My wife’s friend was describing a beachfront property that had a walk-in clothes closet with a dry cleaner’s style revolving clothes rack. When we got home I suggested we could easily this with the clothes I have worn this year (two pairs of jeans, two pairs of shorts, three tee shirts, two flannel shirts and a sweatshirt). This rack would take about one foot of closet space.
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” wrote the French philosopher Blaise Pascal.
I live on an island. It is about thirty miles long. We are one mile from the western end. Sunsets descend over Bear Island or Hammocks State Park, another barrier island. The beach at the end wasn’t a beach at all unless you count sandbags. Only a few years back you could safely dive off them into deep water. When we became permanent residents (retired ding batters according to local “hoi tide” knockoffs), little did we foresee the god send coming.
The channel between Emerald Isle and Bear Island connects the Atlantic to the inland waterway. Dredging the channel to provide deep water access caused a tremendous change in our neighborhood. Sand in huge volume created a whole new end of island. Now you can drive on our new beach with the shoreline hundreds of yards from where the sandbags were. Now four wheel drives can enter and navigate for 13 miles.
One sad fact is that former beach front properties are now “way back” from the now beach. Or the “our beach” as was staked out by boaters who quickly realized any number of fun possibilities dawned: Fishing, swimming, families cooking out, port-o-pots no less, BBQ, and boom boxes. Some weekends, 100 boaters. Shades of Jimmy Buffett.
Too far to walk grandma and the inflatable shark to shore, “the point” became mostly the boater’s haven, with exception of labor day to memorial day. Driving time!! For 100$ and a 4wheeler you can get a sticker. 60$ for residents and zip for us 65 and older property owners. Picnic day for teddy bears.
Once Margaret (wife-type) had ridden on the beach it was pretty clear I had to find a 4wheeler… I knew where to look. Joe Robinson sold me “Joebelle”, a classic jeep Wagoneer popularized by The Big Chill. What an engine. Even though it smelled like Joe’s lab, it was a work horse. Which leads to one of the more interesting facts of beach driving. People get stuck. We got stuck. People do crazy things that get them stuck. Many don’t understand the tide and the wind. Bad mistake (s). Double bad is to get stuck in exit/entrance. Double that if the red drum are biting and Billy Bob can’t get to em. Here are several scenarios about getting stuck:
A. Once Margaret realized what a tow stud Joebelle was, she looked for stuck ones. We bought all the shovels and boards and tow ropes it would carry. One fundamental about getting stuck is that” they” are always there. You may not see “them” at first, but like throwing bread to invisible seagulls, it won’t be long before “they” appear. “What’s wrong there? See you got hung up a little. Roy–go get the tow rope. Here–let me driove er .”(hio tide for drive her.)
Only once were “they” stumped. A pickup up to her axle in the exit. Nothing budged it. Dark approaches. Margaret volunteers for the third time. Same answer- “-little lady we’ll have er out in minute.” Not so, and finally she is up.
With Joebelle already outside, and spotting a grid of thin boards on the top of the exit, Margaret got the wagoneer’s back tires on these boards. She made a good first try but still a tough mire to conquer. I noticed an older man approach Margaret. She nodded and together they located Joeballe with an added ten yards of slack in the tow rope. Margaret revved up dropped her into ultra low, and put the pedal to the metal.
It sounded like the bottom frame was being yanked off and for a moment I feared the jeep would pull the pickup over itself and Margaret. She did a Nascar like peel off, and acknowledged the applause of of grateful gathering of off/on waiters. The old guys shook her hand and she hugged them. I don’t think I’ve seen her happier.
***If you get stuck and don’t know what to do, or don’t have a needed piece of gear, don’t panic. just walk around the vehicle, look puzzelled, scratch you head.”They” will wander out of the dunes. Hey fellow, need some help?
