After three lazy weeks in Charlotte, including pre and 4th of July celebration, some outdoor days at the whitewater center, a day at the quarry (a natural spring fed swimming pond that looks like a Swiss mountain lake apart from that the water is much warmer) and lots of play dates, Lilli Markus niece, arrived in Charlotte. During her first week we headed down to Hilton Head, not our first visit of this vacation island in South Carolina as you can read in older posts. We rented a house together with an other Swiss couple (Noldi, a colleague at work and his wife) close to the beach and we didn’t do anything except playing in the waves, beach combing, stand up paddling, bike riding, enjoying the pool and from time to time we ate and drank something.
After this wonderful relaxing week we turned back to Charlotte. Lilli’s second week with us passed by quick filled with shopping, play dates, a day at a nearby lake and a ride on Furry, one of the tallest and fastest giga coasters. And then it was time to say goodbye again: Lilli it was great spending time with you, thanks for visiting us!
Finally at August the 12th we hit the road for our first family road trip. After a six hours drive we reached tiered and a bit bugged out Washington DC. After dropping of baggage and car at the hotel we were excited to explore the city. An evening walk brought us to the White House, the Washington Monument and finally the Lincoln Memorial. And a heavy summer thunderstorm brought us soaked to the skin back to the hotel. I love unexpected weird moments like this that makes lifetime memories. The next to days we spent in museums (a lot of them are free of admission in the capital) together with elephants, sea dwellers, bugs, airplanes, space shuttles, astronaut food, Thiebaud, Cézanne, VanGogh, lipstick pistols, conspiracy theories and James Bond.
Filled up with history, curiosity, fine arts and aching feet we headed further to the Outer Banks, barrier islands of the cost of North Carolina. The upper part we visited a year before, that’s why we focused on the lower. For me it’s always a special moment when I stand anew in front of the ocean. I’m every time overwhelmed by the calming impact despite the power of the waves. All this blueish colors and the endless freedom at the horizon. I love the sound, the sticky salty skin and the sand between my toes, in my hair, everywhere…
The first night we spent in Kill Devil Hills, planning our further trip down to Ocracoke island, only accessible with ferries. Another special things on road trips is, that you see new sides of your companions. We have a family member with fears of not knowing where to sleep next night. Therefore none driving around and looking for good deals, nope we have to make reservations in advance. Good thing, this person started to do it by herself. Another is frightened of tsunamis and flooding, I don’t know why but therefore we checked carefully the courses of the tectonic plates and we have always the evacuation plan in our minds.
Yes, road trips aren’t the easiest way to travel. Spending hours in the car while someone enjoys the beautiful peaceful landscape and would love to stop for pictures every now and then, another attempts to outspeed the expected arrival time, another tries to beat the high score of a game with all available force and last but not least someone’s working on the first audition at AGT (not sure if this will ever happen)… Yep, there are different ways to reach a goal and our heartbeat went up from time to time! Good thing everyone in our family loves the beach and when we finally arrive there our heartbeats found back to the same pace.
Before we boarded the ferry to Ocracoke we made a short stop at Frisco to have a look to a very special house. The Futuro House was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in the late 1960s. Made of new materials like plastic and manufactured to be portable and adaptable to diverse terrain with its raised legs, the capsule house was imagined as a ski chalet with a quick heating system. Due to its unusual space age-influenced design, and the oil crisis of 1973 that made plastic expensive, under 100 of the houses were made. Around 60 of those survived and they’ve dispersed all over the globe.
After a good hour on the ferry we reached Ocracoke. A resident blogger writes that one of the best things about Ocracoke is “the feeling of being on island time…slow and relaxed…casual and as carefree as you desire,” which pretty much sums up the pace of this out-of-the-way and unique place. A gem at the Atlantic coast and it was hard to leave and continue our trip.
After a two and a half hours ferry ride we drove down to another barrier islands called Bogue Banks and stopped at Emerald Isle. Sun, beach, ocean, big shells and if you take the trouble to drive a bit away from the resorts you will find lonely beaches with crystal clear water. The evenings we spent in Swansboro a charming little river town with delicious seafood restaurants and nice view over the intracoastal waterway and Bogue Sound.
Last destination Wrightsville beach. Here we found the biggest shells so far and improved our boogie boarding skills. After filled up ears and nose with saltwater and our swimsuits full with sand we’re happy about the hotel pool. Sunday morning we visited Wilmington, a nearby port city with some historic buildings and a lovely riverfront with a riverwalk. Leonie found a Serpentarium with over 40 venomous species of snakes other displays are the home of giant constrictors, crocodiles and exotic species of lizards. She was more than happy and I hit the jackpot and was chosen to chaperon her and I’m still not a big fan of this kind of animals.
In the morning of the 21st of August we started our last stage to be back home for one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights, the solar eclipse, 98% coverage here in Charlotte. A really special event, it gets darker and darker, the temperature plummeted and the birds felt silent in exchange the cicadas started with their evening concert. After some minutes everything starts turning back to normal. An unique finale of a fabulous trip. North Carolina is gorgeous!