Thursday, February 22, 2007


president's day weekend was one of the best times of my life.

i realize what a huge statement that is, but it's absolutely true. maybe there are better times to come, and there have been comparable times gone by, but i feel confident this one will stand firm in the timeline of my personal history. i mean, what could be better than this?

cam and i went to buxton in cape hatteras, on the outer banks of north carolina. we'd been planning a friday-sunday trip to a local cabin, but when that fell through, we brainstormed a plan b over duke kebabs and my trusty road atlas. we started out looking west, but since that was the direction of the cabin we still plan to visit, we entertained other options. north, in february, didn't sound appealing, so we both cast our eyes south. cam said, "what about hatteras? ever been there?" and that was all it took. hatteras is the reason i cannot live without the ocean, the place i learned to swim, the site of my earliest memories of what a vacation should be. and i haven't been there in 20 years. every spring for at least a decade after our two visits my sister and i would pester my parents to reserve "our" cottage at the beach, and every year it didn't happen, for reasons i'd probably understand now but couldn't possibly at the time. so hatteras became a treasured memory and the template for my ideal vacation, even as an adult - a cottage on the beach in a sleepy town, where the sand is steps away and the crashing waves lull me to sleep and ease me awake.
clearly, i was in, and cam too had fond memories of fishing and camping on the cape, so we consulted my AAA guide, selected some potential motels, and started talking about a longer trip. up friday night after work and back late sunday morning became taking friday off, leaving early that morning, and not returning till late monday. i told him that since he was driving, i'd take care of our lodging. after a quick call to my dad, i got all the information for the place i'd stayed as a little girl, and when the proprietor of the outer banks motel picked up the line in buxton, i hardly needed to hear the rates - i was sold. i secretly booked a cottage instead of a room, and told cam we were all set.
the entire trip felt charmed, from the call i received with good news i was already too blessed to need , to the elderly gentleman dispensing mints and kind wishes to the diners at the chick-fil-a where we lunched, to the call from a friend offering a chance to see one of my favorite bands. as we drove down the outer banks i got a little anxious, hoping the place would be like i remembered, that cam would like it. we pulled into the lot and i knew everything would be ok - it looked exactly the same, a tidy, well-maintained (if larger) group of small buildings and cottages right on the beach. we checked in and the office smelled exactly like i remembered, and when we got our keys and directions to our cottage i knew we had the best one. 107 was all the way on the end, secluded, beachfront. perfect.
everything was just like i pictured my dream vacation - the ocean a constant companion, drinks on the porch under the stars, dolphins and pelicans always in view, sunrises over sparkly waves, sand underfoot, seafood dinners and warm coffee and swedish fish. and the best part: cam, whose idea of a perfect vacation so closely matched my own. it was incredibly difficult to leave (as evidenced by the splitting headache that hit cam as soon as we hit the district), and we've already made plans to return. i can't imagine it'll ever be as amazing as this first, revelatory trip, but i can't wait to find out.

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