Another Weird Week in Corolla, NC

You know how I tried laugh­ing off the short­com­ings of the Out­er Banks ear­li­er this month? That’s a hoot! Let’s just chalk that up to post-trau­mat­ic stress in the after­math of Irene, ok? I mean, who wants to see their vaca­tion des­ti­na­tion wiped off the map just as it’s time to kick back and relax?

Let’s get right down to it, shall we? The food: still ter­ri­ble. If it weren’t for the Har­ris Teeter con­ve­nient­ly locat­ed in Corol­la, we’d be at a total loss. The best meals we eat in the Out­er Banks are those we make our­selves. There are I think now three places that I will give mon­ey for food and they are: Corol­la Vil­lage BBQ, which we final­ly found after ven­tur­ing into the island’s his­toric dis­trict; Light­house Bagels and Deli, though the bagels were much doughi­er than I remem­bered them being; and Bad Bean Bur­ri­to, locat­ed in Tim­BuckII stripmall.

Every­thing else? For­get it.

You can spend an awful lot of mon­ey try­ing to find some­thing good to eat in the Out­er Banks and it’s my belief that you should­n’t even both­er try­ing. There’s not a good seafood restau­rant to be found. If any­one knows where to get a decent piz­za, please let me know because our old stand­by, Cos­mo’s, has fall­en off since we dis­cov­ered it in 2009.

Lodg­ing is anoth­er mat­ter alto­geth­er. We lived in three dif­fer­ent hous­es in the five years we’ve gone to Corol­la. Last year was our first week in a pala­tial house (pic­tured above) and we could­n’t have been hap­pi­er after being holed up with our two month old in a run­down rental dur­ing back-to-back Nor’east­ers in ’09. This year the cracks have start­ed to show. I guess famil­iar­i­ty does breed con­tempt! The couch­es are thread­bare, the fridge won’t close, the beds are atro­cious­ly uncom­fort­able and, yes, the cable pack­age isn’t exact­ly opti­mal. No inter­ac­tive guide? No wi-fi? We may as well camp on the beach!

I kid, but you’d think rental com­pa­nies would con­sid­er mak­ing upgrades reg­u­lar­ly since the rental mar­ket is so soft.

Over­all though, things went pret­ty well, con­sid­er­ing we dodged two hur­ri­canes and a trop­i­cal storm. Katia wrecked the beach for us, which meant spend­ing more time in the pool (not a bad thing) and Lee just brought sti­fling humid­i­ty to the area. It’s still a great place to spend a week doing absolute­ly noth­ing and that’s what vaca­tion is all about at this point in my life. Relax­ing as much as pos­si­ble while chas­ing Char­lie up and down a beach and play­ing in the ocean. Wish I did­n’t have to wait a year to do it all again.

In Praise of Atlantic City

Helen, Char­lie and I just spent anoth­er won­der­ful week­end vis­it­ing our friends Frank and Suzanne in Atlantic City. That’s right: Atlantic City. It may not be the ide­al set­ting to try and raise a fam­i­ly, but it’s a com­plete­ly under­rat­ed week­end spot, if you ask me.

Sure, we’re lucky; we’ve befriend­ed a cou­ple who invite us reg­u­lar­ly to stay at their amaz­ing arts and crafts home on the south end of town, far from the casi­nos. Need I men­tion it’s just a block off the beach? Yeah, we’ve got it tough, but we manage. But even if you set aside our good for­tune, the Atlantic City we like to vis­it is a far cry from the Atlantic City most tourists see. When we vis­it, it’s like step­ping back in time. The tree-lined streets are cool, the hous­es are enor­mous, beau­ti­ful and unique and the beach is tran­quil and free.

If Helen and I are going to see a show at the Bor­ga­ta, we take the Jit­ney, which may be one of the most amaz­ing ways to trav­el in Atlantic City. You trav­el at about a mil­lion miles per hour through the dens­est traf­fic known to man and yet some­how end up at your des­ti­na­tion in one piece. It’s been in use since 1912 and I hope it’s nev­er replaced by the dull mass tran­sit we’ve come to expect in most munic­i­pal­i­ties, unless Atlantic City ponies up for a mono­rail. (Yes, I’m halfway seri­ous. It would be amazing.)

Atlantic City is hard­ly per­fect, but it’s got­ten a bad rap thanks to the des­per­ate mea­sures under­tak­en to replace the tourist econ­o­my that made it so pros­per­ous. I’m hope­ful that the upcom­ing series Board­walk Empire on HBO sheds some light on what made the town the hotspot it once was and not just the gang­sters who ran all the rack­ets under Prohibition.

Sure, I’m a suck­er for the hey­day of the Rust Belt, but it’s a far sight more inter­est­ing that any­thing the Sun Belt has to offer as far as I’m concerned.