Sunday, July 29, 2007

Today Jenny and I awoke early to feed the ducks once more. Jenny took umbrage at two or three alpha males who would chase off the smaller ducks from enjoying a treat, so she tried to lure them off with a few bread tosses in order to concentrate on the outcast birds. Eventually she was convinced that she'd taught the ducks and important lesson about the excesses of power and the need for initiative. Throughout the day she half-jokingly mused about the transformation of duck culture that she'd begun.

We picked up Vienna, said our goodbyes to the family that hosted her overnight, and headed north along I-95. I enjoyed counting down the billboards for South of the Border, that tacky motel complex just below the state-line separating South Carolina and North Carolina. Though we'd departed early this morning, we didn't make time to visit the complex's sprawling souvenir stores. Our destination was Greenville, North Carolina, and the famed B's Barbecue and Grill. We'd read about this establishment's quirky ticks, most notably the lack of business phone and its early closing times, and we figured it best to arrive early to avoid disappointment. I knew that many 'que-places close on Sundays, but I hoped we'd get lucky in this case. Sure enough we pulled onto Barbeque Road and found that B's was closed. Then Jenny recognized a sign beneath the window that looked suspiciously similar to the one we saw from an internet print-out: "Closed Sun-Mon." Bummer. Then when I spotted a sign on the door announcing that B's was closed due to a death in the family the annoyance at my poor planning dissipated. For all I know, we could have arrived Friday afternoon and found the same sign. So we headed for downtown in search of an impromptu lunch. With no hassle we found an internet wifi spot and located a nearby BBQ place.

Boss Hog's Backyard Bar-B-Que couldn't be more wrongly named. Rather than a backyard, we pulled into a vast storefront -- a place that could have been a furniture store once but was recently converted into a cafeteria-style restaurant. Vienna ordered some vegetables while Jenny tried the stringy pulled pork. Neither enjoyed their selections too much. I stuck with ribs, pulled from a stainless steel pan and dipped into a spicy, runny sauce. The meal didn't look too appetizing, but, oh, that taste. As juices spilt down my fingers and I reached for piles of paper towels and enjoyed the sharp and tangy flavor of surprisingly good ribs. I washed the meal down with cup after cup of tasty sweet tea, and we all shared a slice of chocolate cake for dessert.

Departing Greenville we found Highway 64, a pleasantly meandering road passing through tobacco fields and the relics of sharecropper shacks. Before long the heat seemed to diminish with the arrival of Atlantic ocean breezes and we crossed causeways that led to the outer banks. We turned south and followed highway 12 toward the KOA "resort" campsite, our home for the next two days. As is our Wood Family Tradition, someone had forgotten a bathing suit, requiring a last minute purchase from the bargain bin. This time it was Vienna's turn. Suitably attired, we secured our "Kabin" and climbed the stairs to the beach. For the next hour we body surfed through the crashing waves and watched the towering white clouds drift overhead.

In the evening we drove a few blocks down the main road to enjoy an Australian-themed seafood dinner at a restaurant whose windows looked out over the island's western shore. While the weather had been calm and pleasant all day, thunderclouds headed our direction. We therefore took particular notice when an emergency broadcasting system alert sounded over the radio, announcing that tornado activity had been spotted in Salvo. We asked our server to locate that position for us. She smiled and said, "That's here." Returning our gaze to the window we the spotted a narrow finger stretching from the clouds toward the bay's surface: a waterspout.

Lighting conditions and distance rendered photography difficult, but you can imagine our thrill to seeing a thin, narrowing stream of turbulence dripping in and out of the water, spraying mist from the surface. We stared for ten minutes or so, exchanging delighted looks with our neighbors, before the spout lifted from the water and slowly melted back into the clouds. We figured we were due for some turbulent weather after seeing such a display, but the gloom broke to reveal a gorgeous sunset just in time for dessert. After dinner we returned to the beach to watch the moon rise through the clouds while we toasted marshmallows over a fire provided by the KOA folks. We concluded our evening with showers to get rid of the gritty beach sand, and then we returned to our Kabin for the night.

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All text and photos copyright Andrew and Jenny Wood