Visiting The Tidalist: Wild Horses Run Free

Have you ever stayed in a house that has a name? Because I sure hadn’t… until now. My sister-in-law had decided to celebrate her 40th birthday in style, opting to rent a spacious house in Corolla, located in extreme northeastern North Carolina along the Outer Banks. And the house was, you guessed it, The Tidalist.
We arrived at the location last Saturday at nearly 5 PM, after a drive in which it seemed the area was literally moving farther away from us. And it’s true, the roads heading out that direction are such that if you watch the as-the-crow-flies miles on your GPS, they’ll start bobbing up and down at around 32 miles out. It seemed to take foreverr for the numbers to start finally counting down for good. “Man, this is a long way to go for water,” my wife and her mom often said. I guess anywhere in the eastern or western portion of the Tar Heel State has this out-of-time and unusually distanced quality.
When we got to the house though, I suppose you could say the journey was worth it. We hauled our luggage onto an elevator (an elevator, in a house!) and made our way up to the htird floor. It was basically the second floor, but of course any beachfront residence has to be elevated to minimize flood risk, such as that goes when you have a thin strip of land bordered to the east by sea and the west by the Currituck Sound. No way on earth would I actually live out there, I could tell you that.
Anyhow, after a quick perusal of the premises, we selected the room that, as it happened, had the best mattress in the house. The accommodations may have been luxurious, but apparently most of the bedding… wasn’t. We however slept like babies.
The first thing one does after that kind of epic drive is search for food, so we settled on a local pizza restaurant called Pizzaz. Well first we trekked to the grocery to stock the two fridges located in the top-floor kitchen, to at least try and cut costs. Though this didn’t really work outt that much, because of course people didn’t really feel like cooking. The pizza was ok I guess, having toppings that kind of reminded me of school pizza. I was so hungry though that I wolfed it down and was happy.
Sunday was mostly a lazy day of walking along the shore and trying to get into the kids pool while the kids thrashed around in the big pool, go figure. That water was kind of cold for me, so I didn’t stay in there long. I chose instead to sunbathe on the wooden chairs nearby.
The real fun occurred at 4:30, when we went on the Wild Horse Adventures Tour. I was intrigued, because we hopped up into a hummer, I guess those are the same vehicles that in military parlance are called hum-vees (spelling). You had to climb a short ladder in order to get into the vehicle, and I was already wondering how I would get back down without face-planting.
The tour guide, Ames John also, was quite entertaining throughout. As he navigated us through increasingly bumpy terrain, he told stories of how the horses, Spanish stallions, had gotten there in the first place (abandoned by the Spanish when they were run off by local indigenous peoples) and how they had thrived but currently only number 100 or so. The most entertaining horse story resulted from a question about whether the horses swim in the ocean.
“Not really,” he replied. “…the only reason they would get into the water would be to get away from the kisses… or to give up on a fight over a mare to get the kisses.” Yes, there were two really young kids onboard and a teenager too, so we assumed we got the edited version. All of his responses were like that though, well-informed and keeping us involved.
All of that was well and good, but of course what they wanted most was to see the horses. If this works, you should be able to see the photos my wife took of these beautiful animals on my public Facebook page. While I couldn’t of course see them, I still enjoyed the imply ride as we ventured off-road and up into the sand where some people amazingly lived. Guess they truly want privacy, but how do they get, well any kind of services?
And that was basically the day’s highlight, and that of the first half of the trip. That Sunday night, we ate from a place called Sooey’s, where they had so many options I ate three different meals there over the course of the week. To start with, I had delicious fried flounder, some fries that didn’t offer much in the way of flavor, and fried okra.
Monday was a fairly quiet day, on which I read nearly 100 pages of a great book I’d selected by Lisa Wingate called The Sea Keeper’s Daughters. Set in the Outer Banks, farther dow than we were in Matteo, it involves a woman whose Michigan restaurant is about to go under, so she is forced to come to North Carolina to try and find a way to save it in her mother’s hotel. As it turns out, she ends up discovering a vast history that involved her grandmother and an unknown relative, a twin sister of the grandmother who had written many fascinating lettters as she worked for the Federal Writers Project documenting the history of North Carolina. This book beautifully weaves the depression era into the present in a way that is more prescient than the author probably even realized when she penned it in 2015, as there is talk of revitalizing the FWP to capture life in COVID times. If you don’t know anything about the FWP, it’s worth reading up on. But Wingate’s description of Outer Banks landmarks made for great accompaniment on those long, lazy days. More in part 2: The Lighthouse Climb.

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