If you could wake up in a different place, at a different time, could you wake up as a different person?
I come in the back door on the OBX. Come to find out even the most astute first timers and repeat returners all come down through the populated areas further north. Via Kitty Hawk. They rarely get past Nags Head, which is where all the really bawesome stuff is. Even an older gentleman from Virginia who owns property and has been coming his whole life admits he rarely get to Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge. My entry point. Orcacoke, my current location, is seldom visited, because you can’t drive there. There’s a sign calling this “the authentic outer banks”. Fuck yeah. No bridges. Boats and planes only. Win.
I’m up before sunrise. The stars are gone, though they were out in the billions last night. Just solid black space fading into blue skies. Cool breezes all up in the palace. Also, it’s a goddamn murder scene in here. Blood everywhere, on the sides a floor. I sent a few infiltrating mosquitoes to their death — that’s my blood on my tent. Good sign I suppose. Not dead yet.
Campground coffee is so surreal and peaceful. Better than the yooshjz. I hear the ocean. And the songbirds. Life is alive. I hear no motors. At all. The air is fresh and clean. This is the place, David Byrne.
Ocracoke Island is an overwhelming step back in time, a mix of old traditions and community spirit infused with a steady flow of visitors from around the world. No community loves a good story more than Ocracoke, and locals can tell a tale with great expression. The island is a place of supreme solitude, especially in the off-season. Ocracoke has long been sought out by poets, nature lovers, and the tenderhearted.
That’s all from the sign at the visitor center. I love me an island. I’m looking at both of you, New Zealand. And don’t think I forgot about you, Cuba. The best islands have no bridges to them. I mean are you really truly on an island if any harry dick or Tom can get in their Ford Fucknut and drive to you? Doubtful. Here I am, island hopping in the outer banks. Cedar. Orcacoke. Hatteras. Pea. Bodie. To the next spot on to the next spot on to the next.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore ruins all other beaches for me forever. I’ve got the place to myself. Miles and miles and miles of sand beaches juxtaposed right beside dense forest piney greenness. Ocean waves aka the most bestest relaxation rhythm invented. Courtesy Mother Nature. Thanks, boo.
“Take care in the sand” says a woman, passing me with a group of day cyclists. There’s sand dunes to my right for miles. Some of it had blown over the road itself, which doesn’t see much vehicular traffic. Sand everywhere. Beaches. Shoreline. It’s soft and squishy under my feet. Like memory foam. I find out later that none of this sand is from here. Not a one of these shells. All of it washes up from across the oceans or comes down from the Appalachian Mountains.
Ferry ride numero tres is an hour long. Previous ferry deux takes nearly three hours. This will be my last opportunity for an electrical outlet in days. As soon as we depart from Cedar Island en route to Orcacoke Island (yes we’re actually in the past now) I get the feels like I left something or forgot something. Yikes. I am out here. Outchyeah.
There’s word of hammerhead sharks near the (cold) showers at the Beach on the other side of this one hour ferry to Hatteras Island. This guy uses the word terrified. So I jump in and refreshingly cool my parts. I can tell it’s real though because adults and kids alike are in like ankle level. There’s dudes out there on whatever those stand and paddle boards are called, they are definitely all out of the water and looking around. So I’m in the water up to my waist — saddle sore stuff so sensationally soothed, seriously. I didn’t see any sharks, but I didn’t swim all the way under because I wouldn’t have been able to see them with goggles, and I don’t have those. So I get out and now I’m writing this. Plus, tbhonest, I’ve already swam with hammerhead sharks on a long bike tour before. It’s on this site from 2015 Florida keys. Look it up. Back to now, I take this photo and if you look closely you’ll see one of those paddle stand dudes, then look behind him to the right a little…
I gotta tell you, when I really look. I see Portugal. Maybe Morocco. Probably England. I left my globe at home.
Back on that ferry number three down here, i chat a great deal with a guy from Virginia. He’s clearly familiar with the entire outer banks and gives me great advice. I realize that what I actually left behind on the orcacoke ferry was everything I don’t need. All the baggage. Concerns. Fears. Trepidation. My confirmational biases. So much of what used to collectively create me, myself and I. I’ve got no schedule, no agenda, no needs. Just a few days to ride and sleep under an amazing amount of stars. Later I’ll pass a sign indicating the end is USBR 1 and the start of USBR 2. I take it as a sign. Which it is.
