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Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog

Thursday, March 8, 2018
Winter Wonders
So much for my intention to write at least one blog every month. You'd think I would have more time in the winter when the galleries are closed, but this winter we have been busier than usual--not only has there been less time to write, there has been less time to be outside, period, certainly less time to photograph, which is what fuels these blogs to begin with.

January began cold enough, with not one but two winter storms. You saw scenes from the last one in the year's only blog thus far; a couple from storm #2 are below. Early January also brought--on the same glad day--a report of a humpback whale at Jennette's Pier and a resting harbor seal on the beach. I was blessed to hear about both and to see both before they each continued on their journey.

The end of January gave us a 2nd full moon in the same month, colloquially known as a blue moon, and there were nice clear blue skies as the moon climbed up over the horizon, looking like a Chinese lantern. In mid-February three of my staff accompanied me on my annual buying trip to Philly. We were treated to a brief snowfall Friday night that lasted all of about an hour and melted in the ensuing rain overnight. But while it lasted, my companions agreed it made the city look magically like Paris. A token travel pic is below as well.

I thought surely the early cold and snow pattern would continue here on the Outer Banks in February. Instead, we had some warmer days in February hopscotching with colder days but not cold enough to snow, and several stretches of wind. The wind to top it all, though, came in the form of In Like A Lion early March, with a days-long nor-easter that closed NC 12 on Hatteras repeatedly and pushed up seafoam like whipped cream. The most disturbing sight I saw was a couple that carried two very young children out to the end of Avalon Pier as the waves were breaking high right at the pier's end. They stayed long enough for what looked to be a couple of selfie photographs and then hightailed it out of there. When they began walking back I realized from the ache in the center of my body I had been alternating between panic-breathing and holding my breath. Glad I was not present to witness what could have been a real tragedy. I was photographing from shore--and really surprised the pier was open to walkers.

Winter skies are usually my favorites of the year. I look for vibrant sunsets (and if I am really ambitious, vibrant sunrises). So far this winter, the sky that got my attention the most was a beautiful and unusual cloud formation over Kitty Hawk Bay right at dusk. By far the cutest sight of the year has been watching a young couple string a hammock under Nags Head Pier while their faithful spaniel companion stood sentinel. They were busy enjoying the breeze and using their cell phones for under the pier photos while I was busy photographing their hammock.

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The second storm of the year left measurable snow on the dunes! We had about 10 inches back in Colington where I live.

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Snow and ice and wind equals ice on the pier!

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Blue ice and sunset look other-worldly. Or at least, not beachy!

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Here is a winter visitor for 2018.

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The Blue Moon--the second full moon in January--looked like a Chinese Lantern as it rose above the horizon. It's an optical illusion I love.

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Speaking of winter visitors, I loved seeing this Parisian scene, however briefly, in Philly.

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Here is the cute factor--cute dog and young love. What is not to like about that?

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These clouds were a precursor to the northeaster that was coming.

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At its height, the windstorm produced multiple wave sets way out to sea.

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This sort of whipped foam is too salty for my taste! It was piled thick under the piers and beach road houses in Kitty Hawk.

posted by eturek at 10:29 PM

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Friday, January 5, 2018
The Frozen South - Part B
By New Year’s night, the wind was still blowing, and I dressed even more warmly to photograph the first moonrise of the year than I had on New Year's Eve morning for sunrise. (See last blog if you missed that.) Layers of cloud formed light and dark ribbons and I hoped at least one rift would give a glimpse of moonlight. A glimpse is about all I got, less than a minute’s worth, but I was in the right place at the right time for the moon at Avalon Pier. I’d driven up first to Kitty Hawk, thinking the cloud cover was thinner to the north, but I couldn’t get north enough to make a difference. The breakers looking south from the Kitty Hawk beach were amazing, but Avalon turned out to be just the right spot for the moon.

The next couple of days focused on a heat emergency up at SeaDragon (shout-out here to landlords Jim Braithwaite and Matt Price, both of whom came out to help, and to the folks with Ed Miller’s Delta Heating and Air of Southern Shores). Being in Duck gave me the chance to photograph ice on the Sound both from above, and from the perspective of walking the dry, sandy Sound bottom. The water has been low for days and I enjoyed being on the same level as the Canada Geese as they slipped and walked their way, looking for patches of open water. Remnants of a large wooden cask or barrel along with older random pilings appeared briefly while the water was at its lowest. A few swan arrived by late afternoon the second day. We drove home after dark, which once again put me at Avalon under a full moon. Timing is everything.

