When I was a little girl, my favorite place on the planet was the Outer Banks, in North Carolina. My family traveled to the East Coast nearly every year from the time I was about 10 years old until after I left for college. My most recent trip was for our wedding, six years ago, in Duck, North Carolina. Last week, Mark’s family met in Atlantic Beach, in the southern part of the North Carolina coast.
Check out the gallery for pretty photos.
When I was younger, the North Carolina Coast inspired so many dreams and fantasies. I would try to surf in the chaotic waves on the coast. In my mind, I was in Hawaii, ripping it up with the best of them.
I would sail small boats around the sound, the area between the barrier islands and the mainland, flying across the water in North Carolina wind gales. In my mind, I was captain of one of the hundreds of wrecks that litter the shallows off the myriad capes and barrier shoals.
I would walk along the beach in the evening, watching dolphins in the distance and pelicans skimming over the waves. In my mind, I was walking arm-in-arm with the love of my life, content to be together in a beautiful, perfect, magical place.
In some ways, the beach wedding felt like a “goodbye” to my childhood and childish things. It was the last time I visited the North Carolina coast, and I was working, making my own money, and committing myself to the man I love. The world was open to me; I could travel and sail and climb and be everything I had ever dreamed of.
And in the last few years, we have made good on those big ideas. As we drove over the causeway for our return trip this week, I felt instantly nostalgic and sad. The beach seemed so much smaller, and less exotic than it had been when I was a kid. How exciting are wild horses on barrier islands when you’ve chased mountain goats up 14,000ft peaks? How amazing is an east-coast beach when you’ve been to Tel Aviv? How can sailboats on the sound compare to the gilt long-boats near Venice?
I felt that this vacation would never be as great as the ones I remembered, but now I think that may be an unfair comparison. The world is different now, especially when viewed through my eyes. But that, actually, doesn’t make a special place like North Carolina any less special. The world is full of amazing sights and incredible adventures, and now that I’ve experienced a few of them, I think the coast of North Carolina still ranks among the best.