We were on I-64 heading east.
For miles we kept seeing these orange signs—Survey Crew Ahead.
And for miles, we saw no surveying crew, and with good reason—it was pouring rain. Coming down in buckets, make that barrels, no make that water towers.
To put it simply, Thursday, November 12 would have been a good day for Noah. His ark could have floated all the way to Duck on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Courtesy of our children that was our destination.
They had planned a celebration to honor their mother, my Commander Supreme. My young bride was turning 65, and at the end of this month would be wedding anniversary 45.
Yes, time flies. It flies even when you are sitting still. Time is motion, a restless tick-tock, like the unsettled ocean always moving.
Having learned lessons in logistics from their mother, as we were paddling toward Duck, so were our children and grandchildren.
They had planned this gathering, this getaway. Covidography be damned. We would make it to Duck come hell or high water, and right now rain water was winning the trek.
We twisted our way through construction zones, with retaining ponds full to the brim. Before and after the tunnel, the deep gray of the day kept us from seeing any of the Navy’s gray hulled ships anchored in solitude across the water.
As we surfed our way into the flatlands of North Carolina’s coastal plain the intensity of the rain picked up. The clouds became darker. Drainage ditches, parking lots, and driveways to homes were covered in water. The ground was saturated. This rich dark coastal loam could hold no more.
Near Jarvisburg, we stopped at the Weeping Radish, North Carolina’s first craft brewer. The building looked dark and deserted.
But, the daughter of the founder must have felt sorry for a rain soaked traveler. She unlocked the front door. We had a good conversation about the challenges breweries are facing from covidography.
I made a couple of purchases, thanked her for her hospitality, and took a shower getting back into the car.
We found our way back on to 168 and continued the drive toward the Wright Memorial Bridge.
My grip on the steering wheel tightened when we reached the bridge that crosses the Currituck Sound. Even in the dull light of cloud cover, the weather gods conspired to make for poor visibility. We slowed down.
Once we reached land again, we headed to the Aycock Brown Welcome Center. We parked, and waited for good news from our son’s wife, Kathryn. She had been negotiating an earlier entry time with the rental agency at the beach house.
I took another shower getting to the visitors’ center restroom. We sat in the car and watched as wind gusts rippled blasts of rain across the parking lot’s surface. I reclined my seat and dozed off for a few minutes.
At some point, a text was received. A new entry code had been issued. We departed the lot, crossed back over 158, and drove toward highway 12 that narrow ribbon of shoreline road.
Along the way, we hit some large rainwater puddles that flew into air off the passenger side of the car. Soon, our turn on to Tide came up, and we pulled into the driveway of the ocean front house.
We figured out the code entry, unloaded the car, and explored the house. It wasn’t too long before the quietness was gone.
The cars loaded with road weary grandchildren and their parents arrived. We unloaded what seemed like truck loads of kids junk needed to survive a three night stay.
Thank the good Lord, they all made it. And it didn’t take long for the playful energy of the children to take over.
Pizza had been ordered from Pizzazz Pizza.
Our children had surprised their mother with a video presentation of friends who had secretly sent video selfies to our youngest daughter, Elizabeth. She in turn compiled them into seamless heartfelt birthday wishes that were priceless.
The weather gods gave us a break on Friday. Clouds of gray still hovered around, but the rain had moved out. That meant we could move out too.
I prepped fishing rods, and then headed to Bob’s Bait and Tackle in Duck.
In the shop, I found what I was looking for and bought some frozen cut bait. In my chatting with a couple of employees, I surprisingly learned that the store, despite COVID-19, had enjoyed their best year of sales since opening in 1982.
Back at the house, treks down to the beach had occurred. The grands submitted their observations about the sand, the waves, shorebirds, and shells.
I made my final preps for hitting the beach to fish. With my waders, wading boots, and all the other junk I gave the appearance of a fisherman.
A fisherman who hoped to catch more fish than had ever been caught in Duck. But, the fish could see right through that facade.
During my two day attempt, I saw one fish jump in the roiling surf. No matter what I tried, not even a nibble. Final score— Fish 1 Frustrated Fisherman 0.
Saturday was a charmer. Blue sky, lots of sun, but with a steady stiff breeze by the ocean.
That morning at 10, we were to experience the pursuit of perfection—the family picture.
Our son-in-law, Doug, could probably be a professional photographer. Somehow, he survives the staging, the changing of lineups, and the coaxing of smiles.
After lunch, a group of us walked into Duck to explore a bit.
Duck was at one time an annual trip for us every Thanksgiving. When my father-in-law passed, for whatever reason those trips stopped.
With our masks, we moseyed in and out of shops, and some purchases were made. I marveled at the new Wee Winks a longstanding convenience store in Duck.
As we started the walk back to the house, we made a detour.
We stopped in an open green space called the Tap Shack. Someone had figured out how to use this open area behind shops and restaurants as a watering hole.
The walk back to the house was quicker. As the sun started its slow descent into the Currituck Sound, the temperature dropped a bit.
We made it to the house. And once again, our children had some surprises. Photo prints of a once young couple outlined the fireplace, and a slide show of fun photos from the past were being shown.
And before we knew it, Sunday morning was upon us. We had to be out by the unheard of time— 9:00.
Of course, there was a flurry of activity in and out of the house. Somehow, we were packed and pulling out of the driveway a few minutes after 9.
Andrew and his family headed back to Richmond.
Lauren’s family, Elizabeth, the Commander Supreme, and a scorned fisherman were going to make a stop at Jockey’s Ridge—mother nature’s sand pile.
Somehow, those mountains of sand survived our intrusion. I marveled at the ripples carved out in the sand’s surface by the wind. I would not want to be on these dunes when the wind is howling.
Back in the parking lot, we said our goodbyes.
As we worked our way out on to 158, the Commander Supreme made a request—let’s get off the highway and take the shore road up to highway 12. So, we did.
We saw hotels and motels, shops and restaurants, new and old cottages, some pristine, some battered by all kinds of weather.
In some spots, we noted the encroachment of sand dunes right to the edge of the road. And, we caught glimpses of sun diamonds sparkling on the ocean’s surface.
The ride back to Richmond was dry. This day would not have worked for Noah and his ark.
But, it was a windy day. A day when untethered gusts of wind shook the car and blew swirls of leaves into the windshield. I imagine that Wilbur and Orville would have been intrigued by the wind.
The same Survey Crew Ahead signs appeared as we barreled west on I-64. Maybe they’ll be surveying on Monday, or maybe someone forget to take the signs down.
But, in truth those signs made me think—deep inside of our souls, we all want to know what lies ahead.
I wonder if Noah thought about that—what lies ahead.
At this very moment, probably more than in any other time in the history of America, we want to know what lies ahead.
Can we sacrifice and push back COVID-19?
Will the coming vaccines work? Will people take the vaccine?
Can America rediscover the consistency of unity instead of more spiteful division?
I don’t know.
But, I am intrigued about what drove Noah to act. His faith must have been unwavering.
Maybe that’s what we need is a dose of faith.
Faith that we can right our hearts—our souls.
Isaiah 58:11 states: “The Lord will guide you always.”
I think my heart, my soul, my faith needs some guidance.
How about you?