Beginning when I was kid of six or so, my family would take us to the beach, whether Kill Devil Hills or Nags Head or Kitty Hawk, usually in mid to late August to, as my dad would say, recharge. Growing up in Great Bridge, back in the day, we were always only an hour and a half or so away from the Outer Banks. In High School, Friday evenings we would strap the boards to the roof and drive 168 south with a few bucks and maybe a blanket to sleep on…not that we slept much. The key was to live well below our means, stripped down, just the essentials. Over the years, we put together a loose list of things we jokingly called ‘Surfer Rules’. Hardly rules at all, but more like a flip set of things to think about, ideas to live by. We’ve added some, taken some away, but every once in a while, usually after coming back from recharging, we like to revisit them, for old time’s sake if nothing else….
1. Always take the beach road. Even when there is a modern highway right next door, where you can drive 55 or 60, pull off onto the beach road, turn off the AC, and roll down the windows. Take the beach road.
2. Drive south. This is a metaphorical rule, but in most cases, it seems to fit. When you reach the ocean, there is invariably a T in the road where you can go north or south. Go south.
3. If you need more than a board (surf, boogie, skim, etc.), fishing tackle and something to boil shrimp in, you’re in the wrong place.
4. Avoid restaurants that advertise ‘All You Can Eat’ seafood buffets.
5. Eat at a place like Dune Burger, or something similarly named. You know the place, kind of a shack where you order from a sliding window and it has greasy picnic tables outside. Although this meal may be your last, eat at Dune Burger.
6. Surf or swim naked. Avoid intellectual stimulation. Think less, live more. Ride waves.
7. Avoid beach destinations that offer activities: author readings, children’s story times, yoga and exercise classes should be avoided at all costs. Outlet malls are strictly forbidden.
8. Try not to play Putt Putt…it’s just so, well touristy…but if you must, have fun!
9. Eat Wanchese shrimp. Every beach has something that is uniquely theirs; the Outer Banks has Wanchese shrimp. Eat local.
10. Don’t be a you know what. Share the ocean, share the beach.
11. Never jog on the beach. If you do, please, no socks and running shoes.
12. Never wear speedos. If you must, be sure you have the body to own it.
13. Long boards are okay, especially for us old, arthritic guys.
14. Wear Roxy Bikinis. Roxy rocks. Simple.
15. Never pay more than $2.00 for flip flops.
16. If you are at the beach, always shower outside. Use a hose if you have to.
17. Have cake by the ocean (we recommend a big blanket).
18. Eat breakfast at the Nags Head Pier. Every beach town has a pier, with a little wooden diner, where the coffee is strong and the waitresses are nice.
19. Use bloodworms for bait. You can catch anything with a bloodworm.
20. Own at least one pair of Birdwell Beach Britches. We know O’neal and Billabong make great stuff, but you need at least one pair of britches made out of Surfnyl.
21. Don’t be a you know what. Pick up your trash, and always clean up after your doggy.
22. If someone mentions that they remember when the beach road was sand, stop and listen.