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By Connie Leinbach
Katie and Matt Oldhouser didn’t expect to spend most of their honeymoon this week in the Hatteras Ferry Terminal parking lot.
They are among those in about two dozen vehicles that have been waiting in the stacking lanes since Sunday afternoon hoping for passage to Ocracoke Island but were thwarted again on Wednesday.
A large wave swell from the passing of Hurricane Teddy well offshore has battered the Outer Banks. Since Sunday, the ocean has over washed the hot points at high tides at the north end of Ocracoke and the northern part of Pea Island between the Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe.
“While we’d hoped to be able to open NC 12 today, the ocean had other plans,” the NCDOT posted Wednesday on its Facebook page. “The road will remain closed between the Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe as well as on Ocracoke between the Pony Pens and the Ferry Terminal until at least noontime Thursday.”
Since access from Hatteras has been blocked, visitors leaving Ocracoke have had to leave the island via the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries, which runs have also been reduced due to shoaling in the Big Foot Slough.
The Oldhousers, of Richmond, Virginia, married on Saturday and set out for Ocracoke on Sunday, Katie said.
They got through the Pea Island area and as they got to the Hatteras ferry learned those runs were canceled due to ocean overwash on Ocracoke.
“So, we got on the Internet and booked a motel room in Buxton,” she said. “Then we got up the next morning and got in the ferry line.”
And the couple has been doing that ever since: hanging out, talking to others in line, checking out the beach, visiting the Hatteras Landing shops.
“We’re all sharing where we’ll be staying on Ocracoke,” she said.
Fortunately, the Oldhousers have trip insurance that covers road closures, which will help cover the costs of paying double for the week.
“That takes care of some of the stress,” she said. “We know they’re working hard,” she said about the DOT crews moving the sand.
Rob Dickerson has waited with the Oldhousers and others for the last three days, decamping each night to find a motel then coming back in the morning to wait again.
“I’d rather be stuck here than an airport,” Dickerson said. “We have a nice bathroom inside the ferry office. I understand (the problem), but the back-and-forth is driving us nuts.”
Complicating things is that Dickerson’s wife, Gretchen, is on Ocracoke, having gotten on the last ferry on Sunday.
At least, since the wind has died down and it’s sunny, he can ride his bike around and take his dog for a walk on the beach across the road.
On Wednesday, the group had engendered enough camaraderie so that Dickerson volunteered to go get some food.
“I just did a fried seafood run up to Pops in Buxton,” Dickerson said as he drove back with a raft of food for an impromptu tailgate.
“Ocracoke is worth it,” chimed in Peggy Tucker of Richmond. “We spent our vacation in a parking lot.”
Dickerson and the others prepared to leave the ferry lines after learning around 4:30 that there would be no runs today.
Remaining upbeat while being inconvenienced, Dickerson said the situation is reminiscent of the old days.
“I used to go to Grateful Dead concerts and hang out in the parking lot,” he said.