The Stick Show

For the past 44 years, the Dare County Arts Council has announced a call for entries for the Frank Stick Memorial Art Show. It’s the longest running visual arts exhibition in the county. Frank Stick was a renown Outer Banks artist, a preservationist and was instrumental in having Cape Hatteras designated as our first National Seashore.

I’ve made a piece for nearly every show. This year there were well over a hundred entries, with an award for Best in Show. There are also 4 Excellence Awards, 3 Honorable Mentions and a People’s Choice award.

Many of the subjects are Outer Banks oriented.

Ray Matthews is a master printer. His photograph of an aerial view at Hatteras Inlet was brilliant. He’s inspired me since we first met in 1973.

I had a difficult time deciding on a People’s Choice, but ultimately went with James Perry’s mixed media abstract on the far right. I was taken by his use of shapes and vibrant colors.

My entry was a 23×28 framed photograph of a Farm Truck taken last November in the hills of Virginia, near Shenandoah National Park. It earned an Excellence Award and added another ribbon to some that I’ve acquired over the years.



Coming Soon

In building a series of bridges on Hatteras Island, NCDOT will tentatively open the newest one in March. Known as the Jug Handle, it replaces a roadway that, over the years, has routinely been washed out by high seas.

Last August I was fortunate to be given an after-hours tour of the impressively engineered site. 

The north and south terminus construction had yet to be connected midway.

High up on a superstructure, I admired the curvature toward the northern terminus on Pea Island.

Looking south, with Rodanthe as a backdrop, the now-gone trestles and infrastructure were still in place. Possibly opening to foot traffic in March, I hope to be walking the 2 ½ mile span as I did at the new Basnight Bridge in 2019.

With a tourism based economy, access to the islands is key. And as roadways continue to be compromised, this bridge won’t be the last.

Parting Shots

Some of my first memories living on Hatteras Island involved surfing next to the Salvo shipwreck. Locals referred to it as the Richmond. It was, and still is an iconic feature of the village. Over the years, even surrounded by tumultuous seas, it has held fast and never budged.

According to state records it is the remnants of the Pocahontus, a Civil War transport steamer that wrecked during a storm in 1862.

I go to it regularly, sometimes checking the waves, to meditate, relax or take some pictures. Last Saturday I did just that. It was a beautiful day, waves rolling in with four cormorants perched on it.

Early Sunday morning an approaching front brought gale force winds. Anxious to see the transforming ocean conditions, I drove out on the beach to see how it looked. Hunkered in my truck, I photographed the wreck through a windswept downpour. 

I shoot impulsively. So could these be my last photographs of 2021?

Maybe not!

Pier Pressure

Throughout the years staying on Hatteras, I’ve gotten to expect coastal storms. At times it feels as though I’ve been living on a ship at sea. It’s both thrilling and humbling at the same time. The latest event was no different.

On the morning of November 6th the seas were getting stormy yet still moderate. But by 3 o’clock that afternoon the ocean rose up dramatically. It was blowing a gale with rain pelting from the northeast. As I walked halfway up the Rodanthe pier, the wooded structure vibrated and swayed . The waves were almost as high as the pier. I took several quick shots then turned back. It would have been crazy not to.

Gales continued into the next day while shifting out of a more northerly direction. As the ocean washed over the highway in the expected locations, I wondered about the fragility of the pier with such heavy seas.

At high tide the morning of the 8th, waves still battered the pier and damage was evident.

About a quarter way from the end, the deck had collapsed. It’s been said that a boat is a hole in the water and you throw money into it. I suppose a wooded pier is much the same. As of this morning, highway 12 is still closed to traffic as NCDOT works to clear debris and rebuild dunes. The coastal storm of November 2021 was deja vu all over again.



Manx on the Banx

About 1964 Bruce Meyers popularized dune buggies with his innovation of a fiberglass body that fit over a shortened Volkswagen chassis. The Meyers Manx was sold as a kit and could be assembled by most anyone with a knack for mechanics. Other companies were later spawned from the same concept. In 1969, I built a buggy from a spinoff produced by Empi. It was so much fun and honed my interest in cars, especially VW’s. That was more than 50 years ago. 

Earlier this month an Outer Banks tradition that began over a decade ago, returned with 84 registered participants. Manx on the Banx is a gathering of folks with a common interest. That interest is dune buggies. In the past, I’ve enjoyed watching and listening to them buzz through town. This year we were invited on the Hatteras Island drive in a loaner buggy, courtesy of our friends and neighbors at Island Cruisers.


On the first day in Nags Head, an introduction was held for registrants and their guests.

Raffle tickets were sold for a quilt made from t-shirts belonging to Bruce Meyers. It was particularly poignant in that Meyers had passed away in February at the age of 94.

Buggies of all descriptions were assembled, each one individually custom built.

They are powered by a variety of motors, but mostly modified Volkswagen engines.

They came from all around the country. Many were personally autographed by Meyers.

This one is powered by Honda.

A Manx from Ohio was built using a Corvair chassis and motor.

I was intrigued by the different exhaust systems.

Another entry from Ohio sports a VW power plant with a metallic red finish.

I don’t know what was behind this, but it looked exotic.

From the front, Meyers Manx buggies have a classic look.

By the afternoon we were gathered at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

One paint job really caught my eye.

Driven to the Outer Banks from California, this beauty has competed in the Baja 1000 several times and one year took top honors in its class. Known as a Dual Sport Baja Edition, it uses a water-cooled Subaru motor.

Like many others, it pays homage to Bruce Meyers.

This buggy reminded me of my bright yellow Empi Imp.

One Hummer-style buggy was there from New York. The body was manufactured in Washington state.

Eric and Damon Stump are two thirds of the Island Cruisers crew. At their invitation our day was well spent.