It’s 1952 and I’m in a house on the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina, and I’m seeing the ocean for the first time. I am 16 years old. I will try to briefly summarize my over 70 years of visiting the Outer Banks. I am now 87 years old.
Over the years, after marriage, five children, and discovering the Frisco Woods Campground and its owners Ward and Betty, I would vacation the entire month of August on the Outer Banks. I would stock my tent camper with all the necessities to last for a month and hit the road for the 15-hour drive from Pataskala, Ohio.
On arriving at Frisco Woods Campground, we would get the camper set up, the beds made, and start unloading items for the big screened-in kitchen. Our day would start early, breakfast finished, the campsite cleaned and secured and away to the beach we would go, usually to Frisco Pier which is no longer there. Around 5 p.m. we would head back to our campground and prepare dinner while nursing our sunburns.
Over the years I introduced a lot of people to the beautiful beaches and peaceful environs of this 100-mile stretch of islands. My daughter lived there for a while, so did my third son, and my second son has lived there since 1984 and had a business there; his three children graduated from Cape Hatteras High School. And we were there when the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse began the trip to the new site in 1999.
Trips on the ferry were highlights and we would wander the streets of Ocracoke Island on rainy days when we couldn’t be at the beach. Fresh seafood, campfires at camp and on the beach (when still permitted) were highlights of our days and nights. Watching the sun rise and set and the wonderful night skies was a favorite pastime. We saw many changes over the years as more people discovered this little-known strip of land; some changes were good, but the influx of people discovering the Outer Banks did have an impact on the serenity we enjoyed for many summers.
I live in Tucson, Arizona, now, so my trips to Hatteras have ended since it is very difficult for me to travel. However, my son in Ohio takes my grandchildren and great-grandchildren there, and my son in Virginia is also a regular visitor. I spend many days looking at the thousands of pictures I’ve taken over the years. All those pictures provoke wonderful memories.
I urge people who love the Outer Banks to support Outer Banks Forever, to adopt a sea turtle nest during the season, and when you’re on the beach, smell the salt air, chase the sand fleas, pick up litter, and keep the Banks as clean as possible given the sheer numbers of people visiting.
Oh, by the way, I never learned to surf!