Our vacation last week started off on a shaky note, with Hanna blowing across North Carolina and into Virginia on the day we were supposed to leave for the beach. We hung around on Saturday just long enough to make sure none of the trees around our house toppled onto the roof, and by 3 pm were on our way to Duck, our favorite beachfront village. We were crossing our fingers for days before, hoping the vacation wouldn't have to be cut short or even scrapped, so the fact that we didn't miss any days, and had great weather to boot (only Sunday was a no-swimming day because of high waves) made us appreciate this vacation more than usual.
We’ve been spending weeklong summer vacations on the Outer Banks off and on since around 1980, and have stayed up and down the beach, but we’ve been going back to Duck since we discovered it 17 years ago. Since we emptied the nest, we’ve started taking our week in September, when everyone with children in school has cleared out. It’s amazing how restful and stress-free it is to vacation without kids. Kids are fun, don’t get me wrong, but you don’t ever get a vacation from parenting when the kids are around, and having to keep them entertained while keeping them in line (well, at least enough to prevent them from disturbing other vacationers or from killing each other) is tiring at best. I used to feel exhausted after the typical family beach vacation.
This past week, we quickly settled into a comfortable rhythm, getting a lot of beach time, playing tennis, taking long walks, reading a stack of books, eating plenty of seafood, or just relaxing on the deck with a cold drink. With a little shopping and sightseeing and jigsaw puzzling thrown in for good measure, and not a minute of negotiating, or cajoling, or consensus building, or referreeing. Ahhhh...
We had two standout meals in or near Duck, so if you're looking for a gourmet, cheffy sort of meal, we highly recommend The Blue Point or Meridian 42. Great meals, open kitchens, and at Meridian, they even angle a mirror over the counter so you can see the meals being plated, a little like Iron Chef.
Here's the stretch of beach where we hung out, by our neighborhood of Schooner Ridge. The beach didn't stay this empty all day, but we liked to get an early start.
ENOUGH already with the painted animals. Chicago was the first city to do this, planting huge painted cows around the city back in 1999 as part of the "Cows on Parade" public art exhibit. Since then, cities large and small (including F'burg) have jumped on the painted animal bandwagon, and the idea hasn't played itself out yet, although the novelty wore off years ago. This year at the beach it was winged horses like this one, and not particularly good ones at that.