This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Archive for the ‘staycation’ Category

Staycation #2: My beach retreat at Seahawk Inn and Villas!

DSCN1301I love the beach. No, you don’t understand. I LOVE the beach. Some of you are identifying with me right now. Yeah–VIRTUAL FIST BUMP! Others of you are saying, “I like the beach, but I prefer the mountains.” Well, I blogged on the mountains last time; today I’m going with beach. (Ironically, today I am sitting at my home in the Sauratown Mountains area while dreaming of the beach.)

Yes, I’m dreaming of the beach–particularly the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, my very favorite area. You can have Myrtle Beach and the wall-to-wall people and amusements. Give me the much less crowded and wider beaches of the Crystal Coast.

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The beach area just in front of the Seahawk–spacious and lovely!

For us, the problem is that now that I have given up my salary as a newspaper editor to be home with “da kids,” money can not be as freely spent as in days of yore. So renting the lush beach houses is a rarity these days. Thank God for my brother who “just happened” to mention a place I might want to check out at Atlantic Beach on the northern end of the Crystal Coast.

After checking them out online at http://seahawkinn-villas.com/, I decided to give them a try. After three trips there, I have never regretted it. It has the feel of a “Mom and Pop” place right on the beachfront in a great area. And I must admit that the color scheme grabs me–a vivid turquoise and glowing yellow that cheers the soul somehow.

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Check out that uniquely-shaped pool at the Seahawk! And the part of the building jutting out to the right is a villa for rent. There is a matching one at the other end of the Seahawk.

My first trip was with some of my children, and we requested the first-floor room closest to the lobby due to my need for Wi-fi. (At that time, Wi-fi did not extend hotel-wide; today that is not an issue as it is accessible throughout the entire property.) How convenient it was to simply open my sliding glass door and walk straight out to the beach!

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My babies at the beach!

When my hubster and I went to the Seahawk for my second trip there, we also stayed on the first floor. Every room is oceanfront and has a little concrete patio with plastic table and chairs. I will forever treasure a memory of sitting with the man I love at the outdoor table in the noon sunshine, eating food from my favorite beach joint–Dairy Queen!

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The hubster and Dairy Queen–two of my favorite things!

What my kids loved on their trip there was being so close to the pool which was right outside of our room. It wasn’t the typical small, cheapo-looking, rectangular motel pool. It is oddly-shaped (kidney-shaped maybe?) and pristine. (We moms like the fact that there are plentiful lounging chairs surrounding the pool–kids swim, moms tan!)

Just beyond the pool area–between it and the beach–there is a grilling/picnic area. Although I haven’t taken advantage of it yet (ME?! Cook at the BEACH?! Uh, no.), I have seen many guests availing themselves of it. And we’re not talking cheap grills from your local five-and-dime; we’re talking heavy-duty, high-dollar grills.

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Perhaps I’ll talk the hubster into grilling out for me next trip. Men and grilling go together!

As for us, when we go to the beach, we frequent restaurants for supper and do snacks for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch. So it behooves us to have a refrigerator in the room–something that is standard at the Seahawk. What else would I do with my inevitable takeout boxes from every restaurant I visit?!

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Do you think there’s a partially-eaten DQ Blizzard in the freezer? If you said yes, you would be right!

The location of the Seahawk is also very convenient when it comes to food. There is a DQ close by and then a larger one over the bridge to nearby Morehead City. A very well-stocked Food Lion grocery store is just down the road, too. On our third trip to the Seahawk this past May, the hubster and I tried out a little dive down toward the bridge to Morehead–4 Corner Diner. Incredible food and real local atmosphere.

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The Sound is very close to the Seahawk since the Crystal Coast is a narrow island really. Here I am after we ate at “The Crab Shack.”

There are many other great eating places within a mile or two. And if you want even more variety, the drive down to Emerald Isle is a pleasant one or you can go the couple of miles into Morehead City and find ANY type of food you can imagine!

While we’re out and about, we usually like to check out the typical beach shops of the “Wings” genre. Well, rest assured, there are PLENTY of such shops a short distance from the Seahawk. Your flip-flop/bathing suit/beach towel/hermit crab/salt-water taffy needs will be met. There’s even a movie theater nearby with the latest flicks showing.

