OLD OBX FIRETRUCK

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The stretch of highway from the Virginia border down to Kitty Hawk used to be mind-numbingly dull to me. The land is absolutely flat, which I find creepy, inexplicably, like the way Billy Bob Thornton find's Disraeli's hair style creepy. Gathered along the highway like beetles along the spine of a dead nutria are cinderblock buildings occupied by the least imaginative businesses imaginable. Trailer Hitch City, Bricks Bricks Bricks, Bales Termite & Pest Control ("Bales In...Bugs Out"), you get the idea. But now that I'm constantly on the lookout for sketchbook topics, I look harder. And hidden in between and behind the new, dull stuff are all the old things that used to have the place to themselves. Vine-covered and leaning sheds, abandoned gas stations, austere little white clapboard churches. The highway is studded with gems, if you have but eyes to see. We squealed to a stop in front of a crazed antique store almost overtaken by vines, and in the back were this ancient firetruck, as well as a double-decker bus and a big ol white 1970 Cadillac. Before long, someone will clear it all out for the next Home Depot, but until then we can just look and appreciate.