Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lighthouses, Ghost Crabs and Seafood: Our Week at Emerald Isle

We spent the last week on a much needed vacation at Emerald Isle, NC.  I haven't actually stayed at Emerald Isle before, we normally do Myrtle Beach or Carolina Beach, so I'm excited to tell you all about our week!

We chose Emerald Isle because we wanted a more chill beach vacation.  Myrtle Beach is really crowded, so is Wrightsville, and we wanted this to be more relaxing than go-go-go.  We went with my mom, my dad had to work.  But before we knew he had to work, we had decided on Emerald Isle because while it's still part of the Outer Banks, it's not a four-hour drive to get there (just three).  We stayed at Queen's Court, which is a condo right on the beach. The facility was great! Our two bedroom was super comfy and the perfect amount of room for the three of us.  We also liked that we could all come and go as we pleased.

This was the view from our condo.

We didn't spend a ton of time on the beach. We mostly went in the mornings because a) it was hot and b) I burn super easy.  God made Sarah to be white, not tan.

Since I normally work out multiple times during the week, we made sure to do a few 3 mile walks. We would walk from our condo to the pier and back, which was about 3 miles.  We also went ghost crab hunting one night. I'd never done that before! We didn't catch one, but someone else did, so we were able to see it.  I tried to get a photo, but it's hard to get a good shot of them! Just know that we did in fact see a ghost crab!

I had Aaron take this shot on one of our walks.  I hadn't seen a beach so deserted and peaceful before! It was too beautiful not to take a photo.

I'm going to be really honest and tell you that I gained five pounds on this vacation. And I regretted none of them! Mom made brownies ahead of time and I was on a steady three to four brownie a day diet. It was glorious.  We also made dinners at home twice to help save money.  But we also ate all the seafood!  Here's where we ate, what I got and what I thought:

Rucker John's, Emerald Isle - This place was recommended to me by a couple of co-worker's and there was a crazy wait each time, so I'm going to say it's a good place to go! We started with the Crab and Crackers, which was really good! And we actually ran out of crackers before we ran out of dip, that's a first! I got the fettucine alfredo with shrimp.  The sauce was nice and thick and they gave me lots of shrimp! I really liked this place.  Our waitress wasn't the best and there was a long wait (about an hour at 6 pm), but it's in a shopping center, so you can shop while you wait.  Definitely worth a visit!

Channel Marker, Atlantic Beach - So, funny story. While here, we actually sat right behind a girl that I grew up with.  I actually recognized her husband first, who I've never even met.  Her back was to me and I didn't want to be a creeper, so I didn't say anything.  But then she posted it on Facebook and I said something. It was just really crazy, you don't expect to see someone you know from Fayetteville at the beach! So the Channel Marker is one of my dad's favorite restaurants, so we made sure to go there.  I started with the She Crab Soup, which was way too rich for me.  There is a restaurant in Fayetteville, NC, where I grew up, called Luigi's, that has the best She Crab Soup.  It can't be beat. I wasn't a huge fan of the She Crab Soup at the Channel Marker, Aaron ended up eating half of mine.  For my entree, I got the Sea Scallops. I love scallops. These were just a tad undercooked. Not to where they were gross, but I wanted them cooked like two more minutes. It was the difference between good and fabulous. Everyone enjoyed their food and the service was great. Would recommend if you're near Atlantic Beach!

Isle Fry Seafood, Emerald Isle - This is a pretty new restaurant.  We met a couple while there and Aaron made a friend, of course. They were an older couple that had moved down to Emerald Isle a few years ago.  They were telling us that the restaurant opened earlier in the year and that they hadn't tried it yet.  The prices were a little high, in my opinion, but you got a ton of food! It's more your fried, Calabash style of seafood.  I got shrimp, Aaron got clam strips and mom got fried oysters and they were all amazing! And so. much. food! Definitely check this place out if you like fried food! You won't be sorry or hungry!

Cape Lookout, NC
My favorite part of our vacation was going to the lighthouse.  Growing up, my Poppa Hollon, my dad's dad, was obsessed with lighthouses. When they were moving Hatteras, he'd go down and take photos every step of the way. I'd never been to one of the lighthouses before and decided that we needed to visit one while we were at the beach. Cape Lookout was the closest and even that was an hour and a half away! Part of that was because we had to take a ferry.  It was definitely worth the trip!

The cool thing about Cape Lookout is that it hasn't really been touched.  As the park ranger told us, the view from the top is pretty much what the keepers saw two hundred years ago.  Pretty cool!

On the ferry, we passed by Shackleford Banks and even got to see some of the wild horses.

We checked out the beach at Cape Lookout while waiting for our turn to climb the lighthouse.  The waters were gorgeous! I honestly didn't feel like I was at a North Carolina beach.  The water was a gorgeous, clear blue.  The sand, however, was crazy hot and burned our feet. You've never seen me sprint so fast as moving over that sand!

The climb up the lighthouse was 207 steps, so 414 steps total.  It wasn't too bad.  There were about four landings that made the climb easier.  But the view, that was totally worth it!

Some views from up top.

Here's a panoramic I took from the top of the lighthouse:

After climbing the lighthouse, we took the ferry back and had dinner at the Channel Marker restaurant.  It was honestly my favorite day of our trip.

I've decided that going to the beach at 31 is very different than it's been in past years. One, I've learned that I really, really hate the sand. I hate how it gets everywhere.  But I also love the calm, peaceful feeling you get when you're at the beach.  I think my favorite way to enjoy the beach is walking on it, not necessarily laying out.  I've finally learned how to enjoy the beach without turning into a lobster (only took 31 years!). But mostly, I think my favorite part about the beach is that you can do whatever. You can be a lazy bum and sleep for 12 hours a day (which I did), eat four brownies a day (I also did), or you can choose to be adventurous (which we also did).  And each one is okay. No one cares what you do and that is glorious.  Plus, we knocked two items off my summer bucket list (week at the beach and a lighthouse).  All in all, I call this vacation a success.  If you haven't been to Emerald Isle, or a lighthouse, check them out!

Happy hump day!

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