Tuesday, May 29, 2012
In 2004, a group of friends/co-workers organized a Memorial Day weekend beach trip to the Outer Banks. We no longer work together, but we've gone back every year since. There have been marriages, break-ups, dog adoptions, and births...but the tradition of beach week with friends has continued - nine years and counting! Over the years we've stayed in Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, and finally settled on Nags Head when we discovered that not only are dogs allowed on the beach year-round, but it is the only town in the Outer Banks to allow beach bonfires (with a $10 permit from the fire department, of course).
We took our trip a week earlier than usual this year and got back from OBX 2012 on Saturday. This year, there were nine adults, two kids, and four dogs. The week started with a forecast for Tropical Storm Alberto to be heading in our direction, but after one rainy day and a couple of afternoon storms, we ended up having gorgeous weather for the majority of the week.
I can easily come back from a week at the beach with a good 700 photos of my SD card - which is why I've never shared photos from our past trips on the blog before - it was just too overwhelming to sort through all the photos. This year, my camera stayed in its bag most of the time. I just wanted to enjoy the trip without photographing every little thing. Also, I'm in a bit of a photography rut and feel my beach photos look the same every year. Thirdly, I feel like I'm suffering from the curse of the photographer - since I'm the only one behind the camera, there are never any photos to prove that I was there and not a single one of Larry and me together.
And if I'm being totally honest, I was a bit cranky for part of the trip. Larry ended up having to work a lot and was often glued to his laptop or his phone. I wanted to spend some quality time with him and felt like I spent most of the week alone or waiting for him. I got a couple of work-related anxiety-inducing e-mails myself. (Ugh - the curse of having a smart phone on vacation!) And I'm probably the only person who returned from vacation in worse shape than when I left: I got dozens and dozens of mosquito bites, I randomly had a swollen purple eye for several days, and I sliced my finger with a chef's knife while cutting a lime. D'oh.
For those reasons, I left my Nikon in its bag and only took a handful of photos the entire week:
Our house on the left: (We stayed at the pink one in 2010 - before it was pink.)
Happy hour on the beach (yes, the empty chair is mine):
Waiting for the storm:
Adult cookies, made by my mother: (What, doesn't your mom make thong cookies for your friends!?)
Me with wine:
Ever-changing beach weather:
Beach happy hour:
Digging a hole for the bonfire: (Note: That is an entrenching tool, NOT a shovel...)
Despite my frustrations with work and injuries, who can really complain about a week at the beach? There were plenty of good things! Some highlights:
+ My favorite beach tradition: Wine and cheese happy hour on the beach. So relaxing.
+ Getting to have a bonfire on the beach on our last night. It was too windy for fire permits for the entire week, but we were finally able to get one on Friday and we all sat around, warmed our toes, drank beer, and roasted marshmallows. Perfect.
+ I read an entire book for the first time since March. (Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls.)
+ The only shoes on my feet the entire week were a pair of Old Navy flip flops.
+ Evenings in the hot tub. Yessss!
+ Homemade popsicles. (I'm obsessed and can't wait to make more!)
+ Four dogs in one house! Loved seeing my pups interact with the other dogs.
+ The best food I've ever eaten in my life: Each couple is in charge of one dinner during the week, and over the years we've gotten more and more competitive and gourmet. A lot of people spend the entire day cooking on their day - making homemade ice cream, baking, and cooking up multiple courses of fantastic food. So delicious.
+ Bombay Sapphire gin and tonics - my favorite summer drink.
+ There was a Great Dane in the neighboring house - biggest dog I have ever seen in my life. He would put his head on the balcony railing and watch our dogs. He looked like a horse with jowls!
+ A stop for piping hot Duck Donuts on the way out of town - my favorite!
Overall, it was a great trip, but not as relaxing as it should've been. Since the new bathing suit I ordered before the trip arrived while I was away (and it actually fits!), I guess I'll just have to plan another beach trip for later in the summer...