The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Four nights by the sea

Crab on the beach

Sand circlesWe really hadn't planned a second beach vacation just a year after our Pawleys Island excursion, but when I started getting crabby in the middle of this past summer, we decided something to anticipate would be good for morale.  Pawleys Island was Mark's childhood haunt, so it seemed like we should visit my old stomping grounds this time around for balance.  My family always used to hare off to camp on Ocracoke every summer, but Mark and I instead opted to stay in a beach-front condo in Rodanthe, an hour's drive and a ferry ride further north up the island chain.

Wind surfers

Dredging machineI was excited to get to enjoy Outer Banks waves again, since Pawleys Island's waterworks are puny in comparison.  Unfortunately, a dredger made swimming a bit different than I was used to since it churned up masses of seaweed while harvesting sand to rebuild hurricane-damaged dunes.  I didn't mind swimming amid seaweed, though (and I even stole a bagful for a garden experiment --- more on that in a later post).

Sound side

Boardwalk across the dunesEither Mark or I will regale you with the tale of our biggest adventure --- a visit to the Wright Brothers National Memorial --- in a later post.  Otherwise, we mostly just soaked up the sounds of the ocean, with occasional sunrise walks on the beach (for me), jaunts to the seafood market (for Mark), and general relaxation.  One of my favorite events was a morning walk up the road to a little gift shop where they baked fresh cinnamon buns, during which time I talked to the lady in charge about the raccoon that had shown up on her porch and about local sights.  I never quite caught the lady's name, but I'm still thinking of sending her a postcard since I felt like if we'd stayed longer, she and I might have become friends.


Kayla dropped by to check on the animals once during our five-day absence, and it sounded like the only problem was a few broken eggs in one nest box.  The ducks miraculously learned to use their own nest box right before we left, so the sea of eggs we came home to was mostly clean-shelled, and the opossum who came to visit while we were Metal turtlegone was eliminated by Lucy.  We even arrived back home in time to scurry around for about an hour before dark Saturday evening preparing for the first-frost-that-didn't-quite-happen.

Mark and I both agreed that our farm is even more beautiful than the ocean...but that we might not have enjoyed its current beauty as thoroughly if we'd never left home.  Next year, we might be due for a staycation, or perhaps we'll explore something else entirely --- the Outer Banks was fun, but the landscape was almost too familiar for me.  I like vacations to be an adventure, so we'll have to put on our thinking caps for next year!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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When you guys are at the ocean, do you ever collect sea water to evaporate and get the salt?
Comment by Jake Tue Oct 7 00:36:04 2014
Jake --- Good question! We haven't, although I have pondered dehydrating some water there. I always assumed it would take a lot of water to make an appreciable amount of salt, but I never actually did the research (and am apparently too lazy to do it even now.... :-) ).
Comment by anna Tue Oct 7 19:12:22 2014
You can always come up and visit me!!!
Comment by Sheila Wed Oct 8 23:10:51 2014

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