We joined my family for a week in the Outer Banks and had SUCH a great time. Our trip brought back memories of vacationing there when I was a kid, and I think it renewed a desire in all of us adults to begin these beach trips again, especially now that there are two littles to enjoy them.
With a 12-hour trip ahead of us, we planned to break up the drive into three days, and our first stop was State College, PA. As fate would have it, the ‘white-out game’ against Auburn was the following night, so the campus was hoppin’ and full of energy. We enjoyed dinner at Green Bowl, one of our favorite college eateries, and I even got to do a long run the next morning with Adam.
It was such a blessing to have a friend to run almost 10 miles with, and he chose a gem of a route! We drive out past the airport, and enjoyed a super scenic run along both the road and some trails. It was a great way to start our vacation. After our overnight at Penn State, we headed south to Chesapeake, VA, to stay with my aunt for a night before the final two-hour drive to Hatteras. We even grocery-shopped at the ALDI there, so we could save time AND money once we arrived.
We were staying in Salvo, which is on Hatteras Island, about 30 minutes beyond Nags Head. I couldn’t believe how built-up and ‘touristy’ it felt while driving through Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. The entire Outer Banks is definitely beach houses for rent, but as you go further south, it gets a bit quieter and more rural. Driving by the KOA campground, where we often camped as kids, brought back memories, despite its updated buildings and pool. We fell in love with The Blue Whale, a little convenience store/grocery just a mile from our beach house. We visited many times for ice, beverages and souvenirs.
Maelle had a great time playing in the sand and building sand castles with Andrew. While she’s definitely a water baby, the surf is pretty rough in the Outer Banks, so she won’t be playing in the water for a few more years.
We did, however, get into flying kites while we were there. The wind is perfect for it, and it’s so fun to see all of them flying at once. (We were there in the off-season, so the beaches were pretty quiet.) My dad brought one, and we found a fun one at a store to try out.
My brother, Josh, his wife, Hannah, and their two-month-old baby, Jack, joined for most of the week as well!
One morning, Andrew, Maelle and I joined dad and the dogs for a walk on the beach. Unfortunately, just a few minutes after we arrived, a rouge wave got us and poor Maelle got soaked up to her armpits! Thankfully, she brushed herself off and was able to enjoy our time walking along the surf.
We split our time between the beach and the sound, which is the calmer water sandwiched between the Outer Banks and mainland, NC. Maelle loved wading in the water, playing in the sand and riding on the paddle boards! Between our lake trip with Andrew’s family and now this one (plus all the other opportunities I’d have at home and with my parents in VA), I’ve decided I need my own paddle board! It, and all the accessories, are on my Christmas list.
My dad did some fishing while we were at the sound, and caught this little guy we could show Maelle. Perhaps next year the boys can go out on a fishing boat and catch our dinner!
While we had great weather almost all week, we did get some rain. Maelle really wanted to take a walk on the beach, so we grabbed our raincoats and prepared to brave the drizzle. Unfortunately, it turned into more than a drizzle very soon! We got soaked before we even made it to the beach!
We experienced another unfortunate incident on that wet walk, as well. In an attempt to help Maelle take a quick pee break, we inadvertently made a mess of her pants. So, we stripped her from the waist down, and thankfully toddlers don’t seem to mind these hiccups very much. She raced happily around the beach without a care!
(I’m also glad her raincoat was just long enough to cover her up!)
We also spent part of a day in Nags Head, which is about 30 minutes from where we were staying down in Salvo, on Hatteras Island. We hit a souvenir store, enjoyed a fabulous seafood lunch, and checked out kites before heading back. I have fond memories of taking hermit crabs home in those little wire cages…one gave me a pretty sizable blood blister after pinching my thumb!
The waves are a bit feisty in the Outer Banks, but that makes them excellent for boogie-boarding! My sister and I used to spend lots of time riding the waves in, which often included rashes and scrapes from the rough sand. This year, we few of us braved the surf, with varying degrees of success.
I ended up with a pretty decent rope burn on my arm from the string on the boogie board, as well as a suit full of sand, a lost hair-tie and a headache…I deemed it an utter failure. Maybe I’ll have better luck next year! Or, I could just be too old for this stuff.
I’m training for a half-marathon, so I did need to do a couple runs while on vacation. Thankfully, my longest runs were behind me and I just needed a couple short easy ones, as well as an eight-miler at the end of the week. Ironically, my shortest run (three miles) was the hardest, and this baby pool we set up under the house was the perfect way to cool off!
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and we said goodbye to our beach house…at least until next year!
We broke up our first leg of the drive home with a stop for lunch in Williamsburg, at Betsy’s house. It’s been WAY too long since we’ve seen each other, so it was nice to see their place and let Maelle play with her daughter, Maddie.
The following day, we hit not one, not two, but THREE parks! (Playgrounds, actually.) Daddy took Maelle to one before we got in the car, and we hit a playground in Gettsyburg for a picnic lunch, as well as this one in Selinsgrove, PA. Stopping to play definitely added time to our trip, but it really improved the overall experience for all three of us. While I might not advocate for that many stops in the future, I definitely think building a park-and-lunch stop into the trip is the right idea.
After all that traveling, you’d think we’d be done for awhile. Nope! We leave for the Adirondacks next week!