The Adventure and Mystique of the Outer Banks

The outer banks brings with it a vast array of adventures and areas of exploration. From wild Spanish horses to Egyptian style sand dunes to perfect waves to lighthouses to a quaint village on an island that can only be accessed via ferry, it offers excitement to young and old alike, meaning its perfect for your whole family! I do wish; however, that I had known some secrets before we got here so time hadn’t been wasted early on…
 
We had planned to stay in a hostel in Kitty Hawk.. And by hostel, no that is not a spelling error, we actually stayed in a hostel 🙂
 
It was perfect for us and FAR more affordable than the local hotels in the area. We paid $55 per nighy for ours while the cheapest hotel, even on Travelocity, was $100.
 
We had our own private room and it was a shared kitchen and family room; however, there was no one staying in the other room in the apartment so it was like having a suite all to ourselves! It may not have been as ::sanitized:: as a hotel, but it was probably actually cleaner in all reality. If you’d like to check it out, it’s on the adventure bound campground site: http://www.adventureboundnc.com/Hostel.html
 
The Tyson crew took over Kitty Hawk on a Sunday evening 😉 with dinner at a local seafood restaurant in Kitty hawk (Hurricane Moes). Michael loved his meal and mine was decent, but not my favorite. The crab cakes though, we’re INCREDIBLE!
 
After this, we made a quick stop at the beach, while my water lover Cale freaked out about the waves… His newest thing..
 
… Must be the 2 year old in him.
 
We then went back to the hostel, put the boys to bed, and enjoyed s’mores and a movie together!
 
Monday, we decided to hit up the beach at Kitty Hawk as the rain that was supposed to be there wasn’t yet. It was a lot of fun, but we struggled to stay there even 2 hours with the boys who were ready for a change of scenery. So a scenery change we gave them. We had heard of the wild horses on Corolla (about 45-50 minutes away) so we hopped in the car and let them nap on the way, pulling over briefly for a family naptime as well 😉
 
There are many theories about how the wild Spanish mustangs got here and have stayed for so many years, but many believe that early spanish settlers threw them overboard to lighten the load when needed or that they escaped shipwrecks. Either way, they run wild on the beaches in Corolla and past Corolla going northward, there are no roads for quite some time!
 
Here’s my suggestions when you go, take your 4 wheel drive vehicle or borrow a friend’s so you can drive on the beach. Because there are no roads, you either have to have 4 wheel drive or pay an exuberant amount of money for a tour. We had neither of these two things so we didn’t actually see the wild horses; however, we followed a boardwalk through the Currituck Banks National Estuarine Preserve and saw some interesting plants and fish.
 
After this, we decided to go crabbing so we picked up some gear and searched google for the local hot spot to catch crabs… http://www.thehulltruth.com/carolinas/359579-wheres-best-place-catch-blue-crabs-obx.html
 
I admit… We needed dinner… And didn’t want to spend what we had the night before 😉
 
Well, we caught several crabs, but only the one I caught was big enough to boil to eat and MAN, was it delicious or what?!
 
The next day was supposed to be our last day here (I’ll get to that in a minute) so we followed the advice of a friend and drove to Cape Hatteras to catch the ferry to Ocracoke.
 
On the way there, we stopped at Jockey Ridge State Park (some beautiful scenery there) that was filled with sand dunes! Highly recommended! And take a kite when you go!
 
Man, the trip to Hatteras was GORGEOUS! We saw lighthouses, sand dunes, had water on both sides of us and were often just on a bridge in the middle of the ocean. We also saw several quaint little villages on islands all the way down.
 
While waiting in the ferry line in Hatteras, we realized that we could take a second ferry from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter for only $15 and we’d then be only a 3 hour drive from home (it would have been a 6 hour trip going back the other way). We called and booked that ferry (the last one left at 4pm and it was only 12pm at this time). Well, we waited in line for the ferry for over 2 hours and arrived at Ocracoke after 3:30 (the time we were supposed to be on the other side of the island to board the next ferry). Needless to say, we had to find a place to stay for the night in Ocracoke. And we found… wait for it…
 
.. Another HOSTEL! 
 
It was great and $25 cheaper than even the cheapest hotel on the island. It was in a house and we just had a room and a bathroom in the house right on the Sound (Gorgeous!!!).
 
We went to the beach in Ocracoke (a quant little village on a beautiful island) and the beach there is PERFECT for a family. Very quiet with very few people and soft, velvety feeling sand and waves (Great for a body surfing Michael). 
 
