Thursday, June 05, 2008

At the Outer Banks

What a great weekend! Oh, wait, it wasn't a weekend yet, but it sure felt like one! Chris finished his temp job on Tuesday and we decided to go to the Outer Banks for a couple of days before his new job with the State starts on Monday. Even before moving to Raleigh we wanted to go to the Outer Banks, but things would always get in the way. Plus summer-time is crazy there - rooms are very expensive, require a minimum stay and are hard to book. This was not exactly off-season either, but still, the hotels were cheaper and plus we were going during the week.

We left home on Wednesday morning and arrived at Kill Devil Hills about 4 hours later. After dropping things off at our cheapie-hippie motel we decided not to waste time on unpacking and such. Instead we drove to the town of Manteo to see the Roanoke Island aquarium. It's a small aquarium, but they had about everything we needed - lots of fish, naturally, big sharks, divers cleaning the salt water tank and an outdoor space with the great view of the Roanoke Sound and a whale bone garden.

After checking out the fishes, we drove a bit further north - no more than 2 miles - to the Elizabethan Gardens. The admission price seemed a bit steep at $8/person, but we paid it and went it. And we weren't disappointed. The gardens are on the site of the first English Colony in America, the famous Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, right next to Fort Raleigh and the Lost Colony Theater. There is a beautiful rose garden, a great lawn, a terrace overlooking the Roanoke Sound, and a sunken garden with a fountain and statues of mythological figures. Overall, it's a great place to go hide from the afternoon heat, see beautiful flowers, enjoy fresh air, and relax.

After so much sight-seeing, we were very hungry. So we stopped at the Nags Head Pier for some fresh seafood. The setting was as good as it gets - a perfect view of the ocean and the fishermen on the pier, the sound of waves breaking on the sandy beach... But oh boy do you get to pay for the view and the sound and the ocean breeze! Even though the portions are on the smaller side, the food is fresh and local. Most everything is served with french fries and hush puppies. Mark made a HUGE mess out of his meal of fried fish! The fries and bits of fish were everywhere and what little apple sause did not make it on his T-shirt got smeared all over the table. Good thing we were the only diners on the terrace for most of the time.

Finally we made it back to the hotel and bathed Mark. The messy dinner left us feeling a bit upset, so we decided to do something relaxing yet fun before bed. And what can be more relaxing and fun than a round of mini-golf? So once again we drove down Virginia Dare Trail to the nearest putt-putt, which happened to be Galaxy Wars-themed. Even though it was not nearly as fancy as the mini-golfs in Daytona Beach, we had fun playing it. 18 holes later, Chris won - by 1 point! - and we headed back to our room.

The next morning it was time for me to go to my hang-gliding lesson. After a huge breakfast at Stack 'Em High (the place is actually much better than it sounds - big, bright, great food, fast service), we all drove to the Jockey Ridge State Park. There I had an hour of ground school instructions followed by a 2-hour dune flight session. How awesome was it? Well, first of all, even if you don't want to fly, the dunes are worth seeing - they are the tallest on the East Coast and are an amazing sight. Kite flying is excellent there because of the strong breezes. Chris and Mark joined me once I was on the dunes and ready to fly and Chris took some pictures (see my Gliding post).
After the gliding lesson we were ready to head home. But first we stopped by the Kitty Hawk Kites store to get some souveniers. We ended up buying a couple of small toys for Mark, some fudge for us, wine for Chris, and some lunch for all of us. And that was the end of our non-weekend weekend.