That brings us up to yesterday and our several inches of snow. As of now (nearly 4 pm on Friday the 5th), I have not been able to get out past my own little neighborhood. In fact, the roads are icier and slipperier now than they were this time yesterday, when the snow provided some additional traction. I drove slowly up to the Colington Harbour soundfront park late yesterday afternoon, and stopped off at a friend’s property which turned into a winter wonderland with all the snow on the trees.

Hopefully the temperature will get above freezing on Sunday, and I am hoping the timing allows the roads to be passable but still keeps some snow and ice cover in picturesque places! Stay tuned!

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This is about all of the full moon I could see on New Year's evening. First moonrise of the year, on January 1. Bodes well, I say--and means a chance for a Blue Moon later this month!

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Waves were breaking so quickly and in so many sets by New Year's night, the entire ocean to the south looked frothy.

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In my 40+ years living here, I've seen the Sound low many times, usually in conjunction with a hurricane. But this is the longest continuous period of low water I remember.

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The ice was still thin as the New Year began, but plenty picturesque.

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The Tundra Swan that returned to the cove seemed baffled by the ice. I can think of a caption here: "I told you the GPS said to keep going south!" (Not that SC, GA or FL was much warmer!)

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My second night at Avalon Pier. The moon rises about an hour later each evening, so the sky was much darker than on the night before when the moon was this high in the sky.

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Winter snow and ice, sound-side in Colington Harbour.

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The air temperature was in the 20's and whipping winds put windchills into the teens. But the breakthrough of the sunrays in late afternoon made the cold worth it!

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One thing I love about Colington is its many hardwoods, and its old remnant ridges. The snow made this look like an enchanted forest.

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We humans weren't the only ones dealing with snowy living quarters!

posted by eturek at 9:38 PM

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Friday, January 5, 2018
The Frozen South - Part A
The Frozen South – Part A

After what was a relatively mild 2017, with no major hurricanes and pretty decent weather all year, 2018 has started with a bomb, in the form of what meteorologists are terming a bomb cyclone that brought several days of deep freeze and several inches of snow to the Outer Banks—not to speak of snow as far south as Florida, and record storm conditions in the northeast.

December started off benign enough, with a pretty moonrise at Jennette’s Pier and a chilly (but not freezing cold) Christmas tree lighting in downtown Manteo. I haven’t been to the tree lighting for probably 30 years at least, and haven’t seen the Elizabethan Garden lights for more than 15, so both were a big, festive treat. Sharing the evening with dear friends who’d driven down specifically for the weekend made it even sweeter than the hot chocolate the Garden offered its guests!

In the middle of the month, my friend and fellow photographer Karen Watras and I had a genuine adventure! We try to plan an outing for ourselves near the end of each year, a sort of reward for our hard work all year long, work which often keeps us too busy to spend much time together until the off season.

This year, Karen proposed we drive to False Cape State Park in Virginia, somewhere neither of us had ever been, and take their tram tour. We rode to the site of an old cemetery from a settlement of shipwreck survivors in what came to be known as the Wash Woods community. Only the preserved steeple of their church is left of their settlement, that and the gravestones which bear witness to how hard life was for many of the families. The tram tour took us through topography that was a cross between Carova and Pea Island, with wooded ridges thick with live oak or scrub pine, and open areas managed for waterfowl. We saw a few swan but they were mostly at a distance. The various shorelines were picturesque although the clouds which teased with the promise of a beautiful sunset thickened and obscured the sun by late afternoon.

I woke Christmas Eve night not to the patter of little reindeer feet but to the Drumming Dance of Thunder Beings overhead. Thunder on Christmas Eve! How precipitous! I wasn’t sure what it might mean, except to look for snow sometime in the next week to ten days. I did not have to wait long.

On the 27th, I drove out to Roanoke Rapids and a (too brief) visit with my son and grandsons. When I left the beach, my car thermometer read 42 degrees. By Plymouth, it read 31 and it was sleeting/snowing! I drove out of the sleet and by the time I came home that evening the roads had not iced up.