Anyways, we had a BLAST on our trip! It was quite the adventure and we discovered new things, but here are my recommendations if you want to go:
 
1. Definitely take 4 wheel drive and drive on the beaches in Corolla to see the Wild Horses
2. Stay in a hostel to save money (and you have a fridge to keep food in and save money)
3. Go crabbing at high tide and follow my link
4. Get to the ferry in Cape Hatteras before 10 am and leave early enough to enjoy the sites on the way down (MUCH shorter lines before 10- or so we’ve been told)
5. Stay a night in Ocracoke (We stayed here: http://ocracokehostel.com/ although the privacy was not the same as at the other place and not all of the rooms have a/c- if you have camping supplies, even better! You can camp right on the beach!)
6. If you live in a place that Swan Quarter would be close to, take that ferry as it was like being on a cruise and so relaxing and beautiful!
 
Either way, I suggest going and enjoy your time!
 
Here’s some pics: 

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

A Day at the Zoo!

Well, we all went to the zoo on Monday with our good friends and ministry partners, the Millers. It was a blast and both boys did remarkably better than expected, especially considering they both decided to wake up at 6:45 (an unheard of time for them) and Cale didn’t take a nap the whole day while Gabe only slept about 45 minutes total. But they had such a great time and I was actually surprised by how much my little 10 month old Gabe loved it too 🙂 He was big into the plants even more than the animals!

Anyways, to moms of 2 year olds, I think this is the PERFECT age to go to the zoo if you have one close by. I treasured every moment of witnessing Cale see all the animals from his books come alive in real life 😉

I would say his favorites were the Otters and Mama and Baby Chimps. See his reaction to the Otter here: http://youtu.be/A5U8A2DWxr4

We got there at about 10:30 and stayed until 5. We spent the first half of the day in “Africa”. We packed a picnic lunch and had it at picnic tables outside of the Africa portion of the zoo. We then went over to “North America” and spent the afternoon there. We saw the coolest animals in both sections of the zoo and it was a lot of walking. Hopefully, I pre-burned off my Golden Corral dinner 😉

Here’s some highlights from the day!

IMG_6371IMG_6415

With my little dude and big dude

IMG_6380IMG_6374

Checking out the elephants and zebras with daddy

IMG_6378

Love these two

IMG_6389

Awesome helicopter

IMG_6390IMG_6391

Cale thought he was hott stuff 😉

IMG_6401

The Millers in the helicopter

IMG_6411

Climbing the rhino. What a beast 😉

IMG_6416 IMG_6420

Trying to get a pic, but too distracted and hanging out in the Ostrich egg with Josh

IMG_6421 IMG_6423 IMG_6425

Little buddies in the Ostrich egg

IMG_6430  IMG_6433

Love my family!

IMG_6437IMG_6448

Cale talking about the mama chimp and her baby

IMG_6440

Oh, my heart..

IMG_6442

Beautiful creatures

IMG_6457

Washing Gabe off after lunch because he rolled around in the mud just a little 😉

IMG_6461 IMG_6464

Out within 2 minutes of beginning our trip home!

I highly recommend a family trip to the zoo!!

Stay tuned for a big announcement about some new adventures for our family next week!

Aden & Anais Blanket Review

I want to thank everyone for their amazing response to my last post! It means a lot and I’m glad to hear I could be of encouragement to a lot of moms! Thank you!

Now, today, I’m going to begin my review of one of the items on my top 10 items needed for a new baby: the Aden and Anais blankets!

When I was pregnant with Cale, we were in a Bradley Method class and all of the moms have kept in great contact since and have had several play dates together. When we started having play dates with our very new babies, most of the moms had the Aden and Anais blankets and I fell in love with them then, but with the almost $40 price tag, I did without them. When I found out I was pregnant with Gabe, they were the first things I put on my registry. I can honestly say now, they are so so worth the price. And this is coming from a very thrifty mom, as many of you know.

Here are the best qualities they offer:

1. It’s a muslin material so it’s lightweight and breathable. Perfect for the summer and also makes me less nervous about the whole SIDS issue.

2. It’s perfect for nursing! I used to use a nursing cover with Cale, but they never covered me the way I wanted them to and, because these are sooo big, it covers,but is light enough to not annoy the baby.

3. It’s also great for swaddling. Because of their size and the lightweight material, they wrap around the baby well and are easy for a first time mom to learn with. Because of the size of them, it’s harder for the baby to get out of the swaddle.

4. They make great stroller and car seat covers! The other day Gabe fell asleep in his stroller and I used it to block out the light and action around us. I’ve seen so many moms use these to cover car seats with less fear of issues with the baby pulling the blanket over his face because of the material of the blanket and the large size, it makes it harder to do.

5. They work as a spit up cloth because they are easily washable and the stains are easily removed (I use Shout).

6. They have the cutest designs! They make some specific to boys or girls and gender neutral ones.

7. They come with 4 in a pack. I didn’t need this many so I gifted some of mine out to friends when they had babies and I found a Pinterest idea in which you tie the blanket around diapers to make a cute baby shower gift.

20130603-094120.jpg

Needless to say, I love these blankets and HIGHLY recommend them to all moms of babies! Enjoy!

Happy Monday!