Summertime in the Outer Banks

By Rosemary Burns | April 3rd, 2018

Memories illuminate the mind like lightning bugs

OBX Outer Banks

For several years in the late ’60s and early ’70s, my family vacationed in the Outer Banks. I was one of eight kids, and we would meet up with our aunt and uncle (who had five kids), and rent two adjoining cottages on Lindbergh Avenue in Kitty Hawk.

Now, when I say cottages, I mean old school, small, single-storied, un-air conditioned, bring-your-own-sheets-towels-and-box-fans cottages! That was a standard summer vacation back in the day! And we were so happy to be able to experience it. It was nothing like the lovely massive estates that dot the shores of the OBX of today.

Imagine if you will, 13 kids, four parents, two grandmothers and an array of pets all cooking, eating, swimming, playing and sleeping in two tiny, hot houses! We played endless games of Gin Rummy, Crazy Eights and Go Fish. We rode bikes, played tag and Mother May I, and caught lightning bugs. It was magical.

It was, and is still, a great place to vacation with your family. So great in fact, that my parents were able to eventually buy a beach house in Kitty Hawk in their retirement and opened it up to their ever-expanding extended family. They named it “Casa de Abuelos”! It became and remains THE premiere vacation destination for our family.

Dad has been gone five years now, but he is still very much felt in spirit at the beach house. Dad traveled quite a lot for his career, but the OBX was his favorite place to be. He puttered around his house fixing what he could, reading books and collecting large white clamshells from the beach and lining his flowerbeds with them. Mom still enjoys her home by the sea as often as possible.

I have been a parent myself now for thirty years. My husband and I honeymooned on the OBX and we have been bringing our four kids here ever since. Our very favorite thing to do each trip is climb the majestic Jockey’s Ridge sand dunes. Picture a massive sandbox for the entire family to play in. From the delicious feel of your hamstrings burning as you climb the ever-shifting dunes to that moment when you reach the pinnacle and stop to catch your breath and look around, only to experience the breath-taking views of sea and sound! Like a child, you don’t resist the urge to run and jump off the edge of the dune only to turn right around to climb back up again and again!

Look up! Colorful kites and hang gliders soar overhead. Sunsets are spectacular … standing on top of Jockey’s Ridge, I can sense stress being blown away by the sea breezes. I can feel the sun warming my body, and if I close my eyes, I can see myself as a ten-year-old girl wearing a cotton romper, my nose freckled and sunburned, running around barefoot and sporting a great big smile knowing that I am loved and cared for and on a summer vacation with my family.

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