On the 30th, I drove up to Duck and saw several hundred Tundra Swan that afternoon around the Blue Point pier and our little cove. I had been seeing lines of swan to the north, but only a few in our little cove. You can imagine my excitement.

So the next morning, I decided to brave the cold and get up for what may have been my coldest sunrise ever. I was layered up but really wanted to get to the beach on New Year’s Eve morning, the last sunrise of 2017. It was blowing hard and bitter cold. I didn’t stay out long at the ocean but did have a chance to see the sun rise well in the south over Nags Head Pier. I drove back up to Duck but the swan, geese, and ducks were too smart to stay out in the open with the whipping winds, and there was not one of the hundreds of waterfowl from the afternoon before anywhere in sight.

New Year’s morning saw snow flurries but no accumulation, and I remembered the Christmas Eve thunder. So sure enough, snow within about a week. Little did we know what was coming. The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey liked to say, is subject enough for its own blog, which will follow shortly. Meanwhile, here are images from our last month of 2017.

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There were tons of little gulls (Bonaparte?) flitting and flying in the lights just under the pier.

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Moon over Roanoke Marshes Light. I am almost never in Manteo at night, so this was a triple treat.

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One of the displays in the Elizabethan Gardens

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A beautiful live oak in False Cape State Park.

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All that is left of the church at Wash Woods. Vandals were trying to destroy or steal the steeple, so the Park has preserved its remains behind glass.

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The clouds near dusk were so dramatic I decided to convert this image to black and white to emphasize the contrast. By now our tram ride had turned quite chilly!

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After seeing the first swan in Duck on November 11, I was rewarded for my patient waiting to see hundreds of arrivals on Dec. 30th.

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There were more looking in the other direction, down the Sound.

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The afternoon light was exquisite and there was very little wind. That was the last calm day we have had!

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By New Year's Eve morning, the temperatures had dropped severely, the wind had picked up, and I was freezing cold out on the beach at dawn. Worth it though--2017's last sunrise.

posted by eturek at 6:06 PM

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Thursday, November 30, 2017
The keyword for this month's blog is South. Twice in November, I made the time to drive across the Oregon Inlet bridge and onto Hatteras Island. I was on a deliberate quest both times, headed for Frisco Pier. The latest news I read indicates that the pier's demolition will indeed begin in December, so I drove south at the beginning of the month for what will be the last moonrise there, and two days ago I drove south again for my last sunset there--if in fact the schedule proves true.

Many readers of my blog have a special affection for Frisco Pier while others may never have seen it in person. What I find most intriguing is the way the light affects the ocean here. For the uninitiated, the easiest way to describe it is to say that the sun appears to be setting in the south, and the moon rising in the north. That's not true of course--the coast bends sharply at Buxton, so sharply that looking directly out to sea, as one might in Nags Head, say, puts you looking SOUTH, not east. East is off your left shoulder; west is to your right. It is an odd feeling for those of us whose ocean experience is almost wholly confined to beaches north of Hatteras Light. But it is well worth the drive to watch the light play on the waves in completely different ways than it does to the north.

Tuesday I stopped at Pea Island's ponds; there are plenty of birds here now though few were close enough to photograph. I saw hundreds, maybe thousands of swans; huge rafts of ducks; a small group of coots; but no snow geese and no white pelicans yet.

The month's wet early weather finally gave way to some beautiful days and nights here in November's final couple of weeks, and I was happy to get outside a bit to enjoy it.

Last Sunday, coming back from a craft show in Va Beach, I stopped at a favorite Currituck soundside spot to look west. The road here bends at about the same angle so that "west" is actually to the right of the highway instead of behind me. The air was still but the glimpses of the sound I saw on the other side showed the ruffling of water I associate with a steady breeze. I almost did not stop. But when I arrived, the Sound here was glass; the sun had just set and the glow was magic. I can still feel the stillness and quiet just looking back at the images I made on that special evening.

November is a month when we are reminded to be grateful--a practice I recommend for every day, not just when facing a stuffed turkey. In the midst of a busy life, it's easy to take beauties such as still water or a full moon rising in a clear sky for granted. These daily blessings, they feed us, if we let them. I hope these images nourish you as much as they did me in the moment of experiencing them.

