This trip down to the outer banks in 2009 could not have been more different from the solo trip I took down there about a month ago. A month ago I was incredibly emotional driving down there and it seemed like I could not stop crying. When I finally got there even though it was windy I didn’t want to ride. I finally forced myself to get up and go out and ride and then that place worked its magic on me. The cold water and wind was refreshing and soon I found myself remembering who I was. That whole week I spent alone drawing, reading, kiting and generally working on trying to improve myself and my outlook on life. The rangers harassed me constantly; they even went so far as to ask me if I had any weapons or drugs in the car. I thought it would be funny to reply “What do you need officer,” but decided against it. Everywhere I went the rangers would show up, it got to the point where I didn’t even want to talk to them; it was like a game, they would pull up in their big ranger truck and wherever I was at I would just leave. Feeling totally emotionally volatile and extremely vulnerable the last thing I wanted to do was deal with the law or get a ticket for something stupid, so I kept moving, never staying in one place for very long, riding when I could and hanging out in the van when it was raining.
I did some really fantastic drawings and I also wrote an amazing piece about Jocelyn that I posted on Facebook after a great deal of deliberation of what that would mean. Exploring the depths of my grief and sadness I found profound spiritual growth and a renewed interest in finding my own voice and working to inspire others to find their voices.
My trip last week with Greg was one of stability and comfort, the kind of comfort only that traveling with a close friend can provide. Instead of crying constantly I did not cry at all, although I fretted about things that had happened in the past I forced my worrying into 30 minute chunks. I was living in a past of broken dreams of things that never could be.
Greg and I left early and drove through the night so we could ride on Fri, but the winds were insane and gusting into the 40’s. I tried putting up my 12 P4 but that was a huge mistake, even on the tiny 8 Speed2 I was dreadfully overpowered and not having any fun at all. Greg and I sat in the car for no less than 8 hours waiting for the winds to die. At around 5 they dropped off enough so we could go out and tear it up. I wish I could say that was the only day we had like that, but unfortudently there was about 3 days in 10 that we were forced to sit around in the vans waiting for the winds to die. There was only a few days we didn’t ride, 2 of them were rainy and terribly productive for both of us as we sat in the van and worked, Greg on his PHD thesis and me in my relentless quest for self-improvement. There was 1.5 days without wind but with tons of sun and cold. They were fantastic and we unloaded all the wet crap from our vans all over the lighthouse parking lot so it could dry out. One of the rangers came over and was downright hostile. To counter his sour attitude I was frightfully cheery and pleasant. I think that even made him angrier.
Earlier that same day Greg went over to a portapotty to go to the bathroom, while he was getting ready to do his business he heard a giant forklift come over to the portapotty. Luckily he suspected he was about to be carted away and was quick enough to escape the portapotty before they picked him up and took him away.
The second night we slept in our vans at the airport a ranger pulled up at around 8:00 AM. Being the good friend I am I took off in my van leaving Greg to fend for himself. Unfortudently the Rangers had tired of giving us warnings and decided to write us our first $150 ticket for ‘camping’ in our vehicles. No amount of pleading or reasoning could save Greg from getting this ticket. At this point it seemed like all the Rangers knew us by name and even the Hatteras Townies were coming up to us and telling us that the Rangers really wanted to nail us again. At that point we started our new plan.
Instead of sleeping in our cars on park land we decided it made more sense to split up and sleep under the million dollar rental homes that were everywhere and were basically vacant since it was pretty darn cold and no one in their right mind would go to the beach when it is below 40 degrees with the wind chill to begin with. The first night I remember how I felt as I pulled into the garage of one of these ridiculous vacation houses. I thought to myself, I can’t believe I can’t sleep in my car in a parking lot or at the beach and have to resort to trespassing on million dollar homes so ‘the man’ will leave me alone. I was pretty nervous that first night and when the paperboy drove by at 5:30 AM in his noisy pickup truck with no muffler I woke up with a start convinced that he was the rental agent security truck and took off pretty early. Those first couple of mornings I spent hours walking along the beach, picking up trash and watching the sunrise. It was positively mind numbingly spiritual.
