Lessons from an Off-Season Beach Vacation
We added a day to the already three-day weekend last week and headed down to the Outer Banks, in North Carolina. A relative owns a gigantic “cottage” there, a beach house that’s intended to sleep around 20. We’ve found that we love, love, love going down there in the heart of winter, when the vast majority of businesses are boarded up and the beach is deserted as far as the eye can see. Some lessons learned on this trip:
- It really is better to remember the keys to someone else’s house before you’ve driven 1.5 hours. Through rush-hour traffic. Paying for the use of the toll-based express lanes. (When you finally remember the keys that are hanging on the hook at home, be grateful that the cottage has a keypad entry system, designed for summer guests who arrive after hours. Don’t bother driving back for the keys.)
- The weekend following New Year’s Day really is the weekend when most places shut down for the season. Don’t have your heart set on any favorite restaurant. Don’t hold your breath for any particular store. That’s not why you went to the Outer Banks, anyway.
- The restaurants (and movie theaters) that are open are going to be crowded. Very crowded. Plan ahead, if you have time constraints.
- Heat really does rise. When you’re staying on the third floor of a huge cottage, with only the heater for that floor turned on, you will shiver when you walk down to the lower floors. Take a jacket when you go to inventory the bed linens in the lower rooms. Really.
- Sand is much more firmly packed in cold weather, especially after a day of solid rain, than it is in the summer. Plan on walking a lot farther along the beach. But you probably still won’t get to that pier, the one that seems to move farther away with every step you take.
- No matter how thoroughly you think you cleaned your shoes, you’re going to track sand into the house. A lot of sand. Really. Even when you thought you’d knocked off every last grain. Just plan on sweeping it up — it’s easier that way.
- There are few things more enjoyable than curling up on a comfy couch, beneath a warm quilt, sipping from a mug of hot tea, reading a RITA-submission romance novel in the middle of a driving rainstorm.
We had a wonderful break. But it’s oh so hard to get back into the rhythm of working! Of course, with a book release next Tuesday, I don’t have a lot of choice…