The last image is for longtime reader, Ann, who asked to see a picture of our puppy. Ann, unfortunately, we had to find him another home and were lucky enough to know a family here who had to put their elderly dog down a few weeks before we said goodby to our Westie. Pete's sudden health challenges made us both realize that while we are good parents to our older Sheltie, we do not have the time to devote to properly training a puppy. His new owners went away for Thanksgiving so we had a two night sleepover. I am glad we will still get to have little visits as he grows. Anyway, here is his photo, showing just how cute and smart he really is!

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The month began with a foggy sunrise. The pelicans would suddenly appear seemingly out of nowhere, startling me into joy every time.

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When the fog first began to burn off enough to let some light through, the views were ethereal and changed constantly in real time.

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Here is the full moon rising in Frisco. See the odd angle? It is not where you expect it to be!

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Perhaps the last moonrise over Frisco Pier.

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Sunlit surf. The waves simply don't look like this in Nags Head.

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Here's why--the sun is setting down the coast instead of behind us.

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A last sunset at Frisco Pier

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When the Sound is a mirror, I look for reflections.

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This dock, like Frisco Pier, has weathered some storms but is still beautiful. The same could be said of most of us.

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Kingsley, aka Myles, a Cavalier King Charles crossed with a Westie. Cute and smart.

posted by eturek at 9:19 PM

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Season Of Change
Every season has it own harbingers of change. For me, I always look into the night sky anticipating Orion’s arrival this time of year. I first learned the constellation in college freshman astronomy and its appearance and October are linked forever in memory. Another seasonal herald is the seaside goldenrod blooming. Just when our sea oats begin to look a bit bedraggled, our dunes put on one more show before winter winds mow their grasses down. The bright yellow is cheery as the daylight begins to dwindle, another autumn sign. This year, the goldenrod’s peak blooming coincided with the annual monarch butterfly migration, which my prior year photographs confirmed happened later this year. The juxtaposition of the monarchs and goldenrod gave a unique opportunity to portray both and prompted a peaceful few minutes at the Nags Head Curlew Street beach access late last week.

Fall had barely officially begun before Hurricane Maria brushed the coast with high, picturesque surf. I photographed the afternoon the storm passed and got up early to photograph the residual wave sets in what turned out to be a clear golden sunrise the next morning. Beautiful.

Fall skies inevitably include cloud formations we don’t see in summer. Days are finally a bit cooler and less humid which often prompts more vibrant sunsets and sunrises. With a brand new puppy in the house and Pete not feeling well, I haven’t seen but one sunrise lately--sunsets are more my speed, these days. Lucky for me my schedule has put me in just the right place at the right time to photograph a few in October.

In some Native American plains tribal traditions, autumn is the season of the West, a time for introspection as we harvest the crops of spring seeds and ideas and let ourselves anticipate a little winter rest before another spring.

I have a good friend who likes to talk about “New Moon wishes.” The idea is that as the moon re-emerges into its roundness, so too can our dreams, plans and goals grow into their fullness. Fall is a good time to assess what is working well, what may need a course correction, and what new opportunities still await, even in this season. September’s New Moon, which set in the west as the sun was setting on the last day of summer, reminds me that every season of our lives as well as the year provides opportunities for growth if we are open to them.

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Even though the storm passed well offshore, Maria kicked up some big surf.

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The last time I saw sea foam bubbles this vibrant was after a series of northeasters in the fall of 2011.

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Multiple sets came crashing ashore at once.

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Next morning, the golden sunrise lit up the waves and spray.

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Seeing the pelicans out and about was a treat!

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Here is the opposite end of the day, a beautiful sun-rayed sundown.

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Golden here stands for Seaside Goldenrod, whose pollen is so heavy it sinks rather than causing us to sneeze like the goldenrod in Currituck's fields, and migrating Monarchs.

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Wild skies over the Duck Waterfront Shops! This formation includes some mammatus clouds as well as what look to be the beginnings of lenticulars!

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I left the Waterfront Shops and drove down to the regional beach access in Kitty Hawk, thinking these clouds would provide a beautiful splash of color over sea at sunset.

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New moon sets with the last sun of summer. What are your New Moon wishes?

posted by eturek at 2:45 PM

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