Ocean Adventures: Part Two

13512186_10209099551919633_8840079478228253253_nIn my last post, I shared information about our road trip. Now, I’m going to get into the details of the actual time we spent on the island.

And, guess what else? I’m going to pack everything into one, long post. Why? Because I don’t want to forget about this series and leave it open-ended like I did last year – for nearly a month and a half.

Alright. Let’s get it done.

Monday

We spent Monday around the house, enjoying the ocean and the hot tub. This vacation was far more relaxed than last year, so we spent the majority of our time at home. I can’t say I regret that – having downtime was great. I needed it, after so many months of moving around.

Honestly, I think Monday only included checking out the nearby beach and checking out the pier (which we actually did Sunday night, but I’m going to share that information here because I forgot).

The beach was interesting. We went to the Atlantic side of the island, so the waves were insane. People don’t go there to swim. They go there to ride the waves. Since I’m not too crazy about salt water, I spent most of my time looking for shells with Katie.

We discovered, as we were looking for shells, that crabs inhabit the ocean side of the beach. These particular crabs and called “ghost” crabs. They are extremely light in color, and they hide in little sand holes. If you watch the sand as you walk, you’ll see them running around. It can be scary, at first, but we learned to love it.

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The pier was terrifying. Basically, you climb a hill and go into a fishing store – then you walk onto a giant dock that actually moves as the waves move underneath it. It took me five or six days to get used to it. After that, I started to like it. The ocean can be pretty calming, despite the horror stories.

I think my mother and I also went for a bike ride that evening. Islands? Great for biking. Everything is flat. I love it.

Tuesday

Tuesday was the first day we spent outside the house. We visited the shipwreck museum – which had a lot of really interesting information about the history of ships and war on the island. One of the stories involved hundreds of bags of Doritos.

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After the museum, we visited a few gift shops. Then, Mom and Dad went out for their anniversary dinner – and we stayed home to make dinner for ourselves.

I want to interject and say that we could have had anything for dinner that night. We chose Hamburger Helper: Crunchy Taco. Yes, I realize our priorities are out of whack.

After Mom and Dad got home, we went back to the pier for a while. It was so windy that the entire dock swung with it. After Katie, Dad, and Jack finished finishing – we went down on the beach and hunted for ghost crabs. That was an experience I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Imagine walking around a beach with only a flashlight, and seeing crabs running around your feet.

Bonus? I named every single one of them.

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Wednesday

Wednesday was another day spent around the house. Mom and I took the opportunity to read on the second floor deck. Katie and Jack attempted to catch a crab. Mom, Dad, and I walked into town for ice cream. (I’ll add – never wear a jacket on a hot day.)

We also had a small bonfire that night. Later in the week, we’d have a bigger one. But it was nice to hang out by the ocean at night.

Thursday

Thursday was definitely a misadventure. We had three things scheduled for the day: A guided horse tour in Corolla, shopping in town, and taking a pontoon boat ride to watch the sunset.

If you heard anything about the huge storm in West Virginia and the flooding that happened thereafter, you’ll know what I’m talking about. We were hit by the beginnings of that storm. Our horse tour was cancelled, and so was our boat ride.

This all happened before eleven o’clock and we’d already driven two hours to Corolla for our horse tour. We decide to make the most of it, and went shopping anyway. Afterward, we had dinner at a huge seafood buffet. I think that was our favorite meal of the trip.

That night, we rented a few movies and ordered pizza. Katie and I played Magic (which she’s getting into now). It turned into a pretty relaxing night, for something that started out so wrong.

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Friday

Since we missed our horse tour on Thursday, we went back on Friday morning to take it. We really enjoyed it. Basically, the tour guide loaded us into these huge Hummers, and we took them onto the beach to look for wild horses. To be honest, I enjoyed the views more than the horses themselves!

That night, we went to see The Lost Colony – a play on Roanoke Island based on the disappearance of the colonists. This particular event hit home for me, since I wrote and directed my own play (What They Didn’t Know) as a junior in high school about the same historic event. To be fair, my interpretation was based entirely on demons and witches – rather than historical accuracy. This interpretation was entirely different. The characters were accurate to the time, and so was the language.

It was long, but we really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Shakespeare.

After the show, we had dinner at a pizzeria on the mainland. It was awesome pizza, so it was well worth searching through four dozen restaurants to find something that was still open.

