Photos: Outer Banks 2016

Father’s Day, my mom’s wonderful cooking, good times with my brother and his wife, relaxing with Lori, a break from life. My birthday, too. 36. Too old to try and document everything — the sweeter moments are what they are and lie beyond capturing (or, in the case of fresh peaches, pass too quickly to be caught) — but young enough hopefully to still notice the scenery.

Onto what photos did emerge.

Continue reading Photos: Outer Banks 2016

Not inventing the selfie

I thought briefly, maybe, just once, I had invented the selfie. I was thinking of a time about 13 or so years ago, whenever we first had a digital camera at the beach, which is to say a lifetime ago. The people with me in the photos at the time couldn’t have been more confused. “You don’t want me to take a picture of you?”

Some of the photos make the time look at least 20 years ago. This child is clearly in high school, right? But, no, I wasn’t. Just skinny and clean-shaven. As a colleague from then said when seeing me recently, “You filled out!” Yes. But, no, I didn’t invent the selfie.

Northwestern kids in 1975 did, or didn’t (probably didn’t), using a trigger on a cord, spurring a yearbook feature that ran for decades. Even if they didn’t invent the selfie, their results were wonderful and true to the selfie spirit that lives today. Said a yearbook editor from 1980 to the alumni magazine: “It’s disarming, because you think, ‘Oh, it’s just a snapshot.’ But in fact, the photographer is working very, very hard to make it just what he wants it to be.”

This gallery of those shots makes my day. Personal favorites: the guy jumping out the window, the man with the Muppet lapel, the gang of greasers, and the girl in the laundry machine.

Peaceful weekend

One of the tough things about living in D.C. and being from D.C. is how nearly all the people you meet are from somewhere else. But the holidays provide a silver lining. When Thanksgiving or Christmas comes, the street parking gets easier. Crossing town to family and friends’ houses becomes a winter breeze. Even the stores aren’t as crazy as they could be. The day or two after each holiday, they are peaceful and welcoming. The city returns to being the town it once was.

But if I had to be anywhere else over the holidays, no surprise, it would be the Outer Banks. Friend Jeffrey shares this photo from Thanksgiving week:

Still, still thinking about water

Came across a National Geographic story on the rising waters at the Outer Banks, something I blogged about here earlier in the summer.

A quarter or so of the way into the piece, there’s a stunning and sad photo of the Nags Head beach neighborhood where my family used to go every year.  It’s a view from the sky from sometime in June of where I took this picture in late June. The beach replenishment is not looking good.



The best week at the beach is the week before the hurricane


At the time, you see, you have no idea the hurricane is coming. Yes, maybe the beach a bit more breezy than usual, and temps are more than decent.

But as good as you may feel, you don’t know how good you have it. Looking back, skies are more blue, fish more tasty, sun just right. Above is the view from the porch at the beach, just on the other side of a small dune from the Atlantic. I can’t remember if rain was falling at the time. But considering, again, this week was the week before the hurricane, I have to assume not.

A few Nags Head moments where I thought to pull out my camera…

First time back at Dune Burger in maybe 20 years. 

First time back at Fat Boyz since… last year.

Trying to take a picture with our ice cream and the sign.

Trying and failing in a windy rain with rapidly melting ice cream.

The polar vortex that’s made D.C. so green had struck OBX too.

I turned 34 and finally remembered to wear my birthday shirt.

Cousin Drake.

Ice-cream party.

Everybody laugh!

This is only about half of us.

Got lots of good porch sittin’ in.

Waking up early to see the sun rise. Little cloudy, still worth it.

Half an hour or so after sunrise, finally above the clouds.

The appropriate name of the house.

Still thinking about the water


(Lori’s photo. I’m in the water out there.)

I’ve been back for the beach for two weeks, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the water. The ocean was great when we were there, calm a few days, good for watching the sky, and white-capped on others, good for jumping over or under a steady rush of waves. The water was even warm most of the time.  But I keep thinking about where the water is going to be.

While we were down there, the Post ran a long piece, “On N.C.’s Outer Banks, scary climate-change predictions prompt a change of forecast.” In short, the 100-year outlook showed rising seas swallowing up our part of the island: the house we rent each year, the burger and ice cream places Lori and I went for my birthday lunch, the old shell shop on the causeway we went exploring, and just about everywhere else my family’s gone there for the past decades. Meanwhile, the article explained, North Carolina politicians were lobbying to ignore the 100-year data and base property outlooks on a shorter, far less impactful amount of time: 30 years.

