Joan Randall a Woodstock resident set out on a journey to “Discover America” she has agreed to share her stories with the readers of the Vermont Standard.
These are her stories.
After a five-hour drive, departing Ocean City, Maryland, we arrived in the Outer Banks. Our route took us over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Virginia Beach. We spent our first night in the Outer Banks in Nags Head. We had a beautiful room over looking the ocean and dunes, with an off-season rate of $89. It was too tempting to turn down.
Bode met some interesting folks on our early morning walk. One in particular was an elderly fellow from West Virginia. He was there with his wife, beach-combing for sea glass. She was quite talented at finding it. My only regret was not putting him on video for you. His words made my heart smile. He told the story that he took his wife to the Outer Banks 48 years ago for their honeymoon. She was not a strong swimmer and the current dragged her out. She was so stricken with fear they never returned to the ocean until now. He was so proud of her, she had gotten the courage to enter the ocean up to her ankles. We parted ways and Bode and I continued down the beach and on our return the gentleman was calling out to me. We went over and he handed me a heart shape rock that he had just found. I told him he needed to give this to his wife. He simply stated he is always finding and giving heart shape rocks to her, this one was for me to carry on my journey so that I will be surrounded by love and friendship, such a dear man. Somehow I think it was the love they shared that gave his wife the courage to return. Regardless that it had taken her 48 years, she did it!
Leaving Nags Head after breakfast we traveled south on the one main route that connects the entire Outer Banks, Route 12. We arrived at Cape Hatteras. Fortunately the strip malls ended when we departed Nags Head and the more natural landscape emerged. I could feel my body relaxing as we left the congestion behind. Not that there was anything wrong in Nags Head, we had that beautiful room, but once a country girl, always a country girl and my love for the natural landscape is what stirs in my heart.
Route 12 continues to Ocracoke Island but there is no bridge connecting the two, only a free ferry service. The ferry is probably a good thing since I am sure the line must get pretty long in the summer to travel to Ocracoke and this helps to keep the Island at a slower pace.
The reason for going to Ocracoke was to see the wild ponies. I soon learned that the ponies have been rounded up and placed on a 180 acre reserve there back in 1959, two years after the “highway 12” had been built. Wild ponies still roam free in the Outer Banks, but not in Ocracoke. Ocracoke Island is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The entire island is owned by the National Park service, except for the village. We visited the Pony Pasture, where there is a viewing platform to see the ponies.
As we continued down Rte 12, we came across a National Park Campground. No one was at the gatehouse, but there were clear instructions on how to choose a site and pay the following morning. The winds where blowing 40 mph, not sure how smart it will be pitching a tent in those kind of conditions, but it was my goal to camp and I needed to start. I also needed to organize the Jeep, it seemed things were starting to implode! After finding a spot sheltered by trees and brush the tent was erected, the air mattress successfully inflated and I took on the task of putting together a new cook stove I purchased for the trip. I have this thing about using propane or any type of gas products – it just scares me! I thought of asking the young men who were setting up their site next to me, but I was determined to do it on my own. Bode’s usual meal is poached chicken on top of his dry food. We used the last of it yesterday, so it was a necessity to get the stove working. The first couple of attempts scared me as when I attached the propane cylinder the pressure pushed it back creating a loud sound and steam of some sort exited the cylinder. Well I pushed through my fear and used brute force and it worked! The cylinder was attached. Now to become brave enough to test it, after a minute or two of hesitation I pushed my fear aside and lit the stove. It worked, we were still alive to tell this story. Soon we would be having dinner. My goal was to have dinner cooked and everything cleaned up by 6 p.m. just in case the mosquitoes may be a problem. Even in this wind, with temperatures in the low 80’s, I am sure they are emerging for the season. Just as I was putting away the last dish, my prediction came true and it was only 5:30, so Bode and I headed to town to explore the village streets of this quaint island.
As we arrived into town, we parked the Jeep and headed toward the State Marina.
As we were approaching the marina I heard a man holler out from a sailboat and he came ashore to greet us. Apparently from the distance, he had mistaken me for his wife, who was also blond and has a small white dog. His name was Joe and he and his friend Archer, captain of the boat, just landed after crossing the Pamlico Sound for a short get away. As I was braving the 40 mph winds on land, they were battling them at sea. Fortunately they are two experienced sailors and arrived fairly unscathed. They invited me on board Ciel Bleu, for a cocktail to celebrate the arrival to Ocracoke. Both men had interesting careers, Archer, the captain of Ciel Bleu, was a retired United Airlines pilot and Joe spent many of his business years throughout Europe and Sweden. Joe actually crossed the Atlantic in his 34 –foot sailboat. Now to me that is a brave and adventurous journey! Bode loves to be on boats, so he quickly made himself at home and settled in as the conversation turned to me and my adventure to discover America. Joe and Archer were great travel guides, telling us all the dog friendly towns we needed to discover in North and South Carolina. It was starting to get late, and we needed to make sure our tent was still standing. Archer and Joe were the ultimate Southern Gentlemen and had genuine concern for our safety. They offered us a safe harbor if we needed it for the evening.
As Bode and I ventured back to the campground, we noticed it was essentially vacant except for 2 or 3 RV’s. All the tent campers had left! A huge pit formed in my stomach, this was not a good sign. As we turned the corner and pulled into our site, there was our tent, still standing proudly, nestled amongst the protective brush.
All Bode’s well.
To see all of the blogs from Joan & Bode click here.