Random Musings About Life on the Big Sandbar.

As some of you know we spend our summers in the Outer Banks. Marianne’s father built a cottage there back in the late 60’s, way before it got all touristy and whatnot. Anyway, with Irene passing through last week it got me to thinking about life at the beach and all that goes with it. By the way, Irene shot up behind us on The Sound side so the cottage escaped unscathed. This time.

It was another eventful summer with lots of visitors. Some stayed with us and some stayed elswhere, but I think everybody had a good time. The tough part for us (and the reason I get the shakes every day around noon until about October) is that when friends show up for a week they want to party every day. That’s all well and good, but when they leave and somebody arrives a few days later the the pattern repeats itself. Good thing I have a lot of practice. As always, it was tough to leave. The plan is to move down there permanently when we retire. Fingers crossed.

We see folks coming and going weekly in the cottages around us, and it’s pretty entertaining to say the least. People on vacation do things they’d never do at home and it’s hilarious to watch. Some things are not so hilarious. With that in mind, some observations:

People on vacation wear funny hats. Seriously, you always see guys in hats that you just know they would never wear back home. Usually it’s the Indiana Jones style hat but made of straw. Yeah, you know what I’m talkin’ ’bout. Pure comedy.

People who obviously never run, run on the beach. You constantly see them jogging by, struggling to look cool for the ladies. I don’t know if they’re trying to work off the big seafood meals or what, but it’s comedy gold.

People on vacation can’t drive a lick. On Highway 12, which is The Beach Road, you’re supposed to stop so the people crossing the road can get to the beach. Locals stop, most tourists (or Tourons as they are called down there) do not. I like to yell at them like a grumpy old man but Marianne doesn’t like that, so I just scowl instead and try and kick their car as they pass. You’re on vacation dude, what’s the hurry? Slow down.

People on vacation fish in the swimming areas. You know, it’s disrespectful to throw a line in and basically take up the ocean 20-yards in both directions. Go to the freakin’ pier. We’re trying to get drunk and swim here.

People on vacation don’t respect the beach. They litter, and they let their dogs shit on the beach without picking it up. Disgusting. More scowling.

People on vacation abuse the beach house they’re renting. I guess they figure, hey, we’re paying $1500 a week for this place, so screw it. I’ve seen people drag living room furniture to the beach, grill steaks under their screened-in porch, drag mattresses down to their driveway to sunbathe, etc etc etc. Amazing. Oh, and I’ve witnessed 6 cars pull into a 4-room beachhouse, 24 people get out, and promptly move into a place that had room for 8 tops. Good Lord, people must have been sleeping on coffee tables in there.

People on vacation like to dig holes in the sand. Some advice: If you must insist on digging a giant hole in the sand, please fill it in when you leave. Somebody (me) could break a leg stepping into your hole while taking my honey for a romantic walk after dark. That completely ruins the mood, let me tell ya. Also, never dig a hole higher than your littlest kid’s head. A few years ago some moron dug a hole about 6-feet deep and set his beach chair in it. The walls caved and that moron is dead. No joke.

People on vacation begin to turn on each other around the fourth day. I suspect it’s the unique experience of living in such close proximity to each other for a few days (especially those 24 I mentioned earlier). Maybe the drinking is catching up to them. Whatever the reason, you’ll see and hear a lot of arguing on the beach and in the restaurants around Thursday. Count on it. On Thursday Uncle Lew will push somebody over the edge.

Some other observations:

At the beach, your musical preferences change. I’m a big REM fan, have seen them several times since ‘84, blah-blah-blah. Love ‘em. But . . . they are not listening material at the beach. They’re just not. Neither is Zep or The Who. It pains me to say it, but my beloved Eels miss the cut as well. No, my friends, the beach requires a different vibe. Sure the obvious choices are included – Buffett, Marley, The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, even Kenny Chesney. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly & the Family Stone is a must, and I enjoy listening to Carbon Leaf down here as well. Toss in a few singles like “Carolina in My Mind” by James Taylor or “It Must Be Summer” by Fountains of Wayne and my summer mix is set. Best winter pickup – wireless speakers I can take to the porch or to my beloved under-the-cottage hammock. Heaven.

Your perspective gets a bit skewed after a while. You know, when you have nothing to do for a few weeks in-a-row the little things get magnified. For an example, one summer I think I watched “Eight is Enough” at 1:00 every afternoon for 8 consecutive weeks. At one point this conversation actually took place while I was watching a particularly intense episode:

Marianne: “Hey, where do you want to eat tonight?”
Me: [silence]
Marianne: “HEY . . .”
Me: “QUIET! Nicholas is in trouble here! The kids at school are picking on him, dammit! ”

You get the idea. Another year it was “Quincy.” One year it was “Workout”, the reality show with all the lesbians. This year it was Criminal Minds. Awesome show. On a related note, I’m becoming quite attached to that interior design show with Vern Yip. Vern Yip is cool.

Alas, at the beach I must admit my grooming habits tend to change dramatically. You know, there are long periods of time when nobody is here but us two, so who am I to clean up for? I mean really? One day the dog tried to roll around on me so I thought it may be time for a quick shower. In addition, shaving becomes secondary. Sure, the dome stays clean as a whistle, but at one point in early August I was sporting a spectacular neck-beard that was starting to draw stares. Just for fun I trimmed it down until I looked like the bass player from Anthrax. I sort of liked it but Marianne quit speaking to me so it had to go.

Finally, those of you close to me are aware that I have been known to enjoy the occasional adult beverage. Out there on The Banx, as the weeks roll by, happy hour tends to move up. And up. And up. By late July happy hour is from 5:00 P.M to 4:59 P.M. Actually it’s probably a good thing we come home when we do.

So there you go, just some random thoughts regarding life on the Outer Banks, The OBX, The Big Sandbar, or whatever else you want to call it. I’m not yet counting the days until we go back, but here’s hoping Thanksgiving arrives quickly.

P.S. – I lied. It’s 79 days.

4 thoughts on “Random Musings About Life on the Big Sandbar.”

  1. Great post, Shoe. As a regular visitor to NC coastline, I agree with you on most points. And yes, I too have a crazy hat I wear at the beach. Mine is kind of a combo of straw hat/sombrero. No sunburn on these shoulders my friend. Maybe someday we will make it down to that cottage and check out some of your haunts. Surfs up, dude.

  2. We’ve spent a couple of good vacations on the OBX but no mid-night headbanging. Most of our beach vacations, going back to 1982, have been on the SOBX, either at Atlantic Beach or Emerald Isle. We were supposed to have a week at Ocracoke this year but hurricane Irene changed our plans. Oh well, somewhere there is a beach with our name on it.

    Great recollection, Dave.

  3. You know I’m exaggerating a little. A lot of the renters are fine. OK, a few of them are fine. Well, I’ve seen a couple that are fine. Seriously, they supply the income for the locals so most people down there just go along with a smile.

  4. OBX – heaven on earth. Don’t know if I was aware of the highway/pedestrian issue, but it makes sense. I have to admit, I have seen the renter issues you mentioned. Nothing like headbanging music at 3AM!

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