Sometimes you just gotta get away. You don’t know why or where, but some travel itch inside you grows and grows until you just hop in the car and drive somewhere. This happened to me very recently. On Wednesday, I drove south to North Carolina to visit Anna, a great friend of mine who lives in Greenville. We were going to go camping, but after consulting the weather forecast we decided to make a day trip to the Outer Banks instead. In Philadelphia, one would say we ‘went down the shore’.
I have never been to the outer banks before–colloquially abbreviated as OBX. Anna’s geology thesis research focuses on paleocoastline reconstruction and she has spent way more time than I would ever want to wandering around swamps and intertidal zones and on boats in the OBX. So I guess you could call her an expert probably.
We set out just after 8am as planned.
On the way out east we passed lots of abandoned farms. Seeing nature surging up and taking back the abandoned farmland, growing out of crumbling barns, silos and farmhouses is one of my favorite things about driving in the south.
We weren’t on the road long before we saw signs for bear crossing and red wolf crossing. This was unexpected to me. But Anna informed me that the largest black bears in the country live here in eastern North Carolina. Why? you ask? Mild conditions and lots of food, apparently.
Though the weather started off a little chilly and cloudy, it cleared up by the time we got to the beach.
You may be tempted to think that this is to protect the national seashore’s various flora and fauna. But it is also intended to warn not-so-clever individuals that driving on sand is not as straightforward as you think.
1. Let some air out of your tires.
2. Carry a shovel in your car.
3. Have 4-wheel drive.
4. If your car gets stuck, don’t spin the wheels and dig yourself deeper while getting non-related beachgoers to push your car.
5. Don’t drive a minivan on the beach.
Once that was all cleared up, the sky started to cloud over. It seemed that the first tropical storm of the season was beginning to bear up the east coast. (It’s gonna be a rough hurricane season.) We decided to squeeze in a hike at the Nags Head Woods Preserve. We heard a bunch of these little guys (though we saw far fewer).
Apparently it’s not the actual bark that’s red, but a lichen species that grows on the bark. Totally cool.
Anyway, it started to rain pretty shortly thereafter, and we were being swarmed by danged horseflies. We turned back to the car and decided to head back to Greenville before the storm got bad. On the way out, we spotted this horrible wordplay on the sign of one of the local churches.
And with that eye-roller. I conclude this month’s first Friday post, hoping that the rain stays ahead of me as I drive back up to Philadelphia later today. Wish me luck.