Since I mentioned the annual tradition of the Outer Banks with my best friend's family, I figured I would share a little more about it...
My best friend is Katie Uhler, we met when we were 4 and have been best friends ever since. She is the second oldest of 5. So family vacation is pretty big with everyone bringing friends. This year was no exception. We had 14 adults in a 5 bedroom house.
Every year this vacation is super super relaxing, like no other I have ever had before. [Growing up my family wasn't into the beach...we were campers instead]. The Outer Banks are great because since they're not public beaches...so it's less crowded. Going down this year I expected a week full of great food, tons of volleyball, catching waves, kayak excretions, sun bathing, four-wheeling beach, etc... And boy was I right.
So I'm not a person that likes to sleep in on vacation. It's just me, I don't want to sleep my vacation away. So I would get up every morning [around 6am], grab any number of macs laying around (Uhler's are a mac family), head upstairs to hang with Papa U [Katie's dad]. He would be drinking his coffee, looking at some work stuff, and planning the days menu. I would check my e-mail, facebook, and read my favorite blogs. When 8am rolled around we would head to the food store right across the way. I've figured out recently that I like going to the food store, especially with other people. So every morning we would get what we needed for the menu that day...yum...Papa U is an amazing cook.
Get back from the store, eat some breakfast, and head to the beach...oh wait I forgot something, lotion up. I am very fare skinned so this is a process. As the Uhlers all take 5 minutes to protect themselves from the sun, using like 4 spf. I take like 20 minutes bathing myself in 30 spf.
The first day we setup the mega volleyball net, Papa U's creation. Get two 4 inch PVC pipe, drill some holes and use a regular net. We leave it up all week with no problems. Some neighbors down the way had their own net up, but it kept falling...so they saw ours and decided to come make friends. They were an awesome family from the mountains of North Carolina. Lots of volleyball and some other beach games kept us busy with our new friends.
We even had an entertaining lifeguard this year. His name was Arec [pronounced Eric]. Most lifeguards have their name, the water temp, and maybe one other message on their blackboard. But Arec had the norm along with a word of the day and a riddle. The riddles he had on the board were kinda simple and not that challenging, but we soon learned we could ask him for more and we even gave him some of our own for him to figure out. It made for some extra entertainment every time we came or left the beach.
The water was interesting this year as well. One day that the water was soooo freezing that you were numb by the time you were halfway in. The next day the wind was so crazy and the ocean was angry (or so said Arec's board ) that we could barely do anything. Our last day the wind was a little calmer, but the ocean was still pretty crazy. So we just played lots and lots of volleyball.
Once during the last day my pale skin needed a break from the sun so I went to hang out with our new friends from North Carolina, the Bates. They had two big tents...so sun protection was very good. I talked to them for a good 1 or so. Learning all about their story. They were seriously the coolest family. Their oldest daughter had just graduated from college and received the Watson Fellowship to travel around the world for an entire year. She's into medical stuff and just got certified as an EMT this summer. I was instantly hooked on this family and decided I would have to keep in touch. Sara started her trip a few weeks ago in Indonesia. She then will travel to New Zealand, Ethiopia, and Nepal or Chile. If you want to follow along, here is her blog. She's only written a few posts and I'm already inspired by her.
Another event that happens every year is a trip to the four-wheeling beach. Everyone actually gets up early. We grab breakfast at a coffee shop and head to the four-wheeling beach. It's super fun to drive around on the sand and see wild horses!! This year was no exception, we saw some pregnant mama horses and some young ones too. This year Katie and I road with one of Katie's little brothers friend. He has an awesome jeep that we took into the dunes.
Our nights were filled with AMAZING DINNERS and then some fun games afterwards. We had our second ever scavenger hunt...which was awesome!! Katie's little sister [and friends] came up with some great stuff.
Obviously I could go on forever about vacation, but I think I'll stop here...what an amazing trip...the only thing that could have made it better would be having my hubby there.