In an email, a fellow blogger, Reg (AKA Dogbait), mentioned a place that I haven’t thought of in a good long while. This place was the Outer Banks. I went there the summer before I started my freshman year at the University of South Carolina – if my memory servers me correctly. It seemed like a good place to go camping, so me and few of my friends packed up the essentials and off we went. Below is the account of that camping trip. It is one, if not the first, paper I wrote in college. So, if you hate it, blame it on my lack of experience or something. Reading back through it, I noticed I left out that I got pink eye in the end and that while standing on a really big sand dune that eats cities, we got chased by a wall of water. It was a rapidly moving thunderstorm. Apparently, it was moving faster than we were because we all got drenched.
Well, I better get to bed. I start work tomorrow, and I want to be bright eyed and bushy tailed. I’ll fill you in on the happenings of my first day soon.
The Camping Trip From Hell
Waking up at 5:00 A.M. is not easy, especially when the back up alarm is a schizoid cat, who is eager to eat. At the time it seemed that those problems were going to be the worst part of the trip, but in truth, it was only the beginning and trivial compared to what I would endure. So, promptly after my alarm clock went off, and my cat pounced on my face, I rolled out of bed and stumbled down the hallway. My bags had already been packed the night before, so all I had to do was throw on some comfortable clothes and wait for my ride. Right on time, a red Lumina pulled up into my driveway and I attempted to cram myself where Jonathan, Mandy, and Yanni already hogged the space of the crowded car. Seconds later, my camping trip to Nags Head, North Carolina began.
Over the eight-hour course of our journey we all took a turn at the wheel and only stopped occasionally for gas, a quick snack and a bathroom break. Although the drive was long, it seemed to pass somewhat quickly, and before I knew it we had arrived in a town I had only heard of. It was beautiful outside. Classic white puffy clouds were spread over the bright blue sky. It was almost picture perfect day until the wind started. This was no casual breeze. Instead, it was quick, harsh, and almost seemed to find pleasure in blowing our tents down the beach. Frantically, we all tried to catch our tents and find a way to keep the tied to the ground, but the loose sand prevented any progress. It took all our bags of clothes, boxes of food and lots of sand to keep them weighted down, but still the wind taunted us.
The rest of our first day was spent driving around town, walking the beach, and attempting to find a restaurant we could all agree on. We concluded our day learning about the stars at Jockey’s Ridge. Although dark clouds had begun to move in and the wind had increased the park ranger nevertheless continued his lecture on the stars above.
“Now if you place you hand up against the sky you can tell the distance between certain stars,” the park ranger said through the roar of the wind. As Jonathan, Mandy, Yanni and I lifted our hands toward the sky, we were able to observe the lightening in the distance. This prompted us to abandon the amateur astrology class immediately and run to our car. We quickly sped back to our campsite as the gloomy clouds crept closer. As we approached our tents, the headlights of the car allowed us a quick view of the destruction. It was obviously fate – the wind had won. Thankfully, the tents were still there, but just blown over.
We fought the wind for sometime until each tent stood proud. The race to beat the rain was victorious. Every item was strategically placed to avoid moisture and to support the frame of each tent. Exhausted, it was time for some much needed sleep. As our heads hit our pillows, the wind instantly began to lessen and the threatening thunder clouds crept back out to sea. All work put forth into preparing for a horrible storm was almost pointless. As we drifted off to sleep, the sky opened up with millions of stars and the cool summer night was at a rare desirable temperature.
The next morning we all woke up to a beautiful day and decided to drive down to Hatteras. It is rumored that the best waves are there and that people from all over the world travel to Hatteras just to get a thrill of a lifetime. So, after a speedy cold shower, the four of us piled back into the Lumina for another afternoon drive. About an hour later, we reached our destination and by the looks of it, so had everyone elses. It was a short stretch of beach crammed with families and several experienced surfers. Once we found a place to lay our stuff, we joined the numerous people in the untamed waters of the Atlantic.
