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Category Archives: North Carolina

Okay, as a photo, the above is not very good. There’s a reflection of flowers in the windshield — which is dirty, by the way. The rear-view mirror is blocking the view, also. But then again, this photo was taken completely on impulse, while I was driving. Basically, this thing drives by, and I had a disposable camera in the navigators seat. So, I just kind of randomly snapped this photo. It took me a moment to realize that it was a helicopter without rotor blades. The daydreamer in me, for a split second, thought it was a UFO. (And I’m not a UFO nut, just a guy that likes science fiction). But then again, sometimes, when you live near two Marine Corps installations — or, in my case, “lived” — stuff like this is rather usual. That doesn’t change the surpise value, each time.

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You see this in some East Coast shorelines: the pirate motif.  Usually, for some reason, it’s paired with seafood references.  Still, in North Carolina, all the talk of parts is part of the state’s history, especially Blackbeard.  Also, like Bermuda, the Carolina coast, due to the string of outer-banks islands and other reasons, has a long history of shipwrecks.  NC-wreckdiving.com has a pretty long, informative list of what’s out there, underwater.

Although I had graduated from high school and spent roughly 7 years in West Virginia, I found myself, after college, back in a military community. Jacksonville, North Carolina, is a sad little military town, one where the landscape is dominated by bars, tattoo parlors, pawn shops, and franchise restaurants. I ended up there partly because after finishing my first master’s degree, I had no place to go. So, I moved in with my parents. My father had since retired from the federal government, but my mother, on the other hand, still had a few years to go before she could collect her federal retirement as a DODDS elementary school teacher. So, while the house in England was being sold, my mother sought and found a stateside DOD teaching gig, which landed her at an elementary school on Tarawa Terrace II, a fenced off housing installation for enlisted Marines. Since I moved in with my parents, I tried various jobs until I ended up teaching for Coastal Carolina Community College. There, the full timers really didn’t like driving onto Camp Lejeune or Marine Corps Air Station New River to teach. So, adjuncts like me got those classes. The below picture comes from MCAS New River, as the building neighboring the Base Education Center underwent renovations.

I could explain what this photo actually means, but if I did so, it would just kill its charm. Lets just say that, besides some cropping and shifting the picture into grayscale, I’ve done no tampering what so over. This is a  real sign on public park land.

Here is a sad reality:  in North Carolina a category 2 or 3 hurricane could be racing towards Wilmington, Nags Head, or any of the Outer Banks Islands, and most people will just shrug.  They’ll tape their windows over, or, better yet, nail plywood over the them, and they’ll wait in long lines to buy fresh water and gas powered generators.  It’s no big deal.  Just a huricane, and the Carolinas has seen hundreds of them.  Yet, if two inches of snow were to fall and stick, society comes unglued.  Cars slide off the roads, traffic jams up for hours, and people worry about their kids in school.  For two freaking inches of snow.

People just don’t know how to cope.  Basically, a hurricane, no matter how constructive is common, as it’s a known phenomena.  Snow, on the other hand, happens every year, and yet nobody ever plans for it.  Towns don’t have plows, and they certainly don’t stock pile road salt.   Basically, hurricanes, nor’easters, and tropical storms and depressions are part of the culture — there’s a hockey team called “The Hurricanes,” after all.    The real truth is, no matter what sort of havok snow wrecks a few days a year, hurricanes always do more damage.    Trees get knocked over, branches hit houses, and, after Hurricane Floyd, for example, flooding becomes severe, even to the point where inland hog farms threaten the environment.  There’s a lovely thing called “hog waste lagoons,” and because of torrents of rain, pig poo has managed to leave the farm and pollute the drinking water.

I guess a destructive sea is part of the heritage, though.  The Carolinian coast is riddles with sunken ships, and Blackbeard the pirate remains a historical icon, especially in beach front tourist resorts.  (How many calabash seafood places have a pirate theme?)   Yet, somehow, because of all this seafaring history, people lose their minds at the sight of snow?  Actually, it’s simple.  Snow, although a dusting of it is a yearly occurrence, is much more strange and unknown, and therefore it scares the living Christ out of some people