Everyday is an Adventure. Embrace it

Posts tagged ‘vacation’

The Scent of the Ocean

Each morning I awake and visit my old friend the coffee pot. After creating the juice of joy, I venture outside to smell the day. Immediately my senses are activated as I take that first deep breath of the outdoors. For the last 5 months, that deep breath has been a salty sort.

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The air breathed at the Oceanside is sweet when you come to love it. It grows on you. It is mixed with salt, natural musk, sand, and a hint of marine life. The breeze is constant from the sea. There’s peace, tranquility, and grace.

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To visit a beach is an experience, but to live here is different. There’s a unique oneness that develops as you give your senses over to something larger than yourself. Being no stranger to beach side vacations, I used to think I understood the Sea. Only recently have I truly tuned in though.

Almost everyone I’ve ever known who’s been to the ocean declares, “I want to live here!” Some people even begin to look at real-estate as they dream of one day moving. They have in there minds that living here would be full of relaxation and everyday spent on the beach. Smiling, watching kids play & bury each other in sand, and applying sunscreen over & over again while chilling with a sangria.

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Reality of living here though is much different. We seek out the places few tourist go and avoid the downtown tourist traps like the plaque. It’s not possible to go to the beach everyday. Some days the beaches are closed due to the massive rip currents that tear away at the beach line, other days it is too cold. (Yes, even Florida is somewhat affected by the weather.) On extremely windy days, which come often, it’s painful to walk on the beach as there’s sand in that wind. If you ever get beach side sand blasted, it goes a few degrees beyond exfoliation. But, even with these things being considered, I love it here.

The sun is different here (compared to the Smoky Mountains where I’m from). It hugs your skin from every angle even when you’re fully clothed. It penetrates your bones and brings back life. Sunscreen is a definite must as this sun is unforgiving on the skin. The elevation is very low, so there’s very little pressure bearing down against your joints. The low pressure also helps hearing as it is gentle on the ears. The air is always salty and every breathe is healing and savory sea flavored. The sweet smell of the sea life is present in every breathe. Vision changes here as well. It’s bright most days, but the eyes adjust acutely and vision improves.

Homeownership is a bit more expensive here with the local, county, and state fees/taxes. Home maintenance is a regular neccessity. The salty air eats away at all things man-made. So setting aside a maintenance fund (at least 1\2 your home’s value) will be an absolute requirement unless you are filty rich. In that case, enjoy yourself freely!

I don’t know if they really can, but it seems as though the island birds begin to know and recognise you. We have a dove that feels very at home with us and receive frequent visits from various cranes looking to eat our endless millions of earthworms. They come regularly, with no fear, perching atop cars and freely walk our neighborhood streets.

Time slows to a crawl. Each palm waves in the wind in slow motion and the locals move in the same rhythm. Annuals become perennials, fruit is harvested in the winter, and palmetto bushes bring medicinally juicy berries.

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The sounds of the ocean are loud & ever present. The waves crash in and out creating their own unique song. It is the sole sound of the night. There are no crickets. The toads & frogs are silent. For they cannot compete with the mighty ocean. There are no morning song birds with their gentle morning wake up call. They live on the main land or bayside possibly, but definitely not seaside. The ocean is jealous of all other sounds and pushes them away with its mighty strength & winds.

Life on the Oceanside is beautiful, peaceful, and calming when you understand the Sea – its power, jealousy, and fickleness. It’s unpredictablely majestic and magical…and it smell grows on you over time.

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Scenic Chincoteague Island

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Assateague National Shore, VA

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2013

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Finding Serenity

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Chincoteague island Bay-side

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Peace on the bay

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An Explosive Adventure on Assateague Island

My family & I just spent another wonderful week on Chincoteague Island & enjoyed the Assateague Island National Seashore. I love it here! Life moves at a slow pace & the native islanders embrace their wildlife with care. It’s truly amazing how much peace and serenity can be found on the Virginia side of Assateague.

Family and friends alike questioned us as to why we would make such a long drive just to come to a beach. The trip took us over 16hrs from east Tennessee. The most popular beach destination for most east Tennesseeans is Myrtle Beach (a 6hr drive). Here’s why we drive so far for so long:
1. Commercialization – there is very little on Chincoteague! There are no skyscraper hotels, condos, or timeshares on the beach. There is no boardwalk consisting of stores & restaurants repeating themselves for miles.
2. Chaos – there is none here!
3. The best hotel on the small island is the Best Western where they cook a mean breakfast each morning!
4. I’ve only seen 3 franchise establishments! Ledo’s, McDonald’s, and Sunsation. That’s it! Everything else is mom & pop ๐Ÿ™‚
5. It’s clean
6. My husband has no cell phone service (which means he can’t work).
7. The wildlife is abundant & protected.
8. The whole town shuts down by 10pm. There’s no worries of loud noises late at night.
9. It’s peaceful
10. There’s no pressure or stress. There’s no crowded beach!

We did experience a tad of excitement two days while at the beach while the bomb squad detonated bombs that appeared on shore on the Maryland side of Assateague. My husband & I discussed what the large booms could be. Later in the evening, we discovered it wasn’t a sonic boom, but bombs!! You can read about it here

What can I say? Adventure tends to follow us ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cherokee, NC

Not too long ago while in Cherokee, North Carolina for a short stay, I scoured the internet for FREE things to do while in town. Cherokee is such a charming town, but there is very little about it on-line that doesn’t involve dollar signs.

