'Thanks, Uncle Sam' for my vacation shut down

A recent extended vacation back to my home state of North Carolina was certainly a mixed bag, but that tends to be the way things go sometimes, right?

My wife and I learned an important civics lesson during our trip — the recent shut-down of the federal government was not a pretty sight.

During our trip, we visited the Outer Banks area of the Tar Heel state. One check box on our bucket list was to visit some of the lighthouses that are found along what’s known as “The Graveyard of the Atlantic.”

We stopped at a local convenience store to get a tankful of gasoline and a couple of snacks before leaving for the closest lighthouses. When we asked the guy behind the counter for directions, he said that the Bodie (pronounced “body,” referring to all of the dead bodies that have washed ashore in the “Graveyard”) Island lighthouse was right down the road a few miles, with the always-popular Cape Hatteras lighthouse about 30 miles further on.

“But it won’t do you any good; they both closed at 11 o’clock this morning,” he said with a funny smile on his face, adding that it was all part of the government shut-down.

A quick glance at my watch indicated the correct Eastern Daylight Time was 11:06 a.m.


Just the day before — Monday, Sept. 30 — my wife and I had purchased lifetime passes to our country’s national parks while visiting the Wright Brothers Memorial. Now we were beginning to wonder if we’d ever be able to take advantage of what we thought was a great deal.

Because we have a bunch of selfish monkeys making (and not making) our laws, we couldn’t visit these monuments to the maritime history of my home state.

(Note: I apologize if I’ve offended any selfish monkeys who might be reading this.)

We drove down to Bodie Island just as the park personnel there was ushering visitors out. They were very nice to us, but we still couldn’t go in. We had to turn around and leave.

We drove down the road about another half-mile and, to our right, could see the Bodie Island lighthouse off in the distance. Yes, you could tell it was a lighthouse, but it was so far away I had to use a telephoto lens on the camera just to make it look like a snapshot.

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