For for those of you who have been following along, you know that Caleb and I recently moved to NC and to make the moving process more fun we decided to make a road trip out of our traveling back and forth between states. One of the main places we explored was the Outer Banks. We spent six days exploring up and down this beautiful place in our new home state and I couldn't have loved it more!
We started in Nags Head and explored the northern side of the Outer Banks (Duck, Kitty Hawk, Corolla, etc.) before heading south to Frisco. (see part one of our Outer Banks travel here). Frisco campground was a little hard to find at first as there is another campground similarly named that is very nearby. We accidentally stopped here first before finally realizing where we were actually supposed to go. Once we got there it was simple enough to check in and find our site. My favorite things about the Frisco campground was the long boardwalk to the beach, and the beach itself... oh my it was beautiful! Our first night there Caleb and I walked down to the beach and just laid down and looked at the stars. It was so peaceful and the stars were so bright. There were quite a few people out on the beach having bonfires which looked so fun. If you are planning on going there I would highly recommend getting a beach fire permit so that you can do this. You can just hang out on the beach listen to the waves, look at the stars and enjoy the warmth of the fire. It was truly an amazing beach. Bonus, in the morning the long, flat, and well packed beach was perfect for running and walking on. However, one thing to note is that the same boardwalk that I absolutely loved, ran over a long stretch of swamp that separated the campground from the beach, I did not realize the problem this created until night when the mosquitos were so bad that Caleb and I had to eat dinner in the truck.
Apply for beach permit: www.nps.gov/caha/planyourvisit/permitsandreservations.htm
Frisco Campground Pros: the beach & the boardwalk
Frisco Campground Cons: terrible mosquitos
Things to check out nearby: Dancing Turtle Coffee Shop
After Frisco, we drove down to the Ferry and parked our car in line to wait for the noon ferry. There are some little shops and restaurants down there by the loading docks and so while we waited, we were able to park our car in line and then walk around. The ferry ride was very smooth, not very long but if you are traveling with kids definitely bring some activity to do in the car. You can get out and walk around once the ferry is in transit but I saw several people get hit by large waves and walk away drenched so I was happy to stay inside the truck. Once we docked in Ocracoke we got to drive down a long stretch of road with sand dunes on one side and beach on the other until we made a left turn into the campground. The campground here was a lot more open than the one in Frisco. It was essentially a wide open field with very little brush separating campsites. If you are seeking privacy at your campsite, this is not the ideal campground. Additionally, because of the lack of brush/trees/growth and the proximity to the beach (its maybe 50 feet away) it's very windy and sand will blow into everything. Caleb and I were not really at the campground to spend time there though, it was really just a place for us to crash while we explored the rest of Ocracoke and for that it was perfect. We had a propane stovetop so unlike some of our neighbors at the campground we had no problem cooking when the wind got strong. The beach in front of the campsite was beautiful, you have to walk over the sand dunes in front of the campsite to get to the beach but one the other side is a stretch of beach as far as you can see with large crashing waves and little crabs running all over. In Ocracoke you are allowed to drive your vehicle on many of the beaches and it was fun to see people parked and set up with chairs, beach games, coolers, and even grills just enjoying the beauty of the beach. After checking out the beach, and setting up camp, the next thing we did was check out the town center. The town center was adorable! Everyone drove around on golf carts, family biked around, and it almost gave me the feeling of being in a smaller version of Nantucket. Many of the restraints were open with outdoor dining and had adorable bistro chairs and lights strung all over. It seemed too picturesque to be true. And the shops! They were so cute! Two of my favorites were Island Ragpicker, and Books to be Red. Island Ragpicker was unique in that it sold primarily locally made items and was in a cottage so that you walked around into different rooms of the house to see everything. Books to be Red, stole my heart from the moment I walked past it. The name truly called to my book/pun loving self and inside was one of the most cosy and aesthetically pleasing bookstores I'd ever walked into. They had a whole section of "Blind Dates with a Book" and also sold handmade bookmarks, tapestries, baskets, and pottery. Caleb literally had to drag me out of the store when it was closing time because I was just so caught up in looking at everything.
