To our family Emerald Isle is a place for relaxation, rejuvenation and celebration. As newlyweds my parents made their first visit in the late ’60s. They began making yearly visits with some friends of theirs who had moved to North Carolina from Ohio. It turns out a beach reunion is much more enjoyable than one in a cornfield.
Eventually the “couples” vacations became family vacations in the ’70s, when I was born. As a child, I remember packing for our beach vacation weeks ahead of time. I always packed a suitcase full of games and books. Most of the time this suitcase remained in the closet the entire week we were at the beach. We have always been an outdoorsy bunch, so the majority of our vacations were spent on the beach. When I wasn’t getting bounced around by the waves, I was digging a moat for my sandcastle.
In fact we sometimes enjoyed the sand and surf a bit much…my younger brother almost always ended up with a sore stomach from rafting on the waves. And no matter what, every year someone ended up with a sunburn either on the tops of feet or a little strip on the back that was missed by the sunscreen.
As I became a teenager, family vacations were not quite as enticing as they once were. Yes, I still loved the feel of the sand under my feet, the smell of the sea and the taste of salt on my lips, but there was a boy left behind in Ohio I longed to see. Well, I either had very smart parents or great negotiating skills and my parents invited “the boyfriend” and his family to join us for vacation.
It was on one of these joint family vacations that my husband proposed to me. Early one morning, as the sun was coming up we walked down to the beach and there in the sand was written, “Will you marry me?” This was truly a special proposal and gave me yet another reason to love this place. So, for the last ten plus years we have continued this yearly family vacation. Both my parents and my husband’s parents make the fourteen-hour drive to the beautiful Crystal Coast year after year. We visit the same restaurants and discover new ones each year. We experience funny events that we get to joke about all year long.
We now have two girls of our own, who also are excited about beach vacations. They squeal with delight as we cross “the big bridge”. My stomach is usually swirling with excitement as well, but I manage to contain myself. At the beach grandpa has taught them how to fly a kite, grandma taught our oldest how to tie her shoes and my husband thinks he has taught the girls how to make pretty cool sand sculptures. They have also learned many valuable life lessons…ice cream everyday is okay on vacation, let the sunblock dry before rolling in the sand and best of all, as long as we are all happy naps are optional on vacation.
In addition to the many, many years of family memories we have at Emerald Isle, it has also become a place for us to celebrate. We have celebrated birthdays, engagements and retirements. But most importantly, just two weeks after my father had a cancerous kidney removed he made the trip to Emerald Isle. No, he was not feeling one hundred percent, but the warm sunshine and warm smiles that surrounded him, were the best medicine a doctor could order. It was not until the following summer when he returned, fully recuperated, that we realized just how sick he had been just months before. That vacation was a celebration of life!
Someday I look forward to bringing my grandchildren here. I want to teach them about the shells, the sea life and how to fly a kite. I want to watch them step into the ocean for the first time. I want to take them out for ice cream every night. But most of all I want to continue to make more beach memories.