Wednesday, November 23, 2011
On the outer banks of North Carolina lies Cape Hatteras, a narrow sandbar of land that extends thirty miles offshore. After passing through Kitty Hawk where we marveled over the tiny sand dune that served as the launching pad for the Wright Brothers and the birth of the airplane, we drove out onto the Cape Hatteras National Seashore where it is so narrow at times that we could see both shores as we drove down the road. Our campground, with its unique, outer-banks water (brackish with chlorine overtones and just a hint of fish, delightful!) flowing from our spicket, had mostly been spared by Irene, but large swaths of it remained closed for repairs. The KOA just a 1/4 mile down the beach had pretty much been obliterated, its cabins and mini golf (apparently southern campers love mini golf) course stood in a pile of rubble on the side of the road. Upon discovering that the gear stashed under our solar panel was wet from the downpours we had experienced in Maine a month ago, I spent half a day scrubbing the mold from everywhere it grew before hitting the beach where we spent two days creatively gathering sand into the various crevices of our bodies under the glorious sunshine, sand-castle building, penguin-sliding, whole-body launching, body-part burying, beach combing, sand-stabbing, sun-basking, wave-watching, sand-drawing, crab-finding, skate-egg-purse-dissecting, we pretty much covered it all. We even got to pet a shark before a fisherman threw him back into the sea. On night three we changed to a campground attended by a sad woman who told us how Irene scared away all of the tourists and devestated the economy, looking very desperate for us to stay there. We had the entire campground to ourselves so we picked a site that backed up to a canal and settled in for the night. After playing a game of Race for Galaxy and eating popcorn as we listened to light raindrops hit the camper van, we went to bed. The rain steadily increased to what I can only describe as torrential downpour or maybe high-powered car wash. The rain and wind pounded Sylvia from all sides completely soaking her through and through as lighting lit up the sky and the thunder shook her. Isaac said that one thunder was so big that the pop-top's sides inflated as he rocked from side to side. At 2am Jason and I stepped out of the camper van into water that was over our ankles. Standing in the lake that had recently been our campground, lightning flashes illuminating water in every direction, we seriously wondered if we were about to be washed into the sea. After I gathered up our flip-flops that had floated away, we quickly decided to move the camper van to higher ground. The boys thought it was quite the adventure to ride in the pop-top through campground/lake in the middle of the night. As Jason and I laid there listening to water drip onto his sleeping bag and to the pummeling rain outside, we easily imagined the camper van floating away off this narrow, low-lying sandbar and how we were basically in the middle of the ocean. We both longed for a more appropriate vehicle for this environment, like a sailboat. I spent the morning wading through puddles to the laundry room, drying sleeping bags, pillows, sheets, and towels. With more severe rainstorms in the forcast for the following night, we packed up after visiting the fog-bound and appropriately creepy Graveyard of the Sea Museum, and headed back to mainland North Carolina where less scary forecasts for mere tornados awaited. Driving through alternating fields of cotton, farmland, and forests, we found a safe spot in the middle of the state that was out of the path of the dreadful weather. As I scrubbed and tried to dry out the carpet from the camper van at our new campsite Isaac said, "Don't worry mom, we don't have all three M's, only mold and mildew, no moss yet."
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