Saturday

Saturday was our last full day on the island. We mostly spent it relaxing at home. We also visited the beach again – where Katie flew a kite she’d bought the day before, and everyone else enjoyed the waves in the ocean. I enjoyed my magazines in the beach. But, apparently, no amount of sunscreen is enough sunscreen. I got burned. Badly. The trip home? Painful.

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Sunday

We left the house around ten o’clock on Sunday morning. Traffic on the way home was rough, so we didn’t make it to the D.C. area until ten o’clock that night. We stopped in a hotel in Pennsylvania. Mom, Dad, Katie, and Jack went to Denny’s for dinner. I stayed inside, worked for a little while, and ordered Domino’s.

I think, by this point, we were all ready to get home. It was a long drive.

Monday

Monday morning, I got my favorite phone call of the vacation – letting me know that our girls (Bella and Eevee) were finally ready to come home from the vet (I’ll explain more about that later). Austin picked them up, and they were waiting for us when we got home – much bigger than when we’d last seen them!

We unpacked our things. Austin and I transferred our belongings into the Freestyle. And then we began our trip home – another forty-five minutes – which went by surprisingly fast.

Okay, I’m just going to breathe for a minute. I’m proud. I fit an entire week into one post, and you’re not even going to die reading it. Plus, we got home less than two weeks ago. So, I didn’t even put it off for that long. Ha!

Next posts to expect? Guinea pigs, new car, and gardening. Plus, a quick update on school in the fall (I keep forgetting I’m a student, still).

Thanks for reading, as always,

Cassie

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Ocean Adventures: Part One

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Sound, Mind, and Body

As always, all photos in my Ocean Adventures series were taken by Shannone Bondie, who spent nearly $700 on a brand new camera before we left.

It’s been a very busy week in the Bondie / Lybrink household.

Austin is back at work after feeling sick for several days. I’m back at work after having nearly two full weeks away. Bella and Eevee (our new guinea pigs) are finally back home, after being sick for several weeks themselves. I just finished cleaning up the mess a terrible client left behind.

And, to add to all of that, we signed the loan papers for our new 2016 Kia Forte three days ago – increasing our monthly budget by far more than we originally planned. (But adding a beautiful car to our short list of credit boosters.)

I’m not quite sure how, but we managed to meet our July budget without losing our heads – even with all of that going on. And now, I’m here to tell you about my annual vacation with my family. (Don’t worry – you’ll get a few posts about guinea pigs, new cars, and our small garden soon.) For now, though, I want to tell you about the time I spent in North Carolina on the Outer Banks with my mother, father, sister, and brother.

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A side / back view of the house.

If you didn’t read about our adventures last year, I highly suggest checking out my Misadventures in the Mountains series. If anything, you’ll be amused for half an hour.

I tend to organize by day – so I’m going to start with Saturday evening (June 18th) and work my way forward from there. I should also note that this year was my final year traveling with my family alone. Next year, in the Wisconsin Dells, Austin will be joining us. That’s a wonderful thing, but it also means that our family dynamic is going to change drastically. For that reason, this year was especially important.

I think I have room for Saturday and Sunday here. We’ll see if I can make Monday fit, too.

Here goes nothing.

Saturday, June 18th

Less than three weeks after moving into our new apartment, Austin and I scrambled to gather all of our things for a week-long hiatus from Ramblewood Apartments. We unplugged the air conditioners, turned off the electricity, had our mail held, and packed as many things as we could fit in our 2005 Ford Freestyle.

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The dining area.

I was preparing for a ten day trip to North Carolina and the Outer Banks – a long string of islands on the Atlantic Ocean near Chesapeake Bay. Austin was preparing for a ten day visit to my parents’ house in Howell – where he would watch Finnegan (our twelve-year-old wheaten terrier) and my mother’s plants.

We managed to make it out the door in time – but we had to come back for Austin’s duffel bag. It wouldn’t be a proper family vacation if we didn’t realize we’d forgotten something five minutes down the road.

After getting to my parents’ house, Austin went to work and I started typing away on my laptop. I had a whopping thirteen-thousand words to write before we left at midnight. I managed to make it happen, but it wasn’t easy.

Around seven o’clock that evening, we loaded up my parents’ cars.

Around midnight, we piled in, said goodbye to Austin, and drove away – my work, thankfully, finished.

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The living room / kitchen / dining room.

Sunday, June 19th

I’m going to attempt to share as little of the road trip as possible, mostly because it wasn’t anywhere near as interesting as actually being on the Outer Banks (AKA, OBX). But I’ll share a few tips for those of you who read my posts for advice.

