My love, Troy, told me he wants to take me to the Outer Banks for our two year anniversary. I was ecstatic; it’s on my bucket list and everything wild and remote about it intrigues me. We planned to go in October, the start of offseason, to avoid the crowds. The next day he curiously asked me if it’s ok if he takes three hours of kite surfing lessons every day on our “anniversary” trip. My initial reaction was not pleasant, I wanted undivided anniversary attention. Then I paused for a moment. Three hours a day... Naps, reading, meditation, beach walks, yoga galore! Game on. I replied, “Sure babe! Please do, I know how much you’ve been wanting to do those.” Cough.
We had a 1:00 pm target departure time on a Thursday. Actual departure: 2:30 pm. Someone (cough Troy cough) needed to squeeze in four errands. I meditated patiently in our chair hammock with visions of the beach until Troy was ready to pack up the car. I made my way to the garage and suspiciously peered in the car. I asked, “Babe, why did you pack fishing rods, a cast net, a fish net, and a tackle box for our, “anniversary” trip?” Troy logically responds, “In case there is no wind when I’m supposed to go kite surfing.” Sigh.
We hit the road, alternating who napped. I proclaimed that this is our first vacation together just the two of us. We started our phone detox, turning off our ringers. I began asking Troy all the questions from the Ungame, a learning/communication game of conversation that claims to foster listening skills as well as self-expression. I randomly received this game alongside an essential oil diffuser in the mail, addressed to me, three years ago. The sender remains unknown. I’m not sure who could possibly think I need to listen or express myself better… as Troy turned to me and exclaimed, “You aren’t answering any of the questions, and I’m answering all of them.” We agree to go away together just the two of us once a quarter for quality one on one time, perhaps without the Ungame.
The food options leading up to the outer banks are not plentiful. Word of advice; eat before you get to the two hours remaining countdown. We settled for shrimp pineapple fajitas and guacamole from a Mexican restaurant.
After seven hours of joyful self-expression and pineapple delight, we arrived at our treehouse room in Buxton, NC. It was charming with light catchers in the windows, eclectic artwork, and trinkets like sea glass in every nook. On the second floor alongside the trees, you could hear birds chirping and the breeze enveloped the room. Fifteen feet away from the treehouse was the boat of Ty Luckett, owner of Kitehatteras.net. Troy was originally going to take lessons from Ty, but unfortunately his mother passed.
Day one of the Outer Banks, I dropped Troy off for kite surfing camp with the gentlemen from Outer Banks Kiting. Troy was so excited and cute, wrapped up in his wet suit.
Phone detox day two. I found myself opening my phone and catching myself about to scan emails or Facebook, a mindless habit. I forced myself to put the phone down.
I made my way to the back porch of the treehouse, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket, no responsibilities, with all the time in the world (three hours to be exact) to just be. It was drizzling, but not enough to leave my peaceful back porch oasis. Just being and not doing is hard. I had to release all the guilt that came up from not being productive. I mused that all the drama that seemed so monumental back home and at work really didn’t matter at all as I was tucked away in the sound in another part of the world.
I started yoga on the back porch, letting my body flow into whatever asanas (poses) called to me. Afterwards I jotted down a new class sequence to teach when I got back home. I journaled. I wrote. The three hours passed quickly and it was time to pick up my big kid.
Troy was ecstatic about his day, bouncing around excitedly. He drove his SUV onto the beach and we stopped to leisurely walk along, picking up sea shells.
To think these all these shells grew from a tiny particle. I started to toss the broken shells back and paused. I looked hard at those pieces, really looked, and saw something different. I developed a protective fury for the seashell population. Everyone throws back the shells that are chipped and cracked, the broken pieces, only keeping and cherishing the seemingly perfect crustaceans. Just because you aren’t the same as you started, doesn’t mean you aren’t beautiful. How do you define whole anyways? Who wants perfect ridges like manicured lawns or vacuum strokes on a carpet? I developed a fondness for the wild and irregular shell pieces. There were 50 broken shells to one whole everywhere I looked. Rounded edges smooth from the sea water battering---holding strong despite the continuous beatings. Sharp edges still fresh from a break that will smooth over many years. Beautiful colors, the purple called to me. Troy just looked at me with a bemused expression and held his hands out to hold pieces for me as I raged on about the shell injustice.
When we went to leave the beach, Troy had to dig sand out from behind the tires. Letting air out of the tires to ride on the beach is legit.
We stopped at a muffin joint and picked up fresh baked pecan butterscotch scones and fresh squeezed orange juice. Ahh vacation. We proceeded back to the treehouse and gave each other deep tissue massages (well, mine was really more Swedish, let’s be real) and fell into the most wonderful nap. That night we went to the Watermen’s Bar & Grill at REAL Watersports for grub, live music, and views of kite surfers. We had the guactail filled with crab meat, shrimp, and guac. It was humongous. Topped off with a seafood plater of Mahi, crab cake, shrimp, black beans, and cole slaw I grew sleepy.
Outer banks day two. I woke up and went to write about my dream in my dream journal. I turned to a new page and found a note from my love saying I am his dream come true. This guy, swoon. He said he wrote it months ago for me to find. I guess I need to dream more.
