Little Action in Action Park

Waterfall Action [!?] Park, Rodanthe, OBX, NC.

There is loneliness in abandonment. Like a baby’s sock spied on the sidewalk. You know the baby kicked it off, and the parent is later annoyed by an unpaired sock. Yet, you see a single sock alone on the concrete, maybe it has a ruffle and little multi-colored hearts, and your heart breaks. Just a little.

Combing though boxes at a yard sale–and seriously what the hell are we doing going through other folks’ castoffs??–there’s that beat up puzzle box. It’s likely missing two or three pieces. You find the beat up box next to an old Barbie with a fright wig style hairdo. She’s always naked. And her twist and turn waist is seriously wrong.  Pawing through, there may be a few stacking blocks, the ones with the ABCs, rattling around. I guess someone just couldn’t throw it out. So you are stuck with their melancholy just because you were hoping for… Oh, nevermind. Don’t go to yard sales.

Even a car up on blocks in a front yard, once you push past the eyesoreness, is mournful. Especially when you see it in front of a short boxy house with a mostly sunken roof and peeling siding framed by what had been a screened in porch. Today, though, the door flaps in the wind and makes a loud clapping sound when it tries to fit in its frame. The porch is minus much of the screen. You can see the broken couch that would have been hidden on the porch. Nobody is there. But the couch, a pile of mail overflowing the mailbox and an old green hose snaking from the side of the house toward the rusting car makes it clear that was not always true.

Driving on NC-12 reveals the remains of what had been the Waterfall Action Park in Rodanthe. First, what an odd name. What were they trying to sell? Anyway, it was built in 1980 but had the look of the worst of a 60’s amusement park. Passing by, it looks like it was abandoned 30 years ago. The grass is growing through cracks in the concrete. The chutes and flumes of what must have been the water action slides are both sun bleached and misshapen. There is almost no color left. Everything is askance and a silvery grey-white, with maybe a darker gray that was once blue.

The park was big and spanned both sides of the highway. There was a putt-putt golf course and two or three go-kart courses. All that is left is a bunch of old tires and the curve of the concrete that the absent carts dragged across. Seeing this wretched wreck over the past few years makes me mourn a past that I never knew.

This wreckage, despite its full ruin, is all of four years old. After a one-year decline, due to the founder’s death, Hurricane Sandy ripped through. In less than two years, this “action park” became an inaction eyesore.

Like that. The story isn’t ancient history, although the site looks it. It’s more like the missing sock from a baby’s foot. Immediate. Transient. And sad.

Peddle to the Meddle

People setting up their booth of trump campaign booty in front of a restaurant with the motto, I got my crabs at Dirty Dick's.

The fact that the sky was blackening with intermittent streaks of lightning did not dissuade them. The wind wasn’t picking up, so the roof would stay on the tent.

Anyway, this is a big day. The rentals turned over on Saturdays. People line the realty offices waiting for their keys to be delivered between 4-6 p.m. They pick their way to the house and dump the kids. The sisters or the bros pile back in the car for the Food Lion.

Everyone goes to the Food Lion when they get in. People need milk and that vanilla coffee creamer and their margarita mix. The chips were eaten in the car before the bridge, and you need salsa anyway. Not to mention chardonnay. And olives. You could get beer, too, if you missed the Brew Thru–yes, where you drive through an open garage and get handed a case of Bud.

You passed the next closest real grocery store 45 miles ago and you need charcoal, hotdogs, buns and mustard for tonight’s vacation grand opening. Grab that bag of pre-shredded coleslaw for me, will you? It’s got the slaw dressing in the bag, right?

So for the folks selling campaign bumper stickers, yard signs, hats and t-shirts, this is the day. They set up the tent right next to the entrance, where there’s a traffic light. People pause and look over the merchandise as they wait for the light to change. Some people give a thumbs up and sometimes a car horn blares an approval. They set up their store because they want America to be great again, and because they bought the shirts, signs and hats in bulk figuring there was some money to be made. People spend money on impulse buys all the time at the beach.

There’s plenty of foot traffic in the lot. The Food Lion sits in a strip mall with a dollar store and a yogurt place and a sandwich joint. Then there’s the restaurant which fronted the lawn space to set up the campaign shop. Dirty Dick’s Crab House. The folks at Dick’s are especially proud of the thousands of t-shirts they sell with their slogan, “I got my crabs from Dirty Dick’s.” Now customers can buy that shirt–or maybe even a onesie for the baby–at the restaurant and then pick out a yard sign that reads “Hillary for Prison.”

It’s all really quite something. The storm mostly held off. Who says America isn’t great?