A Most Unusual Vacation!

How our unplanned vacation came to be!

After spending the weekend at a camp meeting in North Carolina, which we enjoyed very much, the question was whether to make a beeline for home or spend a few days on vacation. Now, I absolutely love the idea of vacation. Who doesn't? It gets me excited and I start planning, looking up websites, delighting in the thought of time off. This time my attitude was quite different.

Some issues had come up in our family, difficulties I was unwilling to tackle while on vacation, so the easy route led north to PA and my safe, secure, familiar home. Why go on vacation if I dread it? My exasperating (at least to me right at the time) husband thought otherwise! He was quite sure it was not only a good idea to take off several days, after an extremely busy few months, but even went so far as to say he thinks that is what God wants us to do. One thing he said did actually make sense to me and that was the fact that this time together as a family could be just what we needed to be able to deal with the issues. I finally relented, telling him, "There's nothing like going on vacation because I have to! It's a trial but I'll do it if you think we should." I was in for the surprise of my life :)

That first morning we got an early start, but hit some really rocky spots (spiritually/emotionally) that had to be dug into and tossed out of the way. After a lot of prayer and talking over the issues, our God came through to deliver and restore and encourage again. He is so faithful. It was the storm before the calm!

We drove east, heading for the coastline but not knowing for sure where we were going. One thing we did each morning was ask God to guide us and show us what His plan was for that day. We have never been to Outer Banks and thought it might be the perfect time to explore that part of the United States. Maybe the beaches would be less crowded since school started, yet the weather was still lovely. We poked around in a cute little historic village called Bath, but didn't find what we were looking for, so we kept driving and having a great time together with peace and happiness restored. And then...

We found what we were looking for! At just the right time, we drove in to the ferry dock and got in line. The ferry took us from the mainland to the the little island village of Ocracoke on The Outer Banks of North Carolina. Sheer delight and God's gift! Julian is loving the ferry ride and Dr Pepper...

Jacki had lots of fun bouncing from one spot to the next on the windy deck of the ferry...

As you can see, I was loving it...and didn't get a whole lot written in my journal. I felt so delighted to have this gift of a ferry ride at sunset on this beautiful evening.

Disclaimer: on the last day of the camp meetings in North Carolina our camera broke. I don't know why, or what I did wrong, but the lens positively would not budge. I was so distressed. As a result, these photos are all taken with Dale's phone camera, which came to my rescue, because no vacation is complete without pictures. That is how Jacki and I feel about it anyway. Even though the quality bothers me, the memories these images evoke are priceless.

Absolutely the very best children in the world, Julian and Jacquelyn. I love, love them!

Absolutely the best guy around, my husband Dale. I love him more than anyone else in the world!

We were given the gift of a stunning sunset over the water. I am beginning to wonder what God has in store for us. It's looking fabulous already...

We sail off into the deep blue sea...and our destination is Ocracoke Village on The Outer Banks. I am delighted with it as soon as I see it. Another gift from God.

Next morning, this darling little coffee shop had an attraction for me, so Dale, Jacki, and I walked down from our inn, while Julian got a little extra sleep (what does he care about coffee anyway!).
The sign says "Serving Scrumptualescent Coffee" and that is perfectly descriptive of the coffee and the shop. It is the best coffee I've ever had...or maybe I was just so charmed by it all!

An inviting corner in the coffee shop

Chess anyone...maybe not at 6:30 a.m. Yes, we do early mornings even on vacation; we are programmed that way :)

Lovely way to start the day...

Ocracoke Village has a lighthouse. We couldn't go inside but Jacki and I loved it's darling cuteness.

The ferry coming into the harbor across the street from our inn. Seriously, we step out the door and across the street and right onto the boat dock.

As we had hoped, the beaches were practically deserted. Julian and Dale, exploring the sea and sky.

This whole scene just grabs me and inspires me. I took a long, solitary walk along this beach and was brought into peace and rest.

Jacki, who really had not wanted to go on this trip either, was completely enthralled with this place! She was so happy here...

Miles and miles of sea oats on sand dunes

Dazzling, bright, bubbling...Jacki read online that we can collect sea shells off the beaches here, so that is just what we did. Our little souvenirs of this magical place...

Village scene...our inn is across the water. Jacki and I walked through most of Ocracoke, it's that tiny.

Jacki and Julian, having an ice cream and bagel snack

My cup of coffee that first morning was the best...Ecuadorian coffee made with the pour over method.

We sat on the dock the last evening, waiting for the sunset.

It was glorious...and I wished for my camera all over again. This is another gift from God, for I have a special delight in sunrises and sunsets. I got to see lots of both!

We passed this ferry on our way off the island and onto the peninsula.

 After spending a few nights there we headed north for the rest of The Outer Banks. This place will forever hold beautiful memories for our family.

Along the way we found another lighthouse and I wanted to stop, just in case we could climb this one. Hurray, we could! 

Here it is, Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the tallest in North America. Another gift added to my list.

View of the light keepers' house on the left (now a museum, which we toured) and the staff quarters on the right.

My cup runneth over, surely God has been overflowing with blessing upon us! This is in Virginia Beach, VA, our next destination. Again, it was not planned by us, but I began to feel this whole vacation was literally God-planned. We just needed to figure out the details as we traveled!

Our first attempt at finding a hotel in VA Beach was nothing to write home about, but I asked Dale if we could just check at a few ocean front hotels. I knew it would be too pricey, but just finding out won't hurt. We were disappointed with the next try, but then, there it was...an oceanfront room right on the boardwalk for a better deal than any of the others. I walked into the ninth floor room and out onto the balcony and burst into tears of joy. I was greatly humbled that God would give such a gift. It had a splendid view of the ocean and the sunrise, but the huge windows right outside our door on the opposite end provided a great sunset! Imagine, both sunrise and sunset to be enjoyed from our ninth floor hotel room. Oh, and going to bed at night to the sound of crashing waves is really quite dreamy!

I began to feel like a little kid opening Christmas presents! We know the trials we face are for our good, but do we know the pleasures God gives are also for our good. It was rejuvenating, humbling, exciting, and so amazing. I chose to believe that God was the Master Planner and He did a much better job than I ever could have done on my own. There truly is nothing so lovely or adventuresome as living in Christ!