Finally! The beach! We headed down to the Outer Banks, NC, leaving on Thursday June 15 around 9am. If anyone has ever traveled this area at all, you know how TERRIBLE I-95 is. Completely unpredictable, usually miserable, and the worst road ever, especially the portion between DC and Richmond, VA. Possibly I-64 between Virginia Beach and Richmond is a good close second. I'm ahead of myself: leaving at 9am on a Thursday provided with minimal traffic, and we reached OBX probably by 2:30 or 3pm, with a good long stop for lunch, and two poop stops for Ruby: one at a fruit stand and one at a Walmart. Boy, the rest of the drive was much easier after that! We stopped in Norfolk for lunch at the Handsome Biscuit, and I would happily drive 2 hours down there again to eat their food... it was AMAZING. Unbelievably good. And a quirky little building with like two tables inside and picnic benches outside, so it was good we had OK weather.
Once we got there, we set up camp at Oregon Inlet Campground, and walked out to the beach. I was a little bummed because I thought the campground would be more ON the beach, instead of a quarter mile hike over and through the dunes, but it was cheaper than a hotel and nicer than a Walmart. Also: who else does mosquitoes love? Its like they're tiny little vampires and they come to suck my blood and ONLY my blood. I make homemade bug spray with essential oils, because I don't want to use the gross chemicals on Ruby. She didn't get one bug bite (YAY! Bug spray WORKS!) but I got bit a bunch of times, even with loads of spray on. (Recipe: 4 drops thyme, 8 drops lemongrass, 4 drops lavender, 4 drops peppermint. Add 5 drops of blend to 1 tablespoon of witch hazel and 4 tablespoons water. I make a HUGE batch and use it all summer.) So be warned: you will be in North Carolina, and if you are extra prone to mosquitos and other little bugs, get something strong in the bug spray department. I would love suggestions for bug spray that works!
Anyway, after our little adventure down to the beach, we came back and had BBQ pineapple chicken packets with red pepper and zucchini, over cauliflower rice. Sounds elegant, but really, I just prepped the packets ahead of time via pinterest recipe, and the cauliflower rice was frozen from Costco. Brock fired up the Snow Peak Fireplace grill we got with our dividends (he LOVES that thing, especially because it folds up and hardly takes any room, and I prefer cooking outdoors when possible to prevent funny smells sticking in the camper) and we put those packets on to cook, and got the rice cooking inside on the stove.
After dinner, we went to the showers (free, but not really heated) and got Ruby all cleaned off, much to her displeasure. Quick note: I strongly encourage all beach goers with tiny children to carry baby powder. Sprinkle that stuff on after the sand, and it brushes right off. THE BEST IDEA YET. Ruby took a bit to fall asleep, and certainly was upset when I left the camper to rinse off in the shower, but finally settled and slept good until almost 7am. At one point, Brock and I both woke up to Ruby snoring! It was the cutest thing ever!
Oatmeal breakfast for adults, and ham and beans for Ruby, and then it was off to the beach! We have a NoZone body suit for her, which I LOVE because it is sun protection without trying to hassle with loads of sunscreen.
We also have long sleeve swim shirts, but I prefer the body suit for functionality. No denying though, the swim tops are MUCH cuter, and a gift from her Mimi, so we had to wear them!
We played until about 11am. Brock set up our beach tent, an Otentik SunShade (size large) and our beach blanket, a Grand Trunk beach blanket (in red and black plaid of course). It was really sweet hanging out under the shade, in our Kermit camp chairs, watching Ruby wander the high tide remains and dig around. She was pretty intimidated by the water, and wanted to stand near it or in it, as long as Mama held her. She would get brave for a second, and then a bigger wave would come and splash her, and she wanted "uppa" again. Then we trekked back over the dunes to the camper for nap time, which was a HUGE success: she slept for over 2 hours! (Side note: the Cuyahoga/Niagara Falls Trip officially transitioned us from2 naps a day down to one long nap a day, which at 15 months, is fine, but takes a bit of schedule adjustment).
After lunch and a nice long rest, we got back up and played around the campsite, and then had those amazing shrimp boil packets again (see Part 1: Cuyahoga National Park).
Another tearful shower, and a slightly longer time falling asleep the second night, but still slept down on her couch in her tent both nights, and slept until morning. We did move her to size 5 diapers for bedtimes, so no more leaking. I had to use the bathroom (always) in the middle of the night, and I want to say that the sky was AMAZING. It was cloudy and foggy most of the day, but must have blown out in the early part of the night, because by 1am it was full of stars and I felt like I could see every star in the universe. Another perk of camping. I grew up on a farm, and often took the night sky for granted, but this one surpassed any night sky I saw growing up.
Now for heading home.... Mama was really wanting a donut, so we stopped by Duck Donuts. A classic in the southeast, and quite a unique idea: fresh warm donuts, but it still doesn't beat my favorite (vegan non GMO) donut place in Seattle. After donuts, we started north, and by the time we reached the bbq place Brock wanted to stop at (35 minutes after donuts), Ruby had fallen asleep. Needless to say, we carried onward, and 5 minutes later she woke up (eye roll). She dozed off an on until we stopped for BBQ in VA Beach at Carolina Son BBQ, and took it to go to a little park for Ruby to play before starting the trek on 64 and 95. Lunch was tasty for sure, and we got on the road around 2pm, after some puddle stomping.
It then took us 4 hours to get home. Double the time it should take. At one point, between Richmond and Fredericksburg, we were getting closer to home, and our travel time until home (on the app) was INCREASING. Ruby did nap for about an hour of it, but it was RIDICULOUS. We definitely need to plan better, and not be on I-95 on a Saturday, unless maybe it is like 2am. Even then...who knows? For a video of our picnic lunch puddle stomping, hop on over to the video page. The kid loves water, and we never say no to a puddle.
Would we go back? YES! Will we time our trip better? YES! Will we eat at Handsome Biscuit again: ABSOLUTELY.