PrologueWhat we are doing, and why we're doing it!
Having been on the move for nearly a year now, we've begun to think about stopping to let the kids finish High School and start to get themselves established with jobs. Correspondence school has been great for Carissa, but not for Ian. We didn't want to settle in a place with cold winters, so we have been waiting until we got far enough south for the weather to moderate.
Norfolk, Virginia is the first city where the weather, housing prices, and job market might be appealing. We spent a few days investigating the area before moving on. The area was interesting, but we had more to see.
The drive south from Norfolk was the start of the low country of the mid-Atlantic seaboard. This is the low country of the Carolinas, with nary a hill in sight. The area is also sparsely populated.
The drive from Norfolk took us past endless fields speckled with small houses or mobile homes nestled at the end of long driveways. The fields are sometime separated by long sloughs snaking great distances from the coast.
As we approached the outer banks, we passed the Intracoastal Waterway , which allows boaters to travel from Southern Florida to New England without ever sailing in the open ocean. It's an annual trek for numerous northeasterners each fall. We saw several yachts headed south, but nary a single boat headed north.
The outer banks are an interesting place. We've never seen so many houses on stilts. When you first leave the mainland near Kitty Hawk, you are confronted with a city of vacation homes on legs. Nearly every building is 20 feet or more in the air. There is good reason for the lofty construction of the houses on the 'banks. This is still hurricane country, and there's nothing to stop the tidal surges that occasionally sweep across the thin strip of land.
There is little else other than spidery houses and beaches to be seen. Granted, the beaches are beautiful but that's all that there is: miles and miles of sandy beach. While the western beaches face the calm waters of Albermarle Sound, the eastern beaches are exposed to the exposed to the Atlantic. These are treacherous waters that have claimed countless ships. The local lighthouses stand witness to a history of tragedy that hangs in the air to this day.
At Ocracoke, near the southern end of the Outer Banks, we took a ferry back to the mainland. As we motored across Palmico Sound, our ferry cruised along marked channels. While Ocracoke is roughly as far off shore as Catalina Island (which used to take us 5 hours to reach in our sailboat), the waters of the Sound are too shallow for most vessels to wander freely. The channel markers denote invisible roads of deep water marked only with traffic signs at the intersections. The flat land that we had driven through seems to extend far from the mainland.