Tag Archives: OBX

Vince Vaughan’s Got NOTHING On This Guy

sideboard mermaid

The family sideboard, repaired by friend Will Lockhart, adding more stories to its life.

It’s the early summer of 2006, I am meeting my sister Suzanne in Reedville to help clear out the tiny family one story with an open attic cinderblock, no air conditioning, not even a fan cottage (where Donny & I spent our honeymoon) of some faithful furniture so our aunt can put the property on the market. Suzanne claims the dining room table and chairs where countless hours have been spent eating, playing Pig and assorted other games and just generally enjoying life. I am happy with the sideboard that sat nearby and housed the dishes, playing cards, puzzles and such. Neither are heirlooms, just cast offs someone gave to our grandmother to furnish the cottage. But they’re priceless heritage to us chock full of family history and merriment. Suzanne and I meet, load our respective vehicles and part ways. And then this happens. (As documented ten years ago in my first blog on LiveJournal)

150 miles from home our vintage Suburban opts to mix my life up a bit and blows a tire. The car may be old but the tires are the best and so it is only an annoyance not a bad scene.

It’s 10 o’clock at night on a fast moving interstate, I’m not getting out to investigate. I am thinking I’ve dropped the transmission. I need to call D, Triple A, R who lives a stone’s throw away. My cell phone is quite literally squeezing the last of it’s battery juice into performance. Where’s the charger? In the car I usually drive. Where’s the extra battery? At home.

No panic. I call D, babbling the details before the phone dies. He springs into action and calls the cavalry. As I wait, I envision a night in Richmond. No good. I MUST get home. I power up the phone and call home. The line’s busy. I shut off the phone. 15 minutes later I try again. D answers. Someone come get me I implore. He’s on his way, so is R and Triple A.

3o minutes later R pulls up. He looks at the car. He starts the car. He looks under the car. Flat tire, he proclaims. We dig for the spare. We cannot find the jack. Triple A arrives. He announces the spare flat, too flat for Fix-A-Flat which I do have. The men discuss tire options. All involve the next day. I MUST GET HOME.

100 miles free, $3 a mile after that Triple A offers. I’ll take it. R shoves off after lending me his phone to call D and send him back home. I’ll be along I tell him. Triple A and I go for gas, coffee, and his buddy fresh from breaking up a bar room cat fight. This is gonna be a fun ride. Do you mind if we smoke? They’re nice guys, what can I say?

Imagine riding with Vince Vaughan uncensored easing back with a case of Bud Lite and you’ve got Triple A Buddy. We discover he used to work for the family electrical business. We compare notes on everyone. I am full of discovery.

rocking chair

Scored a pair of these rocking chairs too. Many a daylight hour spent in them on the cinderblock patio. Night time not so much. Mosquitoes.

By the time we get to Chesapeake TAB is sure we have kidnapped him. Only for his good buddy is he along for the ride, but how much farther? He’s not mad, he’s just VV, ready for some Mermaid Topless Bar action. We tell him we are not even in North Carolina yet. He has been to the OBX before. He has forgotten how long the ride through Currituck County is. At 3AM everyone’s agony is over. Triple A from having to deal with no dash lights, TAB from an eternal trip and me from the fumes of death, even though they did have the windows down.

Who needs a limo when you can get a kicking tow truck ride.

And the epilogue.

So I burned the tread right off a brand new tire. What did you do? I’ve been asked. Dunno. Never drifted off the road, stayed pretty much within the speed limit (read pretty much generously), not really that much weight in the car. It carried a heavier load when I took a bunch of stuff aka mostly magazines to Mom’s attic for Suzanne when she was moving west.

Also it turns out the spare was only low on air. Perfectly good to use. I knew Donny kept things right, but who was I to argue that night. Anyway it wasn’t a great spot to be changing a tire. And I never would have gotten to spend 170 miles with Vince Vaughan.

It was my $300 night to remember.

