Wordless Wednesday: Along the shore

Beach with flag

In a line

Shore

shells

Beach grass


Visiting North Carolina’s Outer Banks last week.

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Scaling to new heights

Bodie Island


It didn’t look that high.

I have vague memories of Bodie Island Light Station from a visit decades ago — murky memories of the black-and-white structure visible in the distance when we’d cruise to the drive-in beach down the road. Little brother to the nearby iconic Cape Hatteras, the tallest brick lighthouse in North America, Bodie Island is near the beach house my family has rented since I was a kid . . . but like all things nearby, it fell off my radar. There was always something else to see or do.

Since Spencer made his first trip to the Outer Banks with us last year, I’ve been refreshing my views of the coastal towns I’ve come to love so much — and Bodie Island made our list of local spots to check out this year. We made it there on Tuesday just as black storm clouds crested the horizon. The rain came in not long after I took the shot above, but we’d secured our tickets to climb the lighthouse already — and we were going for it.

That’s what I told myself, anyway.

IMG_9051Have I ever mentioned I’m scared of heights? I mean, that’s not weird or anything, I know; plenty of folks are freaked out by heights. Despite my all-out panic-induced tremors, though, I never let the terror keep me grounded. I’ve been to the top of the Sears Tower, ridden the London Eye, walked across a glass floor at the top of the CN Tower in Toronto. These things scared me, but it was a good scary. It was an “I’m not going to let this defeat me” kind of scared: the sort that leaves you exhilarated after you’ve crushed something that intimidated you.

By the time our tour group made for the entrance of the lighthouse, my palms and feet were sweating. A sudden downpour left me soaking wet and squeaky. Our park ranger explained a bit about Bodie Island and the lighthouse’s original construction in 1872, detailing the grueling hours and tasks performed by the tower’s keepers for more than a century — long before electricity first illuminated Bodie Island in 1932. I was really interested in the lighthouse’s history and Sarahanne was really knowledgeable and everything was cool and blah blah blah, but we quickly started climbing the stairs and man that thing was high and I was getting freaked and briefly thought I’d have to embarrass myself by turning back.

But I didn’t.


Stairs


The stairs were grated and see-through; the higher we rose from my dear friend Solid Ground, the more anxious I became. The humidity inside the lighthouse was tremendous, twisting my already-damp hair into a mess of frizzy curls I had to keep out of my eyes. I struggled to keep my toes inside my sandals, putting one foot in front of the other, and I began to mumble to myself in the nervous way everyone must just before suffering a psychotic break.

Poor Spencer. My mom climbed ahead of me, reaching higher and higher, as my fiance tried to reassure my trembling form from a few steps behind. I focused solely on walking up step by step. I didn’t look up; I sure as heck didn’t look down. All I could do was focus on each individual stair until I’d scaled the 200-plus steps, all leading to a hatch at the top.

I climbed through.


IMG_9087


The rain had slowed to a fine mist, but the combination of slick steps, wind and knowledge that we were really high up was enough to keep me glued to the wall. I dug around for my camera to snap a few gray pictures before spinning around to begin our descent. The walk back was worse than the walk up . . . mostly because as we continued down, I could totally see the ground. And it was really, really far below me.

But I made it, obviously. I’m typing and drinking a Diet Coke right now. And as my mom raised her eyebrows at my sweaty freak-out, proclaiming that she had “no idea” I was afraid of heights, I felt irrationally proud. I am afraid, but I do it anyway. “Feel the fear and go for it,” as they say.

Oh, I felt it.

And I am better for it.


HDR_lighthouse5


Home again, home again

photo


So, I kind of slid off to the beach there.

I was going to do an “I’m going on vacation!” post but then I got all cocky and thought, Eh, I’ll schedule some posts and no one will know the difference. I only wrote a book review and a Wordless Wednesday post, though, and that isn’t exactly a full line-up . . . but by last Friday, I was tired and stressed and hadn’t packed anything and thought, I’m only human. Sometimes things just don’t get done.

My usual week’s worth of this and that was one of them. I figured my Instagram feed would fill in the gaps.

The Outer Banks were quieter than usual . . . almost eerily so. The beach was calm and devoid of the usual tangle of umbrellas and sweaty visitors — like me! — crowding its sand. Traffic was down; the weather was colder than usual. I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted, but I did sneak in about 150 pages of Megan Caldwell’s Vanity Fare has an interesting premise but is actually rather boring. For some reason, though, I didn’t bury it back in my beach bag — despite having Chocolates for Breakfast and a host of unread magazines with me.

Sometimes books do that, don’t they? They’re not especially awesome, yet somehow you can’t cast them off without wrapping them up yourself.