To walk back from the campground toilet and see your entire world in one single vantage point, splayed out in a tent or on a picnic table and next to a bike. A world under the sun. A world in motion in which everything in it has two or more purposes. With that one glimpse of myself, my feels are feeling for reals in a way no one will ever feel from reading these words or looking at this photo. Won’t get the feeling riding your bike around town or to work or school. Or my roaming around “camping” in your “RV”. You won’t get this feeling from running into burning buildings with a flamethrower (I can’t be 100% about that last part, because if Hollywood has taught me anything it’s that flamethrowers make everything way more awesome). Nope. You’ll only get this feeling of oneness from doing this. Liberated. Living outside. With nature and life. In motion. Under our own power while we can. However long we can. 3 days, 7 days, a month, a year… let’s not get me started on time…
Morning in Cape Hatteras Point Campground is wild tranquil. And moist. Dew point. Apparently Moms Nat got her wet dream on last night and me, myself, I and everything I possess is covered in it. Like Ghostbustin ass Bill Murray getting slimed — do not swallow, Bill Murray. Seriously though, I kinda blame deep blue Daddy Atlantic on this one. Believe me; dude’s clearly my right hand man on this ride. I fire up the jetboil — who still doesn’t pay me (at least send me a new stove!) — brew up some serious delirium goodness and set things out to dry, eagerly awaiting the sunrise on the Atlantic to burn off all the morning fog, word to the ol dirty Chinese restaurant.
Cold showers for three days is getting real old. I could add three dips into the ocean. The further north, the cooler the ocean gets. I smell as such. Three days of incomplete hygiene. Wait a minute, oh here’s Oregon inlet campground all up in my visuals. Shit, it’s like 1pm. I had this third national park service campsite on the radar, before adjusting my time space continuum, just a moment ago. I think long and hard about camping here. Orcacoke and Hatteras Cape National Parks campgrounds equal dope in my book, and this one is supposed to have hot showers. So cutbacks mean self check in and online reservations now. No entrance guard to talk to. I roll up and tuck behind the shower, behind the bathroom. Scout mission. Be prepared. $25 for a tent only loop, toilets, water. I yank on the shower cord and wait — warm water!! Got everything except power, yet I spy the GFI next to the bathroom sink. All this is legit. I say fuck it and sneak a quickie midafternoon warm shower. Wash it up good and fast, fire academy style. I think more about this campsite. It’s so early. I have a tailwind. I gotta take advantage. This is the end of the National protected seashores. Forward is basically the beginning of real civilization. More than one road. The non-remote and tourist-typical parts of the populated outer banks with towns cutely named Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills (not a cotdayum hill!), and Kitty Hawk. Bye bye remote tranquility and isolation period.
The lady at the Peas Island Wildlife Refugee Visitor Center tells me there’s really nowhere to camp past Oregon inlet. I believe and tell her that I’ve got a hook up for a backyard screened in porch up in kitty hawk. Power outlets and an outdoor and warm shower as well. Tits. 80 plus miles with the wind is better than 40 miles into the wind.
I have a feeling this going to end badly. Not going to end well.
Kitty Hawk looks like every other suburb but with beaches, I suck down this Starbucks oat milk latte in their AC while charging my phone like a methhead sucks down anyone anywhere for meth. It’s small, this Starbucks. The barista, she looks like a Jan and asks “you aren’t from around here are you?” “I don’t look it huh?” “No sir.” She ogles my Jomon hand tattoo the way 55 year old men ogle DD titty cleavage. Jan’s got all sorts of love suck and bite marks on her neck and is not in high school. What the fuck Jan. I bet her dudes name is Han or Fran. This place is strange. I’m out. Food Lion around the corner is robust. Most I’ve seen in a while. My spot is 2 miles away, I grab some staples and decide to snatch up a small salad and rotisserie chicken. Rolling in, my hosts have told me they are not in town. I creep around the back of the house, nice deck. Screened patio locked. Fuck. That’s where the outlets are. Outdoor shower, not working. What the actual fuck. This is the worst. I house an entire chicken after rotting up their hose on a hook for yet another cold shower.