But when I’m at the beach, I don’t like to do too much running around. I prefer to stay close to the shore at all times. Lazy? Perhaps, but isn’t that the point of a beach vacation? I don’t get these folks who go to the beach to spend the whole time shopping/golfing/visiting amusement areas. (No offense to you if you’re one of those people!) But I want to REST on vacation.

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Okay, so I DO occasionally get out and enjoy the amusements on the Crystal Coast. There is much to entertain you!

So the Seahawk appeals to my restful side, too. How? By the numerous hammocks and the swings on the edge of the dunes overlooking the ocean. Yes, folks, THIS is one of the big selling points for me–HAMMOCKS! I LOVE these things!

Already I have made lifelong memories there–gently swaying in the hammock with my little boy snuggled up next to me under my NY Yankees blanket (we were there in early October), watching the stars in the clear night sky. Or sitting in the swing with my little girl as the sun set in a gorgeous pink and orange evening sky. Or lying in the hammock late at night smooching (yes, smooching) with the hubster as the nearly full moon cast its ivory moon-trail across the calm seas.

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The sunset view from the hammocks at the Seahawk!

My two adult daughters were so taken with my description of the Seahawk that they went down shortly after the hubster and I did. My Chelsea said that she spent much of her time in the hammocks, reading/writing/meditating. A girl after her mother’s own heart!

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I spent a lot of time in that hammock and that swing! So peaceful. . .

Another thing that means much to me on a beach trip is a good view of the ocean. As much as I enjoyed the convenience of the first-floor room, I must admit that I believe I liked the second-floor room best. Last month, I got to experience that for the first time and LOVED it! Each room has a private balcony with table and chairs and a TERRIFIC view of the mighty Atlantic rolling endlessly onshore.

Oh, the time I spent sitting/standing out on that balcony simply watching the ocean in its various hues of blue and green! It was worth having to walk down steps to access the beach just to have the constant view of the sea.

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Nightfall at the Seahawk. . .

As much as I loved the balcony experience, I did occasionally come inside the room to watch TV with the hubster. (Yes, there is a nice flat-screen TV with many channels available–a crucial amenity for my hubster!) I like the bright and cheerful decor of the rooms–simple yet pleasing. And the beds and pillows are comfy, which is a crucial amenity for ME!

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Our room each time had two double beds. Here is one of them nearest my favorite spot–the balcony!

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The bathroom is rather small, but who needs a big bathroom anyway? It was cheerful and clean.

One day I’d like to check out the cottage in the front of the Seahawk and the two villas at either end. But for now, I’m content to go down a couple of times a year and simply get a room. The prices are very reasonable, especially when winter rates go into effect. And lest you think, “Brrr! Who wants to go in winter?”–remember that winter rates begin on Oct. 1 and run through March 31. We’re talking lots of warm weather at those times!

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The cottage in the background is available for rent at the Seahawk.

So if you’re looking for a place to take a great “staycation” this summer, consider my favorite beach retreat–Seahawk Inn and Villas. You’ll find the people who run it to be super in every way–professional, courteous, ever-ready to help. They even offer some pet-friendly rooms now for the pet-lovers!

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The classy lobby at the Seahawk has a microwave for your use, as well as other nice amenities. And Kim, Christy, Tabitha and other staff members have been ultra-helpful and friendly to us!

On my first trip when I had just spent nearly three years as a divorced single mom trying to eke out a living on the tiny salary of a small-town newspaper editor, I was supremely upset when I got all the way to the beach and realized I had forgotten my beach chair. I happened to mention this in passing to Kim, the manager of the Seahawk. Before long, a nice beach chair showed up at my door, with a note telling me to enjoy it. Talk about touching my heart!

I still have that beach chair. It reminds me constantly of the kindness that still exists in this world, how God takes care of His people no matter what (no detail is too small!) and that there is a blue and gold retreat down on the Crystal Coast where the hammocks swing in the salty breeze, the sand is warm on the spacious beach and the white-capped waves continually caress the shore. Can’t you hear it calling my name? I do. . .

