A Travel Blog

You don't have to travel to faraway lands or exotic places halfway 'round the globe to see, do, and enjoy... we've found in our journeys just a few hours from home, beauty and grandeur and wonders to behold and these I would like to share...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Highland Honeymoon

My DH and I were married in July 2010 at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, in a traditional Scottish wedding. The wedding was perfect, romantic, personal, and unique.

Our honeymoon was spent at Fish Camp Cottages just down the mountain in Linville, NC, in a tiny white cabin, on a little river. The perfect spot to rest, relax and rejuvenate after all the wedding planning. Our cabin's back porch overlooked the river, we sat in the rocking chairs, drank coffee, and enjoyed the rippling water, the fresh mountain air and each other's company most of the time. Our cabin had an enormously tall bed tucked into an alcove, a perfectly appointed living room with a comfy sofa, a recliner, a television, and a fireplace. The minute kitchen boasted everything necessary for any cooking we might want to do and our little bathroom held fluffy towels, a shower, and even a stackable washer and dryer. The cabin managers were perfect hosts, even giving us the gift of a bottle of champagne when they found out we were honeymooning.

We spent most of our time relaxing on our back porch, DH did a little fishing in the river. We did take the time to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy the panoramic views of the mountain. Linville Falls is a nice comfortable hike and worth the effort to view, and Linville Caverns, with its blind fish and cavern formations, is an enjoyable adventure. But mostly we simply relaxed.

It was a perfect, idyllic time... we plan to go back every year! And stay in the same cabin.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

OBX in March

After our enjoyable time island hopping on the South Carolina coast, we decided we would take an island hopping trip every year in March, before the busy summer season began. Hotel rates are lower, no crowds, no heat... sure we can't swim or surf, but we've found so many other things to do and see, new restaurants to enjoy without the summer crowds... and we're able to spend the day exploring without getting sand in our drawers!

This past March we made our March trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina...

We arrived in a bit of a roundabout way... my sister had just given birth to a new baby girl in Virginia on the 17th and only minutes after we heard the news of the new addition, we got a call that my uncle had passed away in Asheville, NC... we took a couple days off work and headed to Virginia, stopping in Asheville to visit with my aunt and cousin. We offered our condolences, had a wonderful visit with them, walking down memory lane and laughing and crying together as we remembered so many great things about my uncle Richard. After a few hours we continued our journey to Lynchburg, VA to see the new baby and visit with my sister and her family. Stayed a day and two nights and headed out on our own to  OBX.

I had been many times, my DH had not... I had always arrived from the south end of the islands or midway at Roanoke Island, Manteo, Nags Head... this time, since we were already in Virginia, we chose the northern islands and worked our way south...

I'm a lighthouse nut, so our first stop was Corolla to see the Currituck Lighthouse... one I'd never seen before. We paid the $7 and climbed the 100 plus steps to the top of the red brick lighthouse where we could see for miles out across the Atlantic Ocean on one side, the Sound on the other and houses as far as the eye could see. At the north end of OBX there's a beach left that can be driven on and we were in my new car... Kia Soul... DH just had to see how my Li'l Punkin would drive in the hard packed sand of the beach even with the signs reading "Four Wheel Drive Vehicles Only."

I'm happy to report Li'l Punkin had no trouble driving on the beach... it was so fun!

After our adventure driving the beach, we headed south in search of food, making it to Kitty Hawk and then Nags Head before we found the seafood place we were looking for, Awful Arthur's... DH had a steamer dinner and I chose tuna steak... delicious!

We found great rates at a local motel, got a good night's sleep and headed out early the next morning, riding and looking at the beauty of the Outer Banks... it's grown more crowded since I began going there in the late 1980s, but there are still long stretches of nothing but ocean, sand dunes and sea oats... I love it!

We walked the near deserted beaches, dipping our toes in the chilly water and searching through the abundance of shells, hand in hand, the wind whipping around us and the foam lapping at our feet as we strolled along. It was a perfect day, warm but with a nip in the air. We watched the gulls, the pelicans and the sandpipers... felt the breeze in our hair and smelled the fresh, brisk early spring air of the islands.
Our ultimate goal was Ocracoke, my all time favorite lighthouse, but the day got away from us and we only made it to Hatteras before we needed to head back to Manteo and across the Pamlico Sound, our whirlwind weekend ending much too soon for our liking.
We grabbed a quick late lunch at Big Al's before reluctantly making our way inland and back home to Columbia.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Island Hopping

A couple years ago, my DH woke up at 1 a.m. on Saturday morning and said to me, "I gotta get out of this town, let's go somewhere!"

OK! was my response... we decided to sleep a few more hours, then hit the road... we weren't sure exactly where to go... it was late March, and the weather was starting to warm up but in March you never know when the weather will turn on you.

After a few hours more sleep, we got up and packed a bag, he asked me if I had a destination in mind... I did!

I am enamored of lighthouses, and have been to three, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina... Hatteras, Okracoke, and Bodie. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of living in a lighthouse... I don't know why, but I adore them and always wanted to visit just as many as I possibly can. So, just a couple hours away was Hunting Island Lighthouse, SC, and I'd never been there, here was my chance...

"Hunting Island," I stated firmly... "Well, OK, let's go"

We got out our trusty GPS and entered Hunting Island as our destination.

We decided to take the scenic route, staying away from the interstate for the most part and meandering through the small, low country towns of South Carolina...

We arrived at Hunting Island Park, the day was overcast and a little windy... the park was near deserted, which was great in our way of thinking, and the lighthouse was awesome! We climbed to the top and were able to see the beach, the inland waterways, wildlife, I was in HEAVEN!

We spent several hours hiking and driving around Hunting Island, then headed back toward the small towns of Port Royal and Beaufort, driving from island to island... Fripp, Lady, St. Helena... looking for lunch...

We stopped at a place called Gullah Grub on St. Helena Island and had a 'Sho Nuff" Gullah vegetable lunch... the wonderful owner of the tiny restaurant was so hospitable and welcoming, we enjoyed her Gullah accent and her cooking. She treated us like we were family come to dinner.

As we made our way to Beaufort, a rainstorm hit, but we were not deterred from the enjoyment of our spontaneous weekend away. We drove around historic Beaufort, enjoying the rain, the historic houses, the wonderful old trees, Spanish moss. We found a quaint little tavern downtown and went in for a glass of wine and a little drying off time, and watched the locals go by... it was so fun! Afterwards we went for a walk on the Beaufort waterfront, enjoying the boats and birds and people.

We asked around for a place to get a good, local steamed supper and were told that a place called Steamers was the place to go... we went and it was exactly what we wanted... I chowed down on Frogmore Stew... shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn in a spicy stew... DH went for the steamed oysters... Yummy!

We found a small motel at off-season rates and had a restful sleep, then headed to Hilton Head the next day for a little shopping at the Tanger Outlets and a visit to the lighthouse there... it was great, but so much more sterile and non-authentic as compared with Beaufort and surrounding islands. We did find a wonderful restaurant right on the inland waterway with shrimp boats pulled right up to its back door... Hudson's... enjoyed some delightful chowder and steamers there before heading back home to Columbia and reality...

That weekend we decided that since we aren't really "beach" people in the lay out in the sun, swim in the ocean, deal with wall to wall people and bumper to bumper traffic sense of the word... we would take our trips to the coast and the islands every year in March... this has proved to be a wonderful tradition for us!

Beaufort, however, and that spontaneous weekend, will always have a special place in my heart!