Life, or seven days in our case, on Ocracoke was simple - simple in a way that makes you want to forget that bills need to be paid and deadlines have to be met. As we drove off the ferry and onto Highway 12, the seven-mile road that leads to the village, we were surrounded by sand dunes that reached neck-breaking heights like the waves of the ocean that peaked above the sand to the left. On the right lay the sound and salt marsh, home to the varied wildlife of the island. The smell of the ocean was a perfume that never faded. Nearing the village, the historical preservation of the island became apparent, evident in the Pony Pen, the small horse farm that is home to descendants of the once-wild Banker horses of Ocracoke.
Upon reaching the village, there was no need for a car because everything is located within a three-mile radius. Although cars are permitted, biking and walking are encouraged. An eclectic grouping of shops and historical adventures awaited us, providing an overabundance of food and entertainment options for even the most selective palates and social-media-dependent travelers. No chain and fast-food restaurants here. Grub is fresh, locally caught seafood brought complete in a steamer pot to your door from Captain Puddle Duck's Steamer Pots or roadside-prepared Mexican fare at Eduardo's Taco Stand.
Besides the beach, Ocracoke is also home to the Springer's Point Nature Preserve Trail. Approximately a half-mile long, the trail leads to Teach's Hole, the supposed spot of the demise of the pirate Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard. While buried treasure may be hard to come by, the rocks jutting out of the water are rich in hermit crabs clambering for a dry spot. With no parking available for visitors, the trail is accessible only by bicycle or on foot and is yet another example of how easy it is to get away from it all once you set foot on the island.
Aside from a beautiful and diverse landscape, a variety of local provisions, and an overabundance of historical sights, the island mindset pervades every aspect of daily living, begging you to leave your worldly possessions behind and skip the ferry ride back to reality.
As I packed my bags on the final day in paradise, it suddenly didn't seem such an asinine notion to shuck the responsibilities of employment and student loans. Facebook and keeping up with the latest celebrity gossip seemed so trivial. I'd caught the Ocracoke ailment and the only cure, besides returning on future voyages, was to give in - to carve out a simpler kind of life, a life unfettered, if only for a few daily moments, by the constant bombardment of materialistic morals and the social-media scene.
Melissa Komar writes from the Pennsylvania suburbs.
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