Monday, October 17, 2011

Ravenstreet Beach Week 2011

Scott and I spent the first week of October in the company of a few Ravenstreeters + Ravenstreet in-laws in a slightly less than gorgeous house on the Pine Island section of the Outer Banks. The weather was beautiful, if chilly, and I spent a tremendous amount of time on my bike.

Before we got to the beach, though, Scott and I stopped in Charles City, VA, on the banks of the James River for the first ever Virginia edition of the Warrior Dash. He ran a 5k full of obstacles including rope ladders, cars as hurdles, fire, and mud pits.

Oh, so muddy. Scott after completing the Warrior Dash, 10/1/11.
He had a blast. I'm still trying to get mud off my shoes. After he was hosed off, I scrubbed him with baby wipes until he was clean enough to put on fresh clothes and get back in the Highlander. We then raced down to OBX.

I did not keep the same beach schedule as last year, partly because the pool heater was broken and didn't warm the pool until nearly Thursday. Boo hiss. But most of my days found me up at 8:30, breakfasting, shower-dress-makeup, and then heading out for a ride. On Sunday, I got in two rides: one to the Harris Teeter about five miles up the road and then another five mile ride in the afternoon with T and K.

The trail is pretty narrow and has some sandy (read: slippery) spots. Plus, there are beach bunnies and sand kittens you have to watch out for, 10/2/11.
I spent the late afternoon hanging out on the crow's nest of the deck to the beach, watching the ocean waves crash against the shore. While lost in thought, I noticed a flash of movement on the southern side of the deck. Before I could figure out what it was, a small fox with dinner in its mouth padded out from under the deck and continued north along the ocean side of the dune. I tried to snap a photo, but my phone's camera wasn't fast enough. That evening, I pulled out a puzzle I'd brought (but had never put together) and set to work with B on assembling the dratted thing. It took nearly the entire week to put together (others finished the rotten thing in the wee hours of Thursday morning) and almost everybody put at least one piece into the puzzle.

On Monday, I rode the multiuse trail down to Duck to visit Duck Donuts. Thanks to the torrential rains from the previous week, many of the low spots on the trail were humongous puddles or mudholes. One puddle was so deep, the water came over the tops of my pedals on the down stroke. Just before the heart of Duck, I had to cross Rte 12 to ride in the diamond lane on the shoulder. I had the unfortunate luck of riding, thankfully very slowly, into a pothole disguised as a mud puddle. The front tire went in and the bike came to a complete stop. I hopped off the bike into ankle deep water. Ugh. I wrenched my bike from the sucking mud and walked it twenty feet or so until the diamond lane was again clear. By that point, I was too annoyed and frustrated to stop for a doughnut; it would have tasted of ash.

I continued on southward until the diamond lane disappeared and found myself pedaling around a blind corner with traffic whizzing past. Bollocks to that, I decided, and crossed the street where I found this gorgeous path heading back to the north:

A lovely, tree-lined portion of the Duck bike trail. Much calmer than the diamond lanes along Rte 12, 10/5/11.

When I got home, I found a hose and spigot and washed all the mud and sand off my bike. She was filthy. In the afternoon, T, M, and I visited Kitty Hawk Cycle Company where T bought lots of accessories and M got lots of great advice from the proprietor about what type of bike she might find most comfortable and useful. If you're biking on the Outer Banks and need a quick repair or gear, go see that guy. In the evening, several of us enjoyed a cut-throat-which-turned-helpful-when-it-got-way-too-late game of Trivial Pursuit. Seriously, we were up until nearly 2am and were practically giving each other the answers just so someone would win. I finally won with, I think, the Smashing Pumpkins as my answer.

Tuesday was Scott 's and my night to cook for everyone. We grocery-shopped in the morning and decided to drive farther down the Outer Banks than we'd explored in years past. I wanted to check out Manteo since I'd found an adorable-looking B&B online that is located there. The main street is picturesque and the pace seems relaxing. We drove up to the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site but didn't explore much because I wanted to save that for a dedicated trip to Roanoke Island. We got home in plenty of time to lube my bike's chain and to heat up lasagna, thaw out lemon icebox pie, and make a lovely salad for our merry crew.

Wednesday was supposed to be Scott 's and my day for biking to the Currituck Beach Lighthouse, but he wasn't feeling well. I headed back down to Duck and planned to ride all the way down to Southern Shores, but when I left Duck, I decided that ride was going to be boring and tedious, not to mention spent fully in the sun. I turned around and explored quiet residential streets and then spent several hours wandering through the Scarborough Lane shopping center (that thing went on and on and on). Like a doofus, I'd left my basket at the house so I rigged up a fairly successful pannier out of a couple of reusable shopping bags that I always carry. The items in the bag made it heavy enough that it didn't bounce around or jump into my back spokes. Always a bonus. Happily, T accompanied me on the way home just before I reached the Sanderling Resort area.

