My many trips to Hatteras Island have given me much insight on the diversity of personalities who call this little strip of land home.
On my first visit to the island I stayed at the Inn on Pamlico Sound in Buxton. I had made arrangements with the inn owner Steve Neilson for a late check-in. Steve informed me that Highway 12 would likely have a bit of sand on it from recent weather conditions but should be okay. He suggested that I take my time and not be alarmed as parts of the highway were undeveloped and it would be normal to not see any cars or lights of any kind late at night.
Imagine driving late at night across expansive bridges, knowing that you are crossing a great body of water, but you can’t see it, and then you are driving on a sand blown road. Curiosity gets the best of you, so you stop and roll down your window. It sounds like you are completely flanked by water, wind and dark, or at least this is what your mind is telling you. It’s best to stop thinking about it so much and start driving again, so I did, and I soon saw the distant village lights of Buxton.
It had been a long day and once I found my room it did not take me long to unwind. I did, however, take time to look from my balcony. I could see very little, but my anticipations were high for the next day. I left the curtains open in hopes that the sunrise would wake me.
Well, it happened, and just as the sun started rising I woke up and walked to the balcony again. And there it was: the beautiful Pamlico Sound was waking up with calm waters amid the eternal pulse of nature. It was magical!
I met with Steve over breakfast and, as they say, it was the start of a wonderful friendship. We had a gourmet breakfast overlooking the Pamlico Sound that set the perfect stage, and over the course of that first visit I got to know Steve and his wife Sharon. He told me why he had decided to leave a successful finance business in New York City and move with Sharon to an island that is prone to having some really bad weather. It’s simple, they both loved waking up in Paradise, and I was beginning to understand why.
On another of my visits I had the opportunity to spend time on camera with Ranger Chris Cabral at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse National Park. Chris provided a very informative tour of the lighthouse and a history of the island. His appreciation and love of the island was apparent, and he told me that he had never had a bad day at work on Hatters.
Another thing I discovered about the island was that there are several talented artists who live here and derive their inspiration from the beauty and life on Hatteras Island. I was not necessarily surprised at this discovery, but I was entertained by the fact that I would make friends with renowned artists and participate in the process of throwing pots with Antoinette Gaskins and painting with Linda Browning.
Over the years I have come to love Hatteras Island and the people who live here. I am glad that I first arrived at the island in the dark, so that I could be surprised at all the wonders she has to offer in the morning light.