Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vacation 2010: Outer Banks, NC.

You know how it is when you're planning a big road trip. You get out the map (or navigate to the mapping website), find your ultimate destination, and decide on the big pit stops between here and there. And then you play the "as long as we're that far [south/north/east/west], we might as well go to X" game. And so it went with our trip planning. It seemed crazy to be in that part of the U.S. and not go to Baltimore. Or Gettysburg. Or NYC. Or Canada. (OK, so Canada wasn't discussed, but you get the idea.)

Time and budget capped our northern exploration at DC, and Williamsburg was a natural extension of the whole American history theme. Then I realized how very close to the East Coast Williamsburg is.

Brett and the kids love the beach, and it seemed a shame to keep them from seeing the Atlantic. Voila! A side trip to Kill Devil Hills, NC, was born. Why Kill Devil Hills? Of all the coastal destinations, this one was also home to a national historic site. Which site, you ask? Well, it may help to know that what is now KDH used to be considered Kitty Hawk. More on that later.

So ANYway, we enjoyed the drive from Williamsburg to the coast. Part of the fun was crossing the sounds. As I looked at the map, I was giddy about the prospect of crossing a bridge over the expanse of water near Newport News. But then we saw this:

Somehow I had missed the notation that this beltway was not entirely above water.

I kept feeling like we should hold our breaths as we drove underwater.

Whew! "Break on through to the other side..."

Soon after arriving in Kill Devil Hills, we found a visitor center with a picnic area. It was hot, but we were hungry! We used the restrooms there to go ahead and change into our swimsuits since we were still hours away from our hotel's check-in time. With a few directions, we were on our way to Virginia Dare Trail to find a parking area with public beach access.

Hello, Atlantic Ocean!

It was just a wee bit chilly!

It's cool how this beach had a completely different feel from the ones on the West Coast and in Texas.

It was also different to step into the water and sink into the gravelly sand. That was a bizarre sensation. More than once we fell when trying to stand up in the shallow water.

Seaweed fight! Contrast this with last summer's vacation when we were throwing snowballs.

After several hours on the beach, it was time to check in at our hotel and freshen up for dinner.
This was the view of the dunes behind our beach spot.

And right up the boardwalk? That's our hotel!

It was great to be so close to the water. This picture (taken from the hotel's website) is what sold me on this location. How cool to have a freshwater pool within spitting distance of the ocean! (In actuality, though, it was just a pool. When Katie and I took a dip in it, we discovered that the tall fence obscures the ocean view!)

After cleaning up, we found ourselves one of those big, touristy seafood buffets.

Brett and Ryan opted for the regular dinner buffet, but Katie and I went with the "when in Rome" approach. Love those crab legs! We also love that feeling of sitting down to a big meal when in that slightly sunburned, post-beach state!

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