This past spring, I decided to try this concept myself. My husband doesn't love the beach like I do, but hey, for 24 hours, he'll go with it. I was lucky enough to find the perfect place, Topsail Beach, North Carolina, just a couple of hours from our southern home near Raleigh. Topsail beach has areas that are dog friendly, so we decided to bring our English Bulldog, Bubba, along too. We found a relatively new, small, private motel that was pet friendly and just 2 miles from the beach.
With beach chairs, umbrella, blanket, cooler, dog food and just a duffle bag packed with clothes, off we went. Being spring, it wasn't quite warm enough to plan on swimming, but it was a gorgeous day to take a long walk, relax, and watch the waves. The drive wasn't bad and we weaved off the highway to get to Topsail Beach through quiet rural North Carolina. Leaning old tobacco barns and fields gave a glimpse into the past.
The beach community was like many that we've seen along the shores of North Carolina, rows of beach houses, many on stilts with layers of deck space to enjoy the view. Parking was free and right next to the beach. We loaded our beach gear into our arms and juggled the dog as we trudged up the driftwood colored stairs until we reached the peak where we were greeted with a sparkling water view, soft breeze and the salty smell of sea air. Ahhhhh….
After setting up our beach camp, we decided to take Bubba for a walk along the water where his big wrinkly face made people passing by smile and some stopped to give him a much welcomed massage. Some of his fellow canine friends were happy to say hello and gestured to play while others snarled as their owners tugged them the other way. The seashore was a new experience to Bubba, we enjoyed watching him discover the waves and laughed as he ran away when they scrambled towards him.
As we returned to our beach spot, we noticed some young people gathering around the volleyball net just 50 yards away from our chairs. It appeared they too brought their dogs, without my glasses on. But as we got closer, we found there was a dog and a pet pig! Both the pig and dog enjoyed hanging out on the beach as their owners played volleyball. Bubba intently watched the potbelly pig, seemingly trying to figure out what kind of four-legged creature it was.
As the sun started to head towards the horizon, we went to check into our motel. A jolly man behind the front desk handed us our key and gave us a suggestion for a local seafood restaurant in the next town over, Sneads Ferry. Again, we weaved through local neighborhoods off the beaten path until we found the small white wooden restaurant tucked in a cove on the water. A rugged trawling boat resembling the shrimp boat that Forest Gump sailed on was tied to the dock next to the parking lot. Bubba was happy to take a much needed nap in the car with the cool evening breeze blowing through the cracked car windows.
"Sit anywhere you like, " a bustling waitress directed us flicking her head in the direction of the dining room where casual wooden tables and chairs with paper placemats sat waiting, only a few holding patrons.
A blackboard on the wall outlined the specials; deviled crab with hush puppies, local oysters, fried shrimp with fries, for landlovers, meatloaf, and dessert homemade coconut custard pie. The menu outlined more seafood options, mostly fried. So we tried the cuisine that we never had or rarely get the opportunity to eat, the deviled crab and raw oysters and topped it off with the homemade pie, one of my favorites that my mother used to make. It was tasty, not necessarily the best meal ever, but we loved the opportunity to explore, try something different.
The ride home to our motel didn't disappoint. A roadblock forced us to take a new direction back. Once again we weaved through southern culture noticing a home that stood out from the rest. A single story home, nestled in amongst others similar to it, surrounded by multiple chained link fences, creating paddocks with signs attached to the outer edges saying, "Stay Away", "Do Not Feed or Touch the Animals". Inside a peacock, an ostrich and a zebra. Yes, a zebra. I reached for my camera, but then thought it better not to stand out more as a Yankee in our car that already had NY plates.
Our snoring bulldog interrupted a good night sleep, but at least one of us slept well. Fresh coffee and yogurt from our cooler sufficed for breakfast, then we took another long morning walk along the beach before heading home. The change from our everyday environment was refreshing and it gave us what most trips do, more good stories to share. And who knew, our trip to the shore would be like a trip to the zoo?
Do you have any good stories to share from your shortcations?
To see more pictures from our Topsail 24-Hour vacation, visit Bubba's Pinterest page: http://bit.ly/1bgQ5Md