Friday, July 09, 2010

::The Big Ferry & The Dream Village::


::The Outer Banks:: A long, thin sandy strip of land stretched like a barrier between the shores of North Carolina and the Atlantic ocean. I had been looking forward to this leg of the trip since we first planned it. It sounded to essentially coastal. But first we had a ferry to catch. . .

The morning played out like the Amazing Race, as I knew it would. We had 4 hours to drive to "the Big Ferry," approximately 3.5 hours away. I am no good under time constraints. As a rule I am not a stressed-out person, but when a lot rides on making a deadline I am a mess. I was staring at Serena-the-GPS's time estimates intensely, just waiting for a traffic jam or situation with the kids. But nothing really came. The drive was clear and the kids were great. We enjoyed a few Gabri-isms, as I have come to call them. At one point Isaiah must have bopped him for one reason or another--maybe no reason at all-- and Gabri yipped; "Hey! Isaiah just cracked me like a crab!" He is so contextually driven. He breathes the place he is in through his skin and spits it out through his mouth in words.
Another: Upon throwing his banana peel on the ground and being roundly rebuked by Elijah, Gabriel imperiously announced that we need not worry "Wall.E will clean it up." Right. {Note: To understand the humour of this you will have had to watch the ::movie::}.

{My good little sport. Do you see the heat rash?}

After a brief scare at a bridge only 30 minutes from the ferry, (where we were stopped for 10 minutes by a construction crew), we slid into line for the ferry. And then we heard it: this odd whining noise reverberating off the walls of the ticket booth as we passed by. What was that? Aidan got out of the car and groaned; "Our tire is completely flat." Because I had been waiting for an event such as this from the moment we first pulled out of our driveway two weeks ago, I was almost serenely calm. The timing could not have been worse, and yet, I was ready to accept whatever came. Fortunately, what came was the worlds most zippy and serious Ferry Pit Crew I have ever encountered. They came out of nowhere and descended upon the wheel of the van. Crank. Crank. Unscrew. Pop. Re screw. Voila! Spare tire was on as the ferry docked. Shopping for a new tire would come later. For now we had a ferry to ride.

The ferry was fast. As we pulled out of the sound I saw some jelly fish whip by. And the kids and I saw some crab flailing away near the surface. This surprised me. I thought crabs were bottom-dwellers. We all took turns sitting in the air conditioned passenger cabin of the ferry, but the kids wanted to look at the rail. After an hour a slim finger of land came into view. The map indicated it to be Pelican Island. But Gabriel had other ideas: He pointed and hollered; "Land, Ho! Look! The Arctic!" The guy next to us thought this was priceless. I heard him tell his wife later.

This leg of the trip was completely unplanned. We had no sleeping arrangements lined up, nor any real idea what we would find. We pulled away from the ferry terminal and found ourselves instantly charmed and enthralled by this place called Ocracoke. Narrow roads 'paved' with crushed clam shells. Crowded independent shops lining the main road. Long wooden piers lined with masts and sea birds. People walking around in surf shorts holding ice cream cones. A dream village, really. There is a wealth of history to the place too. Apparently it was awash with pirates in the 1700's, including the infamous Blackbeard.

We settled om a private campground called "Teeters." It proved to essentially be a man's backyard crammed with RV's. And yet we settled in with delight against a cozy green corner of the property. A couple had greeted us as we pulled in with the news that the owner was currently working at the local school down the road. But these two were clearly the guardians of the place. The woman called him up right there and what I heard through her thick Southern accent was--"Sorry to botha you honey but theya's a nass family here who wanna set on up. S'that alrayat?"

They told us they came to this village about twenty years ago for vacation and have returned ever since. They had a dog named Fisher who the kids adored. When she told him to sit it sounded like she was asking him to speak; "Say-it! Say-it!" They were very kind. If we had stayed longer it would have been a pleasure to get to know them better. After we set up and got ready to take a walk through the village the woman informed us the owner should be back by the time we returned; "Just look for the man with bare feet and no shirt on."

We were so eager to swim before bed we didn't have much of a dinner. It was bit of a drive down a long stretch of empty beachgrass. We walked up a long wooden boardwalk and found a beach with waves that scared me even from a distance. On the shore the only thing left of the shells were polished tooth-like scraps. Pretty in their own way. One of the neatest things to watch were the tiny clams. They would be washed up in batches and within second would scuttled upright and burrow deep into the sand in a flurry of wiggles. If you placed a hand over them you could feel the vibration of them all burrowing.

waffle2n waffle [ˈwofəl]a flat cake that is pressed firmly between two metal grills creating a pattern of squares on it.

This is my understanding of the word waffle. And yet I heard it applied in the following way by a little girl in passing: "Man, I was totally waffled by a wave today." Huh! Caelah and I burst into giggles when we heard it because it was so appropriate! I wish I could say I was baffled by the use of the term but I had, in fact, only just been waffled for the first time myself at Cape Hatteras Beach. And I would truly never like to identify with a breakfast food again. The wave crested, pounded me in the back, picked my legs up from under me, shoved me to the floor of the ocean and smeared me up the sharp shell-crusted shore. Salt water up my nose and scrapes up my body. Flattened and grilled: Waffled!

Another nasty surprise awaited us as we gathered our things and walked back along the boardwalk. "Nasty green buggers," as they were described by a local. Big green horseflies hunted us down and took big bites out of us as we tried to wash up at the bathhouse. They scared us silly. I could almost hear the horror music from Psycho playing in the air as we ran to the van, got in, slammed the doors behind us only to spot one of the green uglies perched on the back window. Caelah screamed like banshee until Elijah squashed it with a piece of Lego.

Ah, beach life!