Whew, what a Spring and Summer it has been. We were ready to get out of the house, if only for a week, and enjoy some fun in the sun. So what could be better for social distancing than going to the beach where everyone can have their own little piece of sand and water!
Eric was already in North Carolina so the longer trip was for Amanda and the kids. Everyone met on Friday afternoon and we checked into our motel and pretty much fell asleep. The fun stuff would have to wait until Saturday. Island time being what it is, there was no big rush to get out and do stuff, though, right?
Well, I can tell you that swimming was a big hit. I’m not sure it mattered whether or not it was in the pool or in the sound (maybe there was some splashing around in the ocean, too?) but getting wet on the hot days was always welcome.
And then there were the walks on the beach…
And there were a couple rounds of miniature golfing and go-carts…
And then the other, miscellaneous things that you don’t really plan to do but end up doing anyway…
We had a lot of fun, not sure we were ready to leave, but this place was booked up so, us without a tent, we had to leave. Hopefully we’ll be back soon.
We spent an enjoyable family weekend in Raleigh, including a trip to the State Fair. We enjoyed the lumberjack show and exploring the exhibits. I thought the giant animatronic Smokey the Bear who would greet you by name was way creepier than the kids did. We ate corn on the cob, three of us went up in the ferris wheel, saw lots of animals, examined giant produce, and generally had a nice time.
Saturday we checked out some local parks, hiking around Lake Johnson and even paddle boating at Pullen Park. Elise insisted on paddling even after I told her from looking at Harlan I could see she would be too short to reach the pedals. She insisted she could do it and she did. She had to hold herself up on her arms and push herself forward to get her feet on the pedals, but she stuck with it for a good 10 minutes. Don’t tell that kid she can’t do something.
Unfortunately Daddy didn’t join us for the Marbles Children’s Museum, but the kids had a fantastic time. It’s definitely on our list for a return visit, especially since we only spent a few hours there since we had to drive back home. There was lots to see and do and plenty of imaginative play. The theme of the last room we went in was banking. It included an armored car to play in, which apparently Harlan robbed because I turned around when I heard a thud and saw him getting tackled by two other kids dressed up in security vests. All in good fun.
We made the drive in the electric car, stopping once to charge on the way down and twice on the way back (since we didn’t have a full charge starting out from Raleigh). The kids found their favorite charging stop in Richmond- across the street from a fast food restaurant with a giant play area.
Years ago, Harlan and I went on a father-son weekend when he was three years old. I figured it was about time Elise and I (Team E) did something just the two of us. Our trip destination was North Carolina to visit Grandma and take advantage of her house’s central location to fun! And fun we did have.
Pungo National Wildlife Refuge
First up was a trip to the Pungo National Wildlife Refuge to look for bears! We ended up seeing four bears, five deer, and a very health snake. No animals were harmed during our outing; the picture of the snake actually crawled under our car while we had stopped to observe it. The bears we observed from a safe distance, too. The first was a momma bear with two cubs. Mom walked out in the roadway ahead of us to let us know they were there and then directed her kids across a canal and along a trail away from us.
North Carolina Aquarium
The next day saw us heading east towards the beach. Our first stop was at the North Carolina Aquarium in Manteo. I used to come here often on school field trips. They have updated the exhibits a bit since then, though.
We stopped for a late lunch at Sam and Omie’s where we ate our food and then had a little dessert.
Party at the house…
Elise then wanted to host a party at Grandma’s house. Aunt Amy and Uncle Eddie, along with the neighbors Charlie and Cecil came over and we had hot dogs on the grill. Everyone had a fun time just sitting around chatting it up.
Uncle Fred’s 90th birthday
Great Uncle Fred turned 90 years old while we were in town. A surprise birthday party was planned for him and so Elise, Mom, and I attended. It was also attended by many Davenport and Forbes relatives and friends that I hadn’t seen in many years. Particularly special to me was that Elise got to meet Elise (whichever way you want to spin that).
A few years ago Great Uncle Jim met a lady named Clem (her middle name was Charlotte, which will become important soon enough). Aunt Clem’s mother’s name was Elise and so when Uncle Jim and Aunt Clem had a daughter they named her Elise. Elise then had a daughter of which she named Charlotte. Charlotte had a daughter of which she named Elise! I digress. At the party, my Elise got the opportunity to meet Elise #2 and I’m not sure which was happier. Both of them got into a friendly, funny argument over “no, I’m Elise!”.
The next thing…
After a week of activities we met Amanda and Harlan at the State Fair for a weekend of fun. Elise says she’s ready to do the trip again.
