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Posts Tagged ‘Nags Head’

Nags Head Nights

Looking back through various bits of 2016, I realized I had a bunch of pictures from the beach this summer that I’d never downloaded or posted. So here’s a photo post to send off the year. I actually took more pictures there this year at dusk and in the evening, for some reason. Maybe that’s fitting.

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This was my first trip to the beach since getting a long lens for my camera, so I took the opportunity to play with it a bit while watching the pelicans. These are the best shots I got, though I definitely still have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to photographing birds at a distance.

I like how this one caught the wings nicely in the sun as the pelican was passing right over a wave.

Pelican over the waves.

Pelican over the waves.

This one I like for catching the “fingers” at the end of the wings.

Wings outstretched.

Wings outstretched.

And this was a flock of pelicans I caught on the rough day after the hurricane.

Skimming in a line.

Skimming in a line.

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Thursday, July 3, was the day Hurricane Arthur was forecast the hit the Outer Banks. Pretty early in the day, they closed Hatteras Island to traffic completely, scotching our plans for the day. According to the weather reports we were seeing, it looked like the main path of the hurricane would be hitting the sound side of the islands rather than the ocean side, which is usually worse because it can cause a much larger storm surge. Given how low our yard lies, we were a little worried any cars parked there might potentially get flooded. Furthermore, our neighbor the park ranger came over and said he really recommended we consider evacuating for the night. So we decided to retreat inland a few hours and spend the night in a hotel, then come back the next day, depending on what the news was reporting.

As it turns out, there was worse weather in the town where we spent the night (due to tornadoes spinning off the edge of the hurricane) than there probably was at our beach cottage. When we got back, the yard showed absolutely no signs of flooding, and pretty much the only sign of bad weather was the screened porch being wet a bit further in towards the house than it normally gets during a storm. So we got unpacked again and went over to the beach to see how it had fared.

Twelve hours after Arther, the Category 2 hurricane, the results were: No Swimming flags up due to rip tides, rougher waves than normal, and a small sand shelf. I tried to get some pictures of how rough the surf was, but for people who don’t know how Nags Head normally is, I’m not sure if it really comes through.

Rough waves under breaking clouds.

Rough waves under breaking clouds.

This next one is less artistic, but does offer the pier for comparison, so it’s clear how far out the waves were, and how high they were getting. Compare to the previous pier pictures.

With the pier for comparison.

With the pier for comparison.

And the No Swimming flag, flying in the wind as the sun tries to break through the clouds. (The flag just refused to fly straight out in the right direction, so this was the best I got.)

The No Swimming flag flying in the wind.

The No Swimming flag flying in the wind.

So that was our “adventure” for the week. We were definitely happy to get back to the cottage after that night in the hotel, and very glad to get to continue our vacation.

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After I recovered from my morning dehydration at the sand dune, we waited until the sun had gone down enough that sunscreen would no longer be required and walked over to visit the ocean. I’ve decided to post a series of pictures today of the Nags Head pier, because I got several good ones and I don’t want to have to choose just one.

Extending out into the distance.

Extending out into the distance.

My dad feels like the following shot is a cliché, but it’s one I like anyway, and I feel there is merit in appreciating a view enough to try to recreate it in your own photography.

Obligatory under the pier shot.

Obligatory under the pier shot.

For a few years, I had a habit of being in other countries on the 4th of July and would make a game of trying to find a red-white-and-blue scene to take a picture of that day, so now I feel like taking a picture that day is traditional. The game is too easy in the US, but this was such an obvious set-up, I had to.

Patriotic flag picture for 4th of July.

Patriotic flag picture for 4th of July.

And then, as we were getting ready to walk back down the beach to the right cross-over to get back to the cottage, the sun was just starting to set.

The pier at sunset.

The pier at sunset.

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I’ve been gone for a while! And this time not just because I was feeling too lazy to blog; I was actually gone! To places without internet! They still exist in this day and age! And I survived with barely any withdrawal symptoms at all. But I did a whole bunch of stuff during that time, and I don’t want to make one gigantic post that no one will actually read all the way through, so here is your warning that I’m going to be posting a bunch of small(ish) posts in the next few days.

I actually just got back from what was really two different vacations back-to-back. The first one was to Nags Head for the week around the 4th of July, as is traditional in my family. This year was a bit different, though, because all of the family came, all my aunts and uncles and cousins and cousins’ kids. There were 25 people total (and 3 dogs), and it was amazing. Not that we tried to squeeze everyone into the tiny family-owned cottage, the way it was done during my youth. I think Granddaddy must have brought some sort of dimensional portal device on vacations back then, when they managed to get 18 people into a cottage that only had actual sleeping space for 10. Clearly we overlooked this miraculous device somewhere in the basement when we cleared out the house, because the only solution found this year was to rent one of the enormous vacation palaces in the neighborhood across the street and then split people between the two houses. I got to stay in the bunk bed room at our cottage. It was very nostalgic, although, since I had it all to myself, I didn’t engage in the traditional arguments over who got which bed.