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jeff and gang

Jeff Galloway seminar April 2006 Dare County Beach Youth Center

“We can walk 26.2 miles,” I tell my workout class friend Suzanne begging her to join me in training for the inaugural OBX Marathon scheduled for Veteran’s Day weekend 2006. Good friend that she is, she agrees and we begin what proves to be eight months of work, silliness and success. Neither of us know a thing about training for a marathon but we exercise every weekday together and run Saturday mornings in Stephanie’s Beach Pump, the original OBX bootcamp. We’re not worried, we’ll figure it out as we go along. Still at first we don’t tell a single soul what we’ve cooked up. Digging around in the archives of my LiveJournal posts I come up with this post shortly after the start of our training journey.

Suzanne Deiss and I are officially training for the first ever OBX Marathon. A trip to the dentist and a chat while getting my teeth cleaned (okay a listen) had me agreeing with Caryn. Imagine the T-shirt!

At first Suzanne and I were going to walk it (how hard could that be?) But pride got in the way and we decided that at the very least jogging (which is my form of running) would get us there before dark maybe and look a lot better.

We did some research and started training. Imagine our surprise when we found out that Olympian, Jeff Galloway, whom we both had discovered independently (me online, Suzanne in a running magazine, and had really liked his approach) was coming to the Youth Center, our home away from home, to do a workshop.

And so we spent today getting tips from and being evaluated by running guru Jeff. We are floating across the finish line.

At the workshop, we learn that Jeff, an avid coffee drinker, is less than enthused with his morning java. I call Donny and he rises to the occasion promptly. He brings Jeff some real coffee and also takes a group photo for us. Jeff is awesome. He give us permission, no urges us, to incorporate a run walk time pattern into our system. He explains that switching out muscle groups keeps any one set from getting too fatigued. Brilliant. Suzanne and I are sold. Future posts will take you along on our adventures but today is about Jeff, our savior.

Jeff will be back on the Outer Banks in a few weeks and I urge you to sign up for his course. I can tell you from first hand experience, thanks to John Gillam who made all the arrangements including having Jeff and his amazing wife Barbara as house guests, that your investment will not be wasted. John & Muffin even arranged for us all to have cocktails at their home with Jeff and Barbara. Circumstances saw only six enjoying this lovely intimate evening which actually turned out to be incredible fun. Casually hanging out with such a down to earth icon. It just doesn’t get much better than that.



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Yo, I GOT This!

cat“Ma’am you cannot be up there!” I’m in Harris-Teeter trying to get our favorite Liberte lemon yogurt from its top shelf banishment. The only way to reach it is to climb on the very sturdy bottom of the refrigeration door. The stock is so high up even Donny cannot reach to the back of that shelf. But I’m careful. I’ve learned my lesson about unreliable top shelf ventures so documented in a LiveJournal entry that recently surfaced.

I went on my daily Thanksgiving store run this morning to knock off the latest list which included one more glass pie dish.

All that were left were green glass ones. I don’t care that they are in that designer gal’s line, I did not want a green pie dish. It is not a good pie dish color even if you are making a key lime pie, which I am not. Resignedly I put the dish in my buggy but then happily spy clear glass pie dishes on a top shelf.

Excellent! Just what I want. But I cannot reach the top shelf without stepping on the edge of the bottom shelf. That works except for the fact that on top of the stack of pie dishes is a set of three glass mixing bowls nested together under shrink wrap. The entire stack is just a bit too tall for me to lift off the bowls and get a pie dish even with the aid of the bottom shelf.

Of course there is no one around to help. On the opposite shelf are boxes of dishes that look sturdy enough to stand on. I move one in place and carefully lift off the set of bowls. Perfect…until the set starts slipping…right out of my hands.

This happens in excruciatingly slow motion.

puppiesI have time, or so it seems, to consider options to make the save. I want to leap off of the box, snatch the flying bowls midair, and neatly land on my feet. I do not feel this will happen quite as I envision and thus abandon the plan. I really do not want the bowls to hit the floor but they pay me no mind and land with an extremely loud crash.

