What I did on my autumn vacation.

I got up yesterday at 3:30 a.m., on a vacation day. Am I nuts? Well, yeah, but it was worth it.

We met down at the college at 5:00, left about 5:30 and made the drive down to Cedar Island to catch the 7:00 ferry. While we were on the boat the sun came up:

See all those people at the bow shooting the sunrise? Those were the actual photographers I was traveling with. As previously noted, I am not a photographer. I was along for the ride. They brought cases of camera gear. I brought my knitting, a book, my journal, a sketchpad – I did bring my camera too, but I wasn’t expecting to get any great shots.

We disembarked about 9:00 and the group leader outlined “The Plan.” The Plan included walking about 4 miles. Normally not a big deal for me, but my hip was having a pretty bad bursitis day so I decided to drive to their first location and meet them there.

Have I ever told y’all about my navigational skills? Or, um, lack thereof? I am wicked awesome with maps – I can draw maps, read maps, find things on maps, no worries. But when it comes to giving or following verbal directions… well… it starts with the part where I don’t know my right from my left and it goes downhill from there. Needless to say my husband was not a bit surprised that I got lost on the way to the British Cemetary. I drove about two miles past the turnoff on the main island road, and found a lot of other cool things (top secret confession, I actually like getting lost and often do it on purpose because I always find cool stuff.) One of the things I saw on my meander was a coffee place tucked right inside a big curve in the road. I remembered that the group leader had specifically designated a coffee shop on the inside of the big curve as one of our rendezvous bases. Score!

So I backtracked, found British Cemetary Road, and caught up to the group. I got a few interesting shots of things I might want to draw at some point, like the elaborately braided ropes around the stanchions, and a pretty arched gate into the graveyard. Bo got some really fabulous shots of palm leaves. This is why I am not a photographer – it would never in a million billion years occur to me to shoot palm leaves while at a cemetary. Things don’t draw my eye like that. I look at what I’m looking for and rarely see anything else.

So, the group leader says – “let’s go to the coffee shop and regroup before we head to our next site.” And like an idiot, I say, “okay, I know where that is, I’ll meet you there,” and hop in Radar, and motor off.

Does it surprise you to hear that there is more than one place to get coffee on Ocracoke island that happens to be situated on a curve in a road? After waiting about 20 minutes, I thought – gosh, they are taking a long time to walk about a half a mile – so I got OUT of my car and started walking back towards where I left them, hoping to meet them.

When I got all the way back to British Cemetary Road, I called Bo. The coffee place that they were at wasn’t even ON the main road, it was on another road that I hadn’t even noticed the existence of. And by that time I was so far away from my car that it made more sense to me to walk to where they were than to walk all the way back to my car. So I did. 3/4 mile UP the main road, about 1/2 mile OVER to the correct side street, and a little over another mile DOWN to the proper coffee shop. By the time I got there I was in a lot of pain and really really upset with myself. Especially since I decidedly did not want to walk back to my car. But I also didn’t want to wait at the coffee shop until they finished their next photo stop, since I had left my knitting, my books, my sketchbook, and my wallet in my car. All I had with me was my camera bag and my phone, and my phone battery was almost dead. I dropped myself right smack down into the pit of a self-bashing pity party to the tune of “I’m not even a photographer, what am I doing here, I shouldn’t have come if I couldn’t keep up, I don’t have any business with this group, I’m just slowing Bo down…” ad nauseum. Hey, if I’m gonna beat myself up, why mess around?

Well, I made it. Limping and pathetic, but in the right place finally. While Bo was getting me an iced mocha, I looked at Facebook on my nearly dead phone and saw the following status from my buddy at LifeRoo:

“Take a break from your routine. Go somewhere new. Get a new perspective on life, and see value you’ve never seen before.”

It felt exactly like Mark Harmon slapping me in the back of the head. Exactly.

So I got my attitude back under control. Bo offered to go get Radar for me (it was really only about a half mile away, without all the up one street down the other mess), and I sat quietly under a tree and nursed my hip back to semi-health. Then we met the group at a little church, which sat about two lots down from The Sunglass Shop.

While the photographical types went in to shoot the interesting cross on the altar and such, I hobbled over to the sunglass place. I broke my sunglasses on the Boy Scout ride on Saturday and had been squinting since. So I walk into this cute, quaint little shop that had everything from cheep tourist glasses meant to be lost on the beach to RayBans, and found a glamorous pair of Jackie O huge dark glasses with super-wide temple bars, comfortable and only $10. I go to check out, and the nice man who owns the shop cleans the glasses thoroughly, lenses and frames, and inspects them before he rings them up. He called my attention to a microscopic scratch inside one of the lenses, well below my sightline, and told me that if I really wanted them, even damaged, he would sell them to me for half price. He said he would never under any circumstances sell a damaged product, no matter how slight, for full price. I told him it was an honor to do business with someone of that ethic, and he laughed and said he’d owned that shop for 18 years and they hadn’t run him off the island yet so he must be doing something right.

It is both sad and wonderful at the same time to be taken aback by honorable behavior.

We went out to the lighthouse, which was a little bit boring but I might be able to do something with it in charcoals:

Eat your heart out, Ms. Woolf

It looks taller from here

On the way to the lighthouse I infected Bo with my directional cooties, and we drove right past it. So while we were lost on Loop Rd, I saw this great tree stump carved with an owl. Told you getting lost works for me –

I really really love owls a lot

By the time we got back on the ferry and made it home, it was nearly 7:30 at night. Long exhausting day, but overall (barring one pointless meltdown) I had a great time!

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