There have been many days this summer that I’ve had to do a double-take when looking at my desk calendar. Surely it can’t already be August. Where did the much anticipated warm summer months go? While the hot, humid months are always a welcome change in the Midwest, I was particularly looking forward to this summer and spending some quality time with my quickly growing daughter. Job changes, house projects and life quickly changed those well-meaning plans; however our little family was able to head out East to Outer Banks, North Carolina for seven glorious days of rest and relaxation on the beach.
My husband and I are well-versed in the art of road tripping. We’ve been south, and all over the East Coast. Driving to the Outer Banks should be no different than any of the other trips, right? Totally wrong. The 15ish hour trip ended up taking close to 18 to 20 hours due to construction, rain, and pit stops. This could have been a recipe for disaster with our almost three-year-old, but thankfully she was a trooper. We watched “Finding Nemo” and “Frozen” many, many times, colored, completed puzzles, made fun stuff out of playdough and screamed when going under, what seemed like, every single tunnel from here to the Outer Banks. She even got a little reward for being such a good traveler: a dusty Elsa coffee mug from the bottom row of a gas station display. Weird choice, but she had to have it.
|Breakfast stop at Cracker Barrell|
Once we finally pulled into our “green house” for the week, we couldn’t have been happier. My entire family made the trip out East for the beach vacation. We had a pool, fishing pier, and endless beach views in our backyard. An added bonus, a couple times a day the ice cream trucks would drive by our house and beach area.
Most of our days were spent digging holes and sandcastles on the beach, chasing waves, or taking a quick dip in the, very chilly, pool. We cooked many of our meals at home to help our toddler who was usually fighting off sleepiness by dinner time. We did get a good sampling of fresh seafood at a couple restaurants with views of the Sound.
The Outer Banks has many lighthouses throughout the area, so it was a must to stop in and visit one. This was not very much fun for a toddler, so it was a quick trip since she wasn’t tall enough to climb to the top of the lighthouse.
One day we spent driving on the beach looking for wild horses. We got to spot a few herds hanging out in between beach houses. There are lots of rules about what you can and can’t do around the horses to keep them safe and preserve their environment. It was an interesting experience seeing the horses, and the homes tucked away on the beach with only sand road access. Despite the bumpy ride on the beach and over dunes, Miss A was able to get in a quick nap on our trip.
On our final full day in the Outer Banks, we were greeted with grey skies and rain showers, so we headed inland to the tiny North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island. For a rainy day, this was a perfect short afternoon trip. The Aquarium was under construction during our visit, but we still got to see some sharks, stingrays, and various other fish.
Vacations are always bittersweet for me, as I’m sad to see the week go by and usually don’t want to leave the rest, relaxation and beach, but also thankful to have had the time away from work with my family to make wonderful memories.
I’m not sure I would go back to the Outer Banks due to the lengthy travel time. It was, however, definitely a beautiful area, with lots of pet-friendly, beautiful beaches, encouraging the laid-back lifestyle that I was in desperate need of.