I jump off of the box as two sales ladies immediately appear from around the corner asking if I am okay. Sure, if you don’t count chagrin and mortification. The bowls are smashed beyond recognition but luckily 99.9% of the glass is still under shrink wrap.

I apologize as I hastily return the borrowed box to its shelf. The sales ladies are too concerned that I am okay to care about the box, the bowls or what I was looking for. Of course I am okay. I only dropped my dignity.

I woefully look up at the out of reach pie dishes. The ladies are busy cleaning up. I decide to stick with the wrong, wrong, wrong green dish and move on to look at CD players. So okay the green dish is not completely wrong. It is after all a glass pie dish.

kittenCD player acquired I suddenly think about the button batteries I have finally remembered to get for our clock army. They are back on the pie dish aisle. I must go back. It has taken me forever to finally complete this task despite numerous notes to myself and every reminder I could come up with, including leaving the dead clocks by the back door where everyone got to look at their sad faces for months on end. The batteries were my first stop in the store and as they were much too small to put into the cart, I had been carrying them around in my hand. When I decided to tackle the pie dish issue I put the batteries in a baking dish. I could go back to the watch counter for more but that would leave the baking dish batteries homeless.

Bravely I return. The ladies are gone as is all the evidence of my clumsiness. And there, is the path I have cleared to the clear pie dishes. I put the green one back, get a clear one, scoop up the patiently waiting batteries and go to check out.

At the check out counter the cashier asks if I want a warranty for my CD player. It’s only $7.99. I never use them, but I feel a tiny bit bad about the smashed bowls. Still I have gotten the right pie dish free and clear. Well almost, I buy the warranty.

So I get busted at The Teeter. My new strategy becomes to reach what I can every time I shop. Our supply stays steady but low. And then I see a different stock clerk using the same refrigeration door step plan as me. Yo! I’m back in business.

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Hanging Around UP in the AIR

sunset park

Closing out 2014. Sunset over the sound behind the ropes course.

Our new favorite place to play is Abby & Brad Carey’s First Flight Adventure Park in Nags Head. Into its second season it is fast becoming a must do for every Outer Banks vacationer and local.

While this is definitely Abby & Brad’s vision (Brad has helped build a lot of courses) I still maintain that without the guidance of then Nags Head planner awesome Liz Teague they would still be dialoging with town officials. She helped them cut through the paper trail in record time every step of the way.

rope and tape gone

Emily takes on one of our favorite challenges while Donald and Martin look on. For this one you had to get back on if you fell off because your lanyard was in the middle, but no fear, its gone. A first year element only. Glad we got to play on it. I did fall off my first time through but finally got back on. It was kind of tricky because you end up hanging below the loops with no good hand holds to grab. Still I wondered why I even fell the second time I took it on. It really was easy.

The course is a sixty feet tower of challenges formed in three almost circular levels. At least one section of the first level is mandatory, that is after also mandatory flight school. Then for two hours you can go on any section as many times as you like. Every level has two sections with seven individual elements each separated by a wooden platform built around the support pilings. Only one person at a time allowed on an element and only two people on a platform. The sections are labeled after hurricane categories. Tropical storm, Category 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5.

I have been on all the sections save category 5 at the top. The hammock and I have yet to meet and the guy wire tight rope. The entire time you are on a section you are tethered to a five hundred pound load bearing strap that is locked in place on a lead wire. If you fall off of an element you just pull yourself along until you get to the platform. There are a couple of elements where you cannot do this because of the way the lanyard and the challenges intersect but they’re not too difficult to get back up on and keep going. After each level you zip line to the middle where you are untethered by a guide with the key. Then on to your next set of seven challenges.

zip to the end

Guest at Family Camp OBX for a week Henry zip line rides between sections.

