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Monday, June 18, 2012

Travellers Tales 2012: Where the Rubber Meets the Surf

We got lost. We had most of Currituck County Emergency Services show up for a BBQ. And now, in a further effort to get the Coast Guard to show up on our beach trip, we decided to tempt fate and go out to dinner after Coastal Flooding warnings were issued.

Usually, we choose to go out for dinner one night of the week, while staying in the four wheel drive section. It’s an opportunity to gorge ourselves on the awesomeness that is Captain George’s of Kill Devil Hills. It’s also an opportunity to stock up on any dwindling supplies we have at the house; like beer, or fire extinguishers, or… beer.

However, due to some inclement weather on Monday, namely rain, and cooler temperatures on Tuesday, we decided to go a day early and spend more of the day in the paved areas. Now, I had already looked at the tide chart for Wednesday, our usual travel day. It had high tide at around 9:57 PM. I did not pay attention to Tuesday’s chart.  I guessed it was somewhere around 9:00 PM. Since the weather wasn’t nice enough to get in the water at the beach and the air around the pool was in the 70s, we decided to leave extra early, for a 5:00 seating time.

Driving down the beach during low tide is usually nice. There are plenty of flat surfaces; packed down pretty good. There is lots of room to drive with no fear of having to play chicken with the jacked up late 80s model Ford truck belonging to the guy that lives back in the woods with baby doll heads up on posts. (True story. We have pictures somewhere.) Basically, driving is great, going down the beach.

And after a fulfilling meal of four pairs of crab legs, shrimp, pasta, hush puppies, carrot cake, and flan, you find yourself not wanting to make a concerted effort to get your ass back up the beach. Still, since we left early, it was only 7:45 PM. We still needed to go to the Food Lion in Corolla, which takes forever, so we tried our best hustle/waddle through the store.

Some of our group went on ahead and called to warn us that the tide had showed up a little early. Apparently, Coastal Flooding warnings increase the tide’s reach, even when high tide is still an hour away. That, or high tide is the highest the tide will be and the hour previous to that is just slightly lower and is still a bitch.

So, we headed back up the beach and where we usually turn off the road to enter the beach, we entered water. It was indeed high. Now, it’s not too bad if you are the only one driving on the beach at high tide. However, it seems that a lot of other people had not looked at the tide chart or heeded the warnings and were making a hasty retreat to the paved road. We had to squeeze by a couple of tour groups on the way back.

Then, we met the worst obstacle on the beach, The Laughing Gull. The Laughing Gull mocks you at high tide. Basically, the Laughing Gull is this pre-Clinton Administration house that sits out into the beach about miles up. The supports literally sit in the water at high tide. You cannot drive around them without a jacked up late 80s model Ford truck belonging to the guy that lives back in the woods with baby doll heads up on posts. So, you have to go around on the interior roads.

Now, even though the beach road can be rough during high tide, the back roads are worse after it rained the day before. I think a soccer mom in her SUV got lost in one of the puddles. We kept having to go so long, and then turn around and come back.  Finally, we came back down onto the beach at around the 18 mile mark and went another mile and a half to 19.5 where we knew we had a straight shot right back to our house.

We made it home just before dark and my wife could unclench her pucker.

So, for all you travellers who plan to take on the foul wheel drive section.  Remember, check the tide charts before you head out, a puddle may be deeper than you think, and that guy shuffling back and forth along the water line after dark may or may not be a zombie...

Stay tuned for the answer to that.

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