Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Outer Banks, NC

I've been told that my posts are too long-winded.  This really is no surprise to me, as i'm quite aware that I talk and type too much.  But enough is enough!  I'm turning over a new leaf!  I'm going to make my posts a little shorter, and more manageable!  Starting next post.

We just got back, on Saturday night, from our Spring Break vacation to the Outer Banks, North Carolina.  We joined up with Reid's mom, dad, and sister Alisa, and her family.  And it was one of the best vacations I've ever been on.  It was beautiful.  It was relaxing.  We struck the perfect balance of sightseeing and staying at home.  And the company was unbeatable!!  We could have done nothing but hang out together for seven straight days and it maybe would have been just as awesome.  It truly was everything we could hope for in a vacation.  (plus a few things we'd not hoped for, but i'll get to that later...)

Until last year I'd never even heard of the Outer Banks (unless you count seeing all the OBX bumper stickers and wondering if perchance there was place called "obnoxious".)  So when Alisa suggested that someday we have a family vacation there, I got online and quickly learned why all the hullabaloo!  It's like the Bahamas of the U.S.!!  How had I never heard of this strip of barrier islands just miles off the coast of NC?!?!  Once we realized that all of our Spring Breaks coincided(!!), we got searching and found the perfect house for what would become the perfect vacation!  

(well, I can't truly call it "perfect" because there were 5 people missing.  Tom, Jana and kids, and Karen--we really did miss you guys the entire time!!! It wouldn't take much arm-twisting to get us to go back with you someday!!)

Our vacation rental home was amazing.  Alisa wisely insisted that if nothing else, we get a house that was on the beach.  Not near the beach.  On the beach.  And she was so smart to stand her ground with that one.  It was so nice being able to see and hear the ocean while we were eating our meals, playing games, staying up late.  And it was even nicer that we could run out to the beach for a minute, an hour, or five--and not have to make a big event of it.   We had gorgeous views out of nearly every window, and especially off of our deck.

The kids were so happy to be with their cousins.  As long as we were inside, we honestly didn't see much of the kids.  They were either watching movies downstairs in the home theater, playing "waitress" in the diner, going up and down in the elevator (which was maybe more popular than the home theater), or playing who-knows-what-else in their bunkroom, or any of the other bagillion rooms there were (seriously, this house was awesome!).

James sittin on one of the stools in the Diner in our house

Check out those seats!  Reid actually slept in one of those chairs one night...more on that, later
They all got along so well (minus a little unnecessary drama from some of my girls), it was so nice! And when James, or little 21 month-old Kate needed more attention than their lazy parents were willing to give--Grandpa was always willing to step in and take them for a horsie ride, or just a walk out to see the ocean.  Or Grandma was always more than happy to feed them, read with them, or give them some much-needed Grandma snuggles.  Reid's parents are such awesome grandparents. This comes as no surprise, given what good parents they are.  It was so nice having their constant help and supervision.  

The weather was what you might expect when you travel to the beach in the "off-season"--unpredictable and less than perfect.  We still made it down to the beach nearly every day, but we certainly did not get in the water every day.

There were windy days, which made for brief visits to the beach, warm communal baths at home (the kids, of course), beautiful waves and great kite-flying

One of Abby's many futile attempts at running faster than the waves.  Moments after I took this photo she got drenched--hoodie and all

James loved the beach, but not the wind
Grace, Abby and Ella at the windy beach
Beautiful waves seen at dusk from our balcony
 If the wind has emotions, I'm guessing it was thrilled at the chance to blow Eliza's kite to shreds and her hair to....well...even crazier than it usually is. 
There were rainy days, which made for good movie-watching,diner-eating, hide-and-seeking, and Easter egg hunting

And there were amazingly perfect days (well, one really) which made for good spend-every-last-waking-minute-on-the-beach days.
James was so cute in his beach outfit and hat.  That perfectly-fitting hat, btw, is size 2t-4t!!!  
Eliza, Christopher, Abby, Grace and Ella--these kids are so cute together!
Reid and Nathan mastered the art of Boogie Boarding

We took a day trip down one of America's most beautiful highways--from Duck, NC all the way to the tip of Hatteras Island.  Along the way we stopped and saw the most beautiful lighthouses, stopped at one of the most beautiful beaches, and ate the most amazing clam chowder. These superlatives are not mere opinion.  And i have photos to prove it!