Prior to visiting Ocracoke I had actually talked to someone who frequently visited there and gotten some recommendations of places to check out. One of the recommendations was the 1718 Brewing Company. After exploring the town centre we headed over there. Honestly, I wasn't too excited about going to a brewery because I'm celiac and never can drink anything. HOWEVER, if you are celiac or gf do not despair! 1718 Brewery has some of the best Hard Kombucha I have ever tasted and I was so thrilled! Additionally, they share a building with Plum Pointe Kitchen so you can grab a bite to eat. Some other restaurants we checked out during our trip were Ocracoke Coffee Company, SMacNallys, Dajio, and Ocracoke Oyster Company. SMacNallys and Dajio blew me away. They were amazing and had incredible food. SMacNallys seafood was perfect! But unfortunately I was disappointed by the Ocracoke Coffee Company. I originally wanted to go there because in addition to all sorts of specialty coffee drinks they sell fresh baked GF breakfast pastries. I was SO excited for this. We got there around 9am on Friday morning and waited in line for over 40 min before we finally got to the counter and to my great disappointment the lady directly in front of me order the last gf baked good (she wasn't even gf she just liked the flavor!) I was really bummed about this. The coffee was good but not really worth the 40 min wait* and so we didn't go there again on our trip. The Oyster Company was also just subpar, we ordered oyster and they were nothing special, especially for an oyster house. The seafood at SMacNally's was much better and honestly the environment at SMacNally's was a lot better (they have waterfront views and its beautiful).
Outside of food and shopping two of my favorite other things we did were visit Springers Point and go fishing. As a surprise to Caleb I chartered a fishing boat in Ocracoke to take us Red Drum fishing. We had such a blast! Within just a couple minutes of being on the water both of us had caught multiple fish (although we could only keep one each) and after we fished inshore for a while we went out farther and got to fish for some "big fish". At the end of the trip we docked right outside SMacNally's were they cut up and prepare our fish for us (if you want they will cook it for you too and you can just sit down and enjoy your catch) and gave ito us for dinner. We took it back to our campsite, wrapped it in foil, and cooked it over the charcoal grill. It was really good and it was so fun to go through the process of catching, prepping, and cooking your food. There is nothing fresher! Most days in Ocracoke we just hung out at the beach, even in mid-september it was extremely warm and the beach was the best place to stay cool. The beaches were beautiful and we enjoyed driving around and exploring the different access points, however, the beaches weren't the beat for walking because the top of the beach was were cars drove and the sand down by the water was very soft and sank every time you took a step. It was good for hanging out, reading a book, fishing, or surfing, but not great for walking or running. On the very last day of our time in Ocracoke we went down to the parking lot for the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, parked the truck, took out a bottle of wine and watched the sunset. It was a great ending to this week-long adventure.
Overall, I would highly recommend Ocracoke as a town worth visiting in the Outer Banks (my next favorite would probably be Duck). Here's an overview of my travel tips and suggestions.
Ocracoke Pros: Small, laid-back, quiet, easy to get everywhere
Best for: Families, Couples
Best Food: SMacNallys, Dijio, 1718 Brewery (also heard great things about Flying Melon but wasn't able to go there)
Things to do: fishing, surfing, biking, hang out at the beach, shopping, rent kayaks, watch the sunset
Favorite Shops: Books to be Red, Island Ragpicker
If you are thinking about visiting Ocracoke or anywhere in the Outer Banks and are looking for suggestions or have questions please feel free to reach out! I'd love to help. The Outer Banks are amazing and well worth the visit.
*Disclaimer: because of COVID they were operating differently than normal so I can't attest to whether or not the 40 min wait time is normal
North Carolina is our new home state! Caleb and I are so excited about it and have been so excited to check out all the things that make North Carolina so special. So this past weekend we decided to camp our way down the Outer Banks.