On one of those insanely windy days Greg was out on his 7 speed and I was out on my 8 speed2. We were both overpowered and Greg was having even less fun than I was. As he went in to land he pulled the release on his kite and the rotoleash broke. The kite separated from him completely and floated towards the high voltage power lines. The kite powered up for a second before the power lines arced and melted the lines and the kite floated off towards the ocean with the bar and the remains of the lines on the power line. By the time we got to the ocean the kite was a mile off shore and it was way to dangerous for either one of us to go after it.
One of the later mornings I was sitting at Mile 48, our favorite stomping grounds when the ranger that had given Greg his ticket paid me a visit. I had already collected 5 bags of trash and left them on top of my van so when the ranger came to harass me there would be no doubt whose side I was on. When the ranger showed up I was drawing this guy wiping out kiteboarding in my sketchbook and the ranger came over with the standard line of questioning. He let me know that Greg was on the beach taking pictures, I was like “That’s nice”, he even remembered Greg’s last name. Then I started talking to him about how pissed off all the locals seemed to be at the rangers for trying to ban off road vehicles on the beach. We talked about that for a while then he asked to see some of my pictures. I showed him a bunch of them and realized that about ¼ of the cartoons in my book were Greg and I getting harassed by the rangers, he was like “That one looks like me, and that one too”. I was a little embarrassed, so I started talking to him about Greg and his cancer and how important Hatteras Island was to his recovering from cancer, not realizing that he was the ranger that gave Greg the ticket. After a while he seemed really, really uncomfortable and took off. All I can think is he must have really felt like crap about giving Greg that ticket after all I had told him about what Greg had been through. Although it was not my intention to make the ranger feel like crap I felt like I had gotten the upper hand, and realized how much harder it was going to be for this one ranger to harass us in the future.
George showed up for the last couple of days after a false start in his girlfriend’s new minivan. He shorted out the battery which blew the alternator but he didn’t figure that out until he hit Scranton. So he took a taxi to Walmart, bought a new battery and drove back home without an alternator then packed up his station wagon and hit the road again. I only which I had a girlfriend that I could nab her van, mess it up, drive it down to PA, then drive it back home and leave it there and take off in my car. George does not know how good he has it. Because he needed to set up a tent we stayed at the campground in Rodanthe and it was positively luxurious to have hot showers after not bathing for a week and to sleep somewhere where we didn’t have to fear getting busted by the Sheriff or Rangers while we slept. Greg and I were relenting on how we were growing soft.
One day when the winds were quite light I got a chance to ride my 6’8” JL Fish board with the 15 SA. Although in the past I had barely been able to do one jibe in 50 I was nailing the jibes one after another in those steady Hatteras winds. My mind and my body delighted in learning this new skill, but once the winds picked up I opted for the twin tip session so I could boost huge 20 foot airs on every tack.
The next morning I woke up and was on the road by 7:30, I drove for 11 hours straight to get home in time for an industrial music concert at the Haunt. I napped for an hour then went into town. The band Azoic was so good I got a little carried away dancing and ended up completely rupturing my Achilles tendon. It was insanely painful, I felt the tendon snap and looked around to see who had hit me in the back of the leg with a baseball bat. When I tried to stand up it felt like my left foot was on a high heel because the tendon had ruptured. It’s incredible how I can spend 10 days kiting in insane winds and jumping 20-30 feet all the time, doing tricks and getting smashed in the water time after time after time and not get hurt, then I go out dancing and hurt myself so bad that I probably won’t be able to kite for 6 months.
Surgery is scheduled, on to the next chapter in my life. I keep envisioning telling people a year from now that this injury was the best thing that ever happened to me. Now I just have to make that a reality.