Surf’s Up!

Herbert C. Bonner Bridge to Hatteras Island
Herbert C. Bonner Bridge to Hatteras Island.

Here’s the bridge I drove across in a raging storm last week, as I mentioned in my last post. The speck you see just to the right of the peak is a truck, to give you an idea of scale. And yes, the bridge continues both to the left and the right of where this photo ends. It’s 2.7 miles (4.3 km) long and the only driving route to Hatteras Island that doesn’t involve a ferry.

Life here on the island is lived mostly either in the water, on the beach or . . . on stilts. Really. Nearly all the buildings on the island–and even the air conditioning units–are significantly above ground level. Hurricanes hit the Outer Banks more than any other place in the United States, and even when it’s not a direct hit, flooding is common, with storm surges and something a bit more tame sounding called “overwash.” I don’t care how tame it sounds, this is just what you think it is–the Atlantic meeting Pamlico Sound on TOP of Hatteras Island. No, thank you.

Sunday marks the end of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, and according to the weather service, this year was pretty quiet. Only one hurricane made landfall in the U.S this year. Guess where. Here. Right here.  On the 4th of July, Rodanthe experienced wave surges up to 5 feet high. David and I looked this up because we kept noticing debris trapped in shrubs and trees as much as chest high. Have I mentioned this island is FLAT? Yikes.

And this was not the only storm to flood Hatteras. Hurricane Sandy never actually hit here, but still caused extensive flooding. Some businesses seem to have given up . . .

Rodanthe, NC
Rodanthe, NC, part of a now defunct amusement complex

This was part of a now defunct complex of pools, mini-golf, plus a number of super-cool, complicated go-cart tracks and who knows what else. Now all abandoned. The sea won.

So why come here?

Because sometimes it looks like this . . .

Evening Over Atlantic
Evening Light on the Atlantic

I know a photo doesn’t quite capture it, but trust me, this stunning undulating silver- blue was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Wow.

Of course, at other times it looks like this . . .

David checking out the wild waves
David down checking out the wild waves

This was after a night of howling winds and intermittent heavy rain. We’d never seen it like this before, so David went down early one morning to check it out.

And then, a few minutes later, this . . .

Sun's up over the Atlantic
Sun’s up over the Atlantic

Happened upon this the same day:

The seas have lifted up, Lord, 

    the seas have lifted up their voice;

    the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. 

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,

    mightier than the breakers of the sea–

   the Lord on high is mighty. ∼Psalm 93: 3-4

And then some days, like yesterday, the surf is perfect. All day long we watched surfers out on the water, and I was struck by how important timing is in surfing. Not to take away from skills earned after hours–or years–of practice, but no matter how much skill you have, you can’t surf without being in the right place at the right time to catch the right wave. The wave itself is a gift, but you have to choose it, and then you have to ride it for all it’s worth.

This Thanksgiving week, David and I are thankful for you, dear friends and family, and also for the timing that made this journey possible. Here in Rodanthe, we’re grateful for the peace and very likely the best views we’ll have all year. Saturday we leave here and make our way down to Folly Beach, near Charleston, South Carolina, but there we’ll be on the first floor and a mile from the ocean. So fewer stunning views, but much closer proximity to an interesting city to explore (not to mention better access to higher ground).  I promise we know all of this journey is a gift, and we are definitely trying to ride it for all it’s worth.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2 thoughts on “Surf’s Up!”

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