“Did you hear they’ve finally got the name right, Hal? Callin’ it by it proper name now ‘Bow-fort’ instead of ‘Bew-fort’ like they do down there in South Carolina.”
The gray-haired lady, blue apron covering her flowered dress, sat in her chair in the corner of the Buccaneer Inn’s breakfast room. A monotonous stream of word’s flowed from her mouth to all bodies that walked through the door. I wasn’t sure if there really was a Hal, in the room, but I delighted in it nevertheless. I looked at the laughing eyes of my parents; they couldn’t have seen a better Southern character in any of the Hollywood movies that had romanticized them for years in their living room back in Oz.
Beaufort is a small Outer Banks town in North Carolina- we were to be visiting the other one ‘way down there’ in a couple of days time. We were hoping that the town would be a little easier on the eyes, compared to Atlantic Beach, where we just had come from. A known pirate town, it was on my Dad’s list of things to see on this southern tour of ours. He knew all the rumours of Blackbeard’s jaunts- one of the most feared renegades of the seas- in the sleepy village off the Atlantic Ocean.
Driving into town, historic homes greeted us from under the shade of the overhanging oak trees, and waved us down to the waterfront to catch our ferry over to the Outer Bank islands. We ambled along to the dock, keeping in tune with the sleepy vibe of the town. I liked the peace it radiated and felt I was in the right place for some much-needed rejuvenation. I breathed in the fresh sea air as we sped along in the boat over to Shackleford Island to spend the morning chasing wild horses and collecting shells. The sun beat intensely down and I knew the first burn of the summer was on its way, wearing off the softness of winter and hardening me up in preparation for the seasonal sun-worshipping that was to come.
My love for the beach deepened as the familiar feeling of hard sand on my feet fleetingly imprinted the evidence of my being. We were pointed in the direction of the ponies by a group of successful explorers on their way back to the mainland. An hour was spent trekking through the sand dunes and wild shrub in order to discover a herd grazing on the beach. Although, the adventure was small, I felt the familiar
rush that comes with living fully for the moment. This time I had the added joy of watching Kalyra’s face as she walked up close to the stately mustangs.
We picnicked on the beach, and played in the gentle Sound waters, the Atlantic Ocean side being far too wild for our daughter’s two-year-old sense of courage. The refreshingly cool water relieved us from the scorching sun, while the horses rolled around in the sand in the distance in their attempt to cool off. Before we knew it time arrived for us to return, not without first hunting for shells on the ripping curve around to the Atlantic side, “The best place on the East Coast to find them”, as told by our skipper. I was surprised to find they weren’t different to what we would find on our beaches at home. The golden sand on this side of the island crunched under my feet and brought the awareness to me of why our beaches are golden and East Coast beaches are not- it all comes down to the Shells.
The magic of our morning in nature was heightened by a pod of dolphins passing by us in the channel, on their way back out to sea. I breathed in the joy with total gratitude for the opportunities to experience the perfection of life over and over again through travel.
A retiree from New York, volunteering in the visitor’s center, talked to us of her slow and peaceful life in Beaufort. She recounted stories of Blackbeard and the recently discovered ‘truth’ that he was indeed a native North Carolinian and not English, as most people know him to be. My dad was not convinced of these findings. She handed us a map and pointed out some historic homes to appreciate on our self-guided walking tour of the town. There at the end of our tour sat Hammock House-the oldest in the town, which once served as a pirate inn and the place where Blackbeard is documented to have stayed when in
town. Rumours speak of the treasure that is hidden somewhere within the house or property and I was ready to start digging under the oldest tree. But my dad, a blackbeard scholar remains convinced it is buried on an island on the Caribbean somewhere.
The heat of the day, finally zapped us of all energy, so we found the nearest local pub, to masquerade as pirates in and wash our thirst down with an ice-cold beer. All the pirates had disappeared however, and it was just our little group to seize the moment and raise our glasses in a toast to ‘Bow-fort”
Where: Beaufort is in the Southern Outer Banks, North Carolina
Accommodation: Lots of cheap chain hotels can be found around the area. We stayed in nearby Morehead City, only a ten minute drive away.
Ferry to Shackleford: Leaves approx every 45 mins. 15 min ride. $15 round trip. Must book your return time. There are no amenities there and little shade so pack well.
Walking tours: Grab a map at the visitor center and off you go.
Eats: Plenty of cafes and restaurants. No recommendations as I did not find one worthy to rave about, although I’m sure they are there- we just chose wrong.