About a year ago, my wife Connie and I were leaving for a three-month trip in our brand-new camper on our way to Alaska. A couple of days before we were to leave, I got Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a tiny Yadkin County tick. I panicked because as a child, I believed Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever was fatal, and I had never known anyone that got it. But, the doctor said I’d be alright; just take Doxycycline, an antibiotic medicine. It worked!
A few weeks ago we were preparing to leave for a two-week trip in our camper to the outer banks of North Carolina. I was feeling poorly two days before the trip and went to the doctor. Guess what? No, it’s not Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but instead I have a little pneumonia. So again, I started taking Doxycycline. This stuff is great for killing bad little bugs running around in your body, not so good on the tummy, and exposing skin to sun light can burn worse than the devil’s breath. Here we are on our way to the darn beach and my skin must stay completely covered.
Two days later we tried to hook the camper to the truck so our trip to Ocracoke Island and the outer banks could begin. But the electric system on the camper was malfunctioning. We called the dealership, the service department did not answer. I cranked up the 250-pound camper hitch by hand; it took several minutes of hard labor. Suddenly, without my touching anything, the electric system started working. We left for Ocracoke, but I stopped as we got to Winston to check that electrical system. Again it’s not working, so we drove to the dealership.
After a few minutes they told us the problem was, that I had turned a power switch to the wrong position. I really, very badly wanted to believe this. Except I’m doing everything the same way I did last year and it worked for three months and all the way to Alaska and back. But I desperately wanted to believe it was fixed … of course it was not. Back on the road I stopped again and checked out that now “correct power switch position” just for my peace of mind. The electric system was not working, but I noticed a lose wire and I connected it, the electric power jumped back to life. This wire was loose due to my own ineptness, but even so, I felt a little venerated because it must be said right here and right now, for all to understand. I am incompetent with all things electric, all things mechanical and everything concerning plumbing. Connie says I am so good at being inept it would be a shame to spoil that image. She is of course right, and I plan to remain ignorant.
Of course all that electrical business caused us to miss the last ferry to Ocracoke, which is the only way to get there because it is an island. But we found a campground right by the ferry terminal. We plugged our camper into the campground’s electric outlet pole for our campsite. After about an hour, we noticed all the lights were getting very dim. My mind, body and soul are filled with panic, but Connie, bless her heart, saves the day. Out of 61 campsites, we get one with a bad electric pole. Connie (she is not inept) recognized this and suggested I try the pole of the campsite next to ours, no one was camping there. It worked!
Finally, a day late we arrived at our campground in Ocracoke. After we set up the camper, I decided to go for a well deserved walk on the beach while Connie is reading. Because of the Doxycycline, all my skin must be covered, so I wear long loose-fitting hiking pants, a baggy long-sleeve shirt, and a big floppy hat. Walking down that beautiful stretch of sand and water with the sun at my back, my shadow makes me think of the Wizard of Oz. My loose-fitting garments are making my shadow look just like the scarecrow, and I, too, am desperately wishing for a brain. Doxycycline and faulty electrical systems will do that to you.
This photo was made close to the public beach access at 4:30 p.m. on May 11. Occasionally what is not there is what’s most important. Where are the people?
Welcome to my private beach.
Rod Hunter lives in East Bend and is an avid hiker, biker, photographer and nature lover. He is the past state chairman of the Sierra Club of NC. He volunteers as a court-appointed children’s advocate for children in foster care and with Cancer Services Inc. He is a two-time cancer survivor. He has backpacked in Alaska, Arizona, California, Utah, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Georgia, Virginia, and of course North Carolina.