24 May 2007

Outer Banxious

We returned this evening from our trip to the Outer Banks. We had such a wonderful time. It was the most precious gift to revisit our favorite vacation islands and to share this in the company of my daughter, Katie, my son, Justin, his girlfriend, Stephanie and our good friend Billie, made it as close to perfect as is imaginable.

It's late and I have a ton of things to take care of, but of course I had to upload my photos before heading off to bed. Tomorrow will find me buying a few last minute necessities, enjoying lunch with Katie and Billie on Wrightsville Beach and repacking my bags because on Saturday, I head to Raleigh where I will overnight and catch a flight bright and early Sunday Morning which will whisk me away to Marsh Harbor in the Abacos.

As for the Outer Banks, we traveled all day on Saturday - Billie and I took turns with the driving, and we caught the ferry at Cedar Island which transported us to picturesque Ocracoke. We had dinner at Howard's Pub and then caught the ferry for Hatteras and arrived at "Sea Stilts" at around 11:00 PM. We were tired, but thrilled to be on the Outer Banks.

Sunday Morning, we enjoyed coffee on the top deck and Billie fried up a pound of bacon my mother had thoughtfully sent with us. I scrambled the eggs and we all sat down to a wonderful breakfast which was a good idea! We had a busy day ahead of us!

First stop was The Wright Brothers Monument and exhibit. We walked to the top, took tons of photos and enjoyed the sun.

Next stop: Jockey's Ridge for dune climbing, kite flying and panoramic views of the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. We spent over three hours atop the dunes and we made our kites soar - with a lot of help from the prevailing winds. We came down tired, thirsty and sun-kissed.

Justin manned the grill and served up a dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs. After that - Justin and Stephanie hit the hot tub, Katie became lost in one of her books and Billie and I took a long walk on an even longer beach. We walked for almost two hours in the dark with the waves lapping at our ankles and the stars twinkling above. It was a beautiful evening.

After our long walk, we sunk ourselves into the hot tub and Katie pried herself away from her reading and joined us for a warm soak and star-searching. I spotted three shooting stars to Billie's one. Of course, I made three wishes.

Monday Morning Justin and Stephanie fetched some bait and we rigged our three surf fishing poles and Katie brought along an ever-present book and of course, we brought some kites just in case the fishing proved unsuccessful which, with the brisk wind blowing just over the dunes separating the beach from the road, was a good idea. We had much more luck getting our kites in the air than enticing fish to take our bait. After about an hour, Justin, Stephanie and Katie headed back to the house because they were more interested in the hot tub and also because they're wimps! Billie and I stuck it out and spent about four hours flying kites and chasing gulls away from our bait. We caught nothing but had a fine time doing it.

Monday Evening, Justin grilled some marinated chicken and we feasted once again - enjoying a sumptuous dinner on the enclosed patio. After dinner, we all settled down and watched "What About Bob" - a movie we hadn't seen in years and enjoyed watching again.

Tuesday Morning dawned bright and sunny, but unfortunately, Justin and Stephanie had to leave as they were expected back at work on Wednesday. We hated to see them go, but we were grateful for the time they were able to spend with us. After they left, Katie, Billie and I headed for Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Katie's nose became stuck in the pages of "Bee Season", but Billie and I decided to test our physical mettle and he purchased two tickets for us to climb to the top. Now, I have to tell you I do NOT like heights, but I also don't enjoy self-defeat, so I agreed to take on his challenge. It was a good decision. The view was stunning and my initial apprehension gave way to a sense of inspired awe at the scenery. It was breath-taking and the climb was no big deal. Thank you Billie for laying down the gauntlet and urging me to broaden my horizons. What a wonderful horizon it truly was. After that huge energy expenditure, Billie felt we merited a banana split and so the next stop found us rationalizing the 10,000 calories we consumed and we enjoyed every delectable bite of it.

Again, I can't express what a treat it was to share this time with my kids. These will always be remembered as halcyon days for me and I will forever be grateful for every moment and the accompanying memories - courtesy of the generosity of my good friend Billie.