The surf was rough, and I was constantly fighting to hold my own against the current. Jonathan and Yanni had gone out further to catch larger waves while Mandy was sun bathing on the beach. It seemed to me that the harder I tried to swim back to the shore, the stronger the force became, pulling me closer to the pillars of a rundown dock. At first, I was not worried. I believed that I could fight my way back to a point where my feed could touch ground, but even when they did, I was still being dragged out to sea.
“Jonathan! Yanni! I need your help!” I yelled as I gulped sea water. “Jonathan!” I began to panic as I was pulled even closer to the dock. My legs were getting tired and my stomach churned with fear.
“Swim parallel,” Jonathan said. Moments before I collided with the jagged dock, Jonathan put his arms around my waist and attempted to haul me in. “If you kick, the current will take us both out. Get a hold of yourself.” Just as Jonathan and I reached land, I could see the lifeguards walking our way.
“We were about to come get you, but we saw the you were okay,” one of the lifeguards said. I simply nodded my head, and went to sleep on my towel. When I woke about and hour later, Mandy pointed out a nearby storm that looked like it was not going to pass. Just as we got in the car and started back to our campsite, the rain began to fall, gently at first, and then in angry bursts. By the time we made it back to our tents, a river had formed under them. We sent Yanni to inspect and he returned with a solemn face.
“Everything is water logged,” he said. In an attempt to wait out the storm, we drove toward downtown Nags Head only to find the whole island was in a blackout. All of tehe businesses were closed and traffic was backed up for miles. Listening to a radio broadcast we found out that flash floods were either imminent or occurring and that anyone is low lying areas should evacuate. The first thing to pop into our minds was that our tents were bound to wash away and that the river had probably grown into a lake by now. Once again we rushed back to our tents and this time we found ourselves in the middle of an evacuation. We were told by the park ranger that it would not be safe to stay there for the night.
In the middle of the pouring rain, we tried to collect all of our belongings and throw them into the car. Still, an obstacle stood in our way. Out of no where came a swarm of enormous hungry mosquitoes. They attacked us from head to toe and in our mad search for long pants and sweaters they had us for supper. Screaming and throwing our clothes on we appeared to have escaped the mosquitoes by getting in the car. There was dead silence for a moment until Jonathan turned on the over head light. Inside the car were at least forty mosquitoes.
In unison, we all screamed, “AHHHHHH!” The four of us swatted at them, but more seemed to appear. Jonathan in a rush accelerated the car and rolle down the windows to get the mosquitoes out, but instead more just flew in. As we drove back into town looking for a place to stay, we could still see a few flying about the car.
Our budget was small and trying to find a motel for four looked impossible, until we came to an old motel named London Inn. There we were able to get a warm place to sleep and enjoy a much needed shower. All of our clothes were drenched. Even the ones we wore were soaked. As I packed my bag before I went to bed, I separated my wet clothes from my mildly dry ones.
On the morning of our last day in Nags Head, the weather did not change much. The rain continued to fall and just as we ordered lunch from Taco Bell, the power went out again. The power surge erased all of the stored orders on the computer and forced everyone to reorder their meals. After acquiring our food, we spend the rest of the day waiting our the storm, but it never did go anywhere. So, as night fell, we decided that our trip was over and that is was time to go home. Just as we left so did the rain.
Driving until 5:00 A.M. is not easy, especially when your contacts have stiffened over your eyes and your feel disoriented. Jonathan dropped off Yanni and Mandy first, and then me. As I walked into my house that morning, I found that the clothes I was wearing were still damp and that my hair was no even brushed. The thoughts of what I been through echoed through my mind. Somehow, I had survived and learned how to better prepare more for any future camping trips. Walking down the hall I could hear my mother’s voice.
“Honey, is that you?” I opened her door and peered in. “How was it?” She had been forewarned by Jonathan’s mother that were returning in the wee hours for some curious reason.
With a half smile on my face, I replied, “Jonathan is an Eagle Scout, and he said it was the worst camping trip he had ever been on. Jonathan says it was the camping trip from hell.”