Saturday, June 2, 2012

Duck Beach 2012

Our lives at Duck passed away as if it were a dream.  The yearly migration to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, affectionately referred to as Duck, has become a tradition for single members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints LDS from all over the United States, as well as other countries.  Most of the activities take place in Corolla, but since the early LDS vacationers first occupied the town of Duck, the appellation has remained.

As in years past, Duck has attracted some of the best and the brightest of the East Coast graduate students, young professionals, entrepreneurs, and other movers and shakers, as well as their Western and Mid-Western peers.  Others arrive from as far aways as Europe, Brazil and Australia, seeking respite, relaxation, and possibly romance.  The Memorial Day weekend is jam packed with parties, beach games, and socializing, interrupted only briefly on Sunday morning by LDS worship services.  This year the congregation held a sacrament meeting at a middle school in Kitty Hawk in order to accommodate the large number of vacationers.

As a somewhat reluctant but now fully satisfied third year veteran, my experience at Duck may not be uncommon, but it is unique in that I did not sleep in the party houses, and I had the opportunity to spend quality time with a few close family members, as well as with friends both old and new.  The Outer Banks feels like home to me because my ancestors and my paternal grandfather hailed from Harker's Island, a small community located several miles south of Duck Beach and Corolla.  My ancestors made their living by fishing and whaling in the Atlantic Ocean, and my grandfather did the same until he met a pair of LDS missionaries who promptly baptized him and inspired him to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where he met his wife, my grandmother.

Over the years my family has travelled many times to the Outer Banks, and it is to this region of the earth that many of my fondest memories can be traced.  When I discovered that there was a Mormon migration to Duck Beach, I was as much drawn to my ancestral roots as I was to the exciting prospect of meeting beautiful and eligible LDS girls.

This year my father, sister and I visited my grandmother in the Greenville hospital.  My father also organized a fireside and mini-conference at Duck Beach for the John Adam's Center, an educational institution designed to encourage people of traditional morality in their quest for truth, and to support the voices of people of faith in the public square.  Distinguished scholars and authors participated in the conference and panel discussion on topics such as religion, the so-called "Mormon moment" and politics.  With these good incentives to spend memorial day weekend on the Outer Banks (faith, family and fun), I embarked on yet another adventure to Duck.

Of course, like most who flock to Duck, there remained a glimmer of hope in my heart to meet that special someone and to kindle a relationship to last forever.  The swimming, dancing and socializing provide ample opportunities for single adults to meet new and interesting people, but not every encounter results in marriage.  In fact, I suspect that most return to real life without a new romance, but at least having formed new friendships and created good memories.

Although I had time to rest and to enjoy the beauties of nature (including the beautiful Mormons), this year at Duck was more eventful than I would have imagined it to be.  One night after driving back to the Beach house from an excursion to find wild horses, a deer bounded out of the bushes and onto our rental car windshield, and then hopped away on the other side of the road.  Fortunately, no one was injured (except perhaps the deer), but the vehicle sustained serious damage to the windshield and one of the windshield wipers.  It could have been a lot worse.  We were very fortunate indeed.

The next day I had the car towed back to the rental store, and a few of my friends and I headed to the nearest beach for a dip in the ocean.  After a swim and a conversation with a friend, a young man alerted us that two of our other friends seemed to be swimming out too far into the ocean.  We turned around to look for them, and away in the distance we saw two small heads bobbing up and down, and a hand waving.  We couldn't tell if they were in distress, so rather than risk their drowning, we decided to call 911.  Within minutes emergency responders were on the scene, and a couple of life guards with floating devices swam out to save them.  They had ventured quite far out into the ocean, but as it turns out, they were not in distress.  In fact, they were perhaps more distressed to have their romantic swim in the Atlantic broken up by the life guards.  Several people had gathered to watch the would-be rescue, and still others observed the spectacle from their beach houses.

In spite of the dare devil deer and the dangers of drowning, most of the Duck experience was relatively calm.  There was the usual dancing, music and partying.  There was beach volleyball and beach flirting in the mornings, followed by more parties and excursions to historical sites such as Kitty Hawk (where Wilbur and Orville Wright launched their first successful flights) and trips to the lighthouses, such as the Currituck lighthouse.

Late one night, a group of friends and I brought flying lanterns out to the beach.  We lit them and released the glowing miniature hot-air balloons into the starry night over the ocean.  The brightness of the stars over the ocean was spectacular, and the breeze carried the flying lanterns even further out over the ocean than our friends had swum, until the flames were extinguished or until we could see them no longer.  It was a beautiful sight: candles under the bright stars soaring out over the ocean like so many luminescent birds in flight.  These lanterns did not return, but I suspect that many LDS singles will return to Duck again next year, with bright hopes and great expectations.

All in all Duck 2012 was a great experience.  I had the privilege of meeting many fun and interesting people.  I wasn’t disappointed at all that many of the fun and interesting people that I met also happened to be intelligent, articulate, and beautiful young ladies, any one of whom would make a more than suitable match for marriage.  Whether I would make a suitable match has yet to be determined, but at least I can admire the ladies for their commendable qualities.

Will I return to Duck next year?  Perhaps like most of those who embark on the adventure, I certainly wouldn’t mind returning to Duck, although it would be preferable to do so accompanied by a spouse.  Some may call it quackery, but in the future, I believe it would be even more fun to bring along some cute little ducklings.