My personal nemesis is was an element called Pirate Crossing. It’s two loose ropes that cross in the middle of the element. The point is to hold onto the rope while you slide your feet along a wire, switch to the second rope in the middle and continue. The first time I tried it I kept the rope too slack and while I didn’t fall off I used a lot of unnecessary energy staying the course. This time I stalled about even trying the level with Pirate Crossing but brother-in-law Robert, my climbing partner, urged me on. Turned out it is really easy once you get the hang of it. Speaking of Robert I’m so excited for him. He was only going to do the first level elements because of his compromised ankle, but we ended up doing all but those on Cat 5. And he aced every one.

the park new

Brand new not even yet open park 2014. Those buoy things above my head, my downfall this year. I refused to use the guy wire and just could. not. get. my leg around the buoy and hold on. Everything was that much too far apart. But I’ll figure it out.

Bested the Pirate Crossing but fell off of Braided Argile on Category 4. That section ends with hand over hand rings which I have yet to really try. I love monkey bars but these rings are thicker in dimension and smoother. Of course I could try and see if I can make any progress. Hanging by the first two is as far as I’ve pushed myself.

Playing on the course this past week was lots of fun because we had folks on almost every level and every section. Words of encouragement from any one of us were constantly floating from above and below and even the covered viewers deck where some of our party chose to hang out. The added elements of a stiff breeze and people unexpectedly juggling the course as they took on their personal challenges only upped the stakes for success.

The view is amazing, the vegetation below in the wetlands is lush and green with beautiful water flowers adding in color. From sea to sound the panorama is yours for the looking, that is unless you’re busy tackling a challenge. Or unless you’re son Lewis who likes to go through with his eyes closed.


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Turtle Tales and Flippers TOO

loggerhead 2011

Loggerhead turtle nest boil Arch Street Kill Devil Hills August 2011

In mid-August 2011 just as we are leaving the beach two of the three original Camp OBX campers, Martin and Jake, and I get a real treat. The turtle nest that is due to boil any day begins to do just that. We have literally packed our things and are headed towards the steps when we look over at the nest carefully cordoned off by the hard working N.E.S.T folks. This is done from the time the eggs are laid until hatching, or boiling, in turtle lingo. As time for a nest to hatch approaches the volunteers also add a path to the beach carefully brushed smooth and blocked off with stakes and tape.

jake and martin 2011

Jake and Martin playing in the surf 2011

Most nests boil after sunset but before midnight. Because N.E.S.T volunteers are so protective of the new hatchlings no one is allowed to use a flash light to view a night crawl. The odd lights might confuse the babies headed to the more often than not moon lit sea. So on that rare occasion when a nest goes off in the day light hours witnesses get to actually see the process. We have come to play at this part of the beach every day of camp in hopes of seeing a boil knowing realistically that our chances are pretty remote. Lydia, the remaining original camper will be along next week. She is at German camp in Richmond this week or she would have been with us too. We really did get lucky.

aquarium turtle photoAugust 2015 brings another turtle adventure for Camp OBX. The aquarium on Roanoke Island is planning on releasing three green turtles that have been rescued and rehabilitated at their facility. Campers and I at various times throughout the past two years have seen all three turtles and Edward even got to chat at length with one volunteer about Augie’s broken flipper and how students at NC State made a custom cast using a 3-D printer.

The release is scheduled for Monday morning August 3rd at 8:30AM. Donald, Terri & Sebastian are at family camp and they decide that it is worth getting up and out for to witness. I drop them off and begin a search for a parking place. Car secure, I head to the beach access. There are already hundreds of people gathered on this pleasant overcast morning.

sea biscuit and info: augie info too crab info and augie cast augie in box AugieAs I cross the street to meet up with DTS, I hear an aquarium volunteer tell the Nags Head police officer helping everyone safely get across the beach road that the turtles are not here yet. Barely have I relayed this information to DTS when I spy volunteers with three plastic containers headed from the beach access to the area roped off a few yards north. The boxes are so small. Surely they cannot be holding the turtles. But they are. The turtles looked so much bigger to me in the hospital tanks.

goodbye augie

Goodbye Augie!

