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August 21, 2005


Since I have no photos to show, here's a brief summary of my trip to the Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Teresa's parents had rented a boat house in Corolla, NC, on the Outer Banks Islands. They invited the two of us to stay there with them for a week, along with Teresa's sister, brother-in-law and two-year-old niece. Most of the days were spent the same way: lying on the beach, swimming in the ocean, getting stupid burn from that six-by-six centimetre spot on one's back that didn't get any sunscreen, etc. I'll try to highlight the more interesting events.


We left Seattle on Friday night, with a layover in Atlanta, GA, and arrived in Norfolk, VA on Saturday morning. Traffic was really bad, so we waited for about five hours for Teresa's parents to pick us up. We were pretty hungry after our flight, so we grabbed an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Freemason Abbey restaurant (their location in the airport looks nothing like this). It was by far the worst $7 breakfast I had ever eaten, but being the only restaurant open at the time, we had no choice.

After being picked up, it took us another four hours to get to Corolla, NC. There are no roads leading to the house, so we turned on the four-wheel-drive and drove for about a mile on the beach. The beach was all sand, and the houses were situated between large grassy dunes. There were two "lanes" for traffic, one close to the water where the sand was packed down (only accessible during low tide) and the deep sand close to the dunes. In between the two lanes was where the beach goers were expected to set up camp. It was a little unnerving to be in a vehicle swerving through the deep sand with sunbathers lying on our right side, and even more unnerving to be one of those sunbathers, as I was to find out.

We met Teresa's sister et al. there, unloaded the van. By this time it was late afternoon, so we retired to the air-conditioned beach house for dinner, drinks and board games. As soon as the sun went down, the mosquitoes came out, and those things were pretty vicious. Despite it being a beautiful night, we stayed indoors to avoid getting eaten alive.


Beach time. It was about 35°C (95°F) plus humidity, and no cloud cover. I got stupid burn on my chest, and got a lot of reading done (yes, I brought a computer book to the beach. You enjoy your vacation your way, I'll enjoy mine my way).

That afternoon we helped a Jeep Cherokee get unstuck from the deep sand. Apparently driving in sand is a lot like driving in snow, except without the skidding.


We piled into the van and left the beach to visit the Roanoke Island Aquarium. Although less impressive than the Vancouver Aquarium, this one had huge displays of local marine wildlife, as well as a "petting zoo" for crabs, rays and starfish.

On our way back, we stopped at a small family restaurant, and I caught a glimpse of the real North Carolina. Iced tea was offered as "sweet or unsweet", $5 barbeque was on special, and there were deer heads hanging on the walls. Having just come from the aquarium, the fish hoagie was looking good to me. The menu described it as being a fresh fish filet on a bun with lettuce and tomato. The waitress came to take our order, and the following hilarity ensued:

Me: "I'll have the fish hoagie."
Waitress: "The what?"
Me: "The fish hoagie."
Waitress: "The what?"
Me: "Fish hoagie."
Waitress: "Did you want anything on it?"
Me: "Like what?"
Waitress: "Like lettuce or tomato or anything?"
Me: double checking the menu "Um, lettuce and tomato are fine."
Teresa's Mom: "Make sure you get fish on that too."

The food was good (I especially liked Teresa's deep-fried okra), but it was a little disconcerting to be eating under the stares of the other patrons. I knew I was in unfamiliar territory when I saw guys my age wearing mesh baseball caps unironically.

Back to the house for more beach time. Saw another Jeep Cherokee get stuck, but declined to help.


At the beach all day. To combat the bugs, we set up a screen tent on the balcony. Thunderstorms that evening kept us indoors anyway.


At the beach all day. Tried boogey-boarding and got my ass kicked by some big waves. Saw a Jeep Liberty get stuck in front of the house. Took a nap instead of helping.

It was Teresa's sister's anniversary, so the four of us left the house, split up into couples and grabbed dinner in the town of Duck. After scoping out a couple places, T and I ended up at the blandly-named "Roadside Bar and Grill", which was actually a great restaurant. I had parmesan-encrusted halibut with crab sauce and crawdad-fried rice. It was fabulous. Teresa had duck (it seemed every restaurant in the town of Duck had a duck dish), with red pepper grits. She was also very happy with her meal.

That evening we were playing (yet another) board game when we heard a crash outside. We all rushed out to see that the small wading pool we set up for Teresa's niece had blown off the balcony and into the sand dunes. We retrieved it and took down the screen tent.


More beach time. Saw a Jeep Wrangler get stuck in the sand. Teresa's dad went out to help, but gave up when the people inside refused to get out the Jeep when he was pushing, and found out the driver had never put it into four-wheel-drive before getting onto the beach.

The beach was teeming with wildlife on Thursday. Pelicans were flying low over the water, dolphins were cresting 10 metres away from where we were swimming, and several times we were surrounded by schools of tiny mullet.

That evening we ate dinner outside and saw some wild horses grazing on dune grass behind the house. T and I followed them until they wandered into another house's car port. I snapped a few pictures, but decided to leave so the animals wouldn't felt trapped.

It was a beautiful clear night, and after slathering ourselves in bug spray, we sat outside and looked at the stars. The Outer Banks is relatively free of light pollution, so the Milky Way was visible, as were green shooting stars.

Late that night Teresa's brother and sister-in-law arrived. We stayed up to greet them, then went to bed.


T and I got up bright and early to see the sunrise. By the time we got outside, the sky was already illuminated, so we assumed the sun had risen but was behind clouds, so we went back to bed. Later Teresa's Mom would chide us about looking out for the "big red fiery ball" before giving up.

That morning, the four men (Teresa's dad, brother, brother-in-law and myself) left the house for a 18 holes of golfing. After a nourishing breakfast as Hardee's, we climbed into golf carts and teed off. This was my first time golfing, but luckily for me we were playing best ball.

I was absolutely terrible. When I actually managed to hit the ball, I rarely got it past the Ladies' Tee. But I did manage to sink a 20 foot putt, so I at least had a moment of glory.

It was a hot, humid, sunny day. Despite applying sunscreen after every two holes, I managed to get burned under my shirt. After four hours, we were done, and unsurprisingly, I was in last place. On our way home we stopped to pick up some crab which we picked and made Deviled Crabs with.


Got up early again and this time saw the fiery red ball. Said our goodbyes and got a ride to Norfolk Airport with Teresa's sister's family. We left at 1:00pm and arrived at the airport around 3:30pm. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:00pm, but was delayed by two hours. We landed in Cincinnati ten minutes after our connection (the last flight to Seattle), had left. We were put in a hotel for the night and given toiletry kits and two $7 meal vouchers each.


Caught our flight to Salt Lake City where we had a two-hour layover. Finally got to Seattle at 2:00pm, hopped on the airport shuttle to downtown, and grabbed a cab to our apartment. After about 30 hours of traveling, I was so eager to get home, I accidentally left my backpack in the cab. Inside was my camera (hence no photos of the trip to share), my iPod and my passport to name a few. After being jerked around by the cab company, I realized I wouldn't see this stuff again, so the feeling of relaxation I was supposed to have after a week on the beach was replaced with nauseating anger and helplessness.


I had a great time, and it's a shame the entire way home was so frustrating. Even though I have no photos to remember the visit, I'll always have the kick ass OBX bumper sticker I bought.

11:21 | Misc Rambling


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