Took some time off the mainland and off the blog to spend on Ocracoke with friends who are now living on the island most of the year. We’ve been going down there since I was a kid. After about 2 decades off for bad behavior, Sally and Tucker and I started going down at Thanksgiving about 10 years ago. The brief report is that Ocracoke is as beautiful and as isolated as ever. Some things have changed this year.

Restaurants closed by Thanksgiving were: the Jolly Roger, Creekside, the Atlantic, Captian Ben’s, Flying Melon and the Mango Loco. Open were: Back Porch, Pelican (with a sparse winter menu), Thai Take Out, Pony Island (some meals), Jason’s, and Howard’s

At Howard’s, some changes notable — more tables and booths inside, games including the ring swing moved outside, pool table to the porch area, not open to 2 am any more and shocking to locals and regular visitors alike — Howard’s will close this winter! The reason ostensively is that all of the creek bridges to the north on the island will be replaced between December and January. Howard’s will use this time to remodel. But locals say that they fear that Howard’s will not longer be the community refuge and center of activity that it has been in the past.

The Ocracoke Coffee Shop however has filled the role as community center and it shows no sign of shutting down for winter or anything else.

On the beach with our friend, Peter, we discovered a young harbor seal pulling itself out of the surf. It let me get rather close before barking and striking at me. We were all looking to see if it was injured and later reported it to the rangers. This is the first seal that any of us had seen on the island. A couple of folks claimed to have seen one in the Sound many years back. Peter took some good pictures and will be publishing this one with a write up in the Ocracoke Observer’s next issue.

On the way to the Swan Quarter ferry in Hyde County, a bear lumbered across the road in front of us.

On the geekier side of things, we installed Damn Small Linux on an old Dell Pentium III for Michael, Peter’s son. We had to leave before getting gcc installed for him. That may be too great a challenge for a guy who has never used command line. I did download the *.deb files but I didn’t get any further.

I should write a whole separate entry on the wonderfully local and generally wonderful OcraFolk Festival fund-raiser especially Capt. Rob Temple’s piratical turn on “The Night Before Christmas”

Sally has a note and a sunset picture here.