For years I have been hearing about the wild ponies of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Known as Bankers, the ancestors of these ponies were brought to the barrier islands by the Spanish in the 16th Century. Five-hundred years later, and they still survive and thrive. What isn’t fascinating about these animals? They exemplify American freedom and perseverance.
So this year my daughter and her boyfriend, and my husband and I decided to see these amazing animals. My neighbor, a native Carolinian, suggested Ocracoke Island.
Normally, it takes me months to plan a trip. I like to study the area, search for hotel deals, and minimalize all surprises. But this trip was rushed. We planned it in less than a week. I hate traveling during holidays. There are too many people on the road for my liking, and things get too rushed. But due to work schedules, we had to take this trip during the 4th of July celebrations. We also planned visiting other areas during that same trip. With all my vacationing rules broken, we headed packed up the car and headed out on what we hoped would be a grand adventure.
We booked passage on the longest ferry route in North Carolina—from Cedar Island to Ocracoke. That was an adventure of its own. No one in my family had ever ridden a ferry, so we had no idea what to expect. It was a dream that I’ve been having ever sense I saw the first advertisement for the North Carolina Ferry System.
Strange how I knew we were moving, but at the same time, I felt like I was standing still. The only other boats I have been on made me feel that way. But then again, I had never been on anything this large. Perhaps it was the size of the vessel or the slow speed at which we were moving.
As I stood on the crowded deck, I began to understand why, at one time, people thought the horizon was the end of the earth. With nothing but the sky and the water in my sight, it did seem that way. I felt so insignificant. Everything here was bigger and more powerful than me. I lost all sense of direction.
The sun seems stronger on the water. The only relief from it was the passengers’ lounge, the passengers’ cars, and the deck under the lounge area. I wasn’t about to attempt the climb up to the passengers’ lounge. The steps are steep and I’m afraid of heights. I could have asked for help, but my pride wouldn’t let me. What about the part of the deck shaded by the lounge area? Great choice, but I’m worse than most kids when it comes to not wanting to miss anything. I spent most of my time in the sun, hoping to spot a dolphin or whatever might pop up out of the water.
I returned to my car and opened all the windows. The constant wind helped to keep me cool. With the waves gently rocking the huge vessel and nothing to occupy me but my thoughts, I soon relaxed and fell asleep.
Excitement electrified the air and woke me, as the horn sounded, introducing our arrival. Everyone was ordered back to their cars. I was already there so I took out my camera, snapping shots,
Once we were guided off the boat, we went in search of the famous wild horses of Ocracoke Island. To our disappointment, we found them living within the confines of a pasture. At first, I was upset. After all, I can see horses in pastures in my own neighborhood. Then I read the information plaque. Due to accidents with humans, these animals have been under the protection of the National Parks and Recreation Department, since 1959. Okay, Bankers have been raised in captivity longer than I’ve been alive. There are a few islands where they do run wild and free, but human transportation is restricted to foot traffic only. Maybe next year.
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About the author, LF Gillis
LF Gillis is a writer and novelist who is deeply connected to the great outdoors and nature. You will experience small-town southern states of American life through this author's beautiful writing. The most amazing thing is the way the characters in a Gillis novel interact, and the author's gift for showing the full depth of their feelings. The stories below are gripping and inspirational reads that I would highly recommend.
Sylvia-Ann doesn't care that Hank Washington is the darling of the county. She wants to be his exclusive darling. Inherited behaviour isn't easily shaken aside, and Sylvia-Ann's chief opponent isn't the girls who throw themselves at the handsome baseball star, it is the Felix family's legacy. She must claw her way forward to grasp the basic primal needs that others take for granted.
Inherited behaviour threatens to implode her dreams of a secure home and a happy family life with the man she adores.
As far as everyone is concerned, Hank Washington leads the perfect life. With Sylvia-Ann he can escape everyone's expectations and be himself. What's the point in being adored by many if he can't have the one person he cares about most? Her inherited behaviour and a community ganging together to force him to live his father's dream might cause Hank to play the worst game and make his worst decision.
She can't change her past, but can Sylvia-Ann alter her future? Or is the Felix family legacy unshakable.
I highly recommend LF Gillis's novels.
This is and honest and unpaid testimony.
~ Ryn Shell author and artist.