Friday, October 30, 2015

Everything’s Duck-y in North Carolina

After leaving Hartford we drove through New York City and into New Jersey where we stayed the night in a very luxurious bed for which we were very grateful!  It had started to drizzle as we got into New York. The photo below is us crossing the George Washington Bridge which somehow seemed momentous to me, perhaps triggered by a childhood memory. The photo, taken at moving speed and in the dark and rain, is not so memorable. (I also took a couple of the New Jersey industrial areas lit with bright golden glow and smelling just as I remembered from 50+ years ago.  Ah, yes, the New Jersey turnpike!)


After a wonderful sleep we headed south, paying toll roads over and over again. I was excited to use the Chesapeake Bay Tunnel, an amazing engineering feat, but I also was a little nervous about 1) being underground 2) under the water 3) in an enclosed tube 4) for such a  long stretch.  I did check the tile walls for seepage as we drove through and I am happy to report that all was dry, no puddles on the road at all. ( I have this same feeling riding BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit from San Francisco to Oakland, under the bay.  I can’t help but wonder -fleetingly- if this is going to be when the Big One occurs…)




And at last we got to Duck.  Honestly, it was different than I expected.  In October, 2007, we drove a portion of the Outer Banks and I expected it now to be undeveloped in much the same way, with fences staggering along the dune ridges, the ocean warm on one side and the Sound only knee deep on the other with very little traffic  in between. At that time, we took the ferry in the south from Cedar Island to Ocracoke and only drove as far as the first bridge to the mainland which is in Manteo. This time, we came in at the bridge to Kitty Hawk and drove north to Duck.  It seemed very developed with restaurants and condos and resorts and beach shops tucked in everywhere.  The roads were full of cars and bicyclists and families walking, a very fun and beach vacation atmosphere, but more congested than I expected. image


Our resort was an exchange for our timeshare and it was enormous, stretching one half mile from Currituck Sound on the west to the Atlantic on the east. 15-09-14-07-24-56H We were in the farthest most east building and I was delighted to be as close to the ocean as possible.  Our unit was enormous, complete with dining room, Jacuzzi in the bedroom, and two decks, more space than we really needed but it was nice to have the dining table to spread out our books and writing materials.  It made me appreciate our own timeshare management company, though, which has the units always perfectly outfitted and in top-notch repair.  This one was a little worn and out-dated but they are in the process of remodeling.

The first evening we dashed over to see the sunset, complete with palm trees. A nearby bar carried the sound of happy voices over the water.



From our deck early the next morning the sunrise beckoned me to hurry.  The little lights mark the stairs up and over the dune, not as far as it looks in this picture below.  We had the most marvelous morning wake-up, sticking our feet in the WARM ocean and watching the birds come to catch hapless fish.  The waves would wash these tiny fish up on the sand and the gulls would swoop down crying and fighting over these poor flopping minnows (or whatever they were.)  I was happy when the next wave would roll in and pick them back up and take them out to sea but I did think they were foolish playing so close to the water’s edge.  Where were their mothers?  This went on over and over.







I was amused later in the day and all week long to see people laboring up the ramp, up the stairs and over the dune with both arms loaded with equipment for going to the beach.  I saw beach umbrellas, coolers, books, towels, beach blankets, bottled drinks and sand toys. Oh, yes, and beach chairs.  I took some pictures of how labor intensive it was. You don’t see that on the West Coast, maybe because it’s too cold to sit long on the sand.15-09-15-09-51-54H15-09-15-09-52-27H15-09-17-14-10-34H15-09-18-13-37-20H15-09-18-14-28-19H

This is an entirely different kind of beach than the rocky coast we had in Maine, and our week was entirely different here.  We actually watched some TV (Dame Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple) and read books, bobbed in the ocean and walked along the water’s edge.  We did drive north to see Currituck Light and did a tour in what was once a fine hunting lodge for the fabulously wealthy, the Whalehead Club.15-09-14-12-47-42H



We drove south to Kitty Hawk and Bodie Island Light and Cape Hatteras.


Every half mile or so there is a boardwalk over the dune to the ocean.

15-09-16-13-05-37H15-09-16-15-00-03HThe ferry to Ocracoke was full and the next one was also full, so we decided to skip that even though I was trying to find what I had seen years before.

We saw colorful beach houses15-09-16-11-26-08H

and immense beach cottages

15-09-16-14-29-23Hand a few modest beach homes, almost all built on stilts15-09-18-17-01-07H


We ate “in” mostly, but sometimes ate “out”, and sometimes both:



This was the sunset on our last night.  The next morning we drove very early to Richmond, VA, to have breakfast with Ron’s brother and fly home refreshed and relaxed.