The drive from North Carolina back home to Maryland felt loooooong yesterday, and not just because I was the one behind the wheel. (Spence drove last year; I volunteered my services.) Heading into vacation, we always feel so buoyant and optimistic and excited. What will we do? See? Eat? But coming home, well . . . eh. Instead of long, lazy days stretching out before us, we’re faced with mountains of laundry and bills to write and a stack of junk mail and about 60 billion emails you’d prefer to delete in bulk, but maybe there’s some shred of personal correspondence in there. You know?

So that’s where I am: Laundry and Email Mountain, set adrift in a sea of work, moving and wedding planning in the dog days of summer. Do I sound bummed? I am, a little . . . mostly because the trip went so fast and we don’t have another one on the books until our mini-moon in November (save a trip to see family in August). But as things heat up, literally and metaphorically, I want to make plans to sneak away on day trips to relax, take photos and explore our area more.

Because if there’s one thing I do appreciate after vacation, it’s getting back on familiar territory. Back where, you know, everybody knows your name.

Exploding inbox and all.


Sunset over the sound


Please excuse my beach-fried brain — I’m just home from the Outer Banks and not yet recovered. Coming straight off vacation and back to work doesn’t allow much room to catch up, and I’m currently catching up on email while scratching at a dozen mosquito bites on my arms. I swear, I must have the sweetest blood in the South.

In the meantime, please enjoy this shot of the sunset over Albemarle Sound on Saturday, our last night in town. And I’ll be back lickety-split. (And please send Cortisone.)


Toes in the water


Break out the sand and Cheerwine — I’m headed to the beach! I’m joining my family for our annual excursion to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My plan is to procure lots of postcards, read as much as possible and try not to get sunburned before Erin’s wedding in a few weeks. (Blood-red tan lines? Not cute with my halter-style dress.)

An absurd amount of effort will probably be placed on not blowing my diet, exercising as much as I can ( . . . I’m chuckling just typing that, but I really am going to try) and missing my boyfriend. Avoiding confections from Dairy Queen and delicious fried seafood is going to be a challenge, but I’m determined to slim down before Sept. 10.

So what’s in my beach bag? I haven’t quite decided, but I have a feeling I’m going to bring along J. Courtney Sullivan’s Maine and Jenny Han’s It’s Not Summer Without You. I’ve been saving the latter for just such an occasion — and my own time at the family beach house seems like the perfect time to continue this series. I usually don’t pick my books until just as I’m leaving; it’s a big commitment, choosing my beach books. They’re the ones around which I’ll form my trip memories. They’re the stories I’ll look back on and think, “Oh yes — I read that in my favorite chair.”

Hope you’re all enjoying the waning days of summer and have made the most of your time in the sun. I’ll see you next week!

Vacation snapshots

beachBack from another grand adventure — this time to North Carolina! I stay at a beach house with my extended family each summer, and we always have fun riding the waves, reading, eating out, chatting and generally lounging about in the sunshine. It wasn’t quite as warm this year as it has been in years past — it was a record 100 degrees in N.C. this time last year! — but that didn’t bother me so much. That just meant I was sweating less which, let’s face it, is a good thing!

One outstanding moment of this year’s trip? I went boogie-boarding for the first time with my sister and cousin! My idea of “spending time on the shore” usually includes me with a book in hand, dipping my toes in the water and dodging an errant wave that dares to actually get my bathing suit wet. But this year, at my uncle’s urging, I actually submerged myself in the water (after getting my book to safety first, of course!) and had a lot of fun “swimming” around (read: kicking my feet on the sandy bottom and using the board as leverage). I don’t have any photographic evidence of this activity, but my mom — an outstanding photographer — got snapshots of that and other adventures, including one to prove just how far my nose was in Megan McCafferty’s Fourth Comings!

I managed to only finish one book while I was away: Hyatt Bass’s The Embers. Ironically, this was the only book I didn’t mention on my beach reads post! It was a review copy I was struggling to finish, and I tossed it in my bag at the last minute. I figured I give it my undivided attention while at the beach, a requirement for me to able to polish that one off. I was right — I found the book difficult to get through. My review will be posted tomorrow, which coincides with its publication date! I also worked my way through McCafferty’s novel and started Sarah Dessen’s Along For The Ride, which I’m enjoying so far! I didn’t get to the others, I’m sorry to say.

And now — the good stuff! Random vacation snapshots. All of my favorite photos can be found on my Flickr page.

beach_reeds

spotlight_girls

lifeguards

beach_bw

shells

sunset_sound

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pink_sunset