Tag Archives: ocean

Elizabeth City

For Easter, Kristen and I travelled to Elizabeth City, a small harbor town at the mouth of the Pasquotank River, near the northern end of the Outer Banks. Our goal was simply to get away from home and be someplace peaceful and quite, knowing this would likely be our last chance to travel together before Samuel is born next month. We stayed at the Culpepper Inn, a prominent local fixture that I had seen many times before but never really visited. We arrived earlier than expected and immediately took a walk through the historic downtown area and strolled the docks. We listened to a pretty good bluegrass duo from Chesapeake fighting for the crowd’s attention at a local eatery and then made our way back to the inn.

Saturday morning we decided to head out to the islands. We drove through Kitty Hawk, where the Wright brothers made their historic flight, stopped for a delicious order of fresh cut fries and chocolate custard in Kill Devil Hills and then pulled over at Jockey’s Ridge in Nag’s Head. Jockey’s Ridge is the largest active sand dune on the East Coast. The bulk of the dune is likely the same pile of sand the Wright brothers launched their airplane from a few miles up the road in Kitty Hawk, it has just steadily migrated south over the past century. The dune is absolutely huge. The main plateau is probably only about 35 feet high, but the giant table-top of sand literally stretchs on for acres. Hundreds of families with hundreds of kites were already fixed atop the dune when we arrived, along with a few hang gliders. Still, it was easy to find a quite place and settle down in the dry, powdery sand that felt so different from the wet, sticky course, beach sand just a few hundred yards away. We capped the day off with a quick visit to the Currituck light house on the northern end of the island.

The dock at Moth Boat Park in Elizabeth City, where the Pasquotank River pours into the Albermarle Sound on North Carolina's inner coast.

Sunday afternoon we decided to visit the Great Dismal Swamp — a national wildlife refuge that spans the North Carolina-Virginia border. We saw turtles, frogs and a woodpecker during our stroll through the swamp, which isn’t really as dismal and swampy as the name implies. The huge swamp areas on the northern coast of the state are worlds apart from the stagnant, slime-coated, bacteria-laden waters found in the woods in the central part of North Carolina, or in my native South Carolina. The Dismal Swamp is full of clear, blue-hued water that lazily flows to and fro among the forest of cypress trees that engulfs it. Wildlife is abundant.

We had a good visit in Elizabeth City. It was Kristen’s first time seeing the town, and the first chance I have had to explore the streets and creeks that occupied most of my time as an adolescent. I had the joy of living in a variety of locals growing up. Each one had unique advantages and disadvantages. It’s hard to compare my experiences growing up in different places because the first 18 years of life are so full of constant changes in themselves. For the most part, the bulk of my time spent living in each different community also marked a different phase of life for me as a child, adolescent and teenager, so it’s not really fair, or easy, to compare them. Still, all things considered, I think Elizabeth City was by far the most interesting, and simply enjoyable, place that my family brought me to live in. I wouldn’t have a single qualm about moving back, if that is the direction my life ever moves to again.

Visiting the places I have lived before is always a little strange though. I can’t help but to recall the experiences I hold connected with each familiar landscape. I notice how so many things have changed in my absence, while other details seem fixed forever. I never really know how to react when I encounter my past. My life has changed so much over the past few years, when ever I visit a place from my past, I can’t help but to feel that I’m no longer the same person I was when I left. I don’t know whether I want to let myself go to reconnect with my past, or whether I should just explore the city anew, looking for new experiences and new details that I would easily miss if I were only looking for things connected with my earlier life. I always face this dilemma when I visit the places where I grew up; I don’t have the same problem when I visit Blowing Rock, where Kristen and I went to college, got married, began our careers and turned our first apartment into a home. I think the difference has something to do with the fact that the life I built in Blowing Rock was my own, while my life in Elizabeth City, and the many other places I lived growing up, was inseparable from the life my parents built for me — not a bad thing by any means, just the way life is. Moving to Blowing Rock was my choice; the things I did there, the job I had, the house I lived in, were all my choices as well; perhaps most importantly, leaving Blowing Rock was my choice. The fact that I wasn’t in control of most of my earlier life — my parents decided where I would live, what I could and couldn’t do with my time and when I would move again — greatly affects the lens through which I view my past.

