Outer Banks, an old friend By Liz...

A MEMORABLE PLACE

February 03, 2002|By Special to the Sun

A MEMORABLE PLACE

Outer Banks, an old friend

By Liz Ward

SPECIAL TO THE SUN

We rode the waves in denim rafts with yellow rubber ends when we first started vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the 1970s. Wee Winks, a convenience store attached to the Texaco, served as the only grocery store for miles. We could walk endlessly, collecting any variety of exotic shells, and still not see another soul on the beach. When the wind blew hard at night, we could feel the entire house sway. If it fell over, would anyone have noticed?

In the 1980s, we replaced our denim rafts with boogie boards. We discovered the joys of taking an SUV on the beach. By letting air out of the tires, we could ride on top of the sand and as close to the water as we dared. The beaches were more populated -- you could wave to someone sharing the sand with you.

Tommy's Village Market and the Duck Deli had joined Wee Winks. You could even rent a movie and order a pizza. My parents bought a house in Duck, and we came down in the winter attempting to recapture a taste of the seclusion from years past.

We floated through the 1990s in inner tubes, sometimes bumping into other beachgoers. My family had traded home ownership for the ease of renting. It was too crowded to take our truck on the sand, but now we could go to the grocery store and the pharmacy.

Locating unusual shells was more easily done in a gift shop than during low tide. We had to get up extra early if we wanted the beach to ourselves, but we could go to the movie theater when it rained.

The last two years found us buying flotation devices called "noodles" in the surf shops to take in the ocean or the community pool that was part of the development where we were renting a house. At age 32, with a toddler in tow, I noticed that I preferred the pool to the beach. On Saturday afternoons when foul weather threatened to put an end to our beach day, we were just a few of what seemed to be thousands descending upon the Corolla Food Lion or the shopping plazas.

The Outer Banks and I are like old camp buddies who have grown up together, seldom missing our yearly visit. Driving over the Wright Memorial Bridge always brings delicious anticipation. Has it changed? I wonder what's new. Sometimes you love what's happened and other times you wonder what in the world people were thinking. But you still rush to embrace this place, because you've known it for so long it's a part of you.

Liz Ward lives in Pikesville.

MY BEST SHOT

Rainy-day memories

By Ilene Gold, Baltimore

As it started to rain at Epcot at Disney World, we bought yellow rain slickers at a gift shop, and my children ran for cover in the Moroccan marketplace. As the rain came down harder, more and more people bought rain slickers. I thought back to my rainy days in elementary school and how we all had these yellow slickers. It was as if we had all turned back into little kids as we ran through the rain.

READERS RECOMMEND

Mount Rainier

Ruth Bassler, Baltimore

"On a recent trip to explore Washington and Oregon, we were disappointed when we approached Mount Rainier. It was so foggy and cloudy, we couldn't be sure it was even there. We tried again the next day, and there it was in all its glory, a beautiful sight."

New York City

Helen Naviasky, Baltimore

"Take the No. 7 IRT subway train from Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan to the Queens Museum of Art in Corona Park and see the Panorama of the City of New York permanent exhibit. It's a complete scale model of all five boroughs, including buildings, rivers and bridges. The entire family will enjoy it."

Georgia, Carolinas

Ted Lingelbach, Parkville

"The perfect vacation: A week at St. Simons Island, Ga. -- great beach, warm weather and good restaurants; then on to unspoiled Cumberland Island National Seashore, Ga. Next, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and a meal at Broadway at the Beach. Then spend a week in Duck, N.C., and tour the Outer Banks from Corolla to Ocracoke Island. Wow!"

LET US HEAR FROM YOU

We want to know about your travels, your experiences, your pictures. Here's how to participate in this page:

* My Best Shot -- Send us a terrific travel photo with a description of when and where you took it. (Cash value: $50.)

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* Readers Recommend -- Briefly tell us about places you've recently visited that you'd recommend to other readers. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

* Readers Respond -- Send a reply to our current question: What city is the most romantic, and why? Selected answers may appear in a future issue. (50 words or less; photos are welcome.)

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