Last summer, my father married a North Carolina native. For their anniversary this year, he rented a house on the Outer Banks, in the town of Duck, North Carolina, and invited the whole family to come. For the past seven days, I shared a house with my siblings and my nieces and nephews. Ahead of time, the local family was planning events–trips to historic attractions, plays, gardens, and so on. I decided against that form of vacation. Instead, my vacation days looked like this:

Get up early and walk the dog on the beach. beach at morning

Eat a lovely breakfast.

French toast with marmalade

Here’s my favorite: french toast with lemon ginger marmalade. So yummy.

Play with the kids or talk to family. I let all the kids teach me their favorite iPad games, and am addicted to a new one called Puzzle and Dragons–it’s like a combination of Bejeweled and Pokemon.

Head back to the beach with the dog. Hang out in the sun. Throw the ball as many times as she’ll chase it.

Zelda at the beach

Zelda’s a great beach dog. Well-behaved off-leash and loves the water

Walk back to the house. Have some quiet time. I meant to write, but that didn’t happen. Mostly I curled up with Zelda and played iPad games.

Eat some lunch and start cooking dinner. We had flank steak one night, using my mom’s marinade recipe, with corn on the cob, salad, and fruit salad. Home-made French onion soup, followed by chicken in a lime-sriracha-butter sauce another. Tortilla wraps with grilled chicken or spicy shrimp and homemade guacamole and mango salsa a third. Sausages–chicken apple or spicy manchego–the fourth, plus grilled shrimp, watermelon, cantaloupe, artichoke crab dip, a spicy pepper-onion relish over cream cheese on crackers. I could flood the bandwidth with pictures of food but will spare you. Well, maybe just one.

Flank steak

I thought I bought enough steak for two meals but I wasn’t counting on the teenage boys.

After dinner, another walk back to the beach.


Sunset (I think, anyway!)

Most days included a little something else: a lunchtime visit to a restaurant where R and I split a plate of oysters; an ice cream cone at the Duck boardwalk; grocery shopping at a lovely store where we tried Dandelion & Burdock soda (tastes like medicine); a visit to the candy shop with niece in tow where we debated candy for everyone and wound up with Sugar Babies, candy Legos, sour balls, ginger chews, and creamy mints; trips to visit the step-siblings; a birthday celebration; a couple of dinners out–fish, crab legs, lobster salad–all delicious; splashing in the swimming pool–sometimes as I was cooking dinner on the grill at the same time.

But mostly it was long days filled with lots of sand, sun, saltwater, food, and family. I’m home now, a little exhausted from the long drive–almost fourteen hours and the dog was so worried about being left behind that she didn’t get out of my lap once!–but eager to get back to writing. And nostalgic already.

In 17 days, R heads off to school in Seattle. I don’t know when or if we’ll ever have another family vacation like this one, but I tried to savor every lovely minute of it.