B. Last week a youngster drove through a tidal pool too fast. Took an hour to get him out. Drew a crowd of 100.
C. A yankee knew not the tide . A Red jeep totally under.
D. One caught on fire. No way. Black frame all that remained.
E. Two personals to admit. Watched a deep sunset. Newer red 97 Jeep Sport (Joebelle fizzled) would not crank. Had to get beach wrecker to get to exit, another to get to repair.(250$)
Last week we over worked Red at high tide. Overheated, she quit right in the Black Skimmer exit. Let er cool and she will go again, but we are blocking the exit. Performed the wander around method mentioned above and sure enough a young marine drove up and volunteered ” I’ll get you out” and he did. Margaret tipped 15$. ” He said it was his birthday.”
*Local tip that worked on Joebelle. If your radiator leaks try this: Pour 4 oz. of ground black pepper in the radiator. Start the vehicle and let it run a while. Pepper will rise to the leak and plug. I swear it worked. For a while.
One elderly couple drove their Chevy in to the sand. No sticker, 4wheel drive, nothing. Only us there, the glow kicked on in Margaret’s eyes. Hi Oh Silver. I knew it was bad and wistfully watched as another Jeep with a young couple rounding the dune. I could quickly see and recognize the “I want no part of this look” on the driver’s face. But then his conscience got him and he drove over. Neither of the couple exited the Chev. We three approached them to volunteer when it became apparent they were both deaf and stunned. Communication limited at best. Nothing worked. Plus a game plan was difficult. We finally decided to rope the two vehicles with the young ones dragging seniors backwards. We convinced the old man the Jeep would drive as hard as he could. As the lead jeep gunned off Margaret and I began to scream as loud as we could. This, of course, did no good and in horror we watched the Jeep tear out south as the confused Chevy took off due North. As the rope distance ran out of slack both vehicles bounced straight up about a foot. Both of the old ones were crying when we got there.
Finally we found a solid path. Jeep driver told them just to sit still and put the car in neutral. He turned to us and whispered “…I am going to drag them to the exit as hard as I can and just maybe I can pop them to the top”. I told him he needn’t whisper.
By god it worked. As the Chevy crested the exit top it wobbled down to asphalt. The old man gave the young man some money. All drove off. Margaret said “…you know he gave him a 100$ bill!” I said —twenty minutes ago he would have paid a thousand to get back to New Jersey.
A big moment last week was taking Bubba John McClean riding on The Point for the first time. While his granddad, W.B. McClean, was the ramrod that led seven piedmonters to buy from Salter Path to the point, Bubba said he was afraid to drive on the beach. Surprising, as Bubba is a master deep sea diver and a diver at the local aquarium. Bubba, two weeks from having the dreaded bends, liked the tour and hopefully he’ll beach ride now.
**Locals will think I dissed W. B. He was a trip. Get Bubba or his Dad to tell you about Mr. McClean. The one I liked was when he bought the lion from the Hoke County Carnival.
Bubba is like all of us. We know we’ve got some dangers nearby. “If you can see the ocean, it can see you.” Think they call it Bear Island for nothing? Just wander around the nearby Croatan National Forest. Alligators? A 17 and 1/2 footer got hit by a car near Camp Lejuene. Had to get a forklift to get him off Highway 17. One man asked a garden store worker if that alligator yard ornament was for sale? The clerk jumped over the customer when the 7 footer blinked at them. (“probably came up out of the white oak river”)
When you go in the ocean you are no longer at the top of the food chain. Sharks are showing up more, But still rarely. Sting rays are real. Nothing compares to rip tides. Sadly our area has its victims. Still, dolphin are abundant. One lady calls them daily, Swears she can communicate. Once in a while a whale is spotted. The birds are the stars of the show. Pelicans, Seagulls, Geese, All kinds of patterns and migrations are delightful.
When I first got down here, before beach driving, I wandered around on Bogue Banks Pier. Nothing beats seeing young girl or boy catch their first fish. When a school of Red Drum come through, it is close.
One morning at 11am I walked up the pier and the Mullett were running. Forty yards across the green sea was black. They came down the shore line but would not swim under the pier. Around the end, back down the other side of the pier and on down the shore line. I asked how long they had been running and a man said “I’ve been here since 8am. They were coming then”.
