From the bath tub in this outdoor bathing area one can watch the full moon rise all summer long. Photo: C Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

Chad Macek had never taken an outdoor shower until he visited Ocracoke in 2013.

“It was amazing,” he said about that first time. Where he was from up north, there weren’t outdoor showers.

It seems they are mostly a beach thing: it’s easier to wash the sand off while outside, and, outdoor showers are just cool.

Macek had his first outdoor shower at Oscar’s House B&B and he and his wife, Robin, are the owners of that venerable establishment, having purchased it in 2018. Now they are enjoying introducing some of their guests to the outdoor shower.

Chad even named his radio show on Ocracoke’s community radio WOVV 90.1 FM “The Outdoor Shower Power Hour.”

Airing Monday nights from 6 to 8, Macek’s show features themes from popular music of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

Chad Macek’s image for his WOVV radio show, Outdoor Shower Power Hour. Photo by Robin Macek.

Friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv) is the Norwegian concept of spending time outdoors no matter what the season.

The expression literally translates as “open-air living” and was popularized in the 1850s by the Norwegian playwright and poet Henrik Ibsen who used the term to describe the value of spending time in remote locations for spiritual and physical wellbeing.

Granted, Ocracoke is not Norway, but friluftsliv could apply to Ocracoke since the island’s mild weather promotes outdoor activities – especially visiting the beach — all year.

And outdoor showers fit right into that.

“I just love mine,” is a frequent refrain about outdoor showers.

Some people use them year-round.

Katy Mitchell, owner of the Magic Bean Coffee Bazaar, loves hers and says she and her Airbnb guests “use it until it’s too cold.”

The shower at Oscar’s is among the many versions throughout the island.

One island couple has expanded on the concept by adding a bathtub to their newly installed outdoor bathing area.

The woman loves that the claw-foot bathtub is situated so that when sitting in the tub, one can watch the full moon rise from a strategically located window.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “I’m having so much fun.”

William Howard built this shower and others all over the island.

“There are some pretty unique ones,” he said.

One of those is at the home of Art and Amay Strissell.

The shower bottom is made up of 190 blue, Saratoga water bottles placed upside down in a hexagonal box.

Strissell said he and Adan Tellez of Washington, Beaufort County, created the form and then they jimmied the bottles in place.

The bottles make a slight tinkling sound when they are stood on and as the water drains through them.

At night, the bottles are lighted.

“We love it immensely,” Strissell said. “It’s great for the kids.”

The outdoor shower with a floor made of upside down blue bottles in daylight at the home of Art and Amay Strissell. Photo: C. Leinbach
The outdoor shower at night at the home of Art and Amay Strissell.
The outdoor shower at Thurston House B&B is painted to look like a beach towel. Photo: C. Leinbach
The outdoor shower at the home of Kirsten and Dan Zapotek has a unique shower head.
Above the Zapotek’s shower are the spreading limbs of a large live oak tree. Photo: C. Leinbach
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  1. After years of thoroughly enjoying* the outdoor shower at the Sound Front Inn, a friend of ours built one…. so what? Well he lives in Lexington, NC. It’s likely the most westerly Ocracoke-style outdoor shower in NC.

    * We gather and drink our morning coffee while awaiting the sun rising high enough in the sky to warm the interior of the shower… then it’s shower time.

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