Thursday, August 6, 2015

North Carolina Vacation Part 2

After we made our rounds of visits to family and friends in the inland portion of North Carolina, we drove about 3 hours to meet up with my brother and his family to catch a ferry to the outer banks. My sister in law did her research and found this great deal through Cape Lookout National Seashore Park.  This was a new experience for all of us, so we didn't know what to expect. The drive through all the coastal towns to get to our ferry was gorgeous. Since it was the boys' first time seeing the ocean, it was a really fun drive.

Before the trip, I had asked around to find out what to expect with the ferry but this sure wasn't what we were prepared for. We had to drive until the road basically ended - I mean this place was out there. And this was the ferry service (see picture below). Nobody was even there when we arrived an hour early. Some people at the restaurant across the parking lot (which was the extent of the population as far as the eye could see) told us not to expect anyone until right before departure. Basically, the guy who checks you in, also helps load your bags, then climbs on the ferry and drives you to the island. It was a great experience. And I'm not being sarcastic. It was a totally laid back, go with the flow, talk to everyone you see, kind of atmosphere.

We browsed around while we were waiting to check into the ferry. They had this map of the outer banks.

And our first shot of the ocean. What a beautiful day. Off to the right there, if you look really carefully, you can see our island, Long Point.

And here are the boys all loaded on the Donza Lee. We shared the ferry with less than 20 other people and three cars. That was it. Not a big deal at all.

Here are the boys with a front row view of the ferry. 

That  building you see in the picture below is the "restaurant" I referred to.

 And finally we were off. Here is our view looking out the back of the ferry towards the mainland.

 Here's my niece putting on a "puppet show" from the boat's cabin on the 35 minute ride. There were so few people and really no one "looking over" us. It was a fun ride catching up with brother and sister in law.

And then our cabins were in sight! Actually, these were the smaller cabins. You'll see our actual cabin later in the post. But seriously, what you see is basically it on this island. There are no roads, no stores, nothing. It is a true vacation spot. You come here to do nothing.

Below is the view from our cabin. As in, you take 2 steps out the door, look left and this is it. Or you can just look out any of the many windows in the cabin. Oh my goodness.

And just below our cabin was a shady spot for the kids to play in the sand. There were seashells everywhere! 

For the three days we spent on the beach, basically every time we went to the ocean to play, this was the view on the beach. No one! A couple of times, there were other people, but there are so few people staying on such a massive beach that you never have to compete for space. Not even close.

Here's Jeremy and the boys getting used to the water.

And for the record, this was our view if you walked out of our cabin and looked right. Yep. Ocean front views on both sides. And less than a minute to the beach in both directions.

Another shot from the cabin.

And another.

And look at our little friend! Can you see him? You have to look carefully because he blends in so well. These things were all over under our cabin and as soon as the sun started to set, they all came out to play. All we had to do was shine a flashlight on them and they would scramble back into their whole.

The next morning, we set our alarms for 6:00 AM so we could watch the sunrise at 6:12. I've never seen the sun rise or set over the ocean but it was so beautiful and such an amazing way to start the day.

So this was our schedule on day 2. Wake up, eat breakfast, hit the beach, come back to cabin, hit the beach, eat lunch, hit the beach, play cards, hit the beach, supper, hit the beach, play more cards. My perfect day. Once again, here was our view from our spot on the beach. Apparently, not many people come here to actually play in the ocean.

And the other direction. Not a sole in sight.

We did all the things one does on the beach. We played in the sand, collected seashells, and buried the kids. 

Getting buried was probably Lex's favorite activity on the beach. 

And the kids played pirates. Here's Eli and my cute niece, Clara. That's our cabin in the background.

 Each of these 2 cabins is split in half, so technically, there are 4 families in each of these double units. You share 2 staircases to the beach and one picnic table for outdoor eating.Thankfully, we never had a problem getting the picnic table when we needed it. There are also 2 outdoor grills, a fish cleaning station, and an outdoor hose to wash off the sand. Each unit also has an outdoor clothesline, air conditioning, a kitchen with a stove (but no fridge) and a bathroom (with plenty of hot water, but a tiny shower). They are pretty primitive, but that actually fits our style pretty well. The isolated beach and views were worth every primitive minute.

 Lex admiring the view

And both boys catching some waves. There were nothing but smiles every minute they were in the water. They are seriously the best travelers. They played hard and slept hard. We all did. It was an amazing three days.

 The final day at the ocean, we packed up, collected a few more seashells, and shook off as much sand as could, before we loaded the ferry for our ride back to the mainland. Here's one last family picture. 

And one last view of our cabin. Seriously, we will be back.

And one last thing... We recently had a horrible experience at a local seafood restaurant, and my final request while we were close to the ocean was some amazing seafood. So Jeremy asked the guy who ran the ferry (you know...the one who checked us in, loaded our stuff, etc. etc.) and he recommended a place in Morehead City, right on our way home, called the Ruddy Duck. It was right on the water, and all of our food were amazing! And I finally had some delicious scallops which are hard to come by in our area.

I loved this sign when you came in. We ordered the nachos for an appetizer and trust me... the pico was amazing.

This was on the boardwalk right outside the restaurant.

And one more shot.

 Right across the street was an adorable little gift shop where I bought some souvenir jewelry for a very reasonable price and browsed around with the boys before we headed to my brother's house for one more night of our North Carolina vacation before our long drive home.

And I have to say it because I don't have a picture... our final stop on this trip was a hotel in Lexington, KY, just over halfway home. They had the biggest swimming pool I've ever seen in a hotel, and while we were there, Lex learned to swim! Just 2 days before his 6th birthday. We didn't even help him...I just looked over and he was swimming. Just like does everything else, he did it when he was good and ready. It was the icing on the cake to a great vacation.

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