Sunrises on the beach - a week in the OBX

Sunrise on the beach.
A girl could really get used to that.

We spent last week in the Outer Banks - a place I'd never been but would go back to in a heartbeat. It was a lovely, relaxing, fun-filled vacation and I have to admit, I'm missing the beach today.

Our family vacation started in Washington DC - a one day stop on our drive to North Carolina. The girls had never been to DC and Olivia is our little presidential historian, so we knew she'd be excited about seeing the monuments and the White House.

We managed to get lost on our way into DC (thank you, AAA) .. we were headed to Arlington, VA and well...we had to ask a cab driver at a red light how to get there. To our surprise, we were in the heart of DC driving past the Washington Monument ... not really near our destination in Virginia. (Perhaps it's time to get a GPS?)

This is one of my favorite photos from DC - the girls in front of the Lincoln Memorial (which just happens to be my favorite memorial in DC).

It was crowded. And hot. And every time the girls complained about how much walking we were doing (a lot!), I said "We aren't walking anymore than we would be doing at Epcot. Think of it that way." I don't think they believed me.

In the course of one afternoon in DC we managed to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument, the White House, the American History Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, the Pentagon (as we drove to the hotel!), Ford's Theater (outside only), and we even ate at the Hard Rock Cafe (the girls' first time there!).

The next day we got up early and drove to Mt. Vernon and had a chance to walk the grounds nearly alone (since we arrived JUST at it opened). We were part of the first tour group through the house too. It was a really nice two days of US history - and the girls really enjoyed it.

But the beach was calling our names.

And so we drove through crazy traffic in Virginia (seriously I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack thanks to the traffic between Alexandria and Norfolk...and then there was the tunnel that went UNDER the water. Yeah. Not a good car day for me). We finally arrived in the OBX in the early afternoon!

We played on the beach.
And walked on the beach.
And looked for seashells.

It was relaxing.
And refreshing.
And I think I could have stayed there forever.

The girls loved the ocean - despite the very big waves and chilly water temps. They were much braver than me when it came to walking in the water - my rule is this: if I can't see my feet, I'm not going in the water. I saw JAWS. I know what happens. And in the OBX you can't see your feet ... so I stayed ankle deep. That was far enough for me. I left the "deeper" water to my brave children.

The OBX is known for its lighthouses ... but we only saw one. We tried to visit the Bodie Island Lighthouse but discovered that it's wrapped in scaffolding. I was bummed about that.

Midweek, we moved from our beachfront hotel in Kill Devil Hills to a beach house in Corolla (thanks to my brother-in-law and his family!) We were minutes from the Currituck Lighthouse and so we made plans to visit and climb to the top.

214 steps.
To the top.

It was HARD work, but totally worth it in the end. The views from the top of the lighthouse are amazing. And the walk down is so much easier! 

The highlight of the entire trip (for me at least) was the off-road Jeep tour to see the wild horses!

It was such an amazing trip (Disney friends: think Kilimanjaro Safari but you're driving the vehicles!). We drove on the beach (you can only drive on this beach if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle), we drove off-road. And it was hot. And bumpy. And so much fun!

And we saw the horses. In total, I think we saw maybe 10 or 12 horses in the nearly 3 hours that we were driving the backroads of the OBX.

If you have a chance to take a Jeep tour to see the horses, do it! You will not regret it. (Our guide told us that next year permits will be required to drive onto the beach, so these tours might be drastically different - or non-existent - in another year).

It wasn't just the sun and the surf, or the warm temps and sea breezes, or even the incredible seafood we ate almost every night that made the OBX such a great place to be.

It was all those things and more.

I think I left a bit of my heart in the OBX.
Guess I'll have to go back again soon. 

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