Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hurricane Hideaway

The surf is fierce and magnificent.

For my fourth trip to the Outer Banks in as many months, I packed a variety of clothes to cover all possible weather possibilities given the unknown effects of Hurricane Jose. The first thing we saw when we hit the beach road was a succession of red "No swimming" flags standing at attention in the stiff breeze.

And since we were driving nearly 19 miles along the beach road - the cottage is deep in South Nags Head - that meant we saw a lot of warning flags and, even better, plenty of off-season vacationers on their porches or trekking to and from the beach despite the weather.

The cottage is newish, three stories and except for a few design flaws, a fabulous vantage point for watching Jose's fury play out in the ocean from one of the four porches. As for those flaws, who the hell builds an oceanfront house with only one oceanfront bedroom (happily for me, the one assigned to yours truly) and leaves half the living room wall facing the ocean without a window?

Amateurs, that's who.

After we arrived, we chatted with our hosts who were wiling away the gray, misty afternoon watching their favorite Italian TV series before leaving them to it and heading to the beach. It was windy and the air was wet, if not actually raining, and I needed my jean jacket for the walk.

We passed only one other person brave enough to be out there, but the shell offerings were rich and we had a pier in sight to walk to, even if it was indistinct in the mist. It turned out to be the Outer Banks pier, but that paled in comparison to seeing the strings of lights and the tables full of people eating and drinking on it, the wild surf crashing underneath them.

Bummed that neither of us had our wallets, we were buoyed to know of local spot I haven't been to, which means one more place to land this September trip.

When we returned to the house, our hostess assumed I'd used the outdoor shower because of my wet hair, when all I'd done was walk outside through 99% humidity, enjoying every moment.

Happy hour began with Miraval Rose and segued seamlessly into a marathon game of Cards Against Humanity (with cards mixed in from Crabs Adjust Humidity  and how perfectly appropriate, given our current digs) that was interrupted only by the need to eat bowls of the cook's stellar chili.

Because our room has a sliding glass door to the balcony and a window oceanfront - both open at all times in sharp contrast to the rest of the air-conditioned house - we had front row seats when Jose kicked up winds so strong in the middle of the night that it was banging the bedroom door in its frame and knocking over items on the dresser.

None of which was a problem because of the satisfaction of hearing the roar of the surf all night long, as perfect a sleep aid as ever imagined. Also a terrific encouragement to sleep in to a ridiculous hour, for those who need such justification.

I don't. If 9 hours is my usual night's sleep, surely I qualify for more when my bed is mere feet from the ocean.

We woke up to hear that school and activities are canceled and Route 12 south of the Bonner bridge is closed completely. And from the looks of the ocean - enormous breakers are rising up so high and far out that the horizon has effectively disappeared - with good cause.

Sounds like an ideal time for a walk, if you ask me. Show me what you got, Jose...

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