Just this morning I read this quote on Facebook:

Dale Partridge ·

VACATIONS LIE. Culture tells us to spend an entire year saving for a week to escape our life. We call it vacation. Even as I'm on this incredible road trip across the Northwest with my family, something doesn't feel right. Vacations are meant to be new, they are meant to be fun, but they are not meant to be better than your normal life. I've been all around the world, and I would never trade travel for what I have at home. Life isn't about the 50 vacations you'll take while you're on this planet. It's about the 25,000 days between them. Stop creating a life that you need a vacation from. Instead, move to where you want to live, do what you want to do, start what you want to start, and create the life you want today. This isn't rehearsal people. This is YOUR life. #MakeHomeYourVacation

In response to Dale Partridge:

As much as I love the ocean I cannot conceive of voluntarily moving to a place away from my children and grandchildren.  I feel so fortunate to live in the same town as they do and have a part in their lives and be available to help. Dale Partridge has a good point, I understand what he is saying, but he has a young family that is still portable and a writing career that he carries in his laptop.  Not everyone is so unentangled.  I admit that I really, really look forward to the vacations we plan every year because I value variety and seeing creation’s diversity and –face it—getting away from the telephone and routine demands on my time.  But I love my life and love being in a family and having a church family that I support and who support me.  Sometimes I fantasize for a moment about being a hermit in the woods or a writer at the ocean just so I could get through the day uninterrupted or so the dishes would stay done and the kitchen clean for more than a minute, but I wouldn’t change my life for a moment, not really.  I might just get a housekeeper.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Where I Am From

We decided to drive rather than fly on our trip from Rockland, Maine to Duck, North Carolina. At my husband’s suggestion we drove through Hartford, Connecticut, my childhood hometown. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see what had become of my home; I was afraid of the changes that might have occurred.  I didn’t really want to overlay my happy memories with disappointment and we didn’t really have time to look up any of the old friends.  I knew my home address, of course, but didn’t have a clear idea of the layout of the city so we couldn’t find some of the landmarks we looked for.

It was a relief to see my home looking as nice-or nicer-than ever.  Generally Hartford seemed rundown and my part of town had become trashed in the intervening 55 years, but my house stood clean and well-cared for and just as I remembered it!  As I timidly stepped out of the car to snap a photo from the street, a head popped up in the screened porch inquiringly.  So I went up the stairs (I hadn’t planned to approach the house or knock) and asked the man, “Are you the R------?” never dreaming that he would be the same family that had purchased the house from us in 1959.  But he said yes, he was the son, now the current owner!  And his sister was there visiting on the porch, too, so I not only had the pleasure of seeing the house but had the real joy of hearing about all the kids we both knew from growing up in that house.  They were able to tell me what had become of the kids across the street, and those naughty neighbor boys, and the old neighbor lady who gave us candy at Christmastime, and the fancy funeral for the dance teacher down the street.  That was so unexpected, that the current owner would be someone who moved in as a kid when I left as a kid and that he and his sister would have played with all my old friends and knew what had become of them. Wonderful!


I Am From                           

I am from rainy day popcorn and Betty Crocker and Kodak and Winnie the Pooh.

I am from the upstairs bedroom of the house on a hill, from storm windows on the porch and sweet lilies-of-the-valley on the bank.

I am from mountain laurel, daffodils and acorns, from grapevine tendrils and from jumping in fall leaves.

I am from going to the library and from no TV. I am from family reading together at bedtime, from Dr. Doolittle and Mary Poppins dusting the stars.

I am from dungarees and sneakers, from davenports and patent leather.

I am from the Kikendalls and Howatts, the Marshalls and Taylors, from the first cousins and the second cousins and the cousins once- or twice-removed.

I am from road trips and Sunday night drives through downtown after evening meeting, from following fire trucks and search lights and from sharing “Awful-Awfuls” at the Friendly.

I am from having “just a little something” and “The children would like some ice cream”, from making paper chains when we were sick and from Mommy's soothing palm scratches at church.

I am from “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world” and flannel board lessons, from the Gospel Chapel and Sunday School picnics.

I'm from Hartford and Cedar Rapids and Portland, from Broadview Terrace and Fir Dell Drive and Clay Street. I am from 2015 Washington and Alameda Streets.

I am from hamburger soup and brownies with ice cream, from meat-and-potatoes-and vegetable-and-salad dinners, from setting the table and loading the dishwasher and the chores chart.

I'm from bologna at John's Market and counting the train cars at Rocky Neck Beach, from swimming at Barkhampstead Reservoir and walking along New Britain Avenue.

I'm from riding on Dad's handlebars and hide-and-go-seek, from “ally ally oxen free” and looking through the windows at Jane Hart's dance studio.

I am from the Brownies, from FeeFee and Dodo, from Denise and Wendy and the horrible neighbor boys. I am from Mrs. Macris' ribbon candy and Rosemary babysitting and the cleaning lady.

I am from playing 'School' and 'House', from trading cards bought at the Five and Dime, from roller skates with a key and ice skating on the pond. I am from loving my dollies.

I am from a tidy big sister who kept her things nice and from two little brothers who fought. I am from the seat in the car right behind my Dad at the wheel.

I am from nurturing parents and grandparents who taught me their special ways. I am from trips to the zoo and circus and Beaver Park, from airplane rides and train trips to see Grandma and Grandpa.

I am from Grandma's long dining table set for friends and family, young and old, a feast of conversation and food and love. I am from her Singer Sewing Machine.

I am from a committed circle of family and friends, Aunties and Uncles who watched over me. I am from happy days of running through the neighbors' backyards in the summer evenings and coming home when we heard Dad's whistle blow.

I expect that's what going to Heaven will be like, running home at the end of the day.

By Hollace Howatt Chandler

Based loosely on a poem by George Ella Lyon