On a stormy day the empty road down Hatteras reminds me of the moon. Muted colors, dark browns and grays. The dunes, what is left of them, are chiseled by the wind. Water and sand on the road, headlights of a few cars glowing in the mist coming off the ocean.
Today it was a nor'easter off the coast. Not as bad, at least as of this morning, as expected. I left home well before dawn, timing my trip to reach the island at low tide. My first visit to Hatteras since the hurricane.
A few miles down south where the dunes are gone, swept away by Sandy's storm surge , the ocean comes up on the island. The battered, broken road just north of Rodanthe is still washed by the waves, even at low tide.
They have built a temporary sand road just to the west that is passable by four wheel drive trucks and jeeps, and then only at low tide.
I looked around for a while and took some photographs. Soon I noticed the waves breaking higher on the road, the surge washing farther up on the island. The tide was coming in. Not wanting to be trapped on Hatteras I got back in my jeep and headed for the sand road. I braked to let a wave reach up across the path ahead of me, then gunned the engine to beat the next swell.
Off of Hatteras I saw the checkpoint on the road, two deputies stopping southbound traffic. With the incoming tide they had closed the road to the island. Checking now, hours later, I see it is still closed. Maybe the road will will open on the next low tide, but that will be well after dark. I'm not sure I would want to drive that road in the dark.