Wish We Were Still Here
When my niece suggested that our far-flung family gather at the Outer Banks for a weeklong reunion, I thought it was a great idea. But as the departure date drew nearer, I began to have doubts.
Could we really cram 30 people into two, side-by-side houses? Could we keep everyone, from ages 15 months to 93 years, entertained? And fed? Could my two teenagers call a truce long enough to keep from ruining everyone else’s week?
My misgiving aside, the departure day soon arrived. Though our family is spread across the country, from California to Rhode Island and points in between, the travel arrangements were surprisingly easy. I plunged ahead through airports and rental-car agencies with Mother (in her wheelchair) and teenagers in tow and delivered us all safely to Corolla, on the northern Outer Banks, with a sigh of relief.
Our rental houses sat right on the beach, with the main gathering areas on the top floor, offering breathtaking ocean views across the dunes. The three-story homes made for smooth traffic flow and plenty of elbowroom.
The vacation rental company set us up with every amenity and piece of play equipment we needed. We rented umbrellas, boogie boards, even a beach wheelchair for my mother. Both houses even had wireless Internet access, though we were so busy we hardly used it.
My early fears gradually began to fade away. All the kids bonded that first night over a moonlight crab hunt organized by my oldest daughter. They had so much fun that it became a nightly event and, by the third night, most of the adults were getting in on the action alongside the little ones. Naturally, we all relished the many hours spent lounging on the deck or at the beach and playing in the water, but many of us opted for more extreme adventures too.
My daughters persuaded me to go parasailing with them – pretty edgy for someone who’s afraid of heights! We rented Jet Skis, and a group of us, including my 93-year-old mother, loved the wild pony tour. Boogie-boarding and bodysurfing in those fabulous waves was a favorite for everyone, from the 11-year-olds to the sixty-somethings.
If any of us needed a break from our fun in the sun, we could wander inside to relax – sharing meals, playing games, working jigsaw puzzles and laughing and telling family stories.
As the end of our week in paradise drew near, I marveled at how smoothly everything went, how perfect the accommodations were and how much fun we had together.
I think every one of us go more than we bargained for on our Outer Banks vacation, and the whole family is already talking about coming back next year.
What we wanted was easy travel arrangements, great accommodations, a beautiful setting and fun activities. And we got all that, plus the priceless memory of a shared experience that will bind us together forever.
by Sybil Waters Stewart
by Sybil Waters Stewart
added: March 26, 2010
updated: March 31, 2010