To the Outer Banks!

I don’t know a single thing about the Outer Banks, North Carolina other than:

  • The drive takes 11 hours.
  • The Wright brothers first did their thing somewhere close to there.
  • I’m going there tomorrow.

We leave tomorrow for Family Vacation 2011 extravaganza. The Outer Banks was randomly chosen because it is the one place in the U.S. Southeast my parents have never been, and there was a cheap condo right on the beach sitting empty with our name on it.

A quick, week-long getaway with some sun and sand to celebrate my birthday and approaching departure at the end of this month. I think the place will be extremely chilled out, but then again, the name of the place is Kill Devil Hills.

I’ve sat on so many bottom-numbing, 22-hour flights across the Pacific and back, I may as well go see where the first airplane got off the ground. Speaking of getting off the ground, the Outer Banks is also a famous hang gliding spot. Coincidentally, hang gliding happens to be on my bucket list of life thingies I want to try. Hmmmm….

Out Banks hang gliding

From what I’ve read, there are 90-foot-tall sand dunes covering the island, much like Mui Ne in Vietnam where I spent some time last year. I tried my hand at sledding the dunes last year (I’m still finding sand in unmentionable places) maybe I can find a piece of plastic and make a run or two in North Carolina.

There are also wild horses on the island and an abundance of crabs. The crabs are edible, the horses…not so much. Well, without causing a ruckus anyway. We have a kitchen, so my survival gears are turning toward boiling some of the delicious decapods for cheap dinners. Unlike fish which have to be gutted, you just drop the buggers directly into some boiling water, then step back and laugh maniacally as they writhe, curse, and cook. It really sucks to be a crab in the Outer Banks.

I even get to come home and tell women that I caught crabs in the islands on my birthday.

Last year’s birthday was pretty much a nonevent. I turned 35 somewhere over the Pacific at midnight, then arrived into Bangkok shortly after. No one in my aisle spoke English, so the party was a little lacking. As my age continues to creep and wiggle its way closer to 40 -gasp- I am not quite as excited about the birthdays as I used to be.

Sure, I still feel 25 — and sadly act it sometimes — but how do you get that across to newly met strangers? At what point do I cross the line between being the aloof, traveler guy sitting alone in a bar, or the aging, creepy guy sitting alone in a bar?

The answer: life experience. Now, how to show life experience without being the boasting braggart everyone hates?

My theory? Scars. If I’m going to survive this last four-year run to 40, I need more scars. The road has provided a few in the past years, but I need something more prominent. Something that would scare a pirate white, or better yet, impress a klingon. Maybe Sumatra will provide…I just hope they end up on my face (preferably across my left eye) rather than on my feet as usual.

Enough of this, time to pack. Any trip, albeit safe and domestic, is worth getting excited about — especially if there is sand involved.

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3 Responses to “To the Outer Banks!”

  1. geez, if you are worried about crossing the line to creepy old guy sitting at the bar, at the age of 36, think about how I feel now that I just turned 47. The way to avoid the feeling of being the creepy old guy is to sit next to the guy who is obviously older than you are and strike up a conversation with him. It works for me anyway 🙂

  2. I see a lot of myself in you. I have been working in corporate america for about 12 years (since 2000) and after 5 years I quit my job and went backpacking in Europe and China for 6 months…one of the best times of my life. Now, 7 years later, I am feeling the same itch. I want to be in nature – I want to hike the PCT – I want to travel (in fact I’ve been feeling this itch for several years) I really feel lost and uninspired with my job (as I was feeling the first time I cut loose) and I long for nature and deliberate living and freedom. All I have to do is watch the movie, “Into the Wild” or listen to the soundtrack and I am practically in tears. What’s more, I am married and we found out last year that I will never be a natural father (no swimmers), and we decided to go the sperm donor route. My wife is not pregnant yet but if we go forward with this, I feel I will be relegated to the office for the next 15 years due to the responsibility. I have a slight window of opportunity to make a different choice and I feel that’s what I will do. Just need to prepare that conversation. I admire your spirit and thank you for the inspiration. Maybe I’ll see you on the road in the future.

  3. I went with my family out to Hatteras for a kite boarding trip. We drove from DC all the way through Kill Devil, all the way out to were the wind and ocean was. It was beautiful, and when pumping up your kite you had to be careful not to get blown away. The inner beaches were mostly rocky, but the beaches on the outer side were white and sandy. On windy days, which was every day, the sand would pelt the exposed parts of your body. It’s nice to find a somewhat sheltered part of the beach before you choose to stare off into the vast oceans.

    We stayed in condos too, with a few other kiting families. The condos were nice and well kept. The downside of the stay was that there wasn’t much to do other than kite, unless you had television (in my case it was almost always on a toddler’s show), or a laptop to get lost in during the evenings.

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