Mike and I went on our first camping trip of the year (in February…I know, right??) and it was absolutely wonderful. In addition to eating our weight in chips and salsa, it was also a good introduction to the many ways that North Carolina differs from California.
We got into the campsite right after sundown and I immediately put on my fleece and started setting up camp. After 15 minutes of profuse sweating, I finally realized, oh, just because it’s dark, doesn’t mean it’s cold. In the Bay Area, dark always equals cold. Here, I’m beginning to learn, the rule is more along the lines of – are you outside? then it’s fuckin hot.
I also had to adjust to the local flora and fauna. That rule is something like, just assume everything wants to eat you. Wilmington, NC, and the surrounding area is the only place in the world that Venus flytraps live in the wild. They also have a whole bunch of other carnivorous plants, all with names that sound like ingredients in a Hogwarts potion (pitcher plants, bladderworts, sundews, butterworts).
Luckily, these plants have pretty slim chances of actually eating me. Alligators on the other hand…
I never thought I would lie awake at night, terrified that every little rustle and snap outside the tent was an alligator. ALLIGATOR. As in, prehistoric giant reptile that’s about two chromosomes away from dinosaurs (ish). Bears, mountain lions, snakes? Those I can deal with, but I refuse to be eaten by a stegosaurus’s ugly half-brother*.
During the day, we hiked through the savanna ecosystem surrounding the campground. Here again, a whole new world – pine trees growing in sand? Next to the beach? Flanked by prickly pear cacti?? What is this place?
Before heading home, we spent some time on the beach, our first time to the Atlantic since moving**. While pretty, the photo above is a bit misleading – there were a ton of people. And bars. And tattoo parlors. This is no Big Sur, folks. Hoping we can get to some of the more natural, pristine beaches this spring.
Till then, we’ll remain tanner, sweatier, and slightly more scared of nature than we were before.
*Mike, having lived in Florida and also just generally being a calmer, saner person than me, insists that alligators are unlikely to tear through the tent and eat me. That’s fine, because, as they say, you don’t have to outrun the alligator…
**Upon arriving at the Atlantic, we officially have driven every single mile of Highway 40. Every. Single. God. Damn. Mile.