An old technique of the local fishers is to put a large net (100yds?) out offshore. Leave it overnight. When the mullett run comes they loop one end around them, attach both ends to tractors and pull the net, loaded, to those who shovel the fish into truck loads. I’ve seen it once. They don’t advertise.
Back to the point and the points. Nature provides blessings and burdens. We have a new, free playground. It is beautiful and fun. Kite surfers do flips and bust the speed limit (20 mph.) Fishing, or looking like you are fishing. Bocce Ball, bait fishermen from the north with coolers and nets. Kites, Lakes formed by high tides. Tidal pools when they subside. One five year grandson started in the shallow pools and now body surfs with his Dad. He has his his own wetsuit and goes in through now (Late November). True, it scares me.
I suggested earlier that there are some more points. True the virus has made us look for ways to wait it out. I believe I contact local owls. I am dough popping the dog ass online Pokerstars free game. We housed a ton of carpenter bees that I fought daily with a badminton racket. Deadly backhand got a lot of them. Then, there is and I bought the last carpenter bee trap from Ace Hardware. Kept a daily tally and watched the battles in the trap jar.
The most important point is this: We are witnessing two opposite meteors. as the virus spirals out of control, the best scientists in history are predicting a cure. Soon.
Hopefully the vaccine will be a reality.
One fisherman’s tee shirt read “I really like fishing, and maybe three people!”
Ran into local golf pro, Mick Brown, surf fishing last week. His tee shirt said: I REALLY LIKE FISHING. AND MAYBE THREE PEOPLE.
The days sure have become very similar. There is a moment that is apparent , quite easy to recognize. Actually it’s symptoms are pre-virus. My wife starts throwing things at me.
That is the day we ride. Now. No restaurants, movies, friends over, flights, shopping. But you can drive. Where matters not.
Yesterday was it. Early rise and off to anywhere. Then “..,let’s go ride the ferry to Oriental.” (NC). Agreement is non-negotiable.
Ordinarily we read gas prices aloud. Political signs were the big item this time. Most of these are about the same size and red, white and blue. Imagine.
Oriental had a large number with both parties represented. Next one to be counted looked similarly flag like. As it became readable we both laughed out loud:
My friend was one of 5 boys, most younger than their six sisters. In rural North Carolina in the 50’s there was little air conditioning. One night with the Father already in bed, two of the oldest girls were doing their homework at the kitchen table. Window open.
Strangely the oldest child told her sister that”….I’’m going to take Daddy his cigarettes”. Though knowing Daddy didn’t smoke, daughter two said nothing. The older girl went to her Father and reported a “Peeping Tom” right outside the open window.
The Father got out of bed, took up his rifle and crept around the house. And shot the peeper.
Father was actually friends with Sheriff, who soon was on their phone.
“A man in the hospital said you shot him in the leg” said the constable. “Yeah, but I meant to hit him in the head” Father admits.
The Sheriff then tells Father he’ll pick him up and both will go to the hospital. The Sheriff somehow did not notice Father put his rifle in the cop’s car!
The Sheriff was in the hospital lobby when he turned and saw Father with his rifle.
“What in the hell are doing bringing that rifle in here?”
“I may shoot him again!”
The Sheriff called his friend by name saying “…if you shoot him in here I’ll have to arrest you.
Now come on in here to see him.”
Father however was carrying his rifle out the door.
Sheriff: “Where are you going?”
“If I can’t shoot him I don’t want to see him!”
I watched both conventions. The Republican show left several impressions:
- Few masks and no real spacing.
- . Reminded me of cult behavior. Think Jim Jones, Guyana, and 900 lemming.
- But the real base, or true cult members weren’t there. The KKK, QNON, White Supremacists, Hell’s Angels,etc. weren’t the cats given the front row seats. Or at least they didn’t wear their suits and hoods.
