From Thoreau’s Walking: “If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again; if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man; then you are ready for a walk.” Amongst the various and complex themes imbedded here, the spirit of solitude in Thoreau’s lines is what moves me. I don’t literally want to leave my family and never return, but I do want to be alone every now and then… Who doesn’t?
You find out who you are when you’re alone for a while… So leave the smart phone at home (or at least turn it off), and when everyone else in your life is sleeping quietly, or is busy at work, or play, go.
Here are my Top 5 things to do Alone around ILM (all equally awesome):
(5) – Fort Fisher Jetty (Early Fall)
Head out in the middle of the night, 2 – 3am with a headlamp. You’re likely to find someone fishing at every other time. Keep an eye out for really low tide, on a clear night, and you can get all the way out there. It is sweet and revealing darkness.
(4) – Bald Head’s Maritime Forest (Late Spring)
Aside from the fact that it’s one of the last remaining maritime forests on the Outer Banks, it is a superb and well-blazed trail. Anyone who can walk can walk it alone. It’s also quieter and more amazing that way.
(3) – Anywhere off Hwy 421 past midnight (Late Fall)
Grab a jacket and a warm beverage. Jump in the car. Head North up 421. As soon you see a road that scares you, turn onto it. Get beyond any and all streetlights within miles, and park it. You’ll be ok. Lie on the roof of your car and look up. Meteors guaranteed.
(2) – Paddle In (Summer)
Head to Greenfield Lake and rent a canoe. Paddle as far from 3rd street as you can, and you’ll be in a maze of cypress, algae and magnolias. They are few, but some of the coves in that lake are nothing but swamp, bird, gator, mosquito, and you. Lay back in your canoe and dig the canopy.
(1) – Go to Wrightsville Beach (Winter)
This only works in winter, preferably when the temperature is in the 30’s. In mid-afternoon go north past Shell Island Resort. It’s freezing. No one will be there. Take a beach chair, sit, and bundle up. The type of cold that hits you on a beach that big in the winter reminds you that you’re alive.