Friday, September 25, 2009


We love the beach. Specifically, we love Naples, FL. But Southern Florida is so dang far away that we are always searching for something we like equally well that is a little closer to home. Last year we tried Myrtle Beach. Not our cup of tea at all.

This year, we selected a new destination:

The Outer Banks: a totally different experience. Hotels out, beach houses in. Problem is that there are lots of beach houses for families of 37, but very few for families of three. We finally found a condo right on the beach.

The inside of the condo was exactly as advertised and was quite sufficient for our needs. It had a killer view as well.

The outside? Well, picture the Bates Motel on the ocean. Decapitated palm trees in the parking lot. Deteriorating stucco building that looked like it might topple into the surf at any moment. A near empty pool with green stagnant water. Lovely.

But as I said, the inside was sufficient and clean so we just tried to ignore the outside. Oh, and it had a killer view.

Onto the weather. The forcast called for rain all week. Great. Ten days stuck in a slum lord's condo with a three-year-old and nothing to do. This ought to be fun.

When we arrived, the weather was as predicted. Rain. Check that.  More like  monsoon, typhoon, Category 2 hurricane. Fantastic. The waves were actually crashing against the side of the condo. The only thing that kept us from falling into the sea was some precarious placed sandbags that seemed to shift with every incoming wave.

Great start, huh? Luckily things took a favorable turn. The next morning, the sun came out and stayed out for the next seven days. It never rained again our entire vacation. And our condo had a killer view. Have I mentioned that yet?

As the surf receded it was obvious that the storms had carried off a significant amount of the beach. You could see the sand about 50 yards off shore.  But hey, we had sunshine so we turned lemons into lemonade. Everyday the water receeded a bit more, the waves calmed and we could actually swim by day three. That is if you didn't mind riptides. The poor shore patrol guys were pulling people from the surf left and right all day long. Day four was actually a lot better for swimming.

Storms and ocean currents aside, we did spend lots of time as a family. We'd wake up in the morning and I'd cook a big breakfast. Afterward, we'd head to the beach with a picnic lunch and stay there all day. About 4 o'clock we'd head up to the condo for showers and naps. This was followed up with a home cooked dinner and more family time. Sometimes we'd venture out for ice cream or to shop. Other times we'd just stay in.

Our verdict on the Outer Banks? Better than Myrtle Beach, but still not Naples. And it wasn't the dump condo we stayed in, or the weather, or the lack of beach. It was just the overall feeling. We are just Naples lovers. We love the flowers, love the waterfront, love the shopping, love the restaurants, love our hotel, love the beaches, love the seashells. Any guesses as to where we are going in January?
I will leave you with a few pictures of the trip. Well, actually there are 28 pictures. Be glad there are only 28. I took about 450 so I really narrowed things down to the bare bones here, folks.

On a 12 hour drive, everyone must take their turn at the wheel.

We stopped in Williamsburg, VA for breakfast. Why? Because the have the best pancake restaurants in the world, of course.

We made a quick visit to Yorktown while we were in the vicinity. Nothing like seeing a three-year-old on top of a major piece of artillery.

Here's Molly in her element. She love, love, loves the ocean.
Notice the incline of the beach and the sand in the background. You can see how much beach the storm ate up.

Time for Daddy to do a little toddler tossing.

Mommy gets in on the act as well. Have no fear. It was more of a splash-and-dash than an actual toss. Although there were a few days where we were actually tempted.....

Molly excavating the storm ravaged-beach.

The view from my beach chair. Aaaah!

The view from Tony's beach chair. Guess you ought to make sure that chair is planted firmly in the sand before you sit down, big guy.

Surfers ready for action.

On the lookout for monster waves.

I typically stayed on shore and caught some rays.

Pure joy.

Molly didn't have a lot of stamina for sand castles, but Tony would spend hours each day building a new fortress.

Bathing suit #5 of 6. A girl can never be too prepared.

Camp Molly: our daily spot on the beach.

After 7 days of sun it started to cloud up. We figured after we spent all that time driving to North Carolina we had better take in at least a  few of the sights.

Here is the famous Bodie Island Lighthouse. Really cool.

Here's the lighthouse sans tacky tourists.

Hatteras Island lighthouse with the family...

...and without. Awesome. Unfortunately it was too windy to climb to the top.

Another cloudy day so we visited the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk.

Afternoon stroll on the beach on our last day.

Good Bye Outer Banks!

We had fun (but still like Naples better)!

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