This past Friday I mentioned the picture above, the header of this blog, is one that I took at Hermosa Beach. Hermosa is where you’ll frequently find me walking in the mornings. Why did I choose that picture to define me? The answer to that is what I hope to find in these posts.
I remember as a kid how much I loved to go to Lake Michigan. Just 30 minutes from home, it was always a big adventure to go and climb up a large sand dune called Tower Hill. Closer to our home in Niles Michigan, was Barron Lake. We went to Barron Lake more often, probably because I was forced to stay in the safer children’s play area. I always preferred to go to the big lake, but Barron Lake would usually do. As long as I was able to get into some water or play on a beach I was pretty happy.
Years later my family moved to North Carolina during my Junior high school years. Though the nearest beaches were four hours from where we lived, I was thrilled to live in a state with a long ocean front. My high school friends and I use to go to a small island called Holden Beach each summer to party. When I was 19 I was with family on Holden Beach when an opportunity came up for me to work on a shrimp boat. I was very excited. Not only would I live along the ocean, but I would be out on a boat all day and had a great opportunity to make a good deal of money. In the end that never happened. I can’t remember why, but I think I decided not to go for some odd reason.
It was a little later when I discovered an area I still truly love, the North Carolina Outer Banks. The Outer Banks is a long string of narrow barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. In particular I fell in love with Ocracoke Island.
Ocracoke Island is only 16 miles long. Most of the island is National Parkland, so there is no development except for one tiny town at the southern tip called Ocracoke Village. Less than a thousand people live on Ocracoke. The village is built along a beautiful lagoon called Silver Lake. The village is so small that school grades K – 12 are located in the same building. Once a small fishing village, the islands primary income today is tourism. Fortunately, because the village is surrounded by National Parkland, there is no room to grow, and that’s why I love it.
One year I had the opportunity to purchase a sandwich shop on the island. The owner and I had long discussions. The thrill of living there was nearly more than I could handle. In the end I decided not to buy it. I started thinking that a single guy in his 20’s probably would get bored living in such a tiny community. This would be especially true during the off season.
One fun legend is that it was on Ocracoke Island, in 1718, where Blackbeard the pirate was killed. His decapitated head was carried around the village on a stick amidst jubilant celebration. Historians are now questioning the validity of this story, however, there are far too many exciting legends of Blackbeard’s ghost on the island for facts to get in the way.
After living in North Carolina for fifteen years, my career moved me around to land locked states. First Nebraska, then Arizona, then Nevada, but I finally returned to the ocean when I moved to California. It is in California where I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The California beaches have had a near magical effect on me, which I will wrap up tomorrow.