The drive from Fairfax is about 5 hours but considering how bad beach traffic has been this summer (HORRIBLE), we left the house at 7:00am on Saturday hoping to pull into our cottage by 2pm, optimistically. Thad was driving and we pulled into the parking lot at 11:45am, even after a leisurely breakfast in Williamsburg. Bam! After a quick bite at The Good Life Gourmet and a stop at Food Lion for some supplies, we checked in and unpacked for the week.
Our friends, Jessica, James, and Jack arrived around 5:30pm for a long weekend with us. Jessica and James were in our Bradley class and their son, Jack, is 5 weeks older than Julian. She is due in December with their second and her friendship has been fantastic (and priceless) as we navigate this crazy parenting thing together. We ate dinner at the American Pie Pizza and Homemade Ice Cream (somewhat disappointing, I expected something better for a small $25 pie) and relaxed at the house for the evening. Not a bad start to our vacation!!
We woke up bright and early with the kids and were able to have breakfast and coffee and still hit the beach by 8:45am. Unfortunately the biting black flies also hit the beach by 8:45 and after a quick run to Rite Aid for some bug repellent, we had a fantastic time playing in the sunshine. It was very hot and sunny and the boys were having a blast!
We ate lunch at the house and returned to the beach after naps for some late afternoon –fly-free beach time. Dinner was a smorgasbord of corn (much to Julian’s excitement!), shrimp, chicken, salad, green beans, and watermelon. Yummy! Needless to say after a day of sunshine and running around, the boys slept soundly and so did mommies and daddies.
Poop. The clouds rolled in but we were able to go for a walk on the beach before Jessica and gang left to go back to DC. James bought this fantastic $6 kite that was SOARING with the gusty winds. Unfortunately, by lunch time the clouds opened up and it rained the rest of the day. I went on a mission during Julian’s nap to acquire some sweatshirts and long sleeves as we weren’t prepared for the yucky, cold weather.
The highlight of our day was dinner at this wonderful restaurant- the Outer Banks Brewery and Restaurant. It was ranked #2 in Kill Devil Hills on Yelp.com so we decided to come check it out. It didn't hurt to learn that this is the first wind powered brewery in the United States! With a homemade cream soda for me and a microbrew for Thad, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinners. Julian loved the fried ravioli, I had a corn and mushroom risotto with bacon and seared scallops, and Thad had the filet with a demi-glaze sauce, topped with crabmeat and asparagus. Outstanding! For dessert we shared a homemade carrot cake with a caramel sauce on the side. No, we don’t have giant bellies; we ate it a few hours later back at the cottage. As for the weather, I’m glad we packed some DVDs.
We decided to go to the aquarium first thing in the morning if it was raining in the hope of having a clear afternoon….what luck! After breakfast we headed south to Roanoke Island to visit the North Carolina Aquarium. We grabbed a coffee at a local coffee house, The Front Porch Café, and visited old town Manteo before the aquarium. What a cute place! Roanoke Island is one of the first English settlements in the new world, and even if it didn't survive, there is a lot of history on this island.
If you ever get a chance to visit the area, definitely go to the aquarium! It is FANTASTIC. Julian LOVED running around and trying to kiss the different fish through the glass, and he loved touching the starfish. We even saw some river otters and a shark, but I don’t think Julian could quite get just how big that shark really was compared to everything else. It was a great indoor activity but when we got out of the building, we noticed the clouds were starting to lift so we headed home for some beach time.
The sun played peek-a-boo for a few hours but by the time Julian was up from his nap it was out so we ran out to the beach to play. Downside is that it was very, very windy and poor Julian was having a hard time with the loud, strong wind. We got to see some kite surfers and dig for some shells before it was just too chilly to be out anymore.
For dinner we went to Mama Kwan’s, a tiki bar/restaurant in Kill Devil Hills, and it was ranked #4 on Yelp.com. It was delicious! Unfortunately Julian didn’t want any of our food (we really have a fickle toddler on our hands, folks!) but we thought it was great. We started with ‘Thai Money Bags,’ a fried bundle of cellophane noodles, ginger, and other veggies, with pickled cucumbers. For our entrees Thad got the pork dish (which tasted a lot like Korean BBQ), and I had the coconut shrimp. If you like tropical food with an Asian twist, this is the place for you! They play great music which inspired Julian to dance all over the restaurant. His particular favorite that night was "Rock the Casbah."
The weather in the morning was the best we got all day, and luckily we took advantage of it by spending the morning on the beach. The sun started to disappear around 10am so we got in the car and went souvenir hunting until lunch and then relaxed at the house for a while. It wasn’t raining but it was very, very windy so after Julian woke up we took a drive down to the Bodie Island Lighthouse and explored the island some more. We got an early dinner and headed home.
With the unexpectedly chilly weather, and the forecast for more rain, we decided to come home a day early. We were supposed to come back home on Friday but since it was forecasted to rain all the way to tuesday, the figured we'd just head home. All in all, it was a great first trip to the beach and we hope to make this an annual event for our family. The beach is such an easy, fun, and cheap thing to do with kids! They can scream as loud as they want, run as fast as they want, and dig as deep as they want and it doesn't make a difference! Next year will be very different with two kids to pack for, but that's a whole other issue. Hope you enjoy the pics!