Where we went: Corolla Beach, Duck, Kitty Hawk, Nags Head, Hatteras, Ocracoke
Where we stayed: Townsuites Kill Devil Hill, Frisco Campground, Ocracoke Campground
Where we ate: Tortugas Lie, Forbes, Country Deli, Blue Pelican, The Sugar Shack, Ocracoke Oyster House, Ocracoke Coffeehouse, 1718 Brewing, Plum Pointe Kitchen,
What we did: ORV Beaches, Hang Gliding, Offshore Fishing, Lighthouse viewing, Camping (duh), shopping
We started in Nags Head, technically Kill Devil Hill since that’s where our hotel the Marriott Bonvoy Townsuites were. The hotel was perfect for a COVID safe stay. It was very clean and each room is equipped with a full kitchen meaning you can cook and prepare all your own food. One thing I would have changed; we had a ‘partial ocean view’ room which was slightly more than a standard view room and calling it a ‘partial view’ was a bit of a stretch. Even on the third floor where we were, you had to stand on a chair and stand in the far corner to barely glimpse the ocean over the rows of houses in front of the hotel. In the future I wouldn’t bother paying for it, especially since the beach is in such close proximity that you could be there in mere seconds and have perfect views. One of the activities I was very excited for was the Hang Gliding lessons with Kitty Hawk Kites. We set it up for the first morning we were there. It was right down the street from our hotel, at Jockeys Ridge State Park. We got there early so we decided to walk around the park. What we didn’t know was that the park was filled with sand dunes! Walking around felt otherworldly. It was beyond weird to stand there completely surrounded by sand dunes and desert landscapes and realize that just on the other side was the ocean! After walking around for half an hour we walked over to the instruction center. Our instructor gave each of us a small pole about a yard long. Holding them out in front of us we went over basic of hang gliding, like how to hold on, what different commands mean, and how to stop the glider. From here we were fitted with helmets and harnesses and then lead out into the dunes. Throughout our lesson we got to take five flights down the dune, I highly recommend the experience! It wasn’t an adrenaline rush, just a soft peaceful glide. For someone like me, who would love to go skydiving but lacks the guts, this felt like the perfect first step into gathering the courage. Afterwards, we went and got lunch at the highly recommended Tortugas Lies. I am obsessed! If you go you must get the “Shark Attack” this drink is served with a plastic toy shark in it, and when you tip the shark upside down it appears to bite into the candied cherry in its jaws and cherry grenadine pours out. The beaches are beautiful so we walked around and enjoyed the sunset views before heading to the Sugar Shack for dinner. I wish I could say better things about this restaurant but it honestly disappointed. I cannot day for sure though that this is a normal thing, or if it’s because we came at the end of the day. For example, the seafood in the seafood boil was very overcooked but I’m unsure if that’s how it normally is, or if maybe it was just the last of what they had made earlier and rather then make it fresh that late at night they just reheated an earlier batch causing it to be overcooked. Additionally, in the whole dish there were only two mussels. It was advertised on the menu as a mix of crab, mussels, and shrimp but honestly was 99% shrimp. Our friends went to the Blue Pelican and had a much better experience, in the future I would probably go there. The next day we decided to drive up to Corolla Beach in hopes of seeing wild horses. The drive there was beautiful and took us through the adorable town of Duck. The little town center there is filled with cutes shops and waterfront restaurants, I could easily have spent a full day biking around that area and enjoying the sunshine. Once you at Corolla beach we stopped to let air out of the tires before venturing out onto the beach. We drove for about an hour down the beach before parking and taking out our Country Deli sandwiches for lunch (10/10 recommend! Great GF rolls!) During our time there we saw many of the wild horse tours coming and going but sadly we never saw any wild horses. I’m unsure if we were supposed to go further up the beach to be able to see them or if we were just unlucky. Later into the afternoon we drove back to Nags Head, stopped at Forbes for some chocolate treats (try the rice krispy treats or the peanut butter cups!) and then headed to Frisco Campground.
Over the past couple weeks y’all have seen tons of photos from my at-home wedding. It was beautiful, meaningful, and so amazing, but for some reason I really struggled with a sense of loss and sadness.
I hated that! Everyone talks about weddings days being the happiest day of your life and I didn’t understand how thinking about June 20th could invoke both a deep joy and also a bitter sadness. I would look at the pictures and watch our wedding video and be filled with an overwhelming sense of awe and joy at being married and having such an amazing family to pull together such a great day. But then I would be hit by a wave of sadness that it wasn’t the original wedding we had planned.
I kept thinking “What’s wrong with me? I should just be so happy that we are married that nothing else matters!” I kept bottling it up because it felt so wrong to have this feeling, but every once in a while I couldn’t bottle it up anyone and it would just pour out all over the place. I was sad, and I was sad that I was sad. And I so confused on how to work through this.
Over the last couple months I’ve been listening to the Gospel in Life podcast every time I walk. The particular episode I was on that day was titled “Praying Your Tears”. It focused on Psalm 39:12-13, 126:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:17; and Psalm 16, Psalm 17. The whole podcast talks about the Psalms and how they give Christians an example of how we are supposed to handle our feelings.
There are typically two methods we hear about; either bottle them up/deny them, or vent them. But the Psalms don’t say to do either. One of the things Pastor Keller mentions is that bottling your feeling up can lead to you thinking that having them is wrong, which means that you’re sad, and you’re sad that you’re sad (exactly what I was experiencing) and that venting them can lead you to feel overwhelmed by them until they became your identity. But what the Psalms show us is a third way of dealing with our feelings. They don’t say to deny or vent, but instead, pray your feelings. Pray your deepest sadness, and tears because when you bring them before God you can process them in a healthy and healing way.
