Monthly Archives: May 2012

Weekend Roadtrip to Outer Banks

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Marc and I finally made it to the Outerbanks (OBX), which allowed us to cross it off our “30 places before 30 bucket list.” We left Charlotte on a Friday morning and managed to make it to OBX by mid-afternoon. Here’s the mixed review.

The stay. Oasis Suites is a charming little boutique hotel with panoramic waterfront views. I truly enjoyed my stay, but there’s practically a rolling list of reasons why we’d never write an “excellent” review for the hotel. Here it goes:

  • Its proximity to a really busy road makes traffic noise slightly annoying. The website actually says, “Welcome to the Oasis Suites, located on the Nags Head Causeway.” They’re not kidding; it’s truly on the causeway. It’s also right on the water, so it’s an awful/awesome location.
  • We weren’t big fans of the actual town of Nags Head and the touristy feel that penetrated it.
  • We waited in the lobby for 5-10 minutes before we were greeted.
  • We felt a bit jaded that the amenities mentioned on the website weren’t available to us. The hot tub wasn’t operating, which was quite disappointing. They also mentioned the availability of grills on the website, which either don’t exist or we overlooked them.
  • We had to call to ask for another toilet paper roll since the “accommodating housekeeping team” didn’t bother to restock it.
  • Water flooded the bathroom floor every time we took a shower.

There were also good things about our stay so, to be fair, here’s the list of things we liked:

  • Gorgeous waterfront view and small private balcony.
  • Gazebo.
  • Spotless room.
  • Full kitchen.
  • Staff mailed me the clothes I left behind and I received them within a few days (I, of course, paid for the postage). It was still good customer service, though.

The meal. After we settled into Oasis Suites, Marc and I headed out to dinner. We didn’t research where to eat, which landed us at Ocean Boulevard Bistro and Martini Bar. We were the first patrons to arrive and since we were the only couple dining, we assumed the service would be stellar. We were let down in a huge way. The waitress had a nasty attitude toward us (we felt like age discrimination was at play) and she simply never made us feel like appreciated patrons. For that reason, I tipped her something like 10-15% which I absolutely never do. She rubbed me the wrong way. Also, for being a white table cloth restaurant, I was disappointed with my meal, as well.

The fun. Marc and I woke up on Saturday and drove South toward Cape Hatteras. We climbed the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in America, which was approximately 12 stories high. The view from the top was stunning, so I’m definitely glad we paid the money and took the time to climb it. We also did some other sightseeing, but nothing too noteworthy.

The big let down. After admiring the lighthouse and surrounding area, we headed further South to check out the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” I hate to be negative, but I truly felt like this attraction wasn’t worth the drive and I doubt I could even get a history buff disagree with me.  Marc and I were deeply disappointed. It was basically a small museum with little to see.

The fitness. The whole reason why we went on a weekend getaway to the OBX was so I could run in my first half marathon, the Flying Pirate Half Marathon. We woke up on Sunday to pouring down rain. I almost backed out of the race due to the rain and a small injury, but Marc provided me with the encouragement I needed to to accomplish the goal I had set out to reach. I completed my first half marathon in 2:12:24 and enjoyed experiencing OBX by foot. The course was a mixture of residential neighborhoods, pathways, roads, and muddy trails. It was great to have the support of the locals during the run. Their cheerleading seriously gave me the energy to keep running.

 

The lessons learned. We won’t stay in Nags Head if we visit OBX again. Instead, we’ll opt for a hotel or beach house in Duck since that was our favorite area and its more suitable for two yuppies. We’ll still drive, because it’s doubtful we’ll find cheap tickets for air travel.

The missed experience. Due to less than perfect weather for most of the weekend, we weren’t able to drive to Corolla to see the wild horses. We also missed out on the beautiful Currituck Lighthouse. I also felt like I was missing out on all the wind surfing and kite boarding fun.

~ Lyndsi

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Attending the 138th Running of the Kentucky Derby

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I’m a native Kentuckian, so the first Saturday in May has always been a special day for me. When the horns play before the big race, I still get chills down my body. When you watch the event on TV, perhaps its perfection is what gives me chills; the perfectly manicured grass and track, picturesque steeples, and gorgeous horses. This year, Lyndsi and I were able to attend; this was her first Derby. What we found was the serenity you see on TV is very different in person.

The Good

  • Mint juleps really are a seasonal drink that live up to the hype. Though at $11 each, they should. Even if you’re not a bourbon lover (like Lyndsi), you’ll become a fan. Crisp, refreshing, and sweet. Bring cash, they don’t take credit cards.
  • The Derby did not disappoint when it came to the people-watching and circus of it all. People really do go all out for this, and it makes for an amusing and entertaining day. Seersucker suits, bow ties, crazy hats, nothing is out of bounds.
  • The race itself is truly exciting and captivating. Even if you don’t have a horse in the race (no pun intended), you can’t help but feel your adrenaline rushing as they come down the stretch.

The Bad

  • Long lines, expensive food/drinks (is that a surprise) make the day less enjoyable.
  • They say the Derby weather is either cold or hot, there is no in-between. That proved itself true this year, as the 85-degree sunny weather became unbearable at times.
  • Churchhill Downs is beautiful, but once you get into it, it shows its age. It could definitely use some renovations and fresh coats of paint.
  • We had grandstands seats, which sounds luxurious, but it was literally uncovered bleachers without seat-backs. You had to stand on them to see the track, and being in direct sunlight made it rather uncomfortable.
  • We were desperately looking for a cool place to sit in the hours leading up the race. Instead, there were crowds, lines, and people everywhere I looked. It would be nice if there were some air-conditioned lounges to more of the general public. We were so uncomfortable that we went back to our car to sit in the AC for a while.

The Bottom Line

  • Everyone should attend the Derby at least once. It’s a fun experience and there’s nothing else like it. I love the traditions behind it, and its importance to my home state is enormous. But unless you have tons of money to spend to be on Millionaire’s Row, I think I’ll be watching from home at a Derby party. The enormous crowds, belligerent drunks, unbearable heat, inflated prices, and traffic nightmares will be hard to forget.

~ Marc

Two Yuppies … Back?

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Perhaps it’s part of my nature, but I’ve felt guilty since last October. We’ve left our little blog neglected over the last 6+ months, after putting a lot of effort into getting it going. Life got the way, we weren’t traveling as much for a while, whatever the excuse may be, part of me really misses blogging about our travel adventures. Fortunately, we’ve visited the Outer Banks, experienced the wild Kentucky Derby, and more since then, so there are some good posts planned.

Cheers!

~ Marc