At least that’s what I think today. Who knows.

So, now that you’ve made it through all of that, enjoy a sampling of my shots from our holiday weekend in and around Elizabeth City. I know this gallery is way too big. Click any image or thumbnail to pull up a full-size viewer that will let you click through the entire collection at your leisure.

*I (David Anderson, Jr.) am the original author of all of the images connected with this post except for the final picture, which was kindly taken by our waitress at the Marina Restaurant in Elizabeth City. Enjoy!

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The Calm After the Storm

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South Core Sound.

For a variety of reasons I won’t begin to mention here, the past two months have been the most trying stretch of life that I have dealt with in several years. I’ve drawn little pleasure from writing. On the few occasions that I did feel like jotting my thoughts down I was simply too discouraged to find the right words.

But I have a good life. God has truly blessed me with far more than I could ever earn by my own hands, and I’m grateful that I have the presence of mind to use the hard situations as an opportunity to examine my life and refocus my path to keep me working towards the ultimate goal, which is to glorify Him in all that I do.

In truth, my hard times aren’t that hard at all.

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Cape Lookout at sunset.


Lightning on the Beach

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Slowing Down to Catch Up

A surfer scopes out the waves at Wrightsville Beach while a sailing armada drifts in the distance.

A surfer scopes out the waves at Wrightsville Beach while a sailing armada drifts in the distance.

It’s been almost three weeks since my last post, but I still don’t have a motorcycle. During the interim, Kristen and I have been stripping and repainting the interior of our home, I’ve been transitioning into a new job at The Sanford Herald and working with our downtown development director on a personal project to add some atmosphere to my neighborhood. It feels more like three months than three weeks, but I had a good energy boost that kicked it all off.

Back in May, Kristen and I took a day trip to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. We had lunch on the waterfront in Wilmington, strolled through the historic district and then spent a good five hours wasting the day away on the sand at Wrightsville.

Kristen strolls near the water's edge looking at the treasures washed in with each new wave.

Kristen strolls near the water's edge looking at the treasures washed in with each new wave.

I’ve been to dozens of beaches along the Carolina coast, lived at a few of them, and seen more exotic shores in Asia, Florida and the Caribbean. The more beaches I visit though, the more I’m impressed by how unique each mile of sand really is — especially in Carolina. On this overcast Saturday, we found Wrightsville Beach covered in a powdery white sand that faded into the bluest water I’ve seen north of Cozumel. Typically the ocean in the mid-Atlantic holds a greenish-gray tint within 10 miles of the coast and then slowly starts to blend into the richer blues of the gulf stream 100 miles out. Not this day, though. I couldn’t take a picture that did the water justice, but standing their looking out, it just seemed to transition perfectly into the rich blue sky.

About 500 yards out, hundreds of sailing dinghies clustered together for a couple of hours, possibly waiting to see if the brooding clouds would dish out any rain, and then scattered off into the sea. Without any fanfare or warning, a wedding party complete with a steel-drum player, stormed the beach, each guest carrying his or her own folding chair, and held a short ceremony in the midst of the sunbathers and surfers.

Being at the beach really gives Kristen and I a great chance to catch up with each other and talk about where our life has brought us and what we plan to do next. We split most of the day between laying in the sand reading and walking for a few miles along the coast. I couldn’t resist the rush of racing into the cool water and fighting with the salty waves, though, and I was able to drag Kristen along a couple of times. The ocean offers a true feeling of renewal when I need it most.

At times I wish I could live in a real beach town again. Somewhere with real character and history like Wilmington, a peaceful fishing village like Beaufort or even my native Myrtle Beach. But I do love the town I’m in now, and Wrightsville Beach is just a little more than an hour’s drive from my door — not even twice my daily commute to work — so for the time being, it’s perfect. I hope to make many more day trips like this as the summer continues.

Looking Ahead.

Looking Ahead.