This morning, Katie, Billie and I loaded up the car and reluctantly set out for home. It's not that we hated returning home, and we were eager to see Granny & Pops, Cassie and the gang, it's simply a testament to the magnetic pull the Outer Banks seems to attach to our souls. They're very difficult to leave, but hopefully, we'll be back up that way before too long.

So say some extra prayers for safe travels as I head for Raleigh and the Abacos on Saturday, as Billie flies back to Florida on Saturday and for Katie as she climbs aboard Amtrack Sunday Night.

We'll all be heading in different directions, but after spending a few unforgettable days together on the Outer Banks, there is a warm connection flowing between us all, including Justin and Stephanie who will be home next week, but feel free to pray for them as well and of course, special prayers for my Mom and Dad who keep the home fires burning and the pets fed and watered as we vagabond "kids" head in all manner of new directions.

19 May 2007

Home is where...

...the people you love most happen to be. Yesterday, 18 May 2007, I had the wonderful pleasure of picking my daughter up, who just arrived from New York City. How sweet it was to see her smiling face again. She rode in on Amtrack (the railroad of lies) which was only 1 hour and 45 minutes late! We had a fun ride back, she riding shotgun in my PT Cruiser and we laughed and talked about everything and everyone we knew. James Taylor's "Sun on the Moon" was playing on my iPod and gave us a familiar soundtrack as my 23 year old daughter and I headed back toward Wilmington on a rainy but delicious Thursday Evening. It felt delightfully like old times.

We all sat down to an honest-to-goodness home-cooked dinner courtesy of my oh-so-domestic and wonderfully nurturing Mom. The conversation was interspersed with smiles, laughter and a feeling of togetherness - something we don't take for granted because this sprite now resides in the big city, but fortunately, she hasn't lost her affection for home, family and the love that emanates forth.

This morning, I picked up my fine friend Billie, who flew in from Tampa/St. Pete, and it was also great to see this special man again. We go back nine years and what a loyal and loving gentle man this blessing is. After warm hugs, I deposited him at my house and then took Katie to lunch with Vanessa - well, Vanessa could only join us for tea as she had a client, but Katie and I had a great lunch and then Vanessa took over and Katie spent a special day with her "second mother" and got a cool haircut. After Vanessa finished up at work, they went out running around, visiting Joe, Vanessa's long-suffering and patient saint of a partner, and then to Vanessa's to visit Katie's step-canine sibling, Rosie, who is a precious lab/rottweiller mix.

Tomorrow Morning, 19 May, Katie, Justin, Stephanie, Billie and me will head to Salvo, on the Outer Banks for a few days of fun on one of my most favorite strands of sand. I can't wait to get back up there with these wonderful people I love so much. Granny & Pops will be holding down the homefront and taking care of the animals and keeping our home lives on track as we trek up the Outer Banks.

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to stealing away on this adventure with this group. Justin has volunteered to take over the cooking which is fortunate and he got no argument from any of us. Justin has turned into a very talented cook and we're pleased to let him shine. Billie and I plan on fishing, poking around lighthouses and we all have a kite with our name on it for some serious Jockey's Ridge kite flying.

Billie and I went out shopping tonight and bought all manner of snacks and necessities to keep us happy during our trip. We bought three loaves of bread for the ferry rides and the sea gulls that will trail in our wake. We have each selected some good books for night-time reading, something the Outer Banks is perfect for, and Katie will have her iBook. Of course, we're taking the quintessential OBX movie, "Tombstone" - something that Katie and Justin watched countless times during their first introduction to the Outer Banks, back in June 2001. They watched that movie so much that I think we could all recite the script. In addition we'll be watching, "Captain Ron", "The Perfect Storm" and a few other terrifying sea tales. You know, warm and fuzzy movies. :-) We're such a twisted bunch, but we have fun and we all adore each other so much. Billie might not be "blood-kin", but he fits in perfectly and it's a special treat to have him with us for the week.

I'll upload some photos when I return from the Outer Banks and give a quick recap of our trip on that magical chain of islands, before heading off to another chain of islands, with a much more southern exposure.

Until then, I hope everyone has a safe and happy week and I plan on doing the same. Feel free to say prayers for our trip for happy times and a safe return. Billie might need a few extra prayers - he has no idea what he's in for!

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