Personal Journeys


April 04, 2004|By Special to the Sun

A Memorable Place

Of life and tides on the Outer Banks

By Jane M. Frutchey


To visit North Carolina's Carova Beach, one of the remote northernmost beaches of the Outer Banks, I knew a dependable four-wheel-drive was necessary. I never imagined that constant awareness of tides and tree stumps was also essential.

On past vacations to the Outer Banks, I had witnessed countless vehicles, including SUVs, stuck in the sand off the beaches in Corolla. There are no paved roads leading to the beaches of Swan, North Swan and Carova and the secluded properties built there, so travel over dry sand demands time and patience, not to mention a rugged four-wheel-drive.

Journeys into town for shopping, approximately a 15-mile trip, must be timed just right -- according to the tides. At low tide, there is ample room along the beach by water's edge for two vehicles to pass in opposite directions. But the same scenario is not possible at high tide, when more than half the beach disappears under water.

Also tricky at high tide is maneuvering around the countless tree stumps, remnants of a centuries-old forest, that jut from the remaining unsubmerged beach, .

Despite the drive time from Baltimore -- about eight hours -- and the need for continual alertness to tides and stumps, a trip to the serene beaches just below the Virginia border is worth the effort.

My first evening there, I was struck by how seemingly untouched Carova is, compared with the more developed areas in Corolla and elsewhere in the Outer Banks. I saw a half-dozen wild horses romping in the surf, unfazed by passing vehicles. Only about 500 people inhabit the area, so wild horses are a common sight at the remote beaches, now a haven as well for waterfowl and other wildlife.

At dusk, more horses walked across the dunes and stopped to munch tall sea oats near my rental home; one moved sluggishly because of her pregnant belly.

For several days, I lost sight of the pregnant mare, but noticed her companions walking outside my back door. Later in the week, deer and a fox romped outside. I also saw a heron perched on a horse's back and hitching a ride.

Gathering shells was another delight. Early-morning walks along the beach yielded bountiful shells of all shapes, sizes and colors. On several occasions, sand dollars washed ashore and were thrown, like gifts from the sea, at my feet.

On my final day at Carova, I received my most memorable farewell gift: A spindly-legged, fuzzy foal, getting accustomed to his legs, wobbled a few feet from my Jeep. The formerly pregnant mare stood beside the foal, nuzzling its mane.

Jane M. Frutchey lives in Finksburg.

My Best Shot

G. James Gallagher,

Phoenix, Md.

At home in Taos

I spent almost two weeks in New Mexico last spring, and one of the most impressive places I visited was the Taos Pueblo. Just north of Taos, the pueblo was established about 1,000 years ago. Amazingly, about 100 of the approximately 2,000 Native Americans living on the reservation have chosen to live just as their ancestors did -- without modern amenities such as electricity and running water. The structure shown is made of straw bricks and is the largest in the pueblo.

Readers Recommend

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Andrew von Ulrich, Edgewood

After living in Rio de Janeiro for 10 years and never ascending Sugar Loaf Mountain, I decided to finally go up as a tourist, and it proved to be a memorable experience. The photo shown is from an ascending cable car on the second leg of the ascent. Copacabana Beach is in the upper left background.

Cotswolds, England

Ray Akerson, Columbia

My wife and I and friends visited the Cotswold and Cornwall areas of England last fall. In the Cotswolds, we stayed in Moreton-in-Marsh. From there, excellent local transportation and a network of hiking trails allow one to enjoy the beauty of the hills. We stayed in a 200-year-old farmhouse that was run by a lovely woman. Each morning she gathered fresh eggs for breakfast, and each evening provided tea and the occasional Rummikub game.

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.)

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