Let me first start by saying that I haven't been to The Outer Banks (a chain of barrier islands of the coast of North Carolina) in three years. It is an understatement to say that I was excited and looking forward to this trip. We flew into D.C. on July 4th and landed in time to catch the fireworks (and a crazy thunderstorm) in my hometown before making the trek to North Carolina that Saturday.
So our travel went a bit like this:
- 40 minute drive from our apartment to SFO
- 5 hour plane ride from CA to Dulles (D.C.)
- 1 hour drive from D.C. to my hometown
- 2 day stay in my hometown
- 1.5 hour drive to Brandon's hometown
- 6 hour drive to Avon, North Carolina.
Folks, here in California, we live 50 minutes from the Pacific Ocean. The amount of travel we were willing to endure shows how very much we love this beach and the Atlantic ocean.
And who wouldn't?
Brandon's family has been vacationing in these beaches since he was 10 and I joined in 10 years ago (!) when we started dating. His family invited me along all those years ago and made me feel apart of their traditions from day one. So the whole three year break thing will never happen again. Trust me on that.
Many of you not familiar with the Outer Banks probably ask, "What is so special about this place and what exactly is there to do there?" Well, that's the beauty of it. There's really not a lot of commercialism or overly obvious touristy things to do.
Which means it's perfectly acceptable to spend your afternoon lounging by the pool or laying on the porch swing while you catch up on your summer reading.
You don't feel like you are really missing out on the latest and greatest tourist attraction and aren't really distracted by anything: no traffic, no amusement parks, no gaudy souvenir shops. The beauty of the place is an attraction in and of itself.
(Unless you count stopping by the Nights in Rodanthe house as a tourist attraction. Not so great book, cheesy movie, but awesome plot location.)
Of course, we didn't lazy it up all vacation. Mornings were spent taking walks along the beach (me), fishing (Brandon), and a breakfast consisting of bacon and freshly baked pastries from The Orange Blossom Bakery.
[This could be para-para-paradise.]
Days were filled with jumping waves in the ocean, boogie boarding to our heart's content and a little bit of this.
Though honestly, you cannot find me lounging in a chair too long at the beach. I'm all about being the water.
Of course, there were dinners out in the evenings (most restaurants are family-owned) where I had my fair share of hushpuppies, sweet tea, and fried shrimp. I even tasted (and enjoyed) my first steamed crawdaddy. Mmm, the South tastes good.
Evenings were occupied with a little bit of the Food Network, ice cream dates with the family, board games and of course, photography.
Nearby, in the village of Frisco, we found this pier. It was heavily damaged by Hurricane Irene last fall and pieces of it literally fell off into the ocean.
(Brandon got some really awesome shots with his camera that you can check out here.)
We were also stoked that my best friend, Jenni and her new husband were visiting The Outer Banks the same week! We met up one night for dinner, putt-putt (or mini-golf like you sophisticated folks like to call it) and you guessed it, more ice cream.
But alas, the week had to end at some point and we found ourselves capturing the most beautiful sunset over the Pamlico Sound.
I cannot really explain why I love this place so much.
Its hard to put in words... except its sort of like that feeling of coming home after being gone a really long time and walking into the front door with you dog jumping on you and your Mom embracing you in a hug. The smell of chocolate chip cookies baking. Waking up on Christmas morning with the snow falling outside your window. Finishing a really good book with a happy ending.
That's the Outer Banks to me.