I spent the afternoon watching the waves again and then realized that the wind was fairly high. (Okay, the wind is almost always high on the ocean side of the dune, but it was especially high at this point.) I jogged back to the house and grabbed my bat kite. It popped right into the air. Hmm, thought I. I disassembled the bat kite and jogged back to the house and grabbed my humongous butterfly kite. Last year, C, Scott , and I spent a good half hour running up and down the beach trying to get that monster airborne. This year, it practically flew out of my hands and soared like I've never seen. T joined me and set her kite aloft. Eventually, Scott wandered down to the beach and held my kite while I chased sanderlings and gulls through the surf. Man, that water was chilly!

T's blue butterfly and my rainbow butterfly took to the sky above OBX, 10/5/11.
Thursday was yet another glorious day, weather-wise, and Scott felt well enough for the eleven mile ride to historic Corolla.

My favorite house, 10/6/11.

By this time, I was fairly comfortable with riding on the shoulder of Rte 12 (which was good because a fair chunk of the trip was without a bike path), but whenever we found a trail I obliged Scott by leaving the road and using the path.

A lovely (and tiny) stretch of multi-use trail in Corolla which gave us a breather from playing in traffic, 10/6/11.
After fifty minutes of cycling, we finally arrived at Historic Corolla Village where we toured the gorgeous Whalehead Club. Absolutely worth the price of admission for this lover of things Arts&Crafts and Art Nouveau. After our tour, we rode over to the light house and took a tour of the grounds. We teased each other about climbing the 214 steps to the top of the lighthouse but in the end we decided to save our legs for the eleven mile ride back home.

The Currituck Beach Lighthouse. It's red because the builders (or people who lived near the light, I don't remember the story) didn't want to cover up the lovely brickwork with paint, 10/6/11.
By this point, we were famished and rode out of the historic district and into Corolla proper for lunch at Fat Crabs Rib Company. Scott had the crab cakes and I enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich. The ride home was easy-peasy and I was so warm when we got home that I immediately changed into my swimsuit and ran for the beach. Scott, fully-dressed, followed to keep an eye on me, which was almost warranted. The waves were huge and no sooner had I waded out to hip deep water than a huge swell lifted me off my feet. In the trough, I tried wading back to shore, but the rip was too strong for me to move forward. Luckily, it wasn't so strong that it pulled me off my feet or away from the beach; I simply couldn't move. So, I looked over my shoulder and waited for the next huge wave/swell (which wasn't long in coming). The next wave picked me up and very nearly threw me onto the beach. That was enough ocean time for me! I warmed up in the pool and then the hot tub before showering and dashing out for what turned out to be a very long manicure.

I'd promised the other ladies that we could ride together to Duck when I felt the trail was dry enough for people even more novice than myself. Friday was the day!

Ladies' trip with (r-l) T, B, M, and me to Duck for lunch and shopping, 10/7/11.

The giant puddle and mudhole had shrunk but were still sizable so we hopped off bikes and walked on the shoulder to pass those, but the rest of the ride was a breeze. We took occasional breaks and went at an easy pace. We shopped and shopped, ate a hearty lunch at Fishbones, and shopped some more to let lunch settle.

Shopping! Thank goodness for multiple baskets and the bungee cargo net, 10/7/11.
The ride home was fairly easy and I was so proud of the other ladies. M's first ride on my Schwinn was the day before. T's first ride on her bike was the previous Monday. B had ridden her bike a lot during the week, but the ten mile round trip was her longest ride for sure. So proud! I couldn't ride ten miles in my first week of biking this past May. Friday evening was extremely quiet. I spent the time uploading photos from my camera and packing my suitcases. We all drove up to Corolla for a lovely dinner at a restaurant whose name I can't remember.

Saturday closed our wonderful beach vacation. We cleaned out fridges and pantries and loaded up vehicles. We were on the road shortly after 9am. I had Scott stop at Duck Donuts so I could finally get a doughnut. Happily, he obliged. Traffic off the island wasn't too bad, but I-64W after Norfolk was AWFUL and I-95 N was even worse between Richmond and Ashland. It took over seven hours to get home. I was so grateful that we would have Sunday to recover from the drive.

The full set of trip pictures starts here.

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