Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Back to Ocracoke

 Our first trip to Ocracoke last year was so magical that I pledged to visit every year for the rest of my life if I could. This past weekend, we made our first return, with our lovely friends Holly and Arthur in tow! We sold them an amazing vision in our pitch: riding bikes all over the island, hiking dunes, hitting the beach in the morning and sunset cruises in the evening.

And then we got to the island, and it rained for the entire first day. Oops.

 The good news is that a heavy downpour doesn't damper the island's spirit one bit. The first good thing was that our hotel suite was upgraded to a cottage rental at no additional cost. WIN!

Although we were super bummed to not be able to ride our bikes everywhere (we learned the hard way that riding without fenders makes your backside look like you've been mud wrestling), we had so much fun meeting the insanely friendly locals and fellow tourists.

On Friday, we rode our bikes in the rain, showered and went out to Zillie's Island Pantry, the ultimate wine/beer/gourmet goods store where everybody knows your name. You can purchase a glass of wine to sip while you shop, grab a beer on tap or even get a beer from the fridge and pop the cap. From there, the "small world" weekend began...the man who poured my wine lived in the same tiny community as me as a principal for my high school years!

 From Zillie's, we went to Ocracoke Pizza Co. to pick up a pepperoni pizza and go back home to settle in for a rainy, rainy night.

 Luckily, Sunday was gorgeous. We enjoyed coffee and tea in our sunroom, then ventured out for lunch and shopping (still sadly sans our bikes).

 We headed to The Flying Melon, where I couldn't help but get the same delicious honey lime chicken sandwich I had last year. Then Arthur, Holly and I browsed in some shops before heading back to Zillie's to do some day-drinking and visiting. It was the most FUN afternoon. By the time we left, we felt like we'd made new best friends...

 Like with this lady, who insisted Holly try on every hat for sale and gushed at how cute she looked. Adorable.

 Happy beer drinking crew!

 After Zillie's, we sloshed through our wet backyard to take at least a couple minutes to stand on our tiny strand of beach. How cute is our house?

 Everyone at Zillie's told us our next stop had to be happy hour at Smacnally's, where we could sip cocktails while watching the spectacular sunset. The boys enjoyed 2-Hearted beers and Holly and I enjoyed matching pineapple-peach mimosas.

 Everyone at Zillie's was right. That was a good plan.

 From Smacnally's we marched down the road to have dinner at Dajio, an incredibly inventive restaurant with an ever-changing seasonal menu. Holly and I both ordered the Lime Chile Pesto linguine with chicken and it was like a delicious fusion of Thai and Italian. So good.

Not Pictured: The hours we spent sitting on the upstairs balcony literally watching shooting stars. Before Sunday night, I had seen one in my life. I've now seen about eight! It was incredible to see the stars so clearly, listening to the ocean and just talking about life.

 Monday morning, it was back to reality. We had to return our bikes (riding through the still-flooded streets, unfortunately) and hit the road.

 But not without a detour to visit the Ocracoke Lighthouse (and its guard cat, obviously)...

 And definitely not without enjoying a delicious breakfast at Ocracoke Coffee. I thoroughly enjoyed my Asiago bagel with — wait for it — bacon, onion and jalapeno cream cheese. Oh man, I'll be dreaming about that for a long time.

 Please ignore my billowing T-shirt and just acknowledge the sad/joyful experience of taking a free ferry ride away from your amazing weekend escape. Bye bye magical island life; hello mainland drudgery!

The nicest thing about driving back from Ocracoke is that you're still in the Outer Banks for most of the trip, so it makes it a little easier to drag your vacation out. We had a delicious lunch at the Nags Head standby, Tortuga's Lie (that's a jerk chicken salad with pineapple wrap and "island fries").

And the final treat to help us rip off the Band Aid and return to real life: a half-dozen Duck Donuts, hot and fresh with delicious glaze. I have yet to have a donut with a better consistency, with a subtle crunch from the fried exterior giving way to soft, pillowy cake inside. Cue the angels singing.

We're already fantasizing about a longer trip in 2015, hopefully with better weather and smarter packing skills! (I seriously packed two white sweaters...for a rainy weekend.)

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