The world is a busy place, so much to do, so much to be. If we are very lucky in life, we find a destination that frees us, if only temporarily. This is a destination we can return to again and again, both physically and mentally, because we find a certain magic there, something extraordinary. Essentially, we ‘fall in love’ with this particular place in much the same way that two people fall in love. We don’t always know why. There is a certain chemistry. Something clicks. We are never quite the same again.
For me, this place is Hatteras Island, located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This barrier island is only about fifty miles long, with an average width of just two-thirds of a mile. Cape Hatteras National Seashore takes up about two-thirds of the island, so it is a place protected from too much development.
This island is a gem set into the sea. It is approximately thirty miles from the mainland. As you cross over Oregon Inlet via the Herbert Bonner Bridge, you feel as though you are coming to the end of the earth. You travel a sandy road with water on either side for miles and miles. On one side is the Atlantic Ocean and on the other side is the Pamlico Sound. If you open your car window, you will feel the ocean breeze. It is quite the enchantress, that ever-changing Hatteras wind.
Upon my first arrival in Hatteras, the mood of the place affected me deeply. There was the long stretch of solitary beach, and beach houses that seemed to sit atop the dunes like sand castles on stilts. Everywhere I looked, it was a painter’s dreamscape. In an almost haunting way, the light over the water changes continuously. The sky and sea are a multiplicity of colors depending on the weather and the time of year.
In Hatteras, the natural world is your compass. Storms brew and the landscape changes accordingly. Highway 12 gets covered over with sand and the only road on or off the island is closed. It is the very isolation of the place that helps retain its raw and rugged beauty. Hatteras is not just another beach town. It is a place that touches your soul because it seems to have one of its own.
If you are looking for adventure, you can find it here. Hatteras is a play-ground for kite-boarders, surfers, and wind-surfers. You can go snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, or canoeing. It is a paradise for fisherman or bird-watchers.
My Hatteras adventure story is of a quieter nature. I like to walk along the sandy shore and gaze out at a glittering sea. I search for treasure, pieces of shiny sea glass, or shells, polished by the pounding surf. I like to watch the sun rise and set, a fireball blazing over the ocean, radiant light spilling everywhere. I am a captive audience for the dolphins that play in the waves or a crowd of sea gulls who gather by the pier.
The ocean roars and I listen. It is a conversation of sorts, but I am silent. It is a time for me to think new thoughts and dream new dreams. Sometimes, in the thunder that is the sea, the rest of the world seems suddenly still.
It is quite a journey to a place like Hatteras, a place where the fingerprints of God are more evident than the fingerprints of man. I can set my watch to the rhythm of the place, island time…sunrise, sunset. For me, it was love at first sight. My only heartbreak is when I have to pack up my bags and say goodbye to the island each time I leave.
But as in any good love story, there is conflict. No sooner am I home, than I yearn once again for this beautiful island, this kingdom by the sea. That Hatteras wind will haunt me until I return…
About the Author: Linda Frost Raha is an aspiring writer. I am working on a novel that is set in Hatteras, North Carolina. My favorite places are always close to the sea.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.