We faced a choice after our showings in the southern Chesapeake: drive eight hours on I-95 to Myrtle Beach or take the scenic route along the Outer Banks. For us, no contest. We found an oceanfront room in Kill Devil Hills across from the Wright Brothers Memorial and picked up a ferry schedule from the front desk. I don’t remember ever driving the length of the Hatteras National Seashore, but it was just what we needed today, miles and miles of windswept dunes and juniper trees and bayberry bushes separated by clusters of brightly painted souvenir shops and smoothie stands shuttered for the winter, then long rows of empty summer rentals. The pattern repeated again and again all the way from Kitty Hawk to Hatteras, where we picked up the 45-minute ferry to Ocracoke. Without the summer beach traffic the effect was hypnotic, meditative, the sea on one side, the sound on the other. It was another planet.
We got to Ocracoke with plenty of time for lunch before our second ferry, and the ferryman pointed us toward Jason’s, one of only two establishments open in the off-season. I could have stayed the afternoon there, listening to the easy banter among the locals.
After lunch I ducked into the post office to buy a stamp and the postmistress said, “That’ll be 44 jalapenies,” then added, “You’re my cheapest date all day.”
On the ferry back to the mainland I feel the pull of the ocean behind me. We’re headed back to land and real life. More boats tomorrow.