Monday, July 12, 2010

::Stilt-house Nightmare & Jet Noise::


We had a decision to make: Do we stay one more day here and tear up the coast to our last camping spot in Delaware? Or do we slowly drive in search of a campground along the way at a more leisurely pace? I winced just thinking about returning to that beach with the nasty green bugs, so we decided we should move on.

While Aidan was still waking up I took Cae and Lij with me to the neighbourhood coffeehouse. "It'll stand the hair up on your head," our camper-friend had assured us. Perfect! This one was very cozy. I think coffee shops are up near the top of my happy-place list. While we sat Caelah met me a mom to chat with. She warned us that there wouldn't be any camping until we were way up at the North end of Carolina. I soon knew what she meant...

We had a quick ferry ride across to Hatteras. Took a peek at a very pretty lighthouse I really wanted to climb but couldn't because it would have been cost-prohibitive to do so. This was followed by a three hour drive along the bleak remainder of the Outer Banks. It soon became clear that all there was to see was miles and miles of sand, beachgrass and stilt-houses. The ocean was just out of site because of the dunes so landscape past by in a blur of tan and grey. At first the alienness of it all kept me occupied, but after miles and miles of the same bleached and treeless landscape I began to feel like I was loosing my mind. It got so bad I started to hide my face deep in a book, shutting out even my peripheral vision.

And then we reached ::Duck::-- and I could breathe again. This oasis of green almost at the very tip of the Outer Banks. Maybe my numbed mind went into hyper-drive at the sight of greenery, but I fell instantly in love with the place. To the West were huge beach homes a few steps from the ocean. To the right a calm-watered sound lined with weather-greyed boardwalk. And the quaintest array of shops in between. Down by the docks we happened upon a couple yanking nets out of the water off the end of a dock and carefully disentangling a couple of crabs from within. "Lunch?" I had asked. "No, snack" she replied. That clinched it. I wanted to stay. But upon asking at a book store in town I was told there was no camping, nor any hotels. The only accommodation for outsiders were the beach houses. And they were rented at group rates. Hmmm. {Next summer sounds good. Anyone interested?}

We were frustrated to discover that we had overshot our last chance to get to the mainland from the barrier islands back in a town called Kill Devil Hills. Noooooooo! Don't make me re-enter that hellish wasteland! Mercifully, the turn off was only a few miles back and I didn't see a single house on stilts. We drove around for far too long trying to find a place to camp. We stopped in at a library to check campground locations on the internet. We seriously looked like hobos. Isaiah had no shirt on. Gabriel had no shoes. I sat down to read a story to the boys and looked down at my feet. A line of dirt extending from my toes to mid-calf. I noticed a woman just across the way eyeing my filthy sandals. She got up and never returned. This short visit back to civilization revealed much--we were subconsciously hungry for a little bit of comfort. The kids drifted towards the toys and computer games and stuck there. Annorah kept resting her head on the softness of the carpet. And I picked up a random book and sunk deep into a sofa, lapsing into a literary coma. But mostly, we all breathed in the cool air-conditioned air deeply through our pores. It was all we could do to leave. . .

At long last we made the decision to ::KOA:: it. A friend of mine urged me not to dis the KOA, but really? When the slogan of a place is It's not camping. It's kamping. . . Need I say more? It's like when an adult still writes; I luv u 2 in a letter. So very sad. The thing is our library trip made us desperate for soft beds and air-conditioning. Norah and Isaiah had heat rash creeping down their torsos. And I had forgotten what it was like to smell fresh. Upon arrival, the kids caught one glimpse of the bouncy pad and the pool with the water slides and threw their arms around my legs; "Oh, thank you Mommy." And they were off.

The unique thing about this place was the low rumble that would build from the West. The rumble grew to a roar, forcing every eye upwards in time to see magnificent fighter jets tearing across the sky in formations of two and three. The camp store sold bumper stickers that read: I heart Jet Noise. Very cool. Less cool at 11:00 pm when the cabin windows were shaking and kids were nearly asleep. I jammed some ear plugs I happened to have on hand and fell asleep to the slightly-muted sound of jet engines.