Just beyond the dunes you see above lie the Atlantic Ocean. On the other side of me not a mile away is the Cape Fear River. I am standing on a narrow patch of salt marsh lined with maritime forest. A boardwalk path winds its way through sand and marsh ending at a bird and nature observation deck. From here I can see ibis, herons and egrets. I hear rails and woodcocks but never see them. Hawks and eagles glide high overhead while ducks feed in the shallows. The only noise is the wind. This is a sacred place.