Beauty and Danger

Sunrise over the Atlantic
Sunrise over the Atlantic

The sea is very beautiful, especially at sunrise and sunset, as you can see from these sunrise photos taken from our deck (a fourth floor balcony).

Sunrise over Atlantic
Sunrise over Atlantic

Here on Hatteras Island the sun rises over the Atlantic and sets over Pamlico Sound, as you saw in the last post.

Even during the day, the waves are mesmerizing to watch:

Wave Curl

Wave Mist

Wave Foam

Wave SandBut the sea is also dangerous, of course, and not just during storms.

Lightning over Atlantic
Lightning over Atlantic

Best shot I could get of Monday night’s lightning before deciding I’d rather be INSIDE!

One of the biggest dangers around here is actually sand. Cape Hatteras marks the meeting point of the southerly-flowing cold Labrador Current and the northerly-flowing Gulf Stream, resulting in great deposits of sand, called the Diamond Shoals, which are dangerous shallows which extend up to fourteen miles out into the Atlantic. So many ships have wrecked here, this area has earned the nickname “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Hence all the cool lighthouses.

Bodie Island Lighthouse
Cape Hatteras LIghthouse

I learned a bit about lighthouses from the guide at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. (Landlubber Alert! Extreme ignorance ahead!) It was news to me that each light has its own signal pattern, also called the “nightmark.” For example, the signal pattern for Bodie (pronounced “body”) Lighthouse is 2 ½ seconds on, 2 ½ seconds off, 2 ½ seconds on, 22 ½  seconds off. I also did not realize that some lights use different color lights like red and green, as well as white. And lighthouses are painted so distinctively–the “daymark”–not just so they’re beautiful, but so ships at sea can easily identify exactly which lighthouse they’re seeing, whether day or night. Okay, I know, DUH, but I had no idea of any of this. I will spare you all I learned Googling for more info during an hour of insomnia during the wee hours the other night. Super cool. LOVE learning new things!

I had my own tense moments of wishing for a guiding light late Monday afternoon, driving alone back to the condo from the north, on the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, 2.7 miles of narrow two-lane roadway, sweeping WAY up over an inlet between the Atlantic and Pamlico Sound. Just as I approached the bridge, the storm increased in intensity, blowing almost horizontally and reducing visibility to super-scary. The car in front of me kept drifting to the center and staying there, over the double yellow line, directly in the path of oncoming traffic. I backed way off, hoping to avoid being part of whatever accident he was about to cause, but that bridge seemed to go on forever.

At the end of the bridge he pulled over and I had a split second to decide whether to stop there, too, or try to make it home, but it was nearly 4:30 and the sun sets here around 4:45, leaving me still half an hour away on dark Highway 12, so I decided to keep going, although I was now in the lead, visibility about one car length. Worse, David and I have been on this road in the rain, and standing water is the norm during any precipitation, so you can imagine it during a torrential downpour such as this. And just to keep things interesting, there was a tornado watch for northeastern North Carolina until 6 p.m. Yikes. Seriously. YIKES. There was a whole lot of praying going on! I’ve never been so glad to finally pull into a parking lot in my life.

Just as I was getting my heart rate back to normal, and I was checking the news for any word of a tornado, I realized this condo is on the fourth floor and there is no such thing as a basement on this entire island, since it’s basically a giant sandbar! Ah, peaceful life at the beach. Not every day, apparently!

So here’s wishing you a terror-free week, or at least safe passage in spite of fears that may come.

He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is much in the world to make us afraid.  There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid ~Frederick W. Cropp

There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.  ~André Gide

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. ∼ Plato   

2 thoughts on “Beauty and Danger”

    1. Oui, bien sûr tu as raison. C’était vraiment terrifiant, mais l’orage a commencé soudainement et il n’y avait pas de place pour stationner ou même arrêter la voiture à côté de la route. Heureusement, après quelques minutes la pluie a terminé et la route était presque sec pendant les dernières quinze minutes.

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