(1) Ohio, as I’ve said many times before, is a never-ending state with absolutely nothing to see or do – not because Ohio is terrible, but because you’re driving in a turnpike. When you use a turnpike (or toll roads), you have to pay to drive. You also have to deal with construction. And, to top it off, you can’t get off until you reach another toll booth. And, if you can get off, it’s only in a small one-stop town that leads right back to (you guessed it) the turnpike.

(2) Driving through the night is dangerous without company – so make sure you assign drivers and co-pilots to keep drivers awake. Stop often to stretch your legs and do not, for any reason, allow your co-pilot to sleep. I’m not saying this because we had a bad experience. I’m saying this because it’s almost always better to stop halfway there and sleep at a hotel – which we did on the way home. If you plan on driving for more than fifteen hours, budget for a hotel room. I’m serious.

(3) We miss out on hills, valleys, mountains, and rocky terrain by living in the Midwest. Michigan is beautiful, but enjoy the multi-level surroundings when you head East. If you’re going to sleep, get it over with early. You’re going to want to see everything after Ohio.

(4) Driving to the OBX involves bridges and underwater tunnels. Be prepared if you have claustrophobia or a fear of heights. And, if you can, try to get past that fear of heights. You’ll miss out on some gorgeous sights if you hide in your sweatshirt.

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The deck outside my room, where I spent most of my time reading.

(5) P.S. – Don’t wear a sweatshirt.

(6) P.P.S. – Don’t eat breakfast at Burger King.

It was nearly five o’clock on Sunday when we finally reached “Sound, Mind, and Body” – our home on the “sound” side of the island.

Hold on – I guess I better explain the island.

The OBX is a long string of several islands. It takes nearly four hours to drive from the tip of the islands to the end of them. The islands are also very thin – sometimes less than a mile from the “sound” side to the ocean.

The “sound” side of the island is the side facing the mainland. The water is still ocean water, obviously, but it’s calmer and less dangerous during a storm. This makes the “sound” side wonderful for beach houses (which are almost all built on wooden platforms that resemble open garages to keep them safe during hurricane season, no matter where they are on the island). I’ll have to get some pictures of that, so you know what I mean.

The ocean side is the side of the island facing the Atlantic. The waves are usually whitecaps. They can be dangerous during hide winds and high tides. Oh, and crabs live there. But we’ll get to that later.

Our house, like I said, was on the “sound” side of the island, in a town called Avon. It was closer to the south end of the island, rather than the north.

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My bedroom.

To end this chapter, I’m going to tell you a bit about where we stayed, though I’m sure you have a good idea based on the pictures in the post.

The house itself is similar to my parents’ place at home. There are multiple levels (three, to be exact). The first level consists of a master suite with a king-sized bed and a bathroom. It also holds the mudroom area. I was given the choice of taking the master suite downstairs or a room with a queen-sized bed on the second floor. Surprisingly, I chose the latter. Why? Deck space, people. Plus, I was still able to claim the downstairs bathroom as my own.

In addition to my bedroom, the second floor consisted of another master bedroom and bathroom, a room with four bunk-beds (which Jack claimed and turned into an epic fort), and a room with two twin-sized beds (which Katie claimed for the view of the “sound”).

The third floor was the living area – the dining room, game table, kitchen area, and living room space. There was also a deck on the third floor, which boasted a beautiful view of the water.

We spent the majority of our time at the house – though there are plenty of other things we did that I have to share with you. We rented several kayaks and bikes, which we kept in the “garage” area (which is basically the area below the wood structure). We had space for campfires. We also had a hot tub on the second floor, which I enjoyed very much.

Overall, I would say the house was pretty great. We found it through airbnb, though a rental company also claims it. My only advice would be, to anyone considering a trip like this, think about the kitchen and think about the people cleaning the home. “Sound, Mind, and Body” is owned by an individual, who is responsible for keeping it clean. This is alright, when the individual is up to the task, but it usually falls flat in comparison with a home that an actual company pays to clean between guests.

For example, the kitchen had an ant problem – and we hated washing dishes because the dishwasher was too rusty to use ourselves. I already feel uncomfortable in someone else’s kitchen – but when certain things aren’t spotless or I’m constantly reminded that dozens of other people have used the same equipment before me, I get cringy.

Other than that, though, I would say the house had a fantastic location and a kickass view.

But, since I’m nearing 2000 words, I’ll have to share more about our trip in my next post. You should expect three more of these, plus a post about our new guinea pigs, a post about our new car, and a post about gardening.

I can’t wait 🙂

Thanks, as always, for reading,

Cassie