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Old 01-29-2013, 06:45 AM   #396
jdrocks OP
Gravel Runner
Joined: Jul 2007
Oddometer: 4,586
I was pointed south on the beach road, that is, the street between the first and second rows of homes, I think it used to be the old main drag. Not a single vehicle in sight, no people either, until I passed a pair of old bearded hippies, gray Edwardian locks, leaning on their bicycles, sharing a doobie the size of a Ball Park Frank, man, I hadn’t seen one of those things since the Cheech and Chong movies. Talk about marijuannnna smoke in the air, those old stoners probably thought they had traveled the cosmic freeway and landed somewhere in Colorado, assuming the THC grapevine had spread the word. Not a care in the world beyond a bicycle ride, any remaining ambition in life died right along with Jerry and the Dead, probably seems lightyears ago in ganja time.

The OBX had a brush with Sandy, not much hurricane wise for these folks, but I could see numerous places where this road had been overwashed by surge. Not far from here, the first row houses had already been lost to previous storms, so the incomprehensible course of action in this neighborhood was to infill available lots with new construction. Not my property, certainly not my construction money, but it is collectively our tax dollars that subsidize the insurance coverage on these structures, and it’s not even a question of “if” there will be a loss, it’s just a question of “when”. Mother Nature will not be dissuaded.

I wanted to stick with my plan to ride south on NC12, the one and only road connecting the lower OBX, to the BonnerBridge at Oregon Inlet. I couldn’t go any farther, the road beyond the bridge had been washed out, travel was restricted to 4X4 vehicles only on a sandy track, and then only on a certain schedule. The bridge itself was only 50 years old, but had been repeatedly damaged by hurricanes, including Sandy, and was now scheduled to be replaced. It was a fast ride down to the bridge, no traffic, no enforcement, a deadend for most, and I was on the gas.

The other truly remarkable thing I hadn’t seen, was a single 4X4 vehicle with the combo cooler and rod rack mounted on the front, surf poles in the rack, bait bucket hanging on the side, a common off season sight in years past, the guys down for traditional fall fishing. I’d done the same myself, but with the ramps and beaches closed, it must be over and done. It might also signal the gentrification of the OBX, a decline in sporting pursuits, where the new type of OBX visitor thinks an over-under is a peculiar event found in kinky porn.

There is a wind warning sign at the approach, no kidding, I’ve seen winds on that bridge deck that could easily knock a moto down, but not today.

Some preliminary bridge work was underway, a tug standing by for the crane barge stationed out at the inlet.

The bridge approach on the south side of the inlet had been overwashed too, now largely cleaned up, and the space used for heavy equipment staged for the road repairs farther south. The old Bonner is an impressive piece of engineering over a treacherous inlet, with the new bridge even bigger and designed to better handle hurricanes and shifting sands at the inlet.

The NCDOT has made a big commitment to keeping NC12 open into the future, but the road gets cut, repaired, relocated with increasing frequency, eventually they’re going to run out of room, and I was thinking this over as I made the backtrack north to the NC64 intersection where I would pick up another piece of Patrick’s track.

Now running almost due west, I jogged onto the Manteo loop to see the sights, hadn’t been there for years, but immediately found it a poor choice. For all the lack of people and activity on the islands, the opposite was found in Manteo, the place was hopping, traffic a slow crawl. Good for them, bad for me, I was in big trouble time wise.

Manteo in the mirrors, no pie sleuthing, plus I was feeling like some kind of fish sandwich pretty bad and almost turned around before I got a good look west. Damn, the sun was only a few fingers above the horizon, and if I only saw one more thing on the list it was going to be the Alligator River NWR. Besides being a refuge, there is an active bombing range inside the boundaries, which I assumed would be clearly marked with more wordy government signs instead of plain basic English like…



Simplify, just like those NC ferry signs…never happen.

Patrick had run around in here on a maze of roads, recorded a bunch of tracks, and lived to tell about it, reckon I could too. Helps to have a paper map, but the map box at little entrance visitor board was empty, no matter, I still had a GPS route loaded, let’s go…huzzah, crank up the buzz, watch for them signs.

(to be continued…)
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