We enjoyed a brief, but nice, trip down to Plymouth recently to celebrate Eric’s sister’s recent nuptials and see Grandma and Cash.
It was Living History Days downtown, so the kids enjoyed seeing the reenactors dressed up, and Harlan and Eric got to see the “battle” while Elise (refused) to take a nap. We also stopped by the museum to see Eric’s granddad’s wooden boat. Kathy enjoyed telling us about being pulled behind it water skiing and Eric remembered helping to keep it watertight.
We had a busy end of summer with various activities, Grandma visiting, and a roadtrip. We also enjoyed visits from friends, including a playing at our neighborhood beach with the San Juan family and a multi-day visit with the Blaser family.
The kids enjoyed having Grandma visit in August, which included a trip to Annapolis where I tried to get them to pose for a nice photo by the water. You can see how that turned out…
At the Outer Banks we stayed very close to the Wright Brothers Memorial, and enjoyed visiting the memorial as well as other sites. The kids had fun playing in the sand but, being used to the Chesapeake Bay and our neighborhood beach, were a little intimidated by the much larger waves of the ocean.
After the Outer Banks, Elise, Eric’s Mom, and I headed down to Charleston, SC to go to Kathy’s nephew’s wedding, which was also a nice opportunity to see my parents.
We just returned from a visit to see Eric’s parents, aka Grandmama and Granddaddy, in Plymouth, NC where we very much enjoyed the warmer weather. Hello Spring!
We also stopped by to see some of Eric’s other relatives on the way back to Maryland. Elise enjoyed checking out the chickens on the farm and we all enjoyed going out to lunch (not just for the delicious homemade chips, but also for the wonderful company!).
I don’t think Amanda wants to talk about the car ride from Charleston to Emerald Isle. There may have been poop involved. A lot of poop. Not Amanda’s! Elise sure knows how to time the big ones. First on the to do list upon arrival at our rental house – wash the car seat cover!
The aquarium rehabilitates sea turtles and sends them on their way when they are ready.
Elise enjoyed looking at the otters. Comparatively, she seems to be about the same size as the North American River Otter:
Oh, and did I mention they have an awesome outdoor adventure area? Harlan and Elise both climbed this cargo net and spent time sliding down the slides and generally running around while Amanda and I hiked the nearby loop trail (thanks to Nana and Papa for watching them so we could make this hike and feed at least a hundred mosquitoes along the way).
Years ago we brought Harlan to Fort Macon and he really enjoyed exploring. Elise was exactly the same! This old fort has been through a lot and is now open to the public. There are great views of Beaufort Inlet and Harlan really enjoyed inspecting all the cannons and guns.
And, of course, there is the obligatory cannon ball photo. We took a picture of Harlan sitting on the cannon balls when we first brought him and we had to do the same with Elise.
Before leaving, Amanda, Harlan, and I were able to get out and explore the 3.3 mile loop trail that takes you around the state park. Very cool area and the trail was pretty busy with folks jogging, walking, and exploring.
And then there was the beach
It’s been years since I had made it back to the beach. Unfortunately we spent a lot of time on the go so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time just staring at the water but I did get in some sand time. Harlan decided to bury himself in the sand, Elise chased birds in hopes of befriending one, and I had a disagreement with a ghost crab during an evening walk.
We also went out on Bogue Inlet Pier and watched folks fishing. The observation deck was quite busy but I was able to bring a little piece of solitude back with me:
Next stop, Plymouth!
We bid farewell to the beach and to Nana and Papa and headed inland to Grandma and Grandad’s house to close out our trip.
We just got back from the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. There were a lot of people out enjoying the near-perfect weather. We didn’t venture out over the entire fair but we did get to see the cows, goats, sheep, donkeys, rabbits, turkeys, and pigs. The cows were being shown while we were there. These shows always leave us with more questions as we can’t figure out what the judges are looking for when looking at the cows.
We were able to go to Heritage Village, sip apple cider and listen to a blue grass band play. The blacksmiths were working on their crafts and the guys working the steam-powered saw mill were turning trees into lumber. We also visited the Soil and Water Conservation exhibit and answered several questions about North Carolina.
You can’t visit a state fair without partaking of the fair food. Deep fat fried Twinkies, Oreos, and pickles along with chocolate covered bacon were some of the items available on the strip. We didn’t try any of these. No, we stuck with the grilled corn, apples, and hot dogs. We also ate ice cream churned by some really old John Deere engines.
All in all, we had a great day. We purchased a few pottery pieces to take home. One from Turn & Burn Pottery, which not only has a cool name but also nice people, and one from the big pottery “outlet” near gate 2.
With our goods in hand we ventured back to the car and headed back home.