Outer Banks, N.C. 2007



It was time for another "land cruise". Our friends Norma and Steve whom we met on our  2002 Enchantment of the Seas cruise and have cruised with them 5 times since (plus 2 land cruises, S.F. and Vegas). They suggested this as an alternative. They have vacationed in the Outer Banks (OBX) a few times before and recommended it as a really nice relaxing time. Just hang out at a house on the beach with no worries about dressing up (formal or otherwise) or what excursions to book. Just bring swim suits and shorts, no shirt, no shoes, no problem! Sounded great to us! Besides September/October is still deep into hurricane season in the Caribbean.

Patti and I flew into Norfolk Virginia 2 days ahead of time. Helped us to get acclimated to EDT and check out the area. After checking into our accommodations, The Best Western Holiday Sands on Ocean View Ave. the first night was mostly about finding beer and dinner, in that order :) The hotel (motel?) was nice. We had a tower room which has a balcony overlooking the beach on Chesapeake Bay. The area isn't exactly "high rent" but comfortable and seems to exude the casual beach lifestyle. Restaurants are few and far between but I will recommend Mick's Pancake House. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food and service were quite good. We won't recommend the local KFC though!

Saturday was about shopping. Pool toys (noodles for floating), clothes and liquor. You can't buy hard alcohol in North Carolina on Sundays and Virginia's ABC stores don't open until 1:00 pm on Sunday so we stocked up on Saturday. We had actually planned on going up to the Nauticus Naval museum but it sounded a little too geared toward kids. They do have Naval base tours but you have to book well in advance and it's very limited on days and group size. Everything else was a 40-60 mile round trip so we opted to hang close to Norfolk. Besides this was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. And as stated above we had supplies to procure :)

Norfolk has a theme of Mermaids throughout the Ocean View area. Patti took a picture of the one in front of the motel.

Our friend Ted flew in Saturday night. We went to pick him up and headed back to the BW to hang, drink some beers and just watch the waves. Mick's turned out to be our dinner choice for the night. Next day Norma, Steve and the "puppies", Ginger and Pepper showed up. They drove down from Mass.


Views from and at the Best Western Holiday Sands in Norfolk.

The drive down from Norfolk was pretty uneventful. We did drive by the home of the monster truck Gravedigger right off highway 158 in NC about 40 miles from the Virginia line. We're not monster truck fans but that was still kinda cool! Norma told us that once you cross the Wright Memorial bridge over Currituck Sound you're in OBX. It reminded me of the San Mateo bridge here in the Bay Area. Once on the other side we're in Kitty Hawk. Hang a left on Highway 12 and we're on our way. Through Southern Shores, Duck, Sanderling, then past Currituck lighthouse and into Corolla (actually pronounced Carawla and not like the Toyota car). Corolla is essentially the last stop for supplies before hitting the beach. We stopped at Food Lion first to stock up on food. Norma and Steve headed up the road to pick up the house keys from Twiddy while we did the Brew Thru (see link below) for beer and some wine. While we were in Food Lion Steve dropped the tire pressure to 25 psi on our rented Trailblazer to prepare me for the beach drive. This is highly recommended if driving on the loose sand as opposed to the wet hard pack closer to the water. I had driven 4WD's at Pismo Beach back in the dunes but they were Jeeps with big tires set at low psi. I wasn't sure how what was basically a street vehicle that happed to be 4WD would perform. Especially considering that the house is 9.3 miles up the beach. It turned out to be a challenge but not too bad. The hardest part was shooting the inlet that led to the house. I drifted off course a little but the Trusty Trailblazer hung in and made over the dune. Steve had brought a shovel and tow strap but luckily we didn't need them. There is a towing service operating on the beach and I hear they do quite well.

The drive in on Sunday. This was about as far away as I got from Steve. I was afraid to go too slow.


Pulling into the driveway of the house (A Shore Pleasure) was amazing.  We saw pictures of the house online but they didn't do it justice. It was huge!! Just look at the pix. Not only was it awesome to see the house in person we were greeted by 8 of the wild horses of the Outer Banks (they also left some welcoming "gifts" for us). I guess people who have stayed in Carova Beach (aka the 4X4 area) and even anywhere from Kitty Hawk north these houses are normal. To us it was amazing to see this huge house (and many others like it) right on the beach. In California this would probably be worth $5M!! Depending on location of course. This house has 9 bedrooms (7 masters!), 9-1/2 bathrooms, game room, huge great room off the huge kitchen as well as a pool and hot tub. Oh, and I forgot to mention the elevator! That was Patti's favorite thing! It did come in handy for getting food and other supplies up as the kitchen is on the 3rd floor.

