Saturday, August 27, 2011

More from The Outer Banks

With Hurricane Irene having just passed the Outer Banks, but the damage yet to be assessed, I thought I'd share a few more photos from my most recent trip to North Carolina. I've said before that this visit to North Carolina was going to be about more than my traditional family visit; I wanted to see more than just the countryside. I had been trespassing on her land all these years without ever really getting to know her and I wanted to put an end to that during this summer jaunt to the south.

Why did I pick the Outer Banks as my inaugural exploration? Well, my mother, a North Carolinian to the core, had formed an obsession with North Carolina lighthouses, specifically Cape Hatteras, Bodie Island and Cape Lookout-- the three black and white beauties that are housed on the Outer Banks. I never really got to ask her why she developed such a fascination for these structures. I was young and stupid and didn't realize how, one day, such a seemingly unimportant thing could come to mean so much. I don't even know if she ever got to witness their awe-inspiring facades in person.

Her curiosity for them hadn't always been there, but rather emerged sometime in my high school years. At least, that's when I first remember her bringing their presence into our home. With our military lifestyle, moving across the globe every two years, I think she allowed these lighthouses to simply embody everything that is North Carolina and that their light would always guide her home, no matter how far she wandered. And, believe me, we wandered far. When everything else seemed dark, these would always shine through for her.

Us servicefolk had adapted an old cliche to fit ourselves, "home is where the Air Force sends us." But that's not really true. It's hard to consider a place home when you know you'll be leaving before you can even celebrate three birthdays there. Even the original saying of "home is where the heart is" becomes a falsity. When you're uprooted and relocated so often, it's hard to have a settled heart, no matter who or what is around you. I think the more we moved, the more it wore on her heart and she just needed the reassurance that she could always go back to her true home. The guiding presence of lighthouses gave her that.

I didn't get it then and I'm only starting to get it now. North Carolina just has this way of drawing you in. The deep, southern drawls and torpid movement of time slowly sweep over you like the sea of the Carolina coast itself. It leaves a longing in you and before you know it, you're the one looking to be guided back home, to be lead back to North Carolina.

The Outer Banks offer many great reasons to warrant a visit-- a stunning shoreline, secluded beaches, historic landmarks-- but my real reason was the lighthouses. Through visiting them, I paid homage to my mom.

I feel so grateful and fortunate that I was able to see the Outer Banks in all of their splendor before Hurricane Irene hit.

Bodie Island Lighthouse.

The wetlands at Bodie Island.

These windows provide the only lighting inside the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Spiral stairs.

248 spiral stairs, to be exact!

View from the top of Cape Hatteras, looking south.

Yes, I am a tourist!

My camera died midway through our day trip up & down the Outer Banks and Jessie is being such a slag about getting me the photos off her camera!

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