Last week Gordon and I left for a much needed vacation. Usually we head to the Emerald Coast, the panhandle of Florida slightly east of Destin, where the sand is white and the water is a beautiful green from above but crystal clear when you wade into it. But this time we wanted a break from the heat. We decided on Outer Banks.
People talk about the Outer Banks with a wistful look in their eye. The chain of sandy barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina is supposed to be not too hot, not too cold, but just right quaint beach paradise. We rented a small house for a week, which wasn’t expensive compared to our usual Florida spot, boarded the dogs, and last Sunday we took for the airport.
We flew to Norfolk, rented a car, and Gordon drove for an hour and a half to our rental at Kitty Hawk.
The house was as advertised a small three story in the third row from the beach. We could see the ocean from the balconies. The temperature hovered in mid-80s, sometimes feeling like mid 70s with the strong wind and sometimes climbing to barely touch low 90s. We made a trip to Food Lion and bought some groceries. We also ducked into Wal-Mart on the last day of our stay, because we decided we needed a small bag. Both stores were very clean and comfortably nice.
The town was lovely. Cute little shops, ocean-themed restaurants, all laid out basically along two major streets, both running north to south. We went shopping. I stopped at a yarn store called Knitting Addiction, and bought some Blue Heron Yarn. It came with a pattern for a simplified Clapotis scarf. I knitted a lot on the trip.
We visited a gaming store and Gordon bought some action figures. We ate at a Black Pelican restaurant, which is what Red Lobster hopes to imitate and kind of fails. There are a lot of dining options, most centering around sea food, but pretty much every place serves hamburgers or pizza in addition to crab legs and shrimp. People were welcoming and the service was lovely.
The beach lay past a tall roll of dunes. The sand was scalding hot and yellow, and the two beach accesses near us didn’t have wooden boardwalks, so we kind of trudged through the sand, but it was a short walk. The beach was clean and beautiful, even though it was dog friendly. Nobody drove up and down in a 4 Wheeler. No rows of fishermen trying to hook children with their fishing gear. Just a lot of families, sitting on the sand.
Sitting is the key word. I knew we were in trouble when we saw 400 people on the beach and 4 people in the water. Kids were not in the water.
It’s cold. The pier temperature was supposedly 82 degrees the entire time we were there, and either we acclimated to Texas too much, or the cold currents that swirl around Outer Banks must’ve hugged the shore, because the ocean was murky and cold. I stepped into it, and my toes went numb.
We went out further and stayed out longer than anyone else, except for a very determined dude who had his boogie board and committed himself to catching some waves. The surf wasn’t strong so he got some rides but they were short.
Normally we swim every day twice a day. There is a pattern to our holidays: we get up, go to the beach before the heat sets in, swim until we are exhausted, drag ourselves home for lunch, rest, then do it again in the late afternoon. We are chasing that tired-from-swimming high. We swam twice during the entire vacation. It wasn’t a fun splash in the waves kind of swim, but more a test of will. People would see us, walk in, holding their arms out, and walk right out. Kids would run in, yell, and run away.
The vacation wasn’t a waste by any means, although after that first dip in the ocean we almost went home. We unplugged. We sat on the balcony and watched the ocean. A storm blew in, the clouds scary, dark, and churning. Water fell from the sky, which was amazing. We almost forgot what that felt like. We dipped in the little pool that came with the house. We hung out and rented old movies at night. No computer games, no internet. Lots and lots of knitting and reading. Too much beer.
During the vacation and on the way back, I finally listened to the entirety of Graphic Audio’s Innkeeper adaptation. They did such an amazing job, but I did get a surreal moment. As we boarded a United Flight to Austin and Dina was murmuring into my earbuds, the flight attendant informed us that our safety was their priority. I chuckled a little bit, and nobody knew why.
We got back late last night and blissfully slept in our own bed. Mmmm, bed. There is a backlog of emails to go through and dogs to pick up from boarding. Once we do that, we can dig back into writing.
All in all, I’m glad we went. Gordon has been looking at that area, hoping to one day move about an hour or so from that coast, because the heat in Texas traps us inside for 6 months out of the year now. We can’t walk the dogs. We can’t do our daily walk for our health around the neighborhood. We don’t go anywhere, we don’t do anything, we sit inside the house and occasionally climb into a pool that’s hot tub temperature. Yesterday we landed to a cool 110 degrees.
In that regard, OBX weather is exactly what we are looking for, but the beach is a deal breaker. We would not drive an hour to this beach. We were a quarter mile from the water and we didn’t want to get into the ocean. So it’s back to the map.
Huge thanks to Mod R for defending the castle while we were gone.