Monday, July 26, 2010

The Other Cape; Cape Hatteras, The Outer Banks, NC

Turtles and light houses.  Hmmmm….  The Outer Banks is a Cape-like juxtaposition of natural wonders and man-made fun.  There are bumper boats and bogs.  Kite stores and hundred-foot dunes.  Nowhere is this more true than Cape Hatteras.  Home to centuries of shipwrecks (including the infamous Blackbeard the pirate), this spit of sand should have featured in the Old Man and the Sea (atop the list of my Hemingway favs), because nowhere else has man versus nature played out more splendidly (not even on TV).

The Hatteras light; score one for the home team.  Nature won this battle so triumphantly that man had to move his creation hundreds of feet inland away from the shifting tides.  While this beacon saved thousands of lives, it is a wonder how many were lost in pursuit of glory.  Sydney and I were joined our Carolinian friends Brian and Ainslee on the one hundred and twenty step ascent up to the top.  Nature won again though and we were barred from the observation deck by the same winds that allowed the Wright Brothers to fly.

Score one for man at the conservation land at Pea Island.  We poked through a marsh full of snowy egrets and humongous turtles only to discover a bulldozer and backhoe.  Now my men love their trucks, but it was a little disconcerting to discover man’s machines in the middle of an otherwise pristine landscape.  We dug a little harder and found retaining walls constructed by Carolinians to preserve such beautiful and wild places.  Folks like Brian who directs the North Carolina Conservation Network are working hard to make sure that man works with nature to make this place a gem for generations to come.