The view from my own private cave

The view from my own private cave

The new bedspreads in there mean that I didn’t even have to use a beach towel tucked under the upper bunk’s mattress to make it feel like a secret hideout. I also scored the vintage 80s Disney Peter Pan sheets!

Are these not awesome?

Are these not awesome?

Since I’ve done a lot of the Nags Head things more recently than many of the other family members who were there, I mostly entertained myself with fiddling with my new camera. Some of us went on a walk in Nags Head Woods, which offered excellent opportunities for me to expand my collection of pictures of dead trees.

Dead trees are the best.

Dead trees are the best.

This tree is not actually dead.

This tree is not actually dead.

Dead trees in the sound!

Dead trees in the sound!

And now I’ll stop that, because not everyone shares this fascination. That was at the beginning part of the week, when it was kind of rainy, but after the first two days, it cleared up and got sunny and hot, as witnessed by this picture of my brother climbing Jockey’s Ridge. Look how blue that sky is!

Hot sand! Very hot!

Hot sand! Very hot!

A better idea of what the park's ecology is really like.

A better idea of what the park’s ecology is really like.

Sadly, all the little temporary ponds that form in the flats below the dunes had already dried up. (You can kind of see where one used to be in that darker sand in the middle there.) They make the best mud for squishing between the toes! And are all full of tadpoles. I did also kind of accidentally discover the park’s newish nature trail that goes all the way over the sound side, where they’re doing a shoreline restoration project and there’s also an osprey nest, but I didn’t have my camera with me that day.

I also took a whole bunch of pictures of family people sitting around in the living room on the actual 4th, waiting for it to get dark enough for fireworks, but I figure those are less interesting to non-family readers, so here’s just one of the four siblings that formed the nucleus of the reunion.

All wearing their official reunion t-shirts as well.

All wearing their official reunion t-shirts as well.

*As a note about all the pictures, these were still all taken in “intelligent auto” mode with the 20mm lens, but this time looking at how well it did with landscapes and people rather than close-ups.

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I spent last week at the beach, as is traditional for my family for the 4th of July. The water was probably the best I’ve ever seen there, warm and calm and clear, no jellyfish or seaweed or anything. At one point, I actually looked down and saw a skate just hanging out on the ocean floor. (And then I got out, because I didn’t want to step on it or any other sea creatures. I figured that wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for either of us.)

For the actual 4th, the Town of Nags Head did a fireworks display from the pier, so we were able to just walk over to the beach and watch from there. As much as I liked the fireworks display in Manteo as a kid, I have to admit that this arrangement is much preferable to having to deal with the headache of leaving the parking area afterward over there.

We didn’t go climb Jockey’s Ridge this year, because it was very hot during the day, and if the activity didn’t involve either water or air conditioning, it generally got vetoed. We did go down to the Seaside Art Gallery, though, which I appreciate a lot more as an adult than I did as a kid. It’s been a long time since I went there, so this time I was a lot more aware of what they had. I spotted two Miros and a Picasso, as well as some of Calder’s 2D art. (The Picasso was not for sale.) The thing that really caught my eye, though, was the table full of etchings. I particularly liked the landscapes by David Hunter and the botanicals by Carolyn Cohen. I eventually had to narrow it down to just one thing that I would be the most sad to leave without, though, so I settled on David Hunter’s “Full Moon Rising.”

"Full Moon Rising" by David Hunter

“Full Moon Rising” by David Hunter

Maybe some of my exceedingly subtle hints about how much I liked the Cohen etchings too will get me something for Christmas. If not, I can always go back next year and start making art acquisition a new beach tradition.

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Sorry for the four day interruption in my trip narrative, especially after leaving you with the teaser of just the first day, but it was for a good cause. I had to go to our family beach cottage at Nags Head for the weekend, because it was Fourth of July, and I am supposed to be at the beach then. Pretty much every summer of my whole childhood, our family went to the beach for the week of July 4th, and I haven’t been able to go in years. I thought it might be an interesting exercise to see if I could remember all the places I’ve spent the 4th in the past several years.

  • 2001: Arica, Chile, beginning my trip to Peru at the end of my semester abroad
  • 2002: Beloit, WI, summer session for intensive Japanese
  • 2003: Sendai, Japan, teaching high school English for the JET program
  • 2004: Hangzhou, China, teaching English for a pilot program that didn’t really take off
  • 2005: Taipei, Taiwan, having a horrible time teaching English illegally for two weeks before I got fed up
  • 2006: Raleigh, NC, from behind the art museum
  • 2007: Umm, Raleigh? I recall having to work a lot during July, and I can’t remember doing much of anything on the 4th. Maybe I didn’t do anything at all, since it was a Wednesday.

This year, though, aside from being too short a visit, was great. Perhaps I should look at it as easing back into proper beach appreciation. Anyway, Mark and I drove down to the cottage Thursday after work. My parents were already there, having arrived the previous weekend, lucky people. We had something of a small adventure getting there, since the cottage’s driveway is kind of hidden, especially in the dark, and it turns out that some new pipes or something had been put into the shoulder of the highway just a few yards farther along and then marked with reflective cones spaced exactly a driveway’s width apart.

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