Returning from the Outer Banks (Part 1 of 3)

Once again, sorry for the lack of blog posts. We’ve been on vacation. This year we spent a week in the Outer Banks, a beach area in North Carolina. We rented a house.

Please note that this is different from our normal vacation. We usually do road trips, and a week at the beach made me a little uncertain. I mean, why rent a house for a week? I already have a house. And besides, we’re not beach people. I like to be on the move. I like the road.

Getting there was really bad – and it’s basically unavoidable when you go to the Outer Banks. It’s a long, thin island with one bridge to get there. And once you’re on the island, there is one road going the length of it. Every Saturday roughly one-bajillion people arrive at the exact same time to get to their rented houses. We inched down the road. At one point we let the kids get out and they walked to the next corner and waited for the car to finally arrive. It was like my skull had been put in a giant pepper grinder and crushed into powder. I seriously wondered if this was all going to be worth it. But it got better quickly.

Day 1 we hit the beach and it was amazing. A terrific beach with great big waves for the boys to play in and shockingly un-crowded. But problems quickly arose.

“Dad! My…I’m all…” Jack shouted, tugging at his bathing suit.

“Me too!” Alex shouted. He  looked like he was about to cry.

And come to think of it…I was feeling pretty raw myself.

“Quick! Let’s get to the showers!”

Here’s the deal: Outer Banks sand is incredibly fine. It had worked its way into all of our bathing suits and was now held painfully in place by our bathing suit liners. Our crotches were under assault. We showered in the outside shower, but it did nothing. We rushed into the bathroom, tore off our suits and I tried to rinse them out in the sink. No good.

“Hold on!” I told them and ran out to the snack shack (with pants on). The guy there loaned me a pair of scissors. I rushed back to the bathroom and proceeded to cut the liners out of all three of our suits.

“Right!” I crowed. “Now all that sands will shoot right on out! Now we’re free!” We were back in the waves in no time.

We settled in well from there. The next day we went to a state park with huge sand dunes that we climbed over, and then rolled down. In between the dunes were pools of warm swampy water that we paced through, feeling the thousands of tadpoles flee away against our toes and feet.

The boys and I took a surfing lesson. Alex (my diver/gymnast) got up on the first try. Jack was having doubts, but by the third time he was up and riding waves.

“At first I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to do it. But then I decided to have confidence and say that I could do it and then I did it.” He actually said that to me afterwards.

We signed up for a Ravenchase Adventure, which is a team scavenger hunt where you race around the island solving clues and searching for landmarks. And we WON the damn thing. Shani solved this crazy word puzzle that led us down a long dead end road in the swamp to a graveyard – and we were about to give up when Alex spotted the gravestones through the bush, which was the key to a 300 point answer in the hunt.

But still…6 days. It’s the curse of vacation. It’s that feeling you get Sunday afternoon at that moment you realize you need to go back to work the next day. Except on a vacation it’s 100 times stronger.

I found myself counting down the days. Today is Tuesday. So we’ve still got Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Plenty of time. It’s like a bowl of gorgeous, deliciously ripe fruit and each day they’re getting closer to rotting away. Or better yet, vacation is a 6-pack of great beer in your fridge. You’ve got a friend over from out of town and you’re hanging out having a great time drinking those beers, when suddenly you realize you’re on the 4th one and 2 left is not nearly enough.

Friday night we took a Hummer tour in the rain through the dunes on the north part of the island searching for the wild horses that live there. It was raining and the sharp drops were needling into my face as we whipped along the beach at thrilling speeds.

Then we got back to the house, had dinner, and then we were packing, organizing, consolidating, cleaning.

Saturday we got the kids up at 6 AM and hauled ass out of there. I wasn’t getting caught in that goddam traffic this time. We slowly got to the main road and shot down it as more and more cars appeared. It was like the scene in Jurassic Park when the T-Rex is chasing them in the jeep. They can see it charging after them in the mirror. But then they build up speed and the T-Rex is fading away, and then it’s gone. We made it out and free before the T-Rex could get us again.

And Sunday back home? I got up at 5:15 and went for a bike ride, then I painted the hall ceiling, read work emails, mowed the lawn, went to the pool for an hour, picked kale from the garden and made kale chips with Alex, and then Shani and I made dinner. A busy damn day.

Know what? It was relaxing as hell to me.

OK…part 2 is kid observations from OBX. Part 3 is baseball observations on OBX. Good stuff.

5 thoughts on “Returning from the Outer Banks (Part 1 of 3)

  1. Love this post! Sounds like you guys had a great time and did a lot more than just hang at the beach! Btw, Jessica was there last week too. 🙂

  2. I may have said this before, but it bears repeating, you are the best dad. Your mom would be so proud, even of the “Kick Ass” stuff.


    1. Sue (or rather, Mrs. Ralston) you are one of the few people I feel are entitled to speak for my mother and when you pass along that kind of compliment it is tremendously meaningful. Thanks.

  3. Glad you had a good time, except for the traffic and sand. We have avoided the traffic by going off season. I just love the beach – we go further south on that terribly skinny island that keeps get washed away and then the road is rebuilt time and time again. It’s been 3 years and I miss it! Our visits, especially without little kids, are VERY relaxing. We rent a place that is just a short walk to the beach. And then we get a fill of our wonderful redneck cousin – the husband of the cousin.

    See you guys soon. Preparations are in high gear!

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