The Croatian Highway

In August we drove to North Carolina for Jobonga & Neil's nuptials. Figuring we might as well make the most of it, we left on Thursday for the Sunday wedding. There were some logic sticks to figure out beforehand, but by the day of we had it all strategized—rendezvous on American St. at 18:00, cross the Mason-Dixon line by 22:00, and dust off our cubbyholes at The Sea Foam around 02:00 the next morning. Luckily we remembered to stop for Chinese and beer in Delaware, without it we would have been hungry and with no reason to stay up all night drinking by the beach once we got there. 

Which we did. And then danced about it. And then we went for a swim. And thus began our socialist summer vacation.

We can blame Darcy for the inspiration—her offhand comment re:splitting the gas receipts set the whole thing in motion. It turns our that once you agree to share one expense it's a very slippery slope until you're expensing every purchase to the greater good and paying for breakfast in tollbooth receipts. Or at least it is with this crowd. 

Just like most socialist vacations, we were staying in a motel built in the '50's and we never had quite enough beach towels. Also, we only had one book. Which we took turns reading out loud to each other from. We may not have been the most well supplied beach goers, but we were having the most fun. And we were pretty well educated too. Plus we had a shuffleboard court, which I think Engels especially would have really enjoyed. 

Of course, also like most socialist vacations, there were some lies. Specifically, a whole lot of lies. Not so much about the value of a shared common good, but about everything else. Like the quality of the Bloody Marys at Sam & Omie's (don't do it), and the difference between chocolate, mocha, & coffee at Big Al's (there isn't any), and roughly everything at Fort Raleigh (don't miss the recreated model of the fort they built in the 1950s to look like what might have been the original colonists' fort). Seriously though, Fort Raleigh is an embarrassment to the National Park System. Maybe I'm jaundiced because of Philadelphia's actual historical importance, but a couple of fake rooms dedicated to a play "loosely based on the historical events" of the Roanoke colony is a low bar to overcome. On the other hand, if you're interested in seeing the absolute worst powerpoint presentation you've ever had to spend 17 minutes trying not to laugh at, you should definitely go. We did not succeed in our attempts to contain our judgement of the heavily clip-art and watermark photo-ed "Informative Ranger Talk" and our ranger WAS NOT AMUSED. But really, when you mention seasickness on a boat sailing to The New World in the 1500s and then flash a picture of some asian guy throwing-up on a boat in 1995, you should expect a couple of comments from the peanut gallery.

All that being said, The Sea Foam was the Real Deal. Despite our early reservations about the possible dustiness and/or stickiness, this was probably the best decision we had made in a long time. Like a summer camp for grown ups, our rooms looking out onto the courtyard were all close enough to yell our afternoon beach plans to each other from the comfort of our multi-sized beds. We all have iPhones though, so we just group iMessaged about it instead. 

With the beach as our backyard, The Piazza turned into rendezvous point, patio, and shuffleboard cum bags court in the evenings. 
They call her The Equalizer

After Friday's cocktail hour (above) we headed out for dinner on the town. You may not know this, but Nags Head is rampant with horribly named restauranteurs. We didn't make it to Barefoot Bernie'sAwful Arthur's, Dirty Dick's, The Pigman'sSpanky's, or even King Tut's Wiener Hut; I don't know what's really going on with this shifty syndicate but it was nothing we wanted anything to do with. We sunset-walked over to Miller's Waterfront Restaurant (bayside, baby!) instead. The downside to this (as with all Atlantic Coast sunsets) was the Elder Barnebey's resulting confusion about directions. Despite having left the West Coast in 1971 he hasn't quite outgrown his belief that sunsets always point towards the ocean. 
The upside was that we got to gambol past Jurassic Putt in all its fiery glory and then knock out the band's next album cover, all on the way to dinner.
Bring your grandchildren, it'll be a blast.
Carolina Lies & The Croatans

There was even time for some sightseeing. Which we tried, but didn't do very well at. The out-of-commission lighthouse pleased no one, perhaps least of all Roxy. But that look could also be because in Ukraine there is no time for smiles.
With the right filter it looks just desolate enough to be interesting.