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The lovely view from the Seahawk lawn. . .

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Looking back toward the Seahawk from the beach. . .

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Staycation #1–Pilot Knob Inn!

DSCN0329*With the rising cost of everything, including vacations, many people are opting to vacate closer to home. We call this new phenomenon the “staycation.” You stay near home but still get a vacation. I am doing a series of blog posts about fascinating places to visit that aren’t too far away from my home. (And if you live far away from me, you might want to consider taking a real vacation to come here and see these wonderful places!)DSCN0320

Each winter–around Valentine’s Day, conveniently enough–I begin to get itchy feet. By then, Ole Man Winter has been hanging around for a few months, and spring fever is already starting to sprout in my heart. Summer vacation past is WAY past, and summer vacation future seems eons away.

So what is the solution to this winter doldrums dilemma? SIMPLE! I bug the hubster until he takes me somewhere. Because we save our money for longer vacations in late summer, we have to find somewhere nearby to go in mid-February.

In 2012, I heard from a friend about a B & B that was only a half hour away from home–Pilot Knob Inn. We tried it out and were so pleased with our one-night “Valentine’s Getaway” stay that we took another trip there in 2013–this time in early March. Once again, we enjoyed our respite at this quaint, romantic retreat at the foot of Pilot Mountain–“Mount Pilot” for you Andy Griffith fans.

A view of the Knob

On the drive north up Highway 52, you are greeted by the looming knob that looks as though it could’ve been a volcano long ago. Before long, you’re off the highway at the Pilot Mountain State Park exit and nearly immediately turning into a secluded driveway. Not far up the driveway, you will begin to see rustic old tobacco barns. Just a part of the landscape? No! These are cabins for lodging.

The first year, we stayed in Cabin 4 which was further removed from the lodge and breakfast room than Cabin 1 where we stayed this year. Both had front porches with rockers–his and hers. I found Cabin 4 to be preferable because it had a balcony off the back of the upstairs loft bedroom.

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This is Cabin 4 where we stayed in Feb. 2012–more private but farther from the breakfast room. You could still walk it, but we two lazybones drove–ha ha!

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Here is Cabin 1 where we stayed this past March. It is very near the breakfast room–an easy walk!

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There is a neat stack of firewood on the front porch for that romantic fire in the stone fireplace later!
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The hubster has no problem relaxing on the front porch!

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The view from my upstairs balcony at Cabin 4 last year!

Both were furnished in a style reminiscent of the West–Montana, Wyoming and such. Both had a cozy sitting room downstairs with a couch, a couple of chairs, a small TV. For the cooler months, there is a stone fireplace with a free stack of wood on the front porch.

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The downstairs living area of the tobacco barn cabin–very cozy!

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You can see there are various means of entertainment in the room.

The hubster and I sat at the small table in the downstairs room and ate a takeout meal from a restaurant in the nearby town of Pilot Mountain. There are many choices of tasty food at various restaurants in the downtown section that is only a mile or so away.

For a late night snack of popcorn or whatever trips your culinary trigger, there are a small microwave and mini-fridge. For the early morning caffeine enthusiast, there is a coffeemaker with packs of coffee, tea, sugar, etc.

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We shared a cozy little dinner right here. Sweet memories. . .

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I don’t do coffee, but there is plenty here for those who do.

I can forgo late-night snacks or TV (although we did select a videocassette from the breakfast area to watch on the cabin’s VCR)–as long as I get to enjoy the Jacuzzi. Aaaahhhh. . .the Jacuzzi! Both cabins had roomy ones that worked well, although I liked the one in Cabin 4 better–easier for me to get in and out of.

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Jacuzzi in Cabin 1 this year–nice, big, fluffy towels nearby!

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The Jacuzzi in Cabin 4 last year–I preferred this one, although both were great!

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Me being my silly self in the shower (which I loved–just not fully clothed–ha ha!).

Up a flight of stairs was our sleeping quarters–a spacious loft. Again, the Out West theme predominated. How I loved lying in bed and watching the flