Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Outer Banks Experience

This past week found us on vacation with my family in Waves/ Rodanthe North Carolina.

Each year my parents try to juggle everyone’s schedules in an effort to get some quality family time; they have devised plans from family cruises to beach house rentals over the years, and as everything came into alignment for 2011 we were all able to pack it up and head down to the beach.

It’s unusual for Ash and I to stay in the luxury of a beach house, and we jumped at the chance to experience the beach from a different perspective.

That being said we are not tent camping purist that would just as soon choke on granola then stay under the confines of 4 walls while at the beach, and as a bonus, it’s really cool to spend time with the family.

There are however some obvious differences between camping on an uninhabited island and spending a week at a vacation house.

Bikini, beer, and boogie board, the wife in her natural vacation habitat

After years of intensive prodding and occasional ridicule we were able to convince my parents and brother that vacationing in Nags Head proper was akin to spending a week at a NASACAR race with the exception of the whole ocean thing, and that piece of mind and total relaxation could be found just a stone’s throw further south.

I will concede that it’s not easy to plan a family vacation around my hermit sensibility and my fanatical devotion to my dogs and that they accompany us everywhere, and my mother did a masterful job taking everyone’s “wants” into account when she picked the rental.

One of the first things Ash and I had to work our way around was the sheer number of people on the beach on a sunny day, but add some clouds, a few thunder claps, and intermittent rain and the number of beachgoers became dramatically reduced.

Parents braving an afternoon storm as others flee for cover

Our best option for crowd management was a short drive to beach access ramp #34 on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore where we simply drove away from people to get a little more room to stretch our legs for fishing and surfing.

I have been going to the Outer Banks since 1990’ish to do what I consider to be some of the gnarliest spasmodic renditions of surfing in modern human history, but I do have fun, and this trip Ash decided that she wanted to get in on the action, so we added yet another stick to my quiver of boards from the Rodanthe Surf Shop. (Nice folks)

The "bent monkey" surfing stance 

If you’re paying attention a family vacation can provide one of those moments where you think to yourself, ‘This is it, this is what matters”…

My epiphany occurred at 5:38am with the sun breaking over the horizon as my father and I cast our lines into the Atlantic Ocean.

My wife was there to capture the moment in time, proof positive that an image can be priceless.

Pops trying his hand at retirement 

Most evenings you could find me manning the charcoal grill as the family got together to enjoy fresh clams, shrimp, scallops, and Red Snapper from Austin’s South Island Seafood & Produce Company. (The Snapper was truly phenomenal).

Although it was a family vacation Ash and I still found time to steal away for a moonlit bike ride or a dinner for two.

Our “Date night” would be at Good Winds Seafood & Wine Bar where we sampled braised alligator, Sashimi Tuna, duck spring rolls, and Mahi Tacos. (Good food, good craft beer selection, although I can only surmise that I must have reminded our young female bartender of her father whom she still holds some degree of resentment towards).

Sunset over the sound at Good Winds

Family vacations with the swirling noise of kids bounding from the pool to the hot tub and back, the sounds of constant conversation interrupted by brief moments of reflection, water balloon fights, early morning runs, and trying to chase down the sunset on the single speed in the diminished evening light, it’s good for the soul…