So, sometime this winter, Val read a book that involved the wild horses in North Carolina. She decided she wanted to see the horses, and so I said, "Okay, let's go." (I think she was a little surprised by this reaction.) We decided we'd rather wait for warmer weather to get here, and I did some googling and found a tour we could go on. (They also do ferries where they just drop you off on an island and you hang out as long as you like, but we weren't sure how her mobility was going to be and figured that a tour where we stayed in the boat would be better. We will be doing this option next time, though.)
Friday the three of us packed up the car and headed for Atlantic Beach. We took the slightly scenic route - 421 to 64 to 40 to 70 (40 to 70 would have been nominally faster). However, the scenic route was prettier, and Val had never seen Jordan Lake, so that way we went.
The drive was easy. We had a pit stop right after the lake, and stopped for lunch at Taco Bell in Smithfield (earning me a slight stomachache. I really should stop with the Taco Bell roulette, but they're cheap and we all like them, so I always talk myself into it) and hit a rest stop further down 70, so we left around 11 and got in around 4:30, which could have been a lot worse.
We got checked into our hotel (which I'd found online, and was relieved that it was decent. I'd read reviews and looked at pictures, but, still, you never know.) One of the attractions of this particular hotel was that they had efficiencies with kitchens - "hey, we can make coffee and breakfast in the morning," I thought. Well, what either isn't on their website or I didn't see was that the efficiencies have a 2 night minimum. However, there wasn't much, accommodations wise, in the area that were close to the water that didn't have a minimum stay or weren't crazy expensive, so I called them back to book two rooms. Well, they turned out to have a hole in an efficiency's booking, with one night available on Friday night, so we could have it if we agreed not to cook so that they didn't have to sanitize the kitchen. Which I agreed to, since it was cheaper than two rooms. (Val is insisting on paying for the whole trip, since it was her idea to begin with, but still.)
So, at any rate, the hotel was perfectly fine. Fully stocked kitchen, free wifi, very clean. Under 10 minutes walk to public beach access. Cinder block construction, so it was nothing pretty, but it was also very quiet (a couple of small parties were gearing up nearby as the sun went down, but inside, we didn't hear a thing). Rates are decent for the area and that close to the water. Grade A, would stay there again.
So we got checked in and unloaded, and talked about what we wanted to do next, and ended up heading to the beach. I got my feet in the water, and immediately was very sad, because I hadn't brought my suit - I'd expected it to still be cold, but it was warm like bathwater. Val got her feet in the water, and all three of us picked up shells for my mom, and grinned at each other.
After that, there was dinner. I had looked online before the trip and picked out a place and run the menu by Jeff. I figured that was easier than trying to agree on somewhere on the spot ("What do you want?" "I don't know, what do you want?" So we headed over the bridge into Morehead City for dinner at the Ruddy Duck Tavern. Val had clam chowder, Jeff had a burger, and they were happy to make me a burger without the bun. The food was good; I'd eat there again.
We were also seated out on the deck, with an amazing view of the Intercoastal Waterway and of the island that Atlantic Beach is on.
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel. The two of them settled in with books, and I went down to the beach and went for a walk in the surf. There were kids playing in the water in their clothes, and if I hadn't been wearing the only shorts I had with me, I would have been in the water too. Curses. :)
Then I came back to the hotel, and there was reading and sleep.
Saturday morning, Jeff and I were awake at about 7:45, but Val was still out cold, which ws good - the more sleep she can gets, the more she is likely to enjoy the day. There was morning internetting. Eventually, Val woke up, and we were packed and out by 9:15.
We headed down the road to the 4 Corners Diner (which we'd spotted on our way to dinner the night before) for breakfast. Verdict: decent, not great, would eat there again but likely to seek out another option first. Service was good, though, and the waitress was sweet to Val, so that won them some points.
After breakfast, we had some time before our 1:00 tour. We ended up going ahead and driving into Beaufort, which was a really cute town. We did some poking around local shops and came home with a couple of souveniors (I even got a t-shirt, which I never do, but it was cute and a good price, so.) We visited the Maritime Museum. We got some coffee, and then it was time to check in for our tour. We didn't have a ton of luck seeing the horses - I hadn't wanted to book the 10am tour because I didn't want us to have to hurry in the morning, but that might have been a better idea for horse spotting. Oh well. We did see some - enough to want to go back - and the tour was nice, and it was lovely to be out on the water.
After that, we headed home, with a stop by DQ for lunch (I had a smoothie). We got in about 7:45.
It was a really good trip, and we all had a good time. It felt like
we were gone for longer than 33 hours. :)
I am ready to stay put for a couple weekends, though. :)