Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Running the Outer Banks

When I try to think of the best way to describe North Carolina's Outer Banks, the word that won't go away is idyllic. Quaint is sticking around in my head too. I love it there. This year my family decided we'd do a Jones Family Christmas Vacation (picture the movie...and it's pretty much like that) by renting a house in Corolla in the Outer Banks. We trekked down from Michigan, my parents and youngest brother from West Virginia, and my sister and brother and their families had the shortest commute from Norfolk, Virginia. We arrived a few days before Christmas to beautiful weather (50s and 60s with tons of sunshine).

"Are you serious Clark?"
I took advantage of our close proximity to the beach to try out my Vibram FiveFingers on the sand. I got Vibrams for my birthday in August and was terrified to run in them after the salesperson told me horror stories of people getting hurt. But I figured it was at the beach - why not? I went for several runs on the beach and they were fantastic albeit difficult. The second run I did was the day after some thunderstorms, and the sand was not packed down. It was like running in quicksand. 

Running with my dogs on the beach
I ran four times in the week we were there. One day I tried out my new Running Skirts arm sleeves - they are fantastic. And they have little pockets to carry important things like snacks. I ran with my sister one day as well through the neighborhood where we were staying. We were only a few blocks from the beach, and it was great to hear the ocean and smell the sea water during a run.

Who wouldn't want to run here?
The Outer Banks is made up of about 200 miles of barrier islands, and unfortunately in a week there's only so much you can see. We stayed in Corolla toward the northern end of the OBX. It is a tiny little town with some cute shops and restaurants. Some things were closed for the season, but we were still able to do some shopping and enjoy the sights. Our house was close to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse. The lighthouse was also closed for the season, but the fence was low if someone was so inclined to jump the fence and almost get caught by the sheriff. Which may or may not have happened.

Currituck Beach Lighthouse
The Town of Duck is just a short drive to the south.  We spent a good bit of time in Duck because there was great local shopping and restaurants. It's also home to the Outer Banks Running Company where I purchased an awesome new water bottle that will be perfect for marathon training hydration. 

We had lunch one day at Aqua, a chic eatery right on Currituck Sound. The food was fantastic and the scenery beautiful. My biggest beef was they didn't have sweet iced tea. It's North Carolina! That's an abomination! I'm still not over it.

A view of Currituck Sound taken from Aqua during lunch
We loved the shopping in Duck. There were great local stores with tons of goods to choose from. We may have gone a little crazy getting art work, Christmas ornaments, and other Outer Banks goodies. But what fun is a vacation without bringing some things home?

Shops on Currituck Sound in Duck
I'm a city girl. Or a town girl in this case.
We did venture south to Kitty Hawk to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial.  Wilbur and Orville Wright were successful launching their first flight from Kitty Hawk, NC, and the memorial is impressive. We love history, so it was great to add this to our trip.

Wright Brothers Memorial
We had gorgeous weather except for one rainy day, when we drove down to Nags Head to do some shopping at the outlets there. The outlets were small, but they were great for a rainy day. The highlight of that outing was a stop at Sweet Frog, a yogurt bar where you pick your yogurt and pay by the ounce. So what if my yogurt cost $9.00? I think that's a good thing.

Who doesn't love a giant Adirondack chair? They're everywhere!
I didn't love it as much in Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. Those areas were much more commercial. Once you see an Applebee's and an Outback Steakhouse, you know it's all over. Duck, however, continued to impress. One night we had dinner at The Blue Point, and it was fantastic. My husband raved about the pork chop (and I do mean raved - for hours), and I had a white wine that was delicious. I could've just drank it out of the bottle. After dinner at The Blue Point we stopped at Metropolis, a tapas bar with an urban flair in Corolla for cocktails. It was okay but a little pricey.

Corolla is also known for its wild horses, and we went on foot to see what we could find. You can do tours to see the horses, but after finding that the tours were very pricey, we decided it wasn't worth it. Unfortunately we didn't get to see any wild horses, but the beach was beautiful that day.

On the hunt for horses
There is a lot we didn't do in the Outer Banks, including visiting Cape Hatteras National Seashore and Roanoke Island. But what fun would it have been to do everything in one trip? Besides we had important things to attend to like drinking, playing games and relaxing. Maybe next time.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a great way to spend the holidays... At the beach!!! Looks like you guys had a great time.