After picking up our scones and fresh OJ, I dropped off Troy at his adult camp and went to a local yoga class. I loved how we didn’t always flow, we would turn our feet to the back of the mat and do the sequence on the other side. I went to the back porch and wrote another yoga class sequence for when I returned home. I picked up Troy and we grabbed a quinoa burger and ahi tuna from Bro’s.
We stopped to see the famous lighthouse and pick up our beach driving permit before proceeding onward to the Ocracoke island ferry.
After the ferry ride, we ventured to the Hammock Hills Nature Trail in the Maritime forest. The mosquitoes were no joke, they went through my yoga pants with a bug spray cover. Troy attacked me with the DEET mosquito repellent, not satisfied with my all natural essential oil spray. We saw the coolest tree roots intertwined. I have a tree root fetish, I am fascinated in how the trees communicate and help each other out underground.
Troy then took me to see the wild ponies, but they had 800 layers of fence in between me and the horses so I couldn’t love on them. Is a horse nuzzle too much to ask for around these parts?
I went on to read in my OBX guide that every time a human approaches, feeds, or touches a wild horse, they have to take the horse out of the wild for the protection of the horse and others. They are actually quite dangerous as they aren’t tame or trained and can bite and kick and they can become deathly ill if they eat anything off their mild and native diet of sea grass and oats, acorns, and persimmons. A horse recently died from eating watermelon rind a vacationer fed it!
We at dinner at Dajio and it was so bloody good. They use local ingredients from scratch and had a straw-less summer poster up. We feasted on oysters and spotted sea trout, root vegetable medley, succotash, clam chowder with mushrooms, and jalapeno corn bread. Days like that are why I call myself a semi-vegan/pescatarian. We stopped at 1718, Ocracoke Island’s first brewery. They had only been open for six days.
Bellies full, we made our way back to the ferry and fell into a deep slumber.
Outer Banks day three we slept in and awoke to a beautiful day. The sun was out! The sun was out! We picked up our scones and mango smoothies and headed to Ace Hardware to buy a tire pressure gauge capable of reading below 20 pounds, a tow strap, and a shovel. The cashier asked us if we had a board. We looked at him questioningly. He replied, “Sir, did you even read your permit?” We bought a board.
We met the coolest guy at Ace Hardware. He was shouting from the rooftops about celebrating the 62nd anniversary of escaping the Vietnam War prison he was held captive in for a year! a wave of gratitude flowed over me. I wanted to envelope him in a hug.
We ventured to Shelly “island”. It’s, well, shelly. There were so many seashells. It was astounding.
I had to force myself to stop picking up seashells because every footstep I found so many beautiful ones. We pumped up our paddleboards and ventured into the ocean.
It was such a blast having waves come unexpectedly from behind and surfing. After paddling and surfing the gentle waves for a while, I had a migraine aura visitor and laid down on my board. I sleepily lifted my head to ask Troy what he was doing. His eyes frantically darted from side to side and he replied, “Have you ever heard of the term, “Apex Predator?” This area is known to be the most shark infested area of the Outer Banks. Remember the guy that didn’t want to come paddle-boarding with us here because he said he didn’t want to be part of the big fish eats the little fish game?” I chuckled and laid my head back down on the board. We eventually made our way back to the beach and headed out.
We had fresh caught red drum for lunch and it was decadent. I was a little disappointed that all of the restaurants at the Outer Banks had so many disposables; plates, cups, ughhhh. Even when dining in, we’d get our scone on a disposable plastic plate. I expected them to be more eco and earth conscious being remote. Eating semi-vegan/pescatarian was a little challenging. Cheese wasn’t always listed, but it came on everything. But most places had salads, vegetables, and fruits so I was golden.
I went with Troy to the last day of his adult camp to watch him kite surf into the sunset and take pics. It was impressive to say the least, so many variables. He got some really long runs ins, at one time almost disappearing into the horizon. He was a shredding handsome fool (Troy made me type that).
On recommendation from multiple locals, we went to Ketch 55 for our anniversary dinner. I talked about all the sea shells we found excitedly to the folks at the bar. James, one of the kite surfing trainers, said he never took seashells because a local in Hawaii told him it was bad luck not to leave things as you found them. Well drat. I thought regrettably back to the huge bucket of shells in our car and sighed.
A local at the bar exclaimed, “You will never have another second anniversary” and his comment really stuck with me. We had the most decadent pesto-crusted grouper and sweet pea cous cous. Best food we had on the entire trip. The kite surfing trainers from Outer Banks Kiting and locals at the bar had an apple pie turnover sent to our table and the entire restaurant sang us happy anniversary. It was so warm, unexpected, and memorable. Those are the kind of memories I want to create for others. We joined Jay (the owner of Outer Banks Kiting), Larry (local fisherman), Danny (owner of Dizzy’s ice cream trucks), and the bartender Joni to one up each other with tall tales (mine clearly the tallest).
The next morning we packed up the car, walked the Avon Pier, and then took one last beach stroll. I left most of the shells there. We (ok I) skipped and danced in the wild winds on the beach, twirling around exuberantly, all 6’3’’ of me.
Until next time OBX, until next time.