Sebastian and I wiggle our way to the front of the roped off section and watch while the turtles are paraded around for everyone to see. It is a well organized event and everyone gets a chance to see at least one turtle up close. We get a view of the special cast off of Augie’s flipper.

And then it’s time for the release. First Sea Biscuit all 6.16 pounds of him. After he is safely beyond the shore break, it’s Crab’s turn. He’s the middle child today, middle in weight at 11.88 pounds and middle to be released. And finally frantic to get out of the box is big bruiser at 13.64 pounds, Augie. It’s been two whole years. He’s grateful for the helping hands but he wants to get back to the sea.

And hour and a half from when we started our adventure we’re home getting breakfast. Should have been flipping pancakes but we settled for biscuits, in Sea Biscuit’s honor.


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Colington Road NEEDS A Multi-Use Path

SR 1217 Colington Road

Neil & his dog Hope walking to the beach along Colington Road

Five years ago I got tired of seeing so many bicycle riders and walkers try to safely negotiate our twisty winding heavily traveled Colington Road (officially State Route 1217) that barely has a shoulder and started an awareness group on Facebook. That group is now 1000+ strong. Without any membership drive. And actually very few updates. Admittedly I am not the pro-active leader this group needs. I have however chatted numerous times with NCDOT.

Helen Chaney (NCDOT Bike and Pedestrian Division) even once told me in a phone conversation that she could probably get me a million, yes a million, dollars.

I was so dumbstruck that I could not fathom what I would do with a million dollars without NCDOT to guide me. Not that they were refusing. She just was not coming forward with a plan and, to repeat, I was totally speechless. It was the just after the Christmas season. I was distracted. Of course, I said okay. But did not follow up with what now, or how, what do I need to do. And she did not offer a plan. So we hung up. Naive me thought that she would come through later with more details.

Ah hind sight. She never answers my emails or calls. Helen. Helen. Helen. Do over please.

I’m not even sure that Helen is in the Bike & Pedestrian Division any longer. Floundering here!

A recent email to Lauren Blackburn current NCDOT Bike & Ped Division Director (we have chatted before when she was interim) confirms that Helen is in another department. I am assigned to the low man on the totem who quickly responds that she will look into the matter and get back to me. Lauren also assures me that she will check on the status of the project as her department only made recommendations.

Quickly, maybe too quickly, Gary Lovering sends me a detailed reply saying that the project is scheduled to begin in 2018 and will have 7′ wide shoulders with a one foot painted division line. I and our group followers are elated. Not for the time delay yet again. But for a reasonably wide shoulder (the original plan called for a 4′ wide shoulder for pedestrian traffic).

Later the cynic in me begins to ponder if Gary is a NCDOT spin doctor. Especially after Donna Creef Dare County Planning Director, tells me, “The last I heard about the road/bicycle improvements for Colington Road was that the project had to be reconsidered for funding based on the criteria used by NCDOT.”

I mean property acquisition is on schedule to begin in November 2017. And construction begin in April 2018? No way all that property is going to be squared away in six months. So if that’s puffery possibly the entire thing is. Donny says that it is pretty common knowledge, even though those in power will deny it, that Dare County is to be denied help from any North Carolina government agency until further notice. We got too much for way too long. Now we must pay our wait your turn dues. Like we really got too much. Please. Amending this paragraph in case you are just now reading this post. Actual right of way acquisition is due to begin November 2016 not 2017. Still ambitious but doable if everything goes well.

Anyway while we are a real grassroots organization in that we have no formal committee, no bank account and no plan we do have Dare County Board of Commissions support, Town of Kill Devil Hills support, Colington Harbour Association support. And Dare County Planning support. In the summer of 2011 Donna assigns her intern the task of documenting every parcel along Colington Road with plotted right of way. Derek does an amazing job. He puts contact information and a photo of each parcel on an individual sheet and organizes all by which side of the road the property sits on. Donna also prints us a huge overview map of the both islands and parcel property lines.

