Going through some older files, I came across the little piece I wrote for Carolina Currents magazine a few years ago. It was the first time I was paid for writing ... though it wasn't all that much ;) Anyway, I thought I'd share it, as it helps explain why I chose North Carolina as the place to stop and work.
Love at First Sail
It had been a long day reaching the Beaufort Inlet from Wrightsville Beach. A naval exercise to go around, wind on the nose, and once inside, my unfamiliarity lead me past the turn into the Beaufort Harbor and on under the Bridge. With the sun setting, I tried in vain to get to Town Creek, only to keep running aground. I finally gave up, found a spot off the ICW channel, and dropped the hook for the night. With the dawn, I heading into Core Creek on the way north to the Neuse.
As the geometric neatness of the Canal opened into the tree lined shores of Adams Creek, I felt for the first time, that I was in North Carolina. Gone was the urban sprawl of Wrightsville Beach and the industrial mien of Morehead City. Meandering alone through the scattered markers, I felt, not a sense of arriving, but of returning. As though I had passed this way before, even though it was my first passage through these tea colored waters. Having made my way north in offshore hops, I felt somewhat unprepared for winding my way through the channel up to the Neuse and my intended stop in Oriental. With a turn to port though, I had my first glimpse of the country's widest river.
Unlike the glacial rivers of Alaska I had canoed on, and broader than the lakes of Indiana and Michigan I had sailed on in my youth, once on the Neuse, I could readily understand why Oriental called itself the sailing capital of North Carolina. For here, on this wide, slow-moving river, one had a host of choices to take advantage of whichever way the wind was blowing. East or west, bank to bank, it was a sailboat playground. Eager for a real shower and a good night's rest though, I made my way across to Oriental.
Refreshed and re-energized, the next morning found me wandering the streets of Oriental and experiencing for the first time, what I would come to find throughout my time in North Carolina. For it seemed, those I met, far from being strangers, where old friends I hadn't had the chance to visit for too long a time. And there was an unexpected feeling of coming home, that while surprising, also seemed perfectly natural. I could find though, no ready explanation for this easy assimilation, nor cause to question it. Absent the eerie dim recall of deja-vu, it seemed part and parcel of the land, water, and people I had landed in the midst of.
And so began my love affair with North Carolina. From New Bern to Elizabeth City, Edenton to Manteo, my appreciation for all that North Carolina had to offer only grew fuller with each passing day. Whether it was experiencing people and places I had read about, like The Bean and Fred Fearing, meeting online friends in Manteo and New Bern, or the many new friends and sights throughout the state, I knew I was hooked on North Carolina.
So remember, if some morning as you're enjoying that first cup of coffee and you hear the faint whistling of "Carolina in the Morning" come across the water, it's probably this goofy love-struck sailor.