Thursday, November 1, 2012

OBX Before Sandy, Raleigh, and Fleeing the Storm

October 24-27, 2012

There were two glorious days in Kill Devils Hills before we realized that Hurricane Sandy was going to ruin our plans for being at the ocean.  We really didn't expect sunshine in October, but once we found it there, we wanted to linger and enjoy it!

Our beach chairs stayed in the same place, virtually, for the two days before the storm. I sat with my binoculars glued to the horizon, watching dolphins occasionally, and birds constantly. I enjoyed watching the little sandpipers running to and from the water's edge. They reminded me of women having a good time together, running and chatting and trying to all do the same things at the same time. We watched them taking morning baths in the waves, splashing in unison, then running away as a group.

There were not many people on the beach, and that made it spectacular. We read.  We made roast beef sandwiches one of those days and had a picnic lunch.  On Thursday we went to Dirty Dick's and shared a pound of steamed shrimp and a plate of calamari. On Friday we did the same thing, only I didn't share the shrimp, and Randy didn't share the calamari.
If we weren't at Dirty Dick's or Awful Arthur's, we were sitting on those chairs, looking out to sea, with books in our hands.

On Friday, a man came to the beach with a kayak.  I had just seen a very large black thing emerge from the ocean, and he asked me what I thought it was. I told him that I presumed it was a dolphin.  Then he went out into the ocean in his kayak, and I watched him as he nearly touched dolphins that arrived in a huge pod.  They seemed to be playing with him, and he with them.
When he came back to the beach, he again asked me what I had seen out in the water when he had first come to the shore.  I told him the truth:  I saw a huge thing come out of the water, and it was dark and looked like an enormous boulder.  It stayed up above the water long enough for me to wonder what in the world it could be, and then it spewed a large spray of water into the air.

The man told me that he had seen the same thing, and knew it couldn't be a dolphin.  He told me that we had both seen a whale, and that he has lived on the Outer Banks for seven years, and this was the third time he had seen one.  When I told him I didn't think they came so far south, he told me that indeed they do, on occasion, and he was certain that that's what we'd been looking at. He had seen me with the binoculars, and knew I was amazed at what I had seen.

That evening the skies got very gray and it looked like rain.  We knew from TV reports that a hurricane was coming from the Bermuda area.  We talked about staying through the storm, but wondered if the rest of our time we'd reserved would be gray and rainy.  We could get out of our reservation with 24 hours notice.

A newscaster showed up next to our motel with his panel truck and his cameras.  I actually stood before him and watched as he delivered the forecast, with the ocean churning behind him.  When he was done, I went back to my beach chair.  Randy and I began to realize that we needed to leave the Outer Banks and change our plans.  The rain began in the evening.

On Friday morning, it got colder and we decided to "speed vacation," and visit all the places we'd talked about going to while we were there.  The only difference would be that we'd do it all in one day, and then hit the road on Saturday morning.

We drove to Manteo and did a run-through of the book store, then stopped in to say hello to the young man who had sold us wonderful things back in April. I bought some more seashell jewelry from him before we left his shop. We visited the Manteo shops, bought a wonderful "market basket" made by women in Ghana in one, and then went to Poor Richards, a quaint little luncheon spot, for lunch.

Poor Richards served up the most divine North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich that we have ever had in our lives, and we've had plenty of them, trust me.  Randy had to tell me to stop moaning over the sandwich...............smokey flavored, on a squishy bun, with cole slaw served in the sandwich.

We left Manteo, and drove all the way to the other end of the Outer Banks, to Duck, to shop at Scarborough Faire, which has lots of lovely little stores and some very pleasant memories for us.  We peeked into the windows of Elizabeth's, where Randy took me for a special dinner some years ago and we bought an art print last April  (see April 2012 blogs).  As Elizabeth's was not open, we wandered around and looked at pottery, jewelry and clothing in the other shops.  We came away empty-handed, however. We didn't need one more thing in our car.

A few other favorite stores called us in as we drove back to Kill Devils Hills, and after a last visit to Dirty Dick's, we went back to the Quality Inn and packed our bags and car.  We told the desk clerk we'd be leaving for certain in the morning, and then watched the news, knowing we'd made the right decision. I told Randy, "There must be some other place we're supposed to be."

