Last week we took several days off to visit the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras, in North Carolina… a short but welcome getaway after the semester. My parents rented a house there for a week, to celebrate their anniversary. The drive was just about ten hours, down the eastern shore of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, and over the Chesapeake Bay bridge/tunnel.
Before this trip, I guess I had never looked too closely at a map of NC. The cape sticks rather far out into the ocean, and is shockingly narrow. We drove through Kitty Hawk and Nag's Head on the way, and Hatteras is very close to Roanoke Island, the site of the (lost) first English colonization effort in the Americas (in 1585).
We split time about evenly between sight-seeing and just relaxing. I brought the laptop and some papers to read, and actually had a chance to do some work. I don't necessarily believe in the dichotomy of all-work weekdays and all-play vacations. My work and leisure are largely intertwined; I think that's typical for academic careers. But it's always nice to work in a beautiful and peaceful setting, of course.
The house was cute, with two full baths, three bedrooms (one with a pile of bunk beds for kids), a large kitchen and living space, a loft with futon, balconies, and partial views of the ocean to the east and the sound to the west. Most of the house was up one floor on stilts, as is typical (and sensible) in this region. In fact, the ground-level foyer even smelled a little musty from previous flooding.
The first thing we did was walk up the Hatteras lighthouse. There are many lighthouses on the cape, of course, but this is probably the most famous. Just do a Google image search for “hatteras” and you'll see what I mean. It was a piece of cake compared to all the cathedrals we ascended in Paris last year, with their uneven, worn stone stairs. Just remembering them makes my ankles ache again. :)
We also visited Roanoke Island, where we saw a silly play featuring Queen Elizabeth I and her half-sister and predecessor Bloody Mary Tudor. The idea is that they emerge from their tombs at Westminster Abbey every night and continue to pick on one another. The actresses played well off of one another, and the dialogue was fun, with a few nuggets of history thrown about.
Anyway, now I'm back in New York, and ready to contemplate some research problems with increased vigor.