I know there are a lot of other brides out there who are going through this same situation. And while it’s fun to see all the way people are being innovative during this time, sometimes seeing all the cheerful pictures of COVID weddings makes it seem even more wrong to be anything other than cheerful. So if you are struggling with this feeling of sadness I would encourage you to listen to the podcast, (and dig into Psalms) it honestly helped me so much with this confusing situation. Please listen and let me know if you need prayer! We can all use a little extra Christian community in these times
Originally, our wedding was supposed to be an international one. I actually had no part in planning it as Caleb took full control. I was excited for the trip he planned (wherever it may be) and looking forwards to exploring a new country. So when we realized we wouldn't be able to have our honeymoon as planned, that it was going to have to be a local in-state trip, I couldn't imagine how we could possibly find anything that would be as great.
Thank goodness I was wrong!
For a long time I had wanted to go to Nantucket, but as is so often the case, I explored things all over the world, but never what was in my own backyard. So when Caleb suggested we go to Nantucket, I was excited to have the opportunity to finally visit. The views from the ferry were beautiful, and when we climbed down from the ferry we were greeted by a shuttle driver from the Wauwinet (where we were staying). He was extremely friendly, loaded our suitcases into the shuttle and gave us so many tips on things to do and see. By the time we got to our hotel I was so ready to go adventuring!
Our hotel: The Wauwinet is to die for, there is nothing about it that I did not absolutely fall in love with. Our cottage had perfect little shutters, wild roses, and a stone fireplace. The front desk could set up dinner reservations for you anywhere, lend you the most adorable Serena and Lily bicycles, kayaks, or paddle boards, and upon departure gave us snack bags! The restaurant on the resort served complementary port and cheese to guest every evening, and the sunsets on the lawn... oh.my.word... I cannot describe them! The staff there was so friendly, by the end of the week it felt like saying goodbye to friends and they always went above and beyond to make our experience amazing.
What we did: One of the first day we were there, we decided to bike to Sconset and see the lighthouse. This was one of my favorite parts of our trip! The bike path to get there was long but flat and plenty wide enough for bikes going both directions. It was a never ending tour of views! In Sconset, we went to a local sandwich shop Claudettes, we took our sandwiches down to the beach and enjoyed the sunshine while observing the seals swimming in the water. After our fill of the beach we biked down the bluff walk to the lighthouse. Once again, the views were amazing and even though it was warm the breeze took the heat away. Another fun activity was exploring the downtown, I could have spent days just exploring the shops! Unfortunately, the whaling museum was closed, but we cheered ourselves up with amazing ice cream cones from The Juice Bar and mudslides from The Gazebo. There were so many great restaurants. However, one of my most memorable dinners was at Straight Wharf Tavern. Because of COVID all dinging was outside, which in this case meant it was on the wharf overlooking the water. We came at dusk and as the sunset the only light were the table candles which you could see reflect and flicker on the water below. It was truly magical! Steps Beach is also a place we spent quite a bit of time at. This beautiful, white sand beach is only accessible by walking down a rosebush lined dirt road to long wooden set of stairs. From the top of the stairs you can overlook the beach and look down the island's edge at the beautiful estates that line it. For lunch, Something Natural was nearby and we would there before the beach to get the tastiest sandwiches ever (truly out of this world!) and the highly recommended Matt Fee Tea.
What I wore: In another post, I'm going to talk more about my experience with Nuuly, because most the outfits I wore, were indeed items from Nuuly. However, I think my favorite may have been a Show Me Your MUMU romper from Rent the Runway. This romper may be the most versatile, easy, and flattering outfit I've ever had. I could dress it up or down. Wear it as a beach cover up, or to dinner downtown. On the days we spent biking around it was perfect, cute for pictures but still easy to bike in! If I had one recommendation, I would say definitely bring cute outfits that you are comfortable biking in, because if you're like me you'll spend a lot of time biking! My favorite dress though was a pink and white checked dress Caleb bought me from Target. I love this dress! It's loose and airy, but still cinched at the waist with the bow, it had pockets, and was easy to wear shorts under for biking. It also looked incredibly 'Nantucket' and matched well with my "Just Married" hat. If I were to give packing advice I'd say bring clothes that's easy to move in but also cute because every spot in Nantucket is a perfect photo op location. Additionally, don't be afraid to wear fun, flowy, dresses, downtown Nantucket is filled with well styled and creatively dress individuals and if you've ever felt the call to embrace your inner Lilly Pulitzer here's the place!
Overall, I didn't have incredibly high expectations coming into Nantucket. I assumed it would be the type of place I'd be glad to have gone to, but wouldn't necessarily feel a strong desire to go back. I was so wrong! Nantucket blew me away with its cheerfulness, beauty, and incredible food. Caleb and I were so captivated by it that we were already planning our next trip there on the ferry ride home! I loved the experience and look forwards to returning, hopefully sometime in the near future.