The week after we returned from the beach, my aunt and uncle had their 50th wedding anniversary. For the party, the cousins had put together a slideshow of all the years, and Nags Head figured prominently. We saw my oldest cousin, now with kids in college, as a toddler, walking on the beach. Then we saw the succession of cousins, the siblings of the oldest, and then later me and my brother. My immediate family had been going to Nags Head probably 25 years or more. The cousins must have been going on 45.

A 30-year outlook? Blink of an eye.

While we were at the beach, I drove Lori down to where we used to stay on the island, back in the day, near the southern tip before Oregon Inlet. The neighborhood was called Goosewing, where we had stayed and where the cousins had taken pictures, and Goosewing had changed. The loop that ran to the beachfront houses didn’t loop anymore. Sand had overtaken most of it, with storms driving the low dunes from underneath the front houses. These houses were all vacant. All lacked stairs up from their old driveways to their old front doors. County had condemned all of them, and several were no longer there. We had seen the first ones go a decade or more ago.


When a maintenance man came to fix a broken sliding door on our house this year, he told us more of the story. Before he fell into a mini-rant about the immigrants who’d taken over his former home of Southern California, he said the authorities had condemned Goosewing’s beachfront houses when the storms had blown the sand and exposed their septic tanks — instant legal trouble, apparently. But complications had arisen since. The city’s replenishment of the beach several years ago had given all these houses new protection. Their owners were now fighting to get back in.

While that battle rages on, while the extended family waits another year to return to Nags Head, the family’s favorite time of year, I keep thinking about the 30-year outlook and what’s supposed to happen after that.

The 100-year outlook says the water will not abide. The 100-year outlook says the water will swallow whole your homes, memories and futures.


To 99.1 The Sound and DJs who play only the songs they want

There are a lot of huge, wonderful, heart-warming reasons I love going to the Outer Banks every year with my family. But the musical reason is 99.1 The Sound. “The Outer Banks Alternative” is — from what I understand — what radio used to be like. Half or more of the songs I don’t hear anywhere else on the radio. If you know me well, you know I’m a constant station-switcher in the car. When I’m in range of The Sound, I don’t touch the dial. I don’t even think about it. If you’re sitting next to me, same goes for you.

Favorite tracks from my recent week at the beach — all tracks you can get on-demand easily, but hearing them on the radio makes me so happy:

War on Drugs, Red Eyes.

Bob Mould, I Don’t Know You Anymore. Also an awesome video.

Sheryl Crow, A Change Would Do You Good.

Cracker, Teen Angst (What the World Needs Now).

(Watch for Mould’s Tiny Desk Concert coming out. It was a great set.)

Previously in this blog:
2009: “I love 99.1 The Sound”
2009: “The one that turned you on last year to that Wilco song…”
2008: “Hard to be upset at driving away to Positively 4th Street…”
-I don’t know how I haven’t blogged about it every year.

Photos: Nags Head 2013 in its windy glory

There were many moments I failed to capture. Sitting and reading on the porch with my parents, Rob and Danielle’s amazing pasta dinner, fish and fireworks with the cousins, our fastest Dairy Queen run ever, beer and 10-cent shrimp and cheese fries atop the windiest pier on the island, another great meal at Blue Moon… buying a box of old baseball cards for no reason.

But I captured what I could, and you can fill in the blanks. We start, as we always do, with peaches in frozen yogurt at the roadside, almost there….

Peach flurry with fresh peaches at Grandy Fruit Market.

Rain but not for too long.


Continue reading Photos: Nags Head 2013 in its windy glory

The highest height calls, and we go fly a kite

I’ve always been a fan of a kite Lori built for herself, so for my birthday at the beach, she gave me one of my own, printed with beautiful books and grounded to a ball of peppermint-colored string. We took out to the sand in days after and had too much fun trying to fly it.

We didn’t have a lot of success, but we began making steps toward flight. My dad had a good suggestion that knocked side-to-side dives, and Lori came up with how we could fix nose-to-tail flipping. We alternately ran out of time and wind before we could make that tweak, but we went home in good confidence there was a future for the kite up in the atmosphere.

Before we drove home, though, Lori managed to stop her laughing long enough to take pictures of the man below, a valiant would-be flier.

Continue reading The highest height calls, and we go fly a kite