony just about every night.  We had no cell phone signal and loved it.  We ate whatever we wanted with no regard for calories, fat or overall healthiness.  We sat almost solely either on a blanket or in adirondack chairs the entire time.  It was five and a half days of awesomeness.  

8 comments:

Caitlin said...

God, I miss vacationing in the OBX. It looks like you had a great time - I'm jealous of everything, especially the hush puppies.

andrea said...

I love the pictures...and all the lighthouses! Lots and lots of lighthouses :) A cornucopia of lighthouses you might say.

Glad you had a great trip!

heatherinch said...

This post made me hungry! I'm glad you had a good trip and also a little jealous right now.

geo said...

What a beautiful place! And, just around the corner from where you live! nice. You looked super relaxed and happy indeed. All the pictures brought a smile to my face :o)

I'm adding the OBX to my list of places to visit when we move back. Thanks for the great post!

Melissa said...

Awww...I miss the obx so much! We are so hoping to get stationed in Goldsboro to be closer to there! I used to go twice a year on vacation when I was a nanny for a family! I even climbed Hatteras before they moved it!

My most fond memory of Okracoke was when we drove on the beach-one of the first ones on the left after you get off the ferry. We soon discovered it was no ordinary beach, but a nude beach full of old people. LOL! Memories...

Looks like you had an awesome time!

Melia said...

Aww I want to go to Okracoke sooo bad!! These pictures have just confirmed it. It looks like a fabulous trip!

Rachel said...

mmmm...cape cod chips are the best. Hey - did you like The Outcast? I finished it not too long ago. Still can't sum up my feelings on that book.

Heather said...

Hey Rachel - I actually loved The Outcast. For me, it was one of those heartbreaking stories that is beautiful because it's so sad.