Down The Dunes We Went

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In May we drove to the Outer Banks in North Carolina for a long over due vacation. I was was excited and hesitant at the same time, because we were doing a 4×4 vacation. This meant we had to rent a 4 wheel drive jeep, and drive 3.5 miles down the beach, and over dunes to get to our final destination, our vacation home for the week.

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Driving down the beach for the first time felt a bit unnerving to put it mildly. We got in later in the afternoon and high tide was trickling in. High tide when on a 4×4 vacation means you must drive in deep ruts and yes, over dunes. As the passenger it felt like we were going to tip over more times than one. I kept yelling at my husband to slow down, while I held on to the roof as if that would stop us from rolling! He finally told me to get out my camera and redirect my anxiety, so I did!

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The dunes were beautiful. My mind was beginning to change gears. I kept wondering as we drove in how I was going to handle being sort of stuck off the main beat and path for 7 days, due to time constraints due to the tides and you sure don’t want to be driving 3.5 miles down the beach after dark- there are no lights.  However, once we got settled in I realized that this was my paradise for the week. Every vacation I’ve been on demanded plans from morning until evening. Sometimes you really do need time just to chill. I never dreamed that it was possible to enjoy time by ‘enjoying time.’ I never realized that sometimes when you take a vacation where you cook in more than out, walk the beach each day, see wild horses in your yard and trotting on the beach, watch the sand pipers, pelicans and more can bring you the most peace.  It’s pretty cool to be taking a hike along the beach and suddenly see the Wild Mustangs come trotting right by you. It’s even better when you have your camera!

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This was the ‘road’ going up and down the dune to our vacation rental, and it was much steeper than it appears in this photo below.

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This Wild Mustang was on the side of the dune as I was walking down for my daily hike along the beach.

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I have a camera with 30x Optial zoom and I was able to capture this fishing boat from shore. My husband estimated the boat was out at least 3-4 miles.

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My husband surf fishing. The guys surf fished every afternoon until dusk. The gals… well we sat on the beach with our drinks in hand, and jamming to tunes. We pretended to share in our husbands thrill of surf fishing.  All kidding aside, it was surreal watching the tides and sunset each evening.

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A view of the beach and a storm was just beginning to brew. Nothing like a thunderstorm rolling in over the ocean!

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I have been fortunate to vacation in many States over the years, but this by far was not only a fun vacation, but the most relaxing. Most people say they need a vacation from their vacation once they get home. For the first time we were able to say, it’s nice to be home, but I feel so renewed!

We stayed on Swan Beach. You enter the ‘beach road’ from Corolla. Route 12 ends on a beach ramp, and the beach road then becomes Route 12. If you drive down the entire beach road approximately 7 miles or so you will hit the Va border.

I can’t wait to go back, because I finally realized a vacation is what you make of it, and honestly I felt like a young child again without any agenda!

Do You Travel A lot? Tips to Assure a Clean Hotel Room

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If you travel a lot, and tend to be picky about the hotel room you will be sleeping in- I have a few tips.

Since I do travel quite frequently I have found myself getting quite picky about the hotel I stay in, my room in particular!

My first choice is always a Marriott Brand Hotel, and I expect quality from them because they do claim to “pursue excellence.”

Over the past five years or so I have encountered some Marriott properties that were far from ‘excellent.”  However, my over all experience has been fairly positive. With that said, it only takes a few bad experiences to make me a bit paranoid about booking with another property. I had to find a way to make sure I was going to get a room that is extremely clean and maintained well.

My tips will hopefully help others to get a room with the level of comfort and cleanliness they expect.

  • Check ratings on the actual hotel site first
  • Go to TripAdvisor and compare ratings there too
  • Make sure to call the hotel after you book online and specify your needs
  • Make a follow up call 24-48 hours before arriving and ask to speak with the General Manager specifying your needs again.
  • Be sure the GM repeats your requests back to you, and assures you it’s also documented on their computer system with your reservation.
  • Become a rewards member, the hotels tend to go above and beyond for their customers that are rewards members.
  • Be specific

I always ask for a room on the highest floor away from noise. I ask them not to spray air freshener in my room, after all if it’s cleaned properly what’s the need for air freshener?!

I also ask them to make sure my A/C is in good working condition and relay to the hotel that I expect my room to be exceptionally clean.  Sadly, I’ve been blessed with unpacking all my belongings only to find the toilet seat once lifted was not cleaned.  I have found dust bunnies waiting for me, and I even had the pleasure of finding a not so nice ‘gift’ in the toilet when I checked into my room at one specific property.

Your paying for a service and you should expect nothing less than quality.

I have had good luck since I’ve been calling ahead and making sure to read the ratings. If there only a few current bad ratings- pay attention.

Wishing you great travel experiences, it makes life a bit easier, and you deserve to feel pampered! Feel free to share your experiences or tips.