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Kaid Benfield’s Blog

Cars gone wild: life on the Outer Banks and the Brew-Thru

Kaid Benfield

Posted August 29, 2008 in Living Sustainably

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So, seeing as I’m here at a beach house with my lovely wife and nine – yes, nine – in-laws under one roof, I figure that I might as well write about it.  A fitting final post of summer, I think.

Yesterday my father-in-law, one of the world’s most decent and honorable gentlemen IMHO, my wife and I went out to get a newspaper.  One of the closer shopping areas in this narrow but highly developed strip of land is a place called Timbuck II, so there we went.  In the Google Maps satellite view below, our house is marked with the teardrop red “A” in the upper right corner.  Timbuck II is the concrete “peninsula” jutting out to the west in the lower left corner.

  south of Corolla, NC (image by Google Maps)  village shopping in the Outer Banks (by: timbuckii.com) 

It’s a mess.  The designers wanted a village concept, it seems, with a collection of low-rise buildings housing the usual assortment of resort-area shops and services.  Not a bad starting idea, really.  But.  Although the buildings are ideally proximate to each other for walking and browsing, they completely forgot the pedestrians.  Virtually no sidewalks, and none really useful.   I think they also wanted drive-right-up convenience, with parking right in front of every “shoppe.”  The result, at least during high season, is absolute mayhem – cars darting in and out everywhere, poor sight lines for everybody.  As a pedestrian, you more or less have to walk in the roadway, and you don’t know which way to look or how to tell which cars are coming, going, or stopped.  Heck, I didn’t even feel secure as a driver.  Completely disorienting.

We had no luck finding a newspaper there, but someone told us there was a row of newspaper boxes “at the gas station by the main road, right next to the “broof-roof.”

So we wandered out and eventually spotted the gas station, within hazardous walking distance and next to something actually called the “Brew-Thru.”  Our helper had pronounced it just fine; our ears just hadn't recognized what they were hearing.

  the Brew-Thru! (by: Mike Miller, creative commons license)  from the inside (by: Lori Miller, creative commons license) 

What a concept – a drive-through beer store!  Is this a great country or what?  Turns out there are six locations here on the Outer Banks, and they are oh-so-convenient for picking up your beverage of choice while driving through, then popping it open and continuing your drive, even right on the beach if you want, since that’s encouraged here in the “eco-tour” area . . . where you can see "Spanish horses in their native habitat."  Really, you can’t make this stuff up.

Here is a truly funny local TV ad for the Brew-Thru:

 

And if, like me, you just can't get enough, you should also check out this short video tour from an amused patron. 

Kaid Benfield writes (almost) daily about community, development, and the environment.  For more posts, see his blog's home page.  

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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