The alarm woke us up early as I wanted a time cushion to ensure our ferry spot. If I missed the 7:30 boat, Mabel and I would be twiddling our thumbs in Ocracoke until 10:00, a serious time drag. Did you know Mabel has thumbs? Plus, I wanted to catch the sunrise, hoping to see some early morning brilliance. The sunrise proved to be underwhelming but the ride to the ferry was quiet and we secured the first spot on the boat. Now we wait.
Our site was well worth the $28 it cost to camp overnight, even with the biting bugs. It had to be one of the best nights not involving family or friends on the trip. To be that close to the ocean was awesome, we had almost water front property for the cost of a few cups of coffee. Big coffees, but a few cups of them.
They loaded us on the ferry a little before 7:30 and the $30 with trailer cost was a much better deal than the Cross-Island Ferry. The view will be about the same but this is a longer ride so a better value in my mind or at least I think so. Our spot was right up front and I stayed on the deck with Mabel inside the car, there wasn’t much room to walk her. A woman approached us after pulling up the TWM web address she saw on the back of the camper. Thank you Sheri for putting on the labels so straight and even. Did I ever mention the gap between both ends is off by less than 1/8th of an inch? My wife is awesome! Her husband joined us and I found out she is a nurse and he a union sheet metal worker. They live in West Virginia where he is from while she is originally from Washington but they met in southern North Carolina. We are a mobile society. They were visiting where they used to live after tent camping on Ocracoke, the rain I experienced in Roanoke soaking their tent. She explained that they go light on Christmas gifts but plan an annual family vacation and the kids really like it. I think it’s a great idea; experiences are remembered, toys are forgotten. Last night they were on the beach with their two kids, both under 10, flashlighting ghost crabs. He said it got a little creepy, almost like they could have been surrounded by the crabs. We talked for about 40 minutes then stretched our legs and took pictures of the water.
I took Mabel out for a walk and she wasn’t too impressed with the boat. She had zero interest in the shrimp boats we passed probably because she couldn’t see over the rail; the curse of short legs. I kept thinking of Bubba Gump but realized he worked the Gulf and we were far from that part of the country.
The ferry approaches the dock at Cedar Island backwards and the pilot throws a hard right and reverses to pivot into the dock. He does it expertly and we are soon off the boat passing the little campground I was told about. We made the right choice staying on Ocracoke. The road is narrow, not much of a shoulder, and winds through the trees lining the road. It feels like we are in the South, I just need to see Spanish moss hanging from the trees. Eventually we find a small baseball park and pull off. Mabel needed exercise and I needed a sandwich. It was relaxing to sit in the parking lot plotting our course and I sure would have liked the ability to tell Mr. Sulu where we needed to go. Unfortunately, Mabel, although a good companion, has no understanding of navigation. We are headed west on HWY 70 and then will pick up HWY 24 eventually using HWY 17 to reach our destination. As we pass the entrance to Camp Lejeune, two Osprey helicopters pass overhead, I wonder if they were from the same squadron as the one we saw at Kill Devil Hills?
There are electric signs warning us of increased traffic due to the eclipse. I don’t have plans to watch it, not a lot of interest in the hype. I pass a furniture store that you enter through a giant shark’s mouth. I also see a 20-foot pirate at a boat store. It’s interesting to see what is used to attract attention to retail establishments and there is a regionality to the selection. A shark wouldn’t translate well in Minnesota, but a giant walleye is another story.
Today will be a short day of driving because I will visit one of my oldest high school friends, Heidi Kassner Earle. She has lived in England for over 20 years and is visiting her family who live in Carolina Shores. As kids, Heidi’s house was in front of ours and we used a path through the woods to visit. The last time we saw each other was in 2002 while I was in Germany. She flew from England just before I left and was pregnant with her first child who is now 15. I am looking forward to meeting her family from England and I don’t remember when I last saw her parents.
We pulled into a campground in Shallotte, just North of Ocean Isle Beach. The reviews were good, the pictures looked nice, and it was close to Carolina Shores. It was misty when we pulled in and the manager’s office was closed but a man came by in a golf cart and said spot 12 might be available, but needed to check. Spot 12 was right on the channel, another waterfront site. He exited his trailer giving me a big thumbs up so we proceededd to set up camp. I needed a shower! The showers at Ocracoke were not really showers in the usual sense of the word so I was still salty from our swim. After looking at the park it appears to have mostly weekenders, their trailers used as summer beach homes. It should be quiet for our visit and the waterfront price was right.
Mabel and I were welcomed into Mr. & Mrs. Kassner’s home and it was nice to see them. Heidi’s family was great, her husband very nice and the boys very polite. Mabel made herself at home and was spoiled while we visited. After a wonderful dinner, we sat around the table and caught up, it was almost like we were back on Denise Street. The years together used as a springboard to connect the dots on the years we weren’t. It’s funny how the conversation changes when you get older and have kids. The focus is now on them, how they are doing in school, extra curriculur activities, and what they are like. It’s usually the first thing I ask about. Our lives, in the past at the forefront now take a back seat. We say our goodbyes and I hope it’s not another 15 years until we see each other. If that is the case we will both be close to collecting Social Security…… if it’s still around. As we leave I see the BMW they had when we all lived in Mount Misery and was amazed at the shape it is in. A nice blast from the past.
The campsite is quiet and not as many bugs as the ocean site. We crawl into the camper and sleep comes quickly.