Donny & I used that invaluable information and money from our own pocket to mail a letter explaining the need for a safe pathway to every property owner whose land fronts on Colington Road. Over two hundred. We included a stamped reply postcard with a check box in favor of or opposed to a pedestrian pathway. Of the returns we got, which were well over half, the numbers ran about 3 to 1 in favor. Several of the nay sayers want to see a plan before committing. Fair enough.

In the spring of 2012 Steve Lambert then of Albemarle Rural Planning Organization approves a mailing to every tax payer on the two islands suggesting the need for a safe non-vehicular pathway. He funds. We label (thanks again to Donna who prints labels for us) and organize by zip code over 5000 letters (envelopes thankfully stuffed by the printing company).

And now we wait and nudge NCDOT. And hope that the plan Gary outlined is real and thank NCDOT for listening to concerned citizens. We are not talking about recreational folks, although those will use a safe path in abundance. We are talking about folks that have no other means of ingress and egress to their homes on the islands.

Notice how Neil has crossed the road from where he was in the first video to be as safe as possible. He told me he does everything possible to be safe.

Notice how Neil has crossed the road from where he was in the first video to be as safe as possible. He told me that he does everything he can to minimize the dangers.

Yes, I did give Neil and Hope a ride to the beach. He says that he usually rides his bicycle but knew that Hope needed a day at the beach. He was not actively hitching as you can see by the video. He likes the walk. It’s just five miles along a dicey curving road that even at the 35 miles per hour speed limit is unsafe.

I leave you with one to the point statistic. The counter at the gate of Colington Harbour registered in 2011 over 100,000 vehicles entering the harbour monthly in the summer. That’s over 3,000 vehicles a day and only going one way. And that was in 2011.

If you have any thoughts, influence or ideas contact NCDOT and let your voice be heard. Phone numbers and email addresses are on the website.




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My Little Sunshine OBX = Success


Val beaming as she heads off to the store.

May 1, 2015 marks the grand opening of good friend and soon to be family, Valerie Netsch’s, awesome store, My Little Sunshine OBX. It’s a blend of new and may as well be new off beat items for that youngster everyone has at least one of or knows someone that does.

When she tells me of her plans I am in awe of all the work ahead. I cannot get beyond the thought of hangers and tags by the hundreds. Plus everything else that goes into opening a new store. But she’s done this before so she knows the drill. Val and Robert knock it out in their impressive to witness work ethic mode. All the while smiling. And being cleverly creative as well as economical.

My job is encouragement plus a plethora of little people SLAPBoards I create just for her shop. And some SandyBands for the younger set of course. And lastly, I need to be sure that she is launched properly. I dream that I am her first official paying customer (she is so successful at marketing she has people begging to buy before opening day). And so I set out to make it so.


My Little Sunshine OBX

I arrive a bit before 10AM. I sit a few minutes in the car and then go up to the door. Val and helper Gail are doing last minute things. Like try to figure out just where the key to unlock the iPad is so music can be played. Tiny panic when Val thinks that she has thrown it away. It’s found. Music floats through the air. I select my items and hand Val paper money. Who keeps their first dollar bill anymore but I think it’s a fun tradition and want her to have all the right karma. She takes a picture of it.

Customers are filling the store. A lady checks out. I’m not sure if she uses cash or credit, but I am next with my real purchase using my credit card. Surprise for goddaughter Haley Rea when she graduates. Donny later tells me that he thought of Haley when he saw the item too.

So I may have been first cash and credit customer on opening day. At any rate my job is done. I have brought my dream to fruition. And brought in customers for Val. Not that she needed me for that. But Donny & I are awesome customer magnets. Everywhere we go a shop can be completely empty and sheer moments after we step inside it fills up. We have considered hiring ourselves out. Customer magnet anyone? We are willing to travel.

Congratulations Valerie! You are a ray of sunshine in everyone’s life and your store beams.




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