Bodie Lighthouse pictured above.
I haven't been to the OuterBanks since I was in college, over 10 years ago. My family, like many from western PA, spent a lot of our summer vacations in this beautifully wild, yet over developed area. We always headed for the area around Cape Hatteras, where there was a lot less development and people, and more wide open beaches. This year my parents, with the help of my brother and sister-in-law, planned a late September vacation with my father's side of the family, who would usually join us on these summer trips.
When you visit the OuterBanks in late August and September you gamble with Hurricanes, and this time we lost to Maria, oddly similar to past vacations. This time instead of leaving the OuterBanks all together, we found a house in the north end of the islands, near Corolla, a place none of us had spent any time at before. My parents and brother's family had just settled into the house in Cape Hatteras when the call was made to evactuate any non-residents from the island, so they packed it all back up and drove the slow crawl up the only road that would take them north, along with everyone else being forced to leave the island. I was lucky enough to have missed this whole ordeal since I came midweek, once the evacuation was over. Unfortunately our house no longer had an elevator, so my Grandfather who had made it all the way to Virginia beach from Pittsburgh, along with my Uncle, turned around and went home after they learned the news of evacuation, a cousin from Florida also decided not to make the trek, since he had just been through a hurricane a few weeks earlier in Orlando.
Despite the loss of family members on the trip, we still had a full house, and a good time. It was nice to be back in the OuterBanks, even if it was an unfamiliar part of them.
When I got to the Outer Banks, instead of driving north to the family house, I took a drive south, to the Bodie Island lighthouse, for a sunset photo safari. The sky was dark and moody, with the outer bands of Maria quickly passing over head and the wind was howling, but it made for a spectacular sunset.
I couldn't bring myself to leave the beach, the scenery was changing by the minute and I ran back to the car to grab a beer while I took in the last light of the day. As I sat in between two dunes, drinking my beer, hiding from the wind, and enjoying the fact I had finally made it back to the OBX, one of the dark clouds above me suddenly exploded with rain, and I had to make a hasty retreat back to the car. I drove for about an hour an a half north to Corolla and made it safely to the beach house to have some dinner and enjoy some family time.
We spent the next few days driving onto the beach, and hiding behind the cars from the wind. It was relentless, but thankfully the sun was out to help keep us warm. We were visited by some of the island's wild horses the first day I was there, and the girls were pretty excited to see them, and to be honest, so were the adults.
Our evenings were spent at the house visiting, drinking, eating, and sitting in the hot tub. It was fantastic. On our last full day at beach, the weather finally called for calm winds and seas in the morning, so I took a stroll out to the water. It was eerily calm, with zero wind.
I got back to the house to find my amazing Aunt making her famous biscuits and gravy - which we all love so much, but for some reason don't have the ability to make on our own. Breakfast was eaten, sandwiches were made, coolers were packed. We made our way to the beach, excited to have a day without wind. Unfortunately, by the time we made it there, the wind had once again picked up. Oddly enough, it ended up being the windiest day of the trip.
We called it an early day on Saturday, it was just too windy to hang out anymore. We enjoyed the hot tub at the house, ate as much of the leftover food and we could, and began packing for our trip home the following day. Corolla was great, and I'm really glad we still got to spend time together in the OBX given the fact a hurricane was sitting off shore almost the entire time. It was a somewhat triumphant return to the OuterBanks. Next time, hopefully we can hang out in Cape Hatteras.