Living on shifting sands

By Molly Harrison | Tuesday, March 6, 2012
N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island got some bigtime press this week.

Life on a Sandbar. I like those bumper stickers. Even though they're a little on the souvenier-ish side for my own car, every time I see one on another car, which is frequently around here, I rise above my life for a minute and remember where I am in the universe: on a tenuous perch of sand out in the sea. Sometimes when I'm dashing around to the grocery and work and the Y and preschool, just doing what I do, I forget the miraculous-ness of living out here on this sandbar.

And there's a new attitude that comes with that remembering. Sand has a different feeling than dirt, whether your feet are directly in it or not. Knowing that it's sand that my house is built on, or sand that the road is laid on, reminds me of an essential truth: impermanence. We're only here for a little while. With one storm, this life we know on this sandbar could be gone and (god forbid) we'll have to move inland.

It's kind of the same feeling I get when I fly over the Outer Banks. From that perspective I really get the feeling that our lives on these sandbars are so temporary - amazing and unbelievable, but temporary, so we better soak up every little bit of wonderfulness of it now. Hey, maybe I should get one of those bumper stickers. Then I'd remember all this good stuff all the time. If you want one, get it here.

Evidence of impermanence is everywhere on the Outer Banks. If you want a real reminder, just look at N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island. Did you know that our beachside highway made the New York Times this week?

Basically, the story is an overview of the problems of maintaining Highway 12 on Hatteras - a saga we all know about. The reporter presents the views of Stanley Riggs, author of the new book The Battle for North Carolina's Coast, who says that maintaining N.C. 12 is a futile, lost cause that will bankrupt the state. But then the writer balances that with the views of the people of Hatteras Island, who say that they'll lose their livelihood if Highway 12 isn't maintained, and the views of NC DOT, which has an obligation to provide a transportation system to Hatteras. See the story here.

Local writer Catherine Kozak also did an impressive story on the same issue of our fragile coast in Coastal Review Online, which came out just a day before. Read her article here.

Readers who aren't on the Outer Banks should know that N.C. 12 to Hatteras Island is open for driving. The highway is difficult to maintain and presents a long-range planning nightmare, but it is being maintained and it is safe to drive at this point.

What do you think should be done about N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island? Do you think we should forget all the bridges and institute an intricate system of small ferries, as Riggs suggests? Riggs suggests that we let Hatteras become a chain of little islands connected by ferries and that it would be just as attractive to visitors as Ocracoke. Should the state keep pouring money into maintaining a highway that is constantly under siege from the ocean? Should the state build bridges to span the hotspots? Do you have another idea? Make a comment below, or head to our Facebook page and make a comment there.

Anwyay, it's an issue we'll be reading about and talking about for years to come.

In the meantime, back to the here and now, what are your plans for your life on this sandbar this weekend? Hopefully you'll be living it up to the fullest, appreciating every moment you have on the Outer Banks sand.

I've got a couple of things to tell you about.

The Elizabethan Gardens is holding its Spring Fling Volunteer Clean Up Day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They need people to lend a hand with clean up jobs like transplanting grass, pulling debris out of shrubs, deadheading plants, pruning, etc. Bring your garden gloves. They'll provide tools and lunch.

Roanoke Island Festival Park is open again for the season, with several good shows already on the calendar for March. Students from Western Carolina University are coming to town to perform this weekend. On Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m., they're doing a children's show based on Brunhoff's Babar. Kids will learn about music, and there will be an instrumental petting zoo. On Saturday at 2 p.m., they're doing a Chamber Music event.

While you're at Festival Park, stop in the Outer Banks History Center Gallery (next to the visitor center at RIFP) to see their new exhibit on the Civil War.

On Saturday in Currituck, it's the 13th Annual Art Extravaganza. There will be art of various mediums including jewelry, woodworking, metalworking, pottery, fabric art, and painters of varying medium. More than 50 artists from Eastern NC and Virginia will be there. In addition art students in the Currituck County schools will proudly display their finest as well. The show, as always, is free and open to the public. Hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the show is at the Currituck County High School in Barco.

Something else fun to do this weekend is to catch a Theatre of Dare's "The Old Couple." The show opened last weekend, and reports are in that it is very funny. Get your comic relief on Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m.

Don't forget to get your tickets for Outer Banks Taste of the Beach! This event is coming up next weekend and some events are selling out!

Keep looking in our By Night and By Day sections. We've got tons of stuff listed there, including the bands that are playing this weekend. Lots of businesses are opening back up this week, so there's a lot more going on around here...

And have you been following our Weekly Giveaways on Facebook? This coming up week we're giving away two passes to the Outer Banks Wedding Show, plus cupcakes from Carolina Cupcakery! The show is scheduled for March 24 at The Sanderling, so forward the link to all the brides you know!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

This week you have a chance to win two passes to the Outer Banks Wedding Show, plus cupcakes from Carolina Cupcakery! The show is scheduled for March 24 at The Sanderling, so Click Here to register and forward the link to all the brides you know!

For more information about The Sanderling Resort and Spa check out their website.

For more information about Carolina Cupcakery check out their website.

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Gail Glaser!!!

You won a free entry to The Flying Pirate Half Marathon on Sunday, April 22, 2012.

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway Winner

For more information about Outer Banks Sporting Events check out their Website.

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks. When not working she practices and teaches yoga and spends as much time as possible outside and in or on the water with her husband and two children.