Saturday morning came, and the storm had been brewing all night.  There is a long bridge to get to the mainland, no matter which way you leave the Outer Banks. We decided to exit by way of Manteo, since we expected to head west as directly and as quickly as we could get away from the shore.  Route 64 W took us away.

Shortly we came to a natural wildlife preserve that went on for miles and miles. My mind was taken off the hurricane by signs that read, "Unlawful to feed bears from highway," and "Red wolves crossing."  I looked deep into the forests but saw neither bears nor wolves.

We crossed the Scuppernong River near Columbia, NC, a lovely small town whose Welcome Center welcomed us.  After a short walk through town, we drove west, passing fields of cotton that looked ready to be picked, and cotton balls all over the side of the road from heavy winds blowing over the fields.
Roanoke River Lighthouse

In Plymouth, NC, we stopped to see the vintage 1866 Roanoke River Lighthouse, which strongly resembled the lighthouse in Manteo. Then we drove on to Rocky Mount, NC, where we stopped the car in the parking lot of The Shower of Blessings Church and hastily made sandwiches and ate lunch. The rain had followed us all day to this point, and we wanted to get out of harm's way and be far enough away to feel safe before we stopped for the night.

Manteo Marshes Lighthouse
By the time we got to Raleigh, we needed to get out of the car and SEE something.  We had outrun the rain for awhile, so we drive right downtown to the state capitol building and strolled around it. There were lots of tourists in Raleigh, and signs pointed to many sites to visit.

We ran right into the North Carolina Museum of History, just across the street from the capitol. At first I wasn't in the mood for another history museum, until I saw the sign about the Gone With the Wind exhibit.  My favorite movie of all time! I could recite Gone With the Wind if I had to, I think.  Randy was surprised to see me quickly become interested in this museum, and off I went to see GWTW while he went off to visit the ancient Indian information.

My parents were on the sidewalk outside the theatre in Atlanta on the night that Gone With the Wind premiered in 1939. They were there to see Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh enter the theatre. My friend Alexis and I wept copiously as we watched the movie at the Highland Theatre together as preteens. Over the years I've probably watched it a hundred times, or at least parts of it.  It has become part of me.  And here, on the third floor of the North Carolina History Museum, someone's collection of costumes, designers' drawings, props and other memorabilia were on display, and I had virtually tripped upon it! 

Vivien Leigh's Oscar for Best Actress and a photo of her placing it on her mantel were a huge thrill to see.  I spent wonderful time in that gallery. Flash photos were not permitted, but non-flash were OK.

Walter Plunkett was the costume designer, and these are his sketches.  A guard told me that the man who owns this collection "just happened to be in the right place at the right time," when he purchased many of these items, and I could totally relate to that!

Once Randy and I had both seen everything we could possibly absorb, we went back out into the streets of downtown Raleigh.  It was obvious that something had happened that day in the city, as porta-potties lined some streets, and confetti and fresh litter were in the some others.

We found a roof-top bar not far from the capitol building, and climbed up two flights to look out over the city while we enjoyed a drink.

Three young, green men were already up there, and I soon discovered that they had participated in a marathon that had taken place that day.  Apparently paint-balling the runners is some kind of marathon activity in Raleigh.  (???) I wish you could see how green they were...........

We enjoyed conversing with them, watched an arrest in the street, and saw our first ever "Trolley Bar," which appears to be a bar on wheels.  Young people were sitting on stools around this bar, drinking. All of a sudden they just all started pedaling, and the bar took off
                                                                                    down the street!

Driving in cities is not our favorite thing, and we still wanted to get a bit further away from the coast before nightfall. We went back to the car and wound our way out of Raleigh and soon found that there was a motel crisis in North Carolina.  Along with all of us who were leaving beaches, there was a homecoming celebration in one of the cities and a NASCAR race in another. Some athletic events filled up all the other rooms, and we got used to being told that there was no room for us.

Not to worry.  We just kept moving west until we were somewhere outside of Winston-Salem, where we found space at a Marriott  near Wake Forest University.  We had a pizza for dinner, and called it a day.

We were safe, and we had enjoyed making the most of our "escape" from Hurricane Sandy.