A Dismal Swamp Fire’s Effect on Vacation

Traffic was so bad to the Outer Banks last weekend, it took a couple days decompression at the shore to unwind from it all. Bumper to bumper for miles and miles. So many people in such a rush to get to the beach to relax. But no relaxing whatsoever until they got there.

It got a lot worse since the last time we were here three years ago. But aside from a few thunderstorms that first day, it’s been an awfully nice week at the beach. So nice we hardly ever ventured away from it. No trips to lighthouses or shopping. Just one night out at a restaurant. Otherwise, just a dedication to beach time, getting further into the impenetrable book by David Foster Wallace about the IRS than I thought imaginable, getting sun burnt in weird places I hadn’t been mindful to slather with sunscreen.

There’s a reason people drive this far south for an ocean vacation. Usually it’s because the water is warmer and the people more scarce on the wide beaches. By now, schools have been in session here a couple of weeks and the only people on the beaches are northerners who haven’t been called back yet.

But the water was Cape Cod cold the first day we were in; it got strangely warmer during the week. Waves seemed lower than usual, but there were some years we were here during active tropical storms.

One odd addition this year was the occasional smell of smoke and the “superfog” of smoke and fog on the highways here. They were caused by a wildfire at the nearby Great Dismal Swamp that began with a lightning strike Aug. 2. Since it began, fueled by peat, it’s burned more than 6,000 acres and is only about 15 percent contained.

Fire, water, sand, smoke – it still beats hurricanes, I guess.

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