Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Trees Still Standing

In case you didn't hear (feeling my sarcasm), the East Coast was hit by a hurricane. Our family happens to live in a coastal town, that sits basically on the North Carolina/Virginia border.  Initially, I thought we would ride out the storm. Then the state issued a mandatory evacuation for an area located just a few miles from our home. Not going to lie, this concerned me. With two small children and countless trees that tower over our house, I elected to leave with our girls and dog, to a safer location.

What should have been a two hour and thirty minute drive, turned into over five painful hours. It seems there were countless other evacuees as well. With bridges and underwater tunnels, evacuating from this area is a slow and tedious process.

After the roads were cleared and the bridges and tunnels reopened,  we were able to return home.  As I made the trip down Interstate 95 and Interstate 64, I could see some flooding, countess downed trees and I wondered how our home fared the storm. Thankfully, hurricane Irene was fairly kind to our neighborhood.

I arrived home to a clean yard and a back deck that showed no signs of a hurricane. This was in part because my husband elected to stay behind with our home during the storm. My husband woke early in the morning (just like the rest of our neighborhood) and got to work right away. The most memorable extent of "damage" was a 150 pound branch that broke in our front yard. I would say we were quite lucky!

I'm so thankful to have our routine back to normal and the threat of Irene long gone. Fingers crossed that we won't have to deal with another hurricane in the near or immediate future (or ever for that matter)....but that would just be wishful thinking!

I'll leave you with some images of our house and street, the morning after the storm:

Would you want one of these falling on top of your roof during a hurricane? Scary! 
This is why I evacuated.

Minor Debris in Front Yard

The Largest Branch That Fell During the Storm

You Can See the Location of where the Limb Snapped

Our Back Deck

Street View

Tree Fell on Neighbor's Fence

Finally....What Hurricane? 
Hubby did a fantastic job of returning the deck back to normal in record time!

I would love to hear your hurricane Irene story as well.  Please link your blog and post in the comment section!


Thursday, August 25, 2011


This month my husband and I were fortunate to get away and vacation in North Caicos.  North Caicos is just one of the 40 islands and cays located in Turks and Caicos.

We flew into Providenciales (often referred to as "Provo"). Provodenciales is where we vacationed last year, when we took our family to the Beaches Resort (read about our trip here). From the airport, we took a taxi to a marina, located at the eastern side of the island. Here, we boarded a water taxi. We then took a breathtaking 35 minute boat ride, which took us to our destination.

Upon our arrival to the boat dock on North Caicos, we were greeted by a lovely woman named, Alveda. Alveda is the guest relations/property manager of the suite we rented on Whitby Beach.
Alveda escorted us to her husband's taxi and away we went. Seven miles later, we had finally arrived to our island paradise. Along the way we noticed a reoccurring theme. Nothing! There seemed to be nothing on the island. Sparse structures, few vehicles and zero people. This was exactly what my husband had in mind. Absolute and total isolation from the world.

This was a departure from our normal resort vacations. Our trip was somewhat of an experiment. Would we, or could we enjoy "glorified camping" (as my husband put it). Prior to leaving, we had shopped for groceries (there is a very limited shopping experience in North Caicos, one "grocery store" with only dry good..no eggs..milk, etc). We packed and checked one suitcase dedicated solely for food. Contents: breakfast bars, nuts, chips, microwave popcorn, drink mixes for pina coladas, rum punches, etc. If you wanted meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, it was suggested that we buy them in Provodenciales, before boarding the water taxi.

We stayed at a quaint and well manicured location called Hollywood Beach Suites. To be honest, this was a pleasant surprise. I didn't know what to expect. The website accurately represented their accommodations, and I was a happy "camper"!  Hollywood Beach Suites is located on the most pristine beach in North Caicos. The owners of the property have thought of everything! Full kitchen, washer/dryer, flat screen televisions and a stock of movies (no cable television..but who needs it in paradise).  In addition, they provided bicycles (for island exploration) and a lovely screened in patio with dinning table, which had a gorgeous view of the water. Our beach suite was quite comfortable. They truly made you feel at home. In addition, we had prearranged two cases of bottled water and Turks Head Beer (native beer brewed right in Turks and Caicos) to be stocked in the fridge prior to our arrival. All of requests were granted. Mrs. Alveda also cooked us a delicious native meal for dinner that night (she is an excellent cook). Throughout our stay she baked us a cake, fresh bread and hands-down the best red beans and rice I've ever tasted!

My husband and I were the only people at the location for a few days. We were alone. Not a sole to interact with, but each other. We snorkeled in the untainted waters, kayaked and took long walks on the beach (one day we walked for roughly three miles and never saw another person..not even a footprint in the sand). We collected countless conch shells. The shells are so abundant, you literally stub your toe while strolling along the beach! The sunsets were breathtaking. We would wake in the morning and drink our coffee while enjoying the water view from the amazing deck. We played numerous games of electronic scrabble on the iPad (for the record, I won 99% of the time).  I sunbathed a lot (yes, I know..bad...I was wearing sunscreen, but still managed to come back with a tan).

While sunbathing I watched MANY coconuts wash ashore. By the third coconut, I was convinced that I was Tom Hanks in Castaway. I was waiting for a Wilson volleyball to wash up next. I've never known such isolation. I expected to be somewhat disappointed with our vacation, but instead, I had fallen in love. We didn't have butler service, fancy restaurants or trendy bars. However, what we did have was far greater. Nature at its finest, solitude and each other. We were able to reconnect and cherish our time together. As you know, with kids, that time alone is precious and rare.

I could go on and on about how wonderful our vacation was, but I will let the rest of the photographs speak on my behalf. We plan to go back. However, next time we will invite family and friends to this hidden gem. Sharing this remarkable location with the ones we love, will only add to the splendor of untouched North Caicos.