Storms in Rodanthe, Part 2

What else happened in Rodanthe? You mean, beyond watching a perfect storm–not bad enough to imminently dangerous, but with enough threat to spike the adrenaline. Storm watching is my family tradition. Some of the fondest memories with my father include being out in the middle of hurricane-like (or a hurricane–Fran) while my mother, very sensibly inside the house, yelled at us through a cracked window. People, people–the beauty of Nature is not just blue skies and 78 degrees. The implicit beauty of watching the furious force of Nature cannot be denied. If the ocean could talk, perhaps her message to us, the trespassers on the beach, was that only luck and the prolific use of bulldozers redistributing the moving sand keeps those houses standing. The dunes, now famous in the Outer Banks, didn’t use to be there. In fact, they were part of an Erosion-control program proposed in the mid-30s. I doubt there would be much left of what we call the Outer Banks had that money not been spent (ahem, those who oppose government spending). Despite all of that erosion management, man (or woman) cannot hold back Mother Nature indefinitely. It’s surreal to sit in a living room that likely won’t exist after one strong hurricane.

If it hadn’t actually been raining, you can guarantee that my dumb self would have been standing just past that dune watching it all go down, up close and personal. Instead I hid (again) on the second floor deck with a telephoto lens.

When it was not actively raining, I braved blowing sea spray and sand with My Precious…er, the Nikon…sometimes by wrapping it in Saran Wrap. If it’s good enough for bad condoms, right? The sting from the flying sand was brutal without pants, sleeves, and sunglasses. Even with those items, it was pretty uncomfortable from the knees down. I didn’t consider the suckage factor for the Small People when I dragged them outside, dressed in pajama pants because of course I didn’t pack real pants. Several of them (Zach included) bailed. Elliot, however, was almost completely blocked by a really unhappy Joel. Now, once the tide went back out, leaving enough wet sand to walk comfortably, the sand-wind was tolerable. Even at low tide, the surf was rough and high; at high tide the force of the water was downright scary.

That tan blur is a 6 inch tall cloud of pelting sand. During one of my sandstorm walking adventures the only other person crazy enough to be beach-side was a local woman. Random conversations with locals–definitely worth the windburn.
She told me this house, until about 5 years ago, used to be on the second row of beach front property. Which would explain the random chunks of asphalt I found around there– hello, road being eaten by the sea. We also talked about the piping plover, after I asked her about the “Kill a Bird, Save an Island” stickers I saw everywhere. The best memory I have of a piping plover is the cat that snagged one from behind our bait chest.

Thanks to the information from Mrs. Local, I went to explore the now-abandoned house and discovered that one, parts had been re-purposed as an outhouse. Or that the sewer line was busted in some places. Stinky. Two, that the house also once had a swimming pool, which was now almost completely filled with beach sand. I also found a perfect foot-shaped piece of what I assume is concrete (bottom right), forever fossilized by the movement of the waves.

During another bad weather adventure (this one during the highest of the tides) I was the only person on 2 miles beach for a full 45 minutes. Can you imagine? Shell hunting was good that afternoon.

The shakiness of the Avon Pier should have warned us from the Rodanthe Pier, but it didn’t. In retrospect, taking my kids out there was pretty dumb. More than dumb–it was totally dangerous and stupid. All’s well that end’s well, I guess.

To be fair, the pier lady warned me–kind of. She said the end was “a bit wobbly”. I took that to mean that there was some wind movement and to be cautious. I did not take it to mean that the entire business-end of a “stable pier” was making lateral movements, 3 feet to either side. A time when specificity is a good idea. For example, what she should have said was, “you moron, the sea is rough and the pier is old–don’t take your kids out there. All of you could die.” Three other adults saw the whole thing move, though I didn’t get any pictures of it. Why? Because sane people start beating feet back to the safety of a non-pier-related structure. However. Once my kids were safely inside, I did wander out just a wee bit to see if the next big wave would make it happen again. What can I say? I had a whole hour full of stupidity. It was later, while looking at the pictures I had taken, that I realized how close we had been to being right on top of it when the whole shimmy, shimmy, shake happened. It’s also in the pictures that I noted that Zach was not in arm’s reach of an adult on several occasions. Bad mom. Lucky mom.
(In this picture, Gram is standing right behind Elliot, hand already extended!)

The kids spent a lot of time piling sofa cushions and making forts. Elliot was cast as Radioactive Pig in a Wig and the entire goal of the game was to keep him out of the inside of the fort. At first I felt sorry for him, until he repeatedly tore down their walls and chased them through the fort. When that got old, I had them play Superheroes vs. Dinosaurs. Great fun was had by all–no need for television for about 2 hours. Don’t consider that to be bragging, though– I couldn’t figure out the television remote. Though keeping 4 male children, ranging in age from 21 months to 9 years, occupied sans electronics is perhaps brag-worthy.

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