|On the porch of our little cottage for the week|
|Strolling through dreamy Southport, NC|
|On the beach at Oak Island|
I probably set my hopes a little too high for our first ever family vacation. Because of our crazy schedules these days, it's rare that Shawn and I have one day a week that neither of us has to work, much less 5 days in a row. So we booked a lovely little bungalow in downtown Wilmington on Airbnb. It's only supposed to be a 2.5-hour driving trip, but 15 miles from our destination, our car overheated (the first time it's ever done that, of course), so our 2.5 hours became 6. That really doesn't sound so bad in hindsight, but with two nap-less kids and melting breastmilk in the back of your car, it feels pretty terrible. When we finally made it, we were sweaty, bedraggled, and exhausted. (Thanks to the mini-fridge in the mechanic's garage, the breastmilk survived.) I was begging for us to just turn around and go home.
Thankfully, my much more level-headed other half said that no, we'd be staying and making the most of it. I'm so glad we did. The days were long and tiring - as all days are with a two-year-old and a 7-month-old - but we got some much needed time together that wouldn't have happened had we stayed at home and stuck to our normal routine. By the end, Shawn told me, "I think their love tanks are full." I totally agreed.
Our last day there was by far our best: a trip to Southport, NC and then to Oak Island to meet up with some friends. We'd heard about Southport from friends but knew nothing about it until we rode the ferry just before sunset (so beautiful!) and drove into town. We immediately recognized it from seeing Safe Haven a few years ago... the movie was filmed there. And it's every bit as charming as it was in the movie. Liam learned to love the ocean at Oak Island, which we'll never forget. He had been so timid around the waves until he saw his little buddies from Raleigh jumping right in, and he finally got in and loved it. I've rarely seen him so delighted.
We also loved Betsy's Crepes in downtown Wilmington enough to eat there twice in two days. (Hello, gluten-free crepes!)
The aquarium at Fort Fisher was also wonderful... Liam even got to touch a starfish and feed a horseshoe crab.
Now we can't wait to explore it more. Being just two hours from the ocean is a pretty big perk of living in Raleigh.