- Didn’t see Mary Lea Trump or Maryanne Trump’s speeches.
- One positive: Melania’s second attempt wasn’t Michelle #2.
At least Trump doesn’t stutter, or his speech would have lasted 5 hours.
No bridge to our coastal home of Emerald Isle, NC, before the ’70’s. Our end of the island has residue of the wild days. Sharks, stingrays, copperheads, raccoons, coyotes. A local gardening shop featured an unannounced 7 and a half foot alligator on the display floor. Even the spectre of racism, Trump or the virus pale compared to #1. Anything but a hurricane is local mantra. Actually, it is water damage. “Don’t ask for deluge!” (Starbuck a.k.a. THE RAINMAKER). The pearl of our community is “The Yacht Club”. It has an abandoned flat bottomed Core Sound skiff on top of the building. Thus “Yacht Club”. Three years ago Florence totally flooded many businesses and homes including the “TYC”. Friday night was our developments trip to the YC. Had to be out by nine o’clock pm though. That’s when the bikers came. A roadhouse bar, the food was getting better before the flood. Head waiter wore a t-shirt that said “NOPE NOT TODAY”. The drink menu included ” The Hurricaine, Yella-God-Amighty, Stranded in Honduras, and the last item was “Sex On The Deck”–$2.50
One fundamental of a healthy retirement is local friends. Randy and Pat Campbell and David and Lynn Odom visited recently. Pat brought a lovely bouquet of 12 yellow roses. A player once told me after all day in the sun playing “Coach, you’re getting up a little bit”. Post op and everything tastes and smells bad about yourself So it didn’t surprise me after Randy had posed a single rose behind my ear the lovely yellow petals fell off the bud…all of them. Got a video. Coach Odom has a hometown friend here named Rex Teaney . Rex recalls that every conversation with Mr. Odom Sr. concluded with the questions “is David a good boy Rex, is he a good friend, do people like him?” Rex’s signature story is about his first high school varsity team wrestling match: Rex is not a large man and certainly there wasn’t much to him in the 9th grade (about 90 lbs) It was sort of an odd debut. The high school versus the Goldsboro Boys Home. Nervous but not noticing much but that his opponent looked to be about 25 years old. And he was apparently blind. Back on the mat and Rex was pinned in 20 seconds. The next realization was he was skinned burned from the guys lack of a shave. David bailed him out: “I don’t think Rex ever lost a high school wrestling match .”
Right down from the Yacht Club is “Phillips Seafood”. Jimmy Clyde Phillips has his market written up often as a tourist attraction. Jimmy has a sign in the front window: “Local As It Gets”!
The first book I wrote was done much like a blog. Different articles, all strung together. And, there were some blue or risque subjects and language. One dealt with elimination on an eight day Colorado river rafting trip. Potty humor for sure, but pretty much true. Caught some flak .
Same kind of humor kicked in last week during second hip replacement. Nothing funny at 4am thought of impending third catheterization. No details. Just cannot pee. There I said it.
My member is saying, “Coach, don’t you understand that Nurse Ratchet is down the hall, sharpening her switch blade?
Self One to Self Two: “What part of PEE don’t you understand?” All you are doing is faking a pee. Take a pee. Take, not fake.
One other unpleasant human phenomenon was this pain. The way hot spots blink–then intensify. Thinking I was pain free, a single sensation would pop in. Just like oven burners. The bb size pain point grows to a hot dime to a hot damn. Hello drugs. No lack of vile thoughts drugs can contribute .
Then, the sensation of a positive. Tingle grows. Hark is that a valid precursor? Another fake. Now the dance. Yes? No? The plot thickens.
The number of tubes needed runs double for me. First, the dreaded IV and tubing. For me there are about 5 of these crisscrossing my chest, other parts.
Hey Dumbass, this is real, gotta go. Nearly tops on the burner. Get up and run. Oops, I knocked the nurses button beyond reach. Now the scene, Five days post op it is now a riot.
