To make it easier, I have divided this post into five main sections: The drive, the house, the beach, touristy stuff and the drive home. This is probably 5 blog posts in one, but I know me and I know I do better to just get it all out instead of continuously coming back to it.
1) THE DRIVE
Wow.... what a long day it was! I had not slept even a little the night before. I tried, oh how I tried. But I was just too wound up from packing and worrying I would forget something important. I was thankful Aaron loves to drive because I knew he would now have to do most of the driving. We left the house at 6am sharp. See how bright eyed and excited they all look? Ready to go!!
We stopped for breakfast in WV and then about 30-45 min later, Jacob threw up all over the van....oh what a mess it was to try to clean up on the side of the freeway! But, aside from that, the trip was fairly uneventful. We just had the normal stops for food, potty breaks, gas and a stop at a drug store for some dramamine (I was NOT taking anymore chances!) Despite being in the car all day, everyone stayed in pretty good spirits....
And yes, Aaron drove most of the day.... Here is our awesome chauffer....
Even so, I think I only slept in the car at most a couple hours, despite being up all night. I contributed about 3 hours to driving- he drove all the rest!
We finally pulled into our rental house at 9:30 pm! Google maps put the drive at about 11 hours, but with all of our stops, and some traffic around Raleigh, NC, it took us 15 1/2 hours! Phew!
2) THE HOUSE
We rented a vacation home for the week, which was definitely the way to go. It was the same price or even cheaper then a hotel and we had soooo much more room and a kitchen so we could save money by preparing some meals there. I was upset at first when we arrived and I saw no linens on the bed, even though our contract said there would be. But then I noticed by the door was a large bag full of clean towels, sheets and kitchen linens. So, linens were provided but I had to make the beds. Not what I wanted to do after a 15 1/2 hour drive with minimal sleep....but, other than that (and a crappy internet connection), the place was great! Here is a picture of the front of the house:
Underneath the house, under the back set of stairs was an outdoor (enclosed) shower. This was perfect for after the beach! We just brought our shower stuff down there and got the sand off and bathed while there! It got the sand out of our suits and off of us so then we went up and changed. This is just a shot of the living area...
Plenty of room for lounging and it had 3 bedrooms and two baths. And our view out the front door:
Those large houses in the distance are right on the beach. We were literally one block away from the beach. It was a less than 10 min. walk from our front door till we were at the ocean. The location was perfect!
There were deer ALL OVER the place! They were constantly walking through the yard and we frequently had to stop while driving on the main drag as deer ran out in front of our van! I have never seen that many deer- and with no fear of humans- ever! And it was a very small- and narrow- island! They would just walk by as as we stood in the yard, like "hey, how ya doing!" We also had lots of these little guys....
The kids thought they were the coolest things! They would be on the glass doors and everywhere! It was raining when we arrived Saturday night and was still raining Sunday morning so we were pretty well stuck at home- but the kids found lots of fun in the yard in the rain....
There were so many shells of all sizes all over the yard! The kids found quite a few treasures! (LOVE her
And even though we didn't go to the beach right away, they found water to play in! This was in a giant puddle at the end of the driveway.
But, by noon, the rain passed and the sun even came out, so we were off to the beach! We went every single day we were there- sometimes even just for a short time!
3) THE BEACH:
We LOVED the beach!!!! It was just so peaceful and so fun at the same time. The salt taste from the water got old after a while, but a small price to pay.....
And of course, there were many sand castles built.... That was one of the first things Ellie and Aaron did!
Playing in the sand was a favorite activity for ALL of the kids- even the biggest ones.
One thing pretty much anyone knows about me is that I am NOT a morning person...even a little bit! I would much rather sleep later and be up later than get up early. But, I had always thought about how cool it would be to watch to sun come up over the water. So, one morning, we got up super early to watch it happen- even the kids wanted to come. I even checked the weather before we left and it was clear where we were.... so off we went. and This is what we saw.....
A big giant cloud to the North east where the sun was coming up. Ugh. So, I didn't get the view I wanted but I can't deny there was still a beauty to it. It was also very peaceful...except for one guy who passed by walking his dog, we had the beach completely to ourselves! But, I just didn't have it in me to get up early another day and try again! That was enough for me! Ha ha! I would have watched the sunrise on the morning we left since we got up early that day too, but it was very cloudy. Oh well. I had good intentions anyway!
So, we spent a TON of time at the beach, but we did venture off the beach to see some other really cool things around that area of NC. Good thing too, because some of us got really burnt- especially me, Aaron and Kenny. Ellie got a little but not bad. Meghan and Jacob didn't burn at all though- they just got browner and browner- I have NOT idea where they get THAT from! So anyway...... on to the
4) TOURISTY STUFF!!!!
There was an awesome aquarium right down the road so that is what we did on Tuesday! And the admission price was very reasonable. In fact, since we have a Columbus Zoo membership, I guess this aquarium is part of that network and we got 2 adults and two kids in FREE so we only had to pay 2 $6 kids admissions to get in!
