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Our Week in the Outer Banks

2018 September 2
by Becky

Outer Banks - Wave jumping

After years of saying we would, we finally made it to the Outer Banks of North Carolina!

Summers in Old Town are busy with tourists but void of residents as they all flock to places like Ocean City, NJ; Virginia Beach and Rehoboth Beach in Virginia; and then all the little towns in the Outer Banks like Duck, Corolla, Kitty Hawk…it’s a ghost town. Getting together with friends was almost impossible as we all had different schedules and traveling at different times.

When we found ourselves here alone last August, we decided we’d plan an Outer Banks trip for THIS August and it’s a good thing we planned it early because the rental houses go fast. After hours of researching and looking at every available place in our budget that had a) a small swimming pool, b) a hot tub, and c) was right on the water, we picked one and kind of forgot about it.

Nine months later here we are! We did it! We made the 4-5 hour drive here to Duck, NC, this unbelievably quaint little area and loved every minute. The weather was fantastic, ocean had the perfect size waves for us to jump through, and the beach was pristine. Our pool came in very handy too, as Finn learned how to swim that week! A couple days before he said, “I don’t want to use my floaties any more” and boom, he never put them on again. Just shy of four years old.

The house was huge and weather-worn from sea salt air, but nice and cozy and just right for relaxing, lazy days spent in our swimming suits. We had a our bikes to ride the short distance to the little shopping area of Duck where we got ice cream, walked the boardwalk, and inspected all the trinkets in the shops. There was even a kids night with a DJ who held a dance contest that both our boys participated in—it was awesome. Watching the sky each night was a show in itself, so we did it from the boardwalk or from the beach or from the little balcony off the kitchen while eating dinner.

We took a 20 minute drive down to Kitty Hawk to check out the First Flight memorial and wow am I glad we did. It was fantastic! We learned so much about the Write Brothers and their incredible commitment to learning the science behind human flight. Extra special was the kite checkout booth where we grabbed a kite and flew it above the field that saw over 1000 test flights of the Wright Brother’s glider creations. It was downright magical.

Another morning, while Stu had to do some work, I took the boys 20 minutes North to Corolla to see the historic lighthouse and check out the very tiny town. The boys made the climb up to the top and one of them joined me in the walk around the balcony…the other stayed just inside the door. It was pretty high! We had fun driving through all the different types of rental house neighborhoods, some where enormous! But in the end we liked Duck the best. I did want to check out the 4×4 beaches north of Corolla but was scared of getting stuck…even with our SUV I wasn’t so sure about airing down my tires and giving sand-driving a try. So we skipped it.

The favorite evening activity had to be Ghost Crab hunting, which is a pretty huge thing in the OBX. You head out at dusk or dark, armed with flashlights and buckets and nets, to find tons of sandy-colored crabs coming out of their hidey-holes and running along the beach. The boys thought it was amazing and spent lots of sunny beach time finding baby crabs who didn’t know about staying hidden.

The boys were in water 80% of our days, be it hot tub, pool, or ocean. My favorite activity was floating on a raft in the pool reading my ziplocked Kindle, I flew through A Little Stranger and right into Crazy Rich Asians…both awesome reads. In the evenings we usually made dinner on the grill, a couple times heading into town to check out the restaurant offerings. Coastal Cravings wasn’t bad and, though we really aren’t a donut family, the kids loved their early morning trip to Duck Donuts. After seeing the insanely long lines there the day before we figured it must be something worth checking out. (The ordering process is cool but really, they are just donuts) The best meals were the ones on our deck.

 

We loved this trip so much we almost booked it again right then and there, but decided to wait a bit. The best part of the trip was how rested we felt coming home, which isn’t the norm—usually we feel like we need another vacation after our vacations! And it was so nice to just pack everything up in the car like groceries, beach gear, puzzles, toys, the works.

This trip will be repeated for sure! Have you been to this area? What did we miss? Where do you stay? We’re already planning for next year.

Exploring DC: National Cathedral and Beauvoir Playground

2018 August 16
by Becky

Summer is almost over!

Well, it’s actually over for some of you…congratulations you made it.

We still have two weeks to go and we’re still summering strong, exploring on the days I don’t work, and even heading to the Outer Banks in North Carolina next week for the very first time…we’re so excited! And we’re feeling very ‘local’, as this is the trip most of our neighborhood makes each August. We didn’t make this trip the last time we lived here, so we made it a priority and booked our beach house like eight months ago to make sure we didn’t miss it again.

This past week we popped over to our most favorite playground in the shadow of the gorgeous Washington National Cathedral to ride the zip line and fly down the super tall slide. Beauvoir School is the lucky owner of this incredible place and we try to hit i up while they aren’t in session. I figured this is a timely post because they don’t start school till September, you have two more weeks to make it over! Otherwise you can go on the weekends or evenings throughout the year.

We ended up there on a gorgeous, cool day and had the place pretty much to ourselves. Both boys screamed “there’s no line!” when they noticed the zip line was deserted, and took it upon themselves to use it over and over and over. There’s a very clever bench at the beginning of the zip line which kids use to launch themselves down the track. Finn had the guts to try the super high metal slide this year—last year he made the climb but couldn’t pull the trigger at the top. I don’t blame him, it’s really up there. Ethan maneuvered through the tall wooden towers linked by sturdy rope bridges and they both ran up and down and around the little nooks and hidey-holes of this magical landscape. My pictures above don’t do it justice because they are just screen shots, I only took video on this day instead of pictures. But I promise, it’s the most amazing school playground you’ve ever seen. 

When we were finished playing, we headed over to check out the Washington National Cathedral instead of just gazing at it from afar. No surprise, it’s absolutely incredible inside. The staff was extremely friendly, helping point the boys toward some Lewis & Clark themed windows where they could search for the animals hidden in the stained glass. We walked through, admiring the glass, inspecting the intricately carved wood details, oogling the pipe organ, and just being totally awed by the massive space around us.

We were encouraged to head up to the seventh floor to take in the views, so we were happy to do so. Our favorite scene was the Cathedral’s roof details. We’d learned about the earthquake damage in 2011 (the one that took place just weeks after we moved here the first time!), so this spot offered a clear shot of what types of structures were damaged. We also learned words like ‘flying buttress’, which entertained the boys for a good while.

After wandering through the ‘crypt’ level, peeking into all the chapels, we decided the mosaics in the Resurrection Chapel were our favorite works of art, and the boys were done. Next time we visit I’m checking out the website first to prep, there are SO many interesting stories and features of this building, it’s overwhelming! It took us about 45 minutes to go through the Cathedral at a fairly quick pace. So glad we finally took the time to see it.

At this point we were really hungry and there was a request for burgers, so we headed to Duke’s Grocery in Dupont Circle. It’s been on my list and the lovely weather had me in the patio-lunching mood. It was a very wise decision and I’m glad the boys were up for it. Ethan plowed through Duke’s famous burger, pickled red onions and all (it was crazy-delicious), and I had the brisket sandwich, of which I could only eat half, even with Finn’s help. It was an excellent treat to top off our fantastic morning.

PS, did anyone notice my big kid’s new do? It was totally out of control and he jumped at the chance to get a trim. There was a shocking amount of hair on the floor when it was done but he’s so proud. We are now the proud owners of “pomade”, which he uses several times a day to style it up.

Anyway, I highly recommend filling an upcoming morning or afternoon at the National Cathedral and Beauvoir playground! Just another beautiful DC place we love to visit.