Vacation – More Than Salvaged

September 4, 2011

Sitting in my hotel room, looking over the ocean in Virginia Beach. WD is filling me in on his “research” about the incessant fighter jet noise overhead (I love it by the way. Brings me back to high school/early college, when I wanted nothing more than to marry a Navy Seal, and found all military ops very sexy. You know, my Republican days.) [okay – that was when I started this post. Finishing in my bedroom, at home]

Irene tried to be a vacation-killer, but we wriggled out of her grasp. After a roller coaster of hope, disappointment, and confusion.

During the day that the storm hit North Carolina (Saturday), we were glued to the tv screen to see how Hatteras Island would fare. The Weather Channel had a reporter on the Outer Banks just north of there, and he seemed FINE. So we were feeling relatively optimistic. Up until when we went to sleep, the rental agency we are using was posting updates on their website, and they, too were optimistic. We thought it was very possible that we could start to drive on Sunday evening, stop at my parents’ house a few hours in Sunday night, and then finish the driven Monday. Yes, a few days would be lost, but we have travel insurance, so I felt capable of turning it into savings! We’ll get money back for two nights! More dinners out!

But we woke up Sunday, braced for the storm at home, and found a very different picture in the outer banks, especially on Hatteras Island. The back side of the storm hit hard, and flooding was extensive. Because the principals from our rental agency, Outer Beaches Realty, both stayed through the storm (to look after the hundreds of houses they’re responsible for) and are social media savvy, we got information and photos from them that were not being provided on the news channels:

Things were dire.

WD and I did our best to come up with alternate plans. We saw the news that Ocean City was not hit hard, and was opening back up on Sunday, so we figured at the very least, we’d return to our plans to layover there. I was being a little bit irrational, insisting things could improve in the Outer Banks! Let’s not give up hope!

Until I saw this:

And this:

That’s the only road in. The entire island was basically cut off completely.

I remained very depressed over this. Yet I knew if I didn’t knock it off, I’d ruin our vacation. So I tried.

We went to my parents’ house in Connecticut as soon as Irene calmed down in Boston. We’d kept our power all day (even as our across-the-street neighbors lost theirs), just to lose it after the storm had passed and we were packing up the car. I gave a friend my key, and left.

On Monday, we woke at 5 am and dragged the grouchy teens out of bed and in the car.

At noon, we arrived in Ocean City. By 12:30, the girls were in the hotel’s outdoor pool. We strolled the boardwalk, gave the scene a thumb’s up (with limitations, for me), and grabbed a second night.

Tuesday was a beach day, and a really nice one at that. The waves were active – more than I’ve experienced in years – and the water very warm. Potentially the best part was the school of dolphins that frolicked in front of us for a good 15 minutes. They showed us their bellies, their tails, and they did complete jumps out of the water. It was amazing.

We ended up seeing dolphins every day we spent on the coast.

Wednesday, we headed out of Ocean City, and made our way to Virginia Beach, by way of Assateague Island. We saw the wild horses, and enjoyed a stroll on a beach devoid of 10,000 hotels.

I ended up liking Virginia Beach more than Ocean City. The crappy-store/tourist strip doesn’t line the ocean, it’s through the hotels and across the street. Makes for a more pleasant beach, in my opinion.

Both of our hotels (Ocean City and Virginia Beach) had balconies overlooking the ocean. It was fabulous. And since we are used to big city (Boston, NY) hotel prices, they seemed really affordable. Our vacation insurance will result in a full refund for the beach house, so we had a decent budget, and the hotel rooms stayed within that.

We liked Virginia Beach enough (and were happy enough with our 2 bedroom suite), that we decided to stay a third night, our last night in hotels. But the universe disagreed. Our hotel was booked for Friday night, and we couldn’t stay. The prices were spiking for the holiday weekend, and most hotels were full up. WD and I didn’t want, really, to deal with a hotel switch. The girls really wanted to stay on the ocean, and to have another beach day. But we were burned! The beach would have hurt.

So, we went to DC, instead. The hotel prices were with us, since their prices spike for business travelers during the week, and dip on the weekends.

We had a nice 24-hour whirlwind there – 3 museums upon arrival on Friday evening (thank you, extended hours), amazing Thai food at Absolute Thai, Ben & Jerry’s & goofy Discovery channel shows* in the hotel room, then breakfast & 3 monuments in the morning, including the new MLK, Jr. Memorial.

Then we drove to my parents’ house. What should have been a 5 hour ride was instead 7.5, but we survived.

Now we are home. And I’m making plans for next year’s trip to the Outer Banks. So there. (But not in August.)

*No, seriously. The show Man, Woman, Wild had us cracking up. Dude, she gave him an ENEMA! As Mouse said, “I didn’t even know enemas existed before this show!” and yeah, when the girls acted up in the car during our 3 hour traffic-sit on Saturday, I did go there. (doesn’t every good parent threaten their teens with punishment-by-enema?)



  1. I’m so happy you were able to salvage your vacation. It sounds like you had a lot of fun. We really like Virginia Beach a lot and are, in fact, tentatively planning a trip there for a long school weekend in early November, with a stop along the way in Williamsburg. (Another destination I recommend that you see at some point. And, of course, my town.)

  2. […] I emailed my friend-of-old to see if it was free, offered to pay some $$ for the privilege (refused), chatted a bit about how the town we’re headed to was “destroyed” by Irene (why?  why did she have to wreck EVERY SINGLE PLACE we want to go???) […]

  3. […] SuzieJD salvages her vacation. […]

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