It was a really cool aquarium too! It was turtle day so they had a whole presentation about sea turtles and how to protect them. They got to touch one after the presentation....
They also had a few touch pools where you could touch sting rays, crabs and more! Here is Kenny and Jacob picking up (!ewwww!) a spider crab!
Afterwards, we had lunch at McDonalds and cooled off with ice cream!
Afterwards, we went and visited Fort Macon. Fort Macon is part of a system of forts that were put up in the early 1800s along the coast and through the gulf. (this was the only picture I took there for some reason!)
The war of 1812 showed America how vulnerable their coast lines were so there were several forts put up. This one in particular was used during the Civil war and even WWII and a few times in between. It was neat to tour it and learn the history and how it was used. The kids enjoyed exploring the rooms and climbing on top where you can look out into the ocean. There was also a museum part to it where it had old uniforms and weapons and pictures and such on display.
One "not so pleasant" (at least to me...) tourist activity we got to do was find the local verizon store and get Aaron a new phone. He forgot to take his out of his pocket once when we went to the beach and his phone drowned in the salt water.... he made it about a day before he couldn't stand it anymore and had to get a new phone. He finally got the smart phone he wanted- that we had put off due to the expense of it. Oh well. He is happy anyway! I like to tease him that he did it on purpose to get a new phone! The Verizon store said they often get 10 people a day getting a new phone for the same reason. Not surprising!!
On Thursday, we took a ferry out to Bear Island. (apparently it was originally called Bare Island because it was very bare. But, an early map maker misspelled it to say Bear and it stuck...).
We went mostly for the ferry ride so the kids could have a boat ride. We realized once we got there that we should have packed a lunch and swim stuff and made a day of the beach there. But since we didn't, we just walked the path leading to the beach, walked the beach for a while and then headed back to the ferry. It was worth it just for that! There were other ferry rides around for different things but they were so much more expensive- like $15-$20/ person but this was just $16 for the whole family! It really is no accident that I am not in any of these pictures- especially at the beach. I took most of the pictures, but that isn't the only reason! That just wasn't happening. But, just to prove I really was there too, Aaron took this one of me on the ferry with his new phone. It is okay, so I will post this so that I, too, will be seen on this post.
Thursday afternoon, we ran into a family from our new ward!
Their daughter had told me the week before that they were going to the same place we were- I meant to call her parents and set up a time that we could get together while there but I got busy and forgot so I had no way of getting a hold of them. Well, wouldn't you know it, we were walking into a shopping center (to go to a movie- it was showing Ice Age 4 and the kids were so excited to see it!) and they were coming out of a store! We set up a dinner date with them for Friday night and enjoyed a nice dinner and it was fun getting to know them- a very cool family for sure!
The last big thing we did on Friday was visit the town of Beaufort. It is a historical town and was the 3rd city to settle in NC after it became a state. They have restored many of the sites and it has neat shops and people dressed in old style clothing. Beaufort was the reason why Fort Macon was put where it was. The town was constantly getting raided by the Spanish and by pirates so Fort Macon helped to protect it from invaders. They had many tours but the one we chose was the double decker bus tour- where we got to sit on top of the bus and it told stories of the town as the bus drove through it.
The kids thought that riding on top of the bus was the coolest thing ever. Aaron and I enjoyed the ride as well but also enjoyed the stories shared- it was a really neat place!
5) THE TRIP HOME
Thankfully, the trip home was much less eventful and much faster. Still some traffic, but not bad and lots of stops to eat and potty but no car sick kids this time. We left at 7am this time and arrived home by 9pm. However, it was a heartbreaking arrival at home. We received a call about 4:30 or so- while driving in WV- from Aaron's aunt who had been looking after our cats while we were gone. She was in our house and said Dino seemed very sick. He was laying around and not moving and she could just tell something was really wrong. With us being on the road, there just wasn't anything we could do except to get home as fast as we could and hope he was okay. We were so so thankful for her call to give us a heads up to be prepared for anything once we got home. We know the move was stressful on him and so we were hoping he was just stressed that we had been gone so long and that he would be fine when we got home.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. We got home and he had passed- we think shortly after Aunt Julie had left. He was in the same place he was when she was there- by our back door. We think he was waiting for us to get home. We just don't know what happened. He was old, but not ancient. Aaron's uncle Mike had fed them a couple days before and he was fine. So, I don't know if since he was old (and very overweight) if he just went quickly or if he got into something or just became sick. We just don't know. So, in memorium of Dino, here are some pictures of him. He was our first pet as a married couple. He came before our dog and any of our children. These pictures are old- taken before we had digital cameras and I don't have a scanner so I took pictures of the pictures, hence the poor quality.
Dino June 11, 2000- August 18, 2012
This is him as a kitten- he would always sit the baby chairs I used for my home day care.
As an adult a few years later...
Sunday morning, after we got up, we buried him in the flower bed and the kids had a little funeral for him. They said good bye and sung him a song and then decorated his stone. Meghan goes out there sometimes to read him a story! He was always a very good cat and always loved us. He will be missed! Rest in peace, Dino- running free in Kitty heaven!