I can’t figure which tube goes where, can’t holler loud enough to get her. Prayer changes from go, to whoa, whoa, whoa. I was saran wrapped. duct taped, mummified.
Covid-19 proved nurses are heroes. Final scene? Did we make it?
Wait for the YouTube!
I have lived seven years at Emerald Isle, N.C. People often ask what I do. One favorite pastime is our fishing pier. Most of the time, and year, it is a docile scene. If the fishermen/women are sitting down and the fish cleaning table is vacant, nothing is biting. Even then it is magic to me. The sea changes are fascinating. Sunsets, sunrises, and nights are the best. The people will talk more when things are slow. Those I call “food fishers” are more serious. Most are recreational fishers. There is one guy who is our #1. He can tell you a lot. And will.
I’ve seen too many interesting things to mention them all. Here are a few : A 130lb woman catching a 140lb tarpon. Took two hours. Seven foot sharks 30 yards from unconcerned surfers (or sharks). When any species (Hatteras blues, blues, spots, red drum, black drum, pompano, etc.) decide to show up, things get to be a lot of fun. The most impressive scene I’ve witnessed (not the thongs or tattoos), features the fish that don’t bite–mullets. The “mullet blow ” is quite a show. Only once have I been on the pier when the “mullet blow” came through. It was 11am. I asked a fisherman how long they had been coming? He said he’d had been fishing since 8am and nothing had changed. From the pier for 300 yards sideways the sea was black with fish. From the east they swam down the shore line, but took a hard left at pier. Wouldn’t swim under the pier, but at the end of the pier they took a hard right, back to the west. Every so often, at meticulous intervals they would jump out of the ocean, turning from black to silver. I had seen the locals with tractors and long large nets. Haul them in by the tons. I mentioned “tractoring” them in, to the pier group. There are lots of fish tails/tales at the pier: An “old salt” said he was here one morning during the “mullet blow” when one of the tractors wouldn’t run. So–the gang of fishermen attached one end of the net to the working tractor and the other to a Cadillac Escalade with four wheel drive. Upon tractoring the engorged net full of fish toward the shore, the fish altered the course of the Escalade, from inshore to offshore. (“… every now and then, the cow eats the butcher.”—Scope Wallace). The guy said they cut the Escalade cable just in time.
I mentioned Mrs. Mildred Southern and her talk upon her induction to the North Carolina Sports Hall oF Fame in an earlier article. (article #72-ATHLETIC BANQUETS-PART 2). Her reason for her many tennis involvements she said was due to the joy on one youngster’s face, that she was helping. The ocean in general, and our pier have a lot to offer. To watch a child catch a fish. Any fish. Now that’s a worthwhile way to spend your retirement.
“Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided; two-thirds of the fair world it yet covers.”
Just saw Ron Howard’s film The Sea Beneath Us,about Melville’s research for his great novel, Moby Dick. The film, like the book, is a testament to the “leviathan” and his power. We saw it in 3-D. And, while this magnified the whale’s fearsome abilities it also makes another point. That being the uncontrollable ability of the seas.
Witness Melville’s words on this subject:
“…though but a moment’s consideration will teach, that however baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, that science and skill may augment; yet forever and forever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.” And:
“But not only is the sea such a foe to man who is an alien to it, but it is also a fiend to its own offspring; worse than the Persian host who murdered his own guests; sparing not the creatures which itself hath spawned. Like a savage tigress that tossing in the jungle overlays her own cubs, so the sea dashes even the mightiest whales against the rocks, and leaves them there side by side with the split wrecks of ships. No mercy, no power but its own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.”
Whale oil preceded modern oil and its products for our energy. And while we give ourselves credit for ceasing the massacres of whales, our misuse of oil and carbon may find us among the slaughtered. Politicians won’t decide about climate change. The sea will.
And, while the question of off shore drilling here in North Carolina, and off our Atlantic coast, has serious financial and social variables, that is not really the issue. Nature and the sea are showing us some severe possibilities. Any who pretends they know the limits of the power of the seas of the world is a fool.