The Road Less Straightened


This is the first roadside attraction I ever found. It's the marker for the Wright Brothers, the actual first monument, put up by the citizens of Kitty Hawk, before even the big monument was built on Big Kill Devil Hill. It marks the spot where they stayed when they began their tests with kites and gliders among the dunes of Kitty Hawk. They lived at William Tate's home in Kitty Hawk. Tate was the postmaster at the time, and had received a letter from Wilbur, asking about locations that would be sufficiently windy and open for testing. The Wrights' first glider was assembled on Tate's front lawn. Their son, Tom, 11 years old at the time, flew in the glider as it was tethered, becoming the first person outside of the brothers to fly in a Wright craft.

Now, I "found" this... okay, I actually knew about this long before all this story. It sits near the church I went to as a kid. But I found this, for lack of a better phrase, because I turned 16. I was looking for a place to go.

It's no secret that I grew up on the beach of Outer Banks of NC. The barrier islands stretch from the Virginia border down to South Carolina, where it changes into these wonderful footprint islands. But up on the northern coast, they are long, thin, fragile strips that run north to south, with little space to go any other way.

I was always a little disappointed that not only did the island roads not have any curves, the bulk of the speed limit was a paltry but responsible 35 mph. So when I got my car, I sought out any place to make a turn. I wasn't looking to screech tires or do doughnuts. I just wanted to feel the lean. I wasn't an off-roader, or some drag race guy. I liked my cars fun. So I went looking. About the only place I could find that didn't have a straight road was back near this monument. On Moore Shore Road, back in Kitty Hawk Village, stood the other Wright Brothers Monument, the real, first one. I don't know if I went there to look at it because it was different, or just as an excuse to then drive up the little sound side road that had two soft little sweeping turns that I could drive even at a slow speed and still get a little thrill.


The road taught me to slow down. Yes, safety first, but I was 16 and not thinking that. I was admiring the view. The road had a beautiful sunset, a sound that stretched forever. The monument didn't change, but every evening, it was a little different sight to see. I liked passing by the little monument. But I knew something better was just down the road.

Kind of appropriate for me and the start of all these books, huh?




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