It was two years ago this week when we first vacationed with family in the Outer Banks. As with many other things in our lives, the Coronavirus pandemic and the loss of our family’s patriarch, Granddaddy Frank, canceled our travel plans for 2020.
For 2021, ten family members that included four generations, only three females, and three elderly pets traveled 15.5 miles north of Duck, NC, to Corolla to yet another luxurious 3-story beach house that would comfortably accommodate us all. Expectations were high for a fun-filled week at the beach (with the Lord’s blessings and interactions with two youngsters (boys, ages 2 and 6)) to refresh all our souls through quality times with family. The weather did not disappoint. Full sun and temperatures in the mid- eighties everyday and mild summer evenings.
Shortly after our move-in on Saturday, August 21, Tony and Megan, asked their son, Noah (age 6), to show off his newest T-shirt. On it were the words “Big Brother.” This was their way of announcing a new family member is on HIS way in just five months—another January birth! We also presented Jeff with a photo on canvas of him and his Granddad placing the last brick on the carport wall that Jeff rebuilt during dad’s last year.
For our evening meal on Sunday, August 22, to honor our family Patriarch and Matriarch (the anniversary of mom’s birth and the passing of dad), Penny prepared dad’s favorite dish, Spaghetti with Italian sausage and mushrooms.
On the first two days at the beach powerful rip currents pulled even our largest guys further away from shore. At night, the youngsters used their crab nets equipped with flashlights to play with the multitude of baby crabs running crabwise across the sand. Ryan’s dad, Dillon, and grandmother, “maw-maw,” placed one of the crabs in the toddler’s palm which he promptly clinched. When he unfurled his fingers he was surprised to learn the crab was no longer alive. When told the crab had died, he was too young to comprehend the meaning of death. With their hearts looking forward to catching one of those sharks sited in July in Wrightsville, three of our four men went fishing offshore in the Currituck beach. Yet again the ripping currents were against them so they came home empty-handed. After the nighttime beach activities, it was “Margaritaville” at the beach house.
Among the various beach house amenities was a chess table that caught Noah’s attention. He approached me to teach him how to play. With no prior knowledge of the game, within minutes he had grasped the names of all of the pieces, each of their allowed moves, and even a few game strategies. Just visualize this teacher being taught by this 6-year-old!
On Wednesday morning everyone headed for the airport in Manteo— home of the OBX Skydiving Company. Our son Jeff, Granddaddy Bob, and grandson Brandon took their first skydives ever! The family observed below while listening to the co-owner host explain the guys experiences above and the geography they flew over while diving. All of them said that the skydive was one of the their most memorable moments ever and that they were in awe of the breathtakingly spectacular scenery of the beautiful barrier island below them as they dove.
Pool parties with beach and reggae music during the days and sometimes nights. The youngsters taking turns on the boat-like float and plenty of water gun battles among all. The dogs used the grounds area inside the enclosed pool to relieve themselves while the adults yielded the hose and doggie bags to keep the area clean. One evening Cody, a partially-blind 14-year-old Pekingese, took an unplanned swim. Granddaddy Bob jumped in and grabbed him. Not to be outdone, the next morning Sandy also tried her paws at swimming. Pajama-clad and not clearly awake yet, I jumped in to save Cody’s 14-year-old deaf cockapoo sister. Amazingly, they both remained calm and swam like pros. On Thursday, Reno, the 13-year-old dark brown blind Pomeranian enjoyed an afternoon of play in the pool with his family.
On Thursday evening, we caravanned back to Nags Head and Jennette’s Pier—this was the locale of the Dickinson family’s first vacation to North Carolina with Grand-pap Dickinson (about 45 years ago). In September 2003, Hurricane Isabelle took out over 500 feet of the pier. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources tore down the modest cottages where we stayed when building today’s $25 Million pier. Memories resurfaced for Granddaddy Bob, Jeff and me as we walked along the replacement 10-year-old planks. All of us were astonished as we peered out over the pier’s railing and saw many families of monstrously huge sting rays and the more rounded skate fish (who lack stingers).
Friday was the last day of our vacation before leaving for home early Saturday morning. Friday morning found three of the eldest of us rather played out and sitting around anticipating/dreading the clean up and pack ups required for later that evening while the rest of our family still lively played in the swimming pool. For dinner, we all went out to eat at the local Bernie’s (Brother’s) Barefoot Restaurant to celebrate Jeff (8/27) and Brandon’s (8/30) birthdays. Back at the beach house the celebration continued with ice cream and cake. While the grandparents/great-grandparents stayed home, the other family members went to the beach for one last trip and to say goodbye until next time.
By 8:15 a.m. all clearing and packing was completed. Hugs and kisses were shared and our caravan of trucks and cars headed out down the single-laned Duck Road (aka Route 12) for the first 16 miles of our journey home. By 4:00 p.m. everyone was home safe and looking forward to the next time we can all be together again.