An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

August 30, 2013

The Wild East

     The town of Carova Beach is as far north and as far east as you can be in North Carolina, and it is not easy to get to. Although it is only 33 miles as the seagull flies from my house, it is over 100 miles and nearly three hours away as the car drives, and not just any car. If you want to visit Carova Beach, you need to have a 4X4, as there are no paved roads in, or leading to, Carova Beach, so the last 10 miles of the trip have to be taken on the beach. You need to carefully pick your travel time so that the tide is not abnormally high, and you should go while it is light out to avoid hitting any of the ancient tree stumps remaining from when this beach was a forest, and you have to pack carefully because there are no stores in Carova so whatever you need has to come with you, and you should know what you are doing so your vehicle doesn't end up in the ocean or becomes one of those that overheats and catches fire burning all those carefully packed supplies, and if you go on a busy summer Saturday or Sunday you need to be mindful of all the people (many of them drunk) that have driven in their 4X4s to enjoy the beach.


Uniola Paniculata - Sea Oats (1)

Tracks (2)

Froth (1)

Froth (3)


Shadow (1)

     Carova Beach was once an enclave of free spirits, crusty watermen and people who generally like to like to be apart. In temperament these people are probably similar to the area's more famous residents, Spanish mustangs, who have been here since the earliest Colonial times. These wild horses once had run of the entire Outer Banks, but as development and pavement crept north, there were too many horse and vehicle accidents. So two fences were put up running from the ocean to the sound. One is on the south end where the pavement ends, and the other is right on the Virginia/North Carolina border, and this gives the horses about 7000 acres to roam. This past weekend when we pulled into the cottage where we were staying, there was a mare and her colt eating from the front yard scrub, seemingly unconcerned by our arrival. These days the older, modest family cottages and house trailers on stilts are dwarfed by million dollar oceanfront vacation rentals, but the horses don't seem to mind. I just hope the pressure from development doesn't change the wildness of Carova, or lead to paved roads, Applebees, t-shirt shops and horse fatalities.

Corova's Horses (1)

Corova's Horses (2)

Corova's Horses (3)

Citations Will Be Issued


     My Shower Buddy
Frog (1)

Frog (2)

     I apologize for the graphic pictures below, but if you have not heard, bottlenose dolphins are dying on the Atlantic coast. As of this week the total was 357 with 186 in Virginia alone. This one missed being #187 by half a mile. In the past few days the cause has been narrowed to morbillivirus, which is similar to measles in humans, though there are no vaccination clinics in the ocean. This situation causes me great sadness.
Carcass (1)

     The orange paint signifies that this corpse has been examined and recorded. Kind of like the X's on the houses after Katrina.
Carcass (2)

    I think we need something pleasant to look at now.
Clouds (2)


     This is the fence that separates North Carolina from Virginia, and it also keeps out the horses and the 4X4s.
Border Fence

Border Fence (4)

     Humans, however, are always welcome. Let me hold the gate for you.
The Gate to VIrginia (2)


  1. The monster home in your photo shows that "progress" has arrived in that lovely remote area. Sad about that and the dolphin.

    Thanks for holding the gate.

  2. Thank you for taking me along on your trip!

  3. Beautiful shots. I have this on my NC list of places to go....the photo tour was very nice. I particularly love the "shades" tree. I too have been hearing about the sad.

  4. All I needed was a cup of coffee on this lovely Saturday morning to join you on Carova beach. I'm perfectly happy to leave the driving to you.
    I'd rather remain dirty then share amenities with your shower buddy, but in the picture it has a fabulous shade of green!
    Is the sand on the beach as soft and powdery as it seems?

  5. Sadly, I always ended up in Duck where I had to pay an attendant to stake out my beach space daily. And I am following the plight of the dolphins. Tragic. Hope you enjoyed the week without a sunburn.

  6. This post gives me so many mixed feelings! First of all, driving on the beach seems so odd to me. Grew up in a small Florida resort town and no one drove on the beach so whenever I see this I think "wrong!" And if the million dollar homes are there already, the things you fear will soon follow. Love your shower buddy! The horses are amazing, I had no idea and thought they were only on the Outer Banks. Sad about the dolphins, I always remind myself, "Nature, red in tooth and claw." Great, informative post.

  7. Les,
    Thanks for holding the door open to Carova Beach. I hope it can remain underdeveloped. As always, your photography tells a great story and each picture stands alone as is a compelling composition. I got a kick out of your shower buddy.

  8. What an amazing place. Thanks for sharing since most of us won't ever see it in person. That yellow house with all the steps would be laughable if it wasn't so depressing. Why don't any of these rich folk have any sense of taste or appropriateness? Too much to ask I guess.

  9. Most of those pictures are just plain sublime but the bottlenose dolphin photos are sad. It looks as though the 3 hour drive was well worth it. Thanks for letting us in.

  10. What a magical place! We have similar issues in Maine about not being able to get there from here. I have heard about the dolphins - so sad!