return; (A.K.A. - The Beach Trip Report)
We're back from the Outer Banks, and we had an awesome time! The beach trip always goes so fast, and I think that's mostly because it's only for a week. By the time the week is up, I still feel like I'm just settling in. I would love to do a beach trip for two weeks, and hopefully at some point I will be able to convince enough people to participate.
We arrived in the Outer Banks last Saturday around 11am and had our traditional lunch with Carly's family at Cap'n Frank's in Kittyhawk. It's a great family-run hot dog joint that has some good food for decent prices. After lunch, we walked over to the board game store so I could get my annual new game for the trip. I had planned on purchasing Pandemic before we left, but it was sold out everywhere due to a reprint. We ended up buying Blokus, which is a really fun puzzle/strategy game. It got played several times over the course of the week. Our purchase made, we went to the outlet mall to waste some time until the house was available.
The rest of Saturday was spent getting groceries and moving into the house. The house we got was both better and worse than the house we had last year. It was better in that it wasn't as far south as before, so we didn't have to drive for an hour just to get to Nags Head. It also had two tables, so we were able to have a dedicated table for our puzzle. (This year it was Edward Hopper's Nighthawks; we didn't get it finished [about fifty pieces left], so we'll have to finish it up this week at home.) The house was worse in that it was a lot smaller than we expected, the fridge wouldn't close properly, and there was an enormous dune blocking our view of the ocean. But we took what we got and had a great time anyway.
Sunday and Monday were spent reading Watchmen (which is phenomenal; thanks for the recommendation, Wil!), hanging out on the beach, and playing all kinds of games. Among the games played were Blokus, Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico, Yahtzee, Cribbage, Jenga, Backgammon, Five Crowns, Apples to Apples, Loaded Questions, Munchkin, Space Munchkin, and Set. Needless to say, this was a board game loving group. We also played Bocce and Volleyball out on the beach, as well as throwing a frisbee and football around in the ocean.
Of course, you can't play in the ocean without body boarding. The waves at our location this year were much better than the ones we had last year, and we had some great rides. There were even some people attempting to surf, which prompted this response from me (with all apologies to the Beach Boys):
Sung to California Girls
Yeah, east coast surfers are posers
They can't even catch a wave
And even if they do, it's only two feet tall
And they just looking freakin' gay.
I wish they all could be bodyboarders.
I wish they all could be bodyboarders.
Yes, I did actually sing this.
Also on Monday, the group got together to go see Wall-e. I must say, I was surprised at the adult nature of this film. I hadn't really read much about it beforehand, other than that people liked it and that the art in the end credits was great. Sure, there was stuff for the kids to enjoy, just like any Pixar movie, but this one was definitely made for the grownups. It's a pretty telling commentary on the current state of human existence and one of the possible directions we could be headed. I highly recommend it.
On Tuesday the gang headed south to Hatteras and Carly's family's house for the annual seafood bake. The wives really love this, while Eric and I manage to tolerate it. Basically, Eric and I are of the mindset that crabs involve way too much work for way too little reward, especially east coast blue crabs, which have very little meat in them to begin with. So we survive on clams and shrimp while everyone else rips into around 100 crabs or so. We had a great time socializing and playing Five Crowns, although we ended up getting eaten alive by mosquitoes in the process. I don't think I've ever had so many bug bites in my entire life. I blame this on the standing water in the driveway due to a storm a week or so prior.
After dinner, we decide to head over to the Froggy Dog in Avon for some karaoke, swatting at mosquitoes in the car along the way. Now, prior to this, I'd only ever done karaoke once in my life, several years ago at a friends' wedding in Blacksburg. I sang Bright Lights by Matchbox 20 then, and I messed up a little near the end of it. It was basically my first solo ever. Since then, I've sung many solos at church, and my confidence has grown much higher. For my first song this year, I decided to retry Bright Lights, and I'm happy to report that I didn't mess it up this year. I also sang I'll Be by Edwin McCain and Piano Man by Billy Joel. I felt really comfortable while singing these songs, and at the end of them I was getting compliments from complete strangers while heading back to my table.
On Wednesday we hung out on the beach during the day and went out to play mini golf in the evening. We decided on going to Lost Treasure, which I realized after the fact may be the exact same design as the Lost Treasure at Myrtle Beach. We did the diamond course, and I played the best game of mini golf I've ever played in my life. I ended up doing the best out of our group, shooting one under par for a score of 41. Move over, Tiger; I'm coming for you. After my victory in mini golf, we went to get some frozen custard, which was absolutely delicious.
Thurday afternoon, Mike, Randi, and I went to see The Dark Knight. Amazingly, none of us had managed to see it. I'm pretty sure it was Randi's idea that we wait until we get to the beach to see it, but she blames me. Regardless of whose fault it is, the movie is absolutely phenomenal. Heath Ledger's jaw-dropping performance only further drives home the fact that when the world lost him, it lost one of the greatest actors of our time. He is my generation's River Phoenix, and he will be sorely missed. I cannot wait until this movie comes out on DVD. I will be one of the first in line to buy it.
Friday was our last full day at the beach, so we spent most of it next to or in the ocean, catching some last waves and enjoying the sun. The weather was great the whole week, except for a single storm that blew through on Thursday night. After dinner, Courtney and I grabbed our beach blanket and a bottle of wine and went out on the sand for some stargazing. No sooner had we sat down, than a lady came up and offered us her campfire, since her family was done with it. We accepted and moved over to the fire, which helped to keep bugs away. We had a great time just laying on the beach, listening to the ocean, talking, and trying to find constellations in the sky. In the process, we saw a shooting star and either a satellite or the International Space Station, which I guess is technically also a satellite. That's one thing I hate about where we live: there's so much light pollution that it's rare for us to be able to see anything more than a few of the brightest stars at night. It was great to be able to lie back and see hundreds, maybe thousands, at a time and a wonderful way to end the trip.
Saturday morning we packed up and drove in to Nags Head for some last minute shopping and lunch with Carly and Eric before we headed our separate ways. Overall, I think this trip was more fun than last year, mostly due to there being a larger group. Everyone got along really well, and we had a fantastic time. It's just too bad I have to wait a whole year before I get to do it again.