With its embarrassing powerpoints, lack of milkshake flavors, and broken lighthouses, North Carolina had a lot of 'splaining to do by that night. All of which was made up for by its liberal stance on beach fires. No one can be upset about beach fire. Are you listening, New Jersey‽
Who doesn't support beach fires?

Can you believe you've read this far and the wedding hasn't even happened yet! Well, just when you thought it would never come, there was a tornado. Or rather a waterspout over the bay. We were caught unawares at Fatboyz where we weathered the 1st half of the storm on the veranda. We would have made it home scott free too if Darcy hadn't had to go for the final ice cream cone. As it was, we decided to run for it once we heard a lady yelling out over the rain "there's a tornado warning until 2:45, should I get it to go??"
"I spot a spout!"
So we packed all the iPhones into Roxy's purse and took off down Virginia Dare's Trail. The Sea Foam has seen worse, I'm sure, but I was worried for it anyway. There's something about the way the water was pouring down through the balcony that didn't inspire confidence in the general sturdiness of the structure as a whole.

Also it meant that the pre-wedding tailgate planned for the shuffleboard courts was off, which wasn't ironic at all.

The wedding of course wasn't to be stopped. Joanna & Neil casually joined their lives together in front of The Waters of the Outer Banks and then later dined in front of the sharks. Which honestly was a pretty amazing way to stick it to Mother Nature for the rain earlier.
Sharks can't even get married.
You know what else is fun? Drinking wine in front of a snapping turtle, with otters carousing behind you. We couldn't resist trying our luck with our 2nd natural disaster of the day though—welcome The Hurricane Simulator...  which just turned out to be a fun way to make everyone's hair look stupid. Suck it again Mother Nature.

Even the fishes had to sleep at some point though, which meant we had to get out. Not before a couple polkas around the dance floor and a late night wedding Sway though. Obviously.  

Saying goodbye the next morning was hard. At least we had the free-flowing coffee and sangria at the Lee family brunch to look forward to. But we had to leave the Foam Lady behind for good. 
Lady of The Sea.

All that was left to do now was head north and submit our receipts for reimbursement. The south did give us one more bonus lie for the road, just for the halibut. Oh, Mochipongo Clam Shack, you with your crab painted walls and so many other things besides seafood, were a sight for sore eyes. 
Just Seafood. Also, possibly no Drive-Thru.
The final reckoning: submitting receipts & expense reports.

Final Stats:

With 44 receipts officially accepted for reimbursement, the total tallied, and the entire trip's cost shared equally among the 6, we see the majority of our expense was accounted for in lodging. Not surprising. More surprising, that we tipped almost as much as we spent on alcohol.  

Totaling 262 group messages over the course of the weekend, we averaged 1 group text every 35.8 minutes between Friday morning and the next Thursday. Evan blew us all way in volume, but the other Barnebey's were clearly playing this game too.

Talking mileage, Darcy's Fiat beats out the reliable Altima in raw gas mileage but loses its edge when adjusting for a per/seat calculation. It can always be counted on to make the trip in fewer miles though, especially when driven by Darcy.

And how did we know we had taken our receipts seriously enough? They became legal tender for all debts private, if not public.
No cash, no problem. Katie hands over her toll receipt to cover the tip.

Never Forget.


Joanna and Neil's Wedding Sway

After a long night in front of the shark tank, and a couple a spins through the tornado maker, we closed down the N.C. Aquarium with an old fashioned wedding sway. Despite some signs of vertigo, it felt good. Really good.


The Sun Also Rises...

After a night spent driving south along the eastern seaboard, riding America's longest roller coaster, and opening Delawarean beer on the hotel towel rack, we found ourselves on the Nags Head beach at 6:30 AM. Just minutes before the iPhones' predicted sunrise. Would it finally happen? It seemed unlikely. After years of trying we'd never managed to do it before. Plus, the sky didn't look very sun-like. By 6:22, precisely 1 minute before the scheduled rise, we had seriously decided that today was the day—the day that the sun actually wouldn't come up. It had been a long night.

At 6:23 AM the sun rose over the eastern horizon, like you could set your clock by that thing. Or maybe devise an entire calendar system around it. To celebrate, we danced. And then jumped into the Atlantic.