When we got all our supplies stocked away we got down to some serious relaxing. We donned our swimsuits, cracked some beers and hung out at and in the pool. This would become our SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for the next 9 days. Slight revisions being mixed drinks, wine, hot tub and ocean. The ritual (sorry that sounds too harsh, lets try goal) became coffee, breakfast (from donuts to eggs & bacon), Bloody Mary's, lunch then your beverage of choice with plenty of noshing in between. Dinner was always everyone together but sharing the cooking duties.

On Monday, Randy and Marcio were due to arrive. They had planned to be in Norfolk at 8 PM. Unfortunately due to some weather issues they missed one of their flights. They finally arrived in Norfolk about 10 PM. Figuring a 2 hour drive to Corolla we figured they'd still make by midnight-ish. That was our decision, that OBX time is "ish" time. No time pressures. Cell coverage can be hit or miss dependent on carrier and Randy & Marcio had none once they hit Corolla. Our last contact with them was a text message about 12:30 AM when they hit the Wright bridge. They drove in the driveway about 2 AM Tuesday. We were impressed that Randy made it in the dark (although the moon was full or almost there). We stayed up till about 4AM but we needed sleep by then. I think Randy & Marcio stayed up awhile longer :)

Tuesday we went back into Corolla for supplies. Driving on the hard pack was a whole different thing from the loose sand. It was almost like driving on pavement. When you're staying in the 4x4 area it's best to read the tide charts and travel accordingly. Supply "excursions" were about every 2-3 days. Steve's sister Joanie came in Tuesday afternoon. So now we were a "family" of 8. It was almost like a big family dinner every night. Everyone got a chance to pick a meal and do the main cooking throughout the week.

Patti and I had hoped to check out Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills (home of the Wright Bros. Memorial) and maybe even Roanoke Island but it turned out to be a longer trip than we thought. With the beach drive at about 1/2 hour then 25-35 mph for 40 miles to Kitty Hawk it would have been a whole day just to go to Kill Devil. We decided just lazing around was a better idea.

                                                                        Outer Banks Map       






This is what we spent most of out time doing. Floating in the pool, hanging our feet in the pool or just hanging on the deck. It was a welcome change to just relax and do nothing. As you can see Pepper enjoyed floating on the pool too! The ocean was great, 75 and light waves. The waves got heavier later in the week and they put the red flags out. You could see the riptides. The full moon may have had something to do with that.

All week the weather was beautiful! It was 70's and 80's every day. It rained one day when we went into Corolla but by the time we got back to the house the sun was back out. We had a few cloudy days near the end of our stay but it was still warmish and definitely better than at home.

Wednesday gave us a nice full harvest moon. It was awesome to watch it rise over the Atlantic. It's amazing the simple things that awe you when you slow down and enjoy what mother nature has to offer.

Saturday night we had our big feast. We went into Corolla and picked up a couple of steamer buckets at appropriately named Steamers. They packed King crab, clams. mussels, corn and potatoes in a bucket with ice. You just throw the bucket on the stove (or barbecue) and bring to boil for 20 minutes and it's ready to eat. We also picked up some steamed shrimp. To add a little "turf" to our "surf" we headed to Tommy's Market in Duck. Tommy's is well known in OBX. They cut your meat to order. If you really want a 6" thick filet they'll do it. We didn't go that far but got a few ribeyes and filets of reasonable size. The steaks fit the "melt-in-your-mouth" description. It was a grand dinner. Everyone was well sated that night.











When it came time to leave we really didn't want to go. Norma & Steve stayed through the rest of the week. Patti & I seriously thought about changing our plans. All that was left was the drive out. That turned out to be another adrenaline booster. Unfortunately due to our flight times we had to leave at peak tide and the surf was also pretty rough washing up high on the beach. The loose sand was the only option and in some areas there was only one lane. We also had to go through the water a few times. Dodging oncoming traffic, people walking, parked vehicle all while trying not to slow and get stuck.

It was a great vacation. We can't wait to go back. We're already looking at houses. It'll probably be smaller as we really didn't need 9 bedrooms. We will be staying the a full 2 weeks this time though!


Best Western Holiday Sands Micks Pancake House Gallery at Military Circle
  Twiddy Realtors (OBX Rentals)  
Steamers Tommy's Market Brew Thru