17 January 2014

J'ai la tête ailleurs

My mind is elsewhere. Carolina dreaming. I guess it's escapism. But it's more concrete than that. It's time for me to buy my plane ticket for my annual trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

My flight will follow the course of the famous Gulf Stream, the warm ocean current that makes the European climate liveable. But I'll be going "upstream" — and up in the air above it.

The Atlantic Ocean along the Carolina Coast (photos from 2002)

First, I'll take a train to Paris. Then I'll get on an airplane that won't touch the ground again (I hope) until it lands in North Carolina. There, in the biggest city and biggest airport in the Carolinas, I'll get on another plane and fly out to the coast, 300 miles distant. Even though the trip is a couple of months away, I can't stop thinking about it.

Much more water and sky than land

And I'll be in a place that's more water than land. It has French connections, at least in some of the place names. The county is named Carteret, after the family that help found it in the late 1600s. Carteret is also a town in Normandy, just across the water from the island of Jersey. I've been lucky enough to go to Carteret in Normany several times over the past 10 years.

One of the main landmarks in Carteret County is the lighthouse at Cape Lookout

Carteret County's oldest town, founded in the early 1700s — the county seat —  is called Beaufort (its original name was Fish Town). I'm not sure who it was named for, but there are several towns named Beaufort in France and around the world, and one is in the Loire Valley west of Tours. I think the two towns I'm talking about are "twinned" — sister cities. I haven't yet made the trek over to Beaufort-en-Vallée, which is 90 minutes from Saint-Aignan.

Fishing, both the sport and commercial varieties, are the region's traditional lifelines.

Finally, the body of water on whose shores I grew up — and my parents and grandparents before me — is called Bogue Sound. Bogue is a French word that has two or three different meanings, and I'm not sure how the name got attached to a body of water on the N.C. coast. Huguenots, probably, who sought refuge here centuries ago.

You just barely discern the low land that is Carteret County...

The day here in Saint-Aignan is dawning clear, and the moon was shining brightly when I got up this morning. But we've been having heavy downpours of rain, as Tim mentioned in a comment on yesterday's post. It's been too rainy for photography. So far, however, the roof over our kitchen is holding steady after last summer's repair — no leaking.


  1. Bogue...
    Pauline thinks could they have been a Huguenot family?

    I think that this is a lovely set of "French Conections"...
    you didn't emigrate to France...
    you came back home at a time of tolerance.

  2. I'm doing the train to Paris and catching a plane thing today. Departing an 11C max and arriving in 38C on Sunday. Great (or maybe not...)

  3. Your last photo is awesome!

  4. These photos of NC coast are lovely! Especially the one with the reflection of the sky.

  5. Ahhhhhh, I can smell the salty ocean breeze!
    Ditto what chm said :)

    We have a Beaufort here, about an hour west of where I live in St. Louis... little hick town, pronounce "Bew-furttt"... how is it pronounced in NC?

  6. Judy, in NC the first syllable is like the French beau -- [BOH-furt].

    Thanks for the nice comments, CHM and Antoinette and Niall.

  7. I love the first pic - looks like a painting - out of all the wonderful ones you've posted today.

    On my side, i am monitoring my sister's flight out of CDG ( delayed by 2 hours ). She will stop in Montreal for the WE before flying south to DC. She is lucky, leaving the heat and humidity of the island to a mildly cold city which is going back to the deep freeze on Monday night.

    Good thing the cousin is not in southern California which is experiencing a drought , thus fear of fire from the driest parts of the state.


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