Two years ago today, I was lying on one of the beaches of Ocracoke Island, my feet planted firmly in the sand as the waves of the ocean rippled around them. The sun shining down on my face provided a feeling of satisfaction that cannot often be matched. I was made for the ocean. There really is nothing else like it. Today, I am sitting in my kitchen, attempting to draw my mind back to that day. Two years later, the memory is still there, if mainly propped up by the pictures that we took that day.
But, what was I doing on a fairly remote island off the coast of North Carolina? Well, I will tell you.
For those of you who closely follow the blog, you know that we have recently moved back to Illinois but spent the last two years working for Patrick Henry Family Services in Brookneal, Virginia. My wife and I were house parents (Direct Support Professional according to my resume) for a cottage of teenage boys. Our cottage could house up to eight boys but typically sat around 4 to 5 at most.
Each summer, a donor pays for the agency to take the residents on a beach trip. Last year, we went to Myrtle Beach and it was a blast. However, two years ago, our trip was to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Our beach house was in Kill Devil Hills which is packed between Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. For the most part, we stayed close to that area. However, one day, we adventured out along the islands to see where it would take us.
If you have ever been to the Outer Banks, you know that they are a series of islands connected by bridges. Some of them have towns on them and some of them are just state parks. One of our stops was just south of Nags Head to see the Bodie Lighthouse. We climbed all the way to the top of the lighthouse and took in the scenery. The trip up was terrible. The trip back down was much better.
The exception to the connectivity of the islands is found in Ocracoke. While the rest of the islands can be driven to, Ocracoke is disconnected and must be reached by a ferry boat. And, I must say, this ferry boat ride is not a short one. You cannot see the island from Hatteras, where the road ends and the ferry boat ride begins. If I remember correctly, the ride over to Ocracoke was about a half hour long, perhaps even more. You just parked your car on the ferry and waited it out. There was a seating area on the second floor where you could sit and watch the ocean go by.
So, here’s the thing about Ocracoke Island. The town of Ocracoke, which has less than 1,000 people residing in it, is the only town on the entire island. The people who live on the island rely heavily on tourism for their incomes and have created an agreement that prevents large businesses from springing up on the island. So, no McDonald’s… no Wal-Mart…. just small businesses. It’s very nice.
Also, legend has it that Blackbeard the Pirate died on this island. Once my son picked up on this, he became convinced that Blackbeard’s treasure was buried there somewhere. We spent a considerable amount of time digging for treasure at the beach that we visited.
My point in all of this…
If you are ever looking for an interesting place to spend your vacation, go to the OBX and check out this little island. You will not want to leave. For that matter, I think there is a part of me that is still lying on that beach, even today.
Life is Strange. Live it Well.