First stop--the beautiful Bodie Island Lighthouse
For approximately 2 hours of my life, this was the most beautiful lighthouse I'd ever seen
Next stop--Pea Island Wildlife Refuge
Ella looking at one of 370 different species of birds found on the island
Abby loved to "help" with Kate.  Not sure how Kate felt...
Then onto the 5th most beautiful beach in the country--Hatteras Beach.  (wish i had more pictures of this beach, it really was amazing)

And our last stop was Cape Hatteras lighthouse.  With it's black and white candycane stripes, red brick foundation, and extremely interesting history (the ocean grew too close to it, so it had be to moved 1/2 mile inland in 1999--crazy!  read more about it here) this is officially my new favorite lighthouse!! Thank you, Alisa, for taking such awesome photos of it!! (most of the photos on this post are hers, btw)

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on the beach, pre-1999 relocation. Photo found here 
Cape Hatteras lighthouse today--2900 feet inland.  They predict that in 100 years the ocean will again threaten its location.   
This lighthouse is HUGE!  Look at how small Nathan looks on its steps!

The one stop that didn't happen was Ocracoke Island.  We were hoping to catch the ferry out to the island, but the line of cars was too long.  But i did get to hear a ferry employee speak with the North Carolina Brogue--it was awesome!!

As wonderful and relaxing as this vacation was, it was not without a hitch.  On wednesday, James woke up with what Dr. Emily diagnosed at RSV/bronchiolitis.  It sounded and looked exactly like what Eliza had three years ago.  During the day it really wasn't too bad.  Although his breathing was tight, i truly believe that being at sea level meant that he didn't have to fight as hard to get oxygen.  And the moister in the air was like an eternal humidifier.  He was a trooper, and spent most of Wednesday napping or on the beach.  
James and Grandma in their coordinated beach attire
Wednesday night, however, was ugly.  His coughing was so of control. The only thing that helped was holding him upright, and letting him breathe in the cool ocean breeze.  We sat in the sunroom from 1am to 4am, until the waves got so violent sounding that I was afraid they were going to swallow us whole.  Luckily, by that point, he'd calmed down and fallen asleep.  I quickly followed.

Thursday, during the day, James was okay.  But Abby came down with what Dr. Emily diagnosed as pink-eye, and Eliza started to get a UTI.  My poor kids!  Lucky for us, Abby's pediatrician phoned in a prescription, saving us a trip to the urgent care, and Eliza drank some apple cider vinegar, which cleared up her problem.  But they both wanted to spend that night in our room, rather than the bunkroom--a choice they regretted from about 2am-5:30am.  James screamed, on and off, until Reid took him down to the theater room and got him to calm down.  There they both fell asleep.  (I wish I could have taken a photo of that--it was very cute!) It was a rough night, but not rough enough to put even the slightest damper on the last days of our vacation!

The last couple of days were windy and cold, so we stayed inside lots and talked, played games, soaked in the jacuzzi, dreamed of a day when we might be able to purchase that house, and wished Spring Break was a month long!   

And for the first time in my life, I have come home from a trip without feeling the need for a vacation from my vacation.  That is what I call a perfect vacation!! 


merathon said...

i'm so glad it was a fabulous vacation. now you know one of the big reasons i miss NC so much! imagine being just a few hours drive from that beach! :)

Pink Caboose said...

Looks like a great time. My sisters in laws have a beach house there, we get invited every year but haven't made it yet. I'll show mark your post and maybe convince him!!

Letia said...

Emily! One of my favorite places in the world! Hardest part about moving away for NC. Mike and I dream of a beach house there someday, besides the whole hurricane thing. Glad you loved it as much!

Amy said...

Okay, I need this vacation. This EXACT one. Sounds so fun! Why don't you just send me the number for your beach house, mmmkay?

Candace said...

I'm soooo jealous. Sounds like a great time! What is it with your kids and getting sick on vacation. I just remember the sceptical Dr. that came to the hotel in California. Glad you had a good time. We need to go on a trip again soon!