At 5pm on what turned out to be our last day in Asheville, we decided that we were going to drive to the coast of North Carolina… or at least as far as we could before we got too sleepy. It turns out that “as far as we could,” meant the Walmart parking lot on the outskirts of Columbia, South Carolina. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time wandering around Walmart at 3 in the morning… but it was not our best night’s sleep.
We arrived at Hammocks Beach State Park on the North Carolina coast around 9:30am and it was already hot as hell. We took the 11:30 ferry to Bear Island (a barrier island along the Outer Banks), which meant we arrived right when the noon sun was in full force. Everyone else on the ferry was just hanging out on the beach for the day, so they just had little coolers, lawn chairs, and towels, and were already wearing their swimsuits. Kevin and I stood out a bit with our hefty backpacks and hiking boots on.
We made the long trek past all of the sunbathers, sweat out our whole body’s water supply, and eventually arrived at our campsite. Holy crap, it was gorgeous… and sunny. There was absolutely no shade to be found on the Island, so we had to create our own. Originally, the island was known as Bare Island due to the fact that there was basically no vegetation (and definitely no bears) to be found. Someone made a spelling error somewhere along the line and that is why it is now known as Bear Island. Seeing a bear on this island would be like coming across a polar bear in Hawaii. (Lost reference, anyone?)
What was great about camping on this island was that there was literally nothing to do but relax. We swam, we read, we napped, we built sandcastles, we built a fort, we ate… It was pretty great. One kind of strange thing about the island was that it was right next to an army base, which meant that there were constantly helicopters and other military aircrafts flying overhead, and the sounds of guns being shot over and over again. It was kind of creepy.
We saw some cool creatures on the beach. We became mesmerized with the tiny little mollusks (some sort of shelled… thing) that we spotted right where the water met the shore. While staring at the sand, we noticed that after a wave passed over, hundreds of what we thought at first were pebbles would emerge from the sand. When the water came back over them they would bury themselves back down again in the sand. It was hypnotizing! Don’t worry… I included a video below. We also saw a beached Portuguese Man O’ War and a crab chillin’ by our campsite. After we returned to civilization, we researched the Man O’ War and found out that they are made out of four separate organisms that can only live by working together. You can read more about them too if you click THIS LINK! Wow… fancy technology. Are you impressed?
The one thing I forgot about the beach was that it is full of sand. I realize that this is a pretty stupid thing to forget. We tried our best to keep the sand out of the tent, but it was impossible. Sand. Was. Everywhere. I am still finding sand. We left the beach 19 days ago…