๐Ÿ˜ฆ $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I found some websites that listed things such as “watch butterflies mate” and “wade in a creek” as some of the very few things that actually were free to do.

We took 2 of our 3 boys with us though, so I thought there should be a list of FREE THINGS TO DO IN CHEROKEE, NC listed on-line somewhere that was actual and serious!

Here are the things that we found that were free to do:

  • Take pictures with the many bear statues along the main streets in Cherokee FOR FREE.wpid-IMAG1040.jpg
    Photo Bomb

    Photo Bomb

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    You get the picture ๐Ÿ™‚

  • You can also take pictures with the other various statues FOR FREE:

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  • You could take pictures of other odd things you see FOR FREE!

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See a sign written by Yoda

See a sign written by Yoda

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Watch trout swim

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Okay, seriously now, all fun aside –

  • Another FUN and FREE thing to do in Cherokee, NC is to visit the Oconaluftee Islands Park!

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Here, you can listen to the talking trees (they speak Indian or English only), wade in the stream, feed the local ducks & geese, and walk through a bamboo forest.
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  • There’s a nearby waterfall that you can visit for FREE also named Mingo Falls. wpid-MING-FALLS-NC.jpg

Now, I could list the other things that are free like: connecting with nature, taking a stroll, etc. but the focus of this article is FREE things to do in Cherokee, NC and honestly – this is it.

There are other websites out there that will list for you the other free stuff like watching someone trout fish, but I wanted to list engaging activities that the kiddos will want to do that were free. I wish there were more things, but this is it in a nutshell. Everything else has a price tag attached to it. If you’re into spending $ you could go visit the casino or have your picture taken with an Indian. (But don’t take the kids to the casino, they have new rules now that literally just went into effect. Your kids practically can’t leave the room now ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and the pool is still under renovation.)

That’s all folks!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Island Bliss

We began our vacation travel by crossing over the Tennessee Valley, up the Appalachian Mountains, down & across the Chesapeake Bay, arriving on the most beautiful, un-commercialized, friendly, and natural Island.

This vacation was a learning experience for many reasons & I praise God for It. This is where we crossed several items off our bucket list, including:

1. See a beach on the east coast of the US
2. Walk on sand barefoot
4. See a sun set at a beach on the east coast
74. Swim in the ocean.
81. Drive underwater while having lunch in a car
83. Have a picnic on a grassy green medium in the middle of 2 roads.
88. Travel to & spend the night on an island
117. See a lighthouse up close, touch it, climb it
118. Wear a bathing suit in public

As on any island or shore line, Assateague Island has a Lighthouse. It’s the pretty red spiral one I kept pictures of for many years. I never would’ve dreamed that I would travel & really see it ๐Ÿ™‚ Seeing wasn’t enough, I touched it too. ๐Ÿ™‚ On the climb up, there are wide spaces made passable for 2-way traffic. Windows adorned those platform areas, each holding a piece of history & an independently gorgeous view. We paid a very small fee & climbed 198 steps to reach the top. Nick & Josh conquered a nervous fear of heights on that day as they made it to the top proudly. We received a sticker for our bravery & were awarded a lovely view of both islands. Wild ponies frolliced in the marsh pastures below and the birds shared their air space with us in the sky. Peace-tranquility-faith-honor-happiness flooded my being.

90% of the people we met were “Back home” friendly. It was as though our southern hospitality followed us, yet the people were much nicer than back home in Tennessee. Every islander had a smile to share & was genuinely happy to see the new visitors in their home town (even on a holiday weekend). Amazing!!

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The ocean was gentle and the beach was clean. Even the vast array of crabs were friendly, each one politely moving aside to allow sun seekers a place to lay their towel or step their foot where they trod. I had been warned about the sea gulls & how they would swoop down and borrow any sandwich in sight. But, even they were gentle & polite. They flew overhead & landed several feet away, watching for dropped food or discarded leftovers. From time to time they would get tired of food staring and take flight again, proclaiming “mine, mine, mine”! I was experiencing heaven on earth ๐Ÿ™‚
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It seemed as though everyone had an Attitude of Gratitude for the serene setting on these two islands and I was very impressed by the honesty all over. Families of all sizes, back grounds, and states were present. Even though the beach seemed to fill up, there was still at least 25ft of space per family available each day & some days even more!

I absolutely loved Chincoteague & Assateague Islands!

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Virginia’s only Island Resort

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Our first family vacation was taken on Virginia’s only Island Resort. It’s a beautiful township where the citizens take pride in their community. This island is small, yet has something to offer everyone (especially adventures). I will break up the resort descriptions into a couple (or more) post, because let’s face it…no one likes to read an article a mile long ๐Ÿ™‚

The name of my two favorite Islands are Chincoteague and Assateague Island. A connector bridge takes would be sun-seekers from one Island to the other. image

On the way to this serene escape, we travelled across Virginia. We entered and exited some of the other popular beach get-aways: Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Hampton, etc.

We traded them all for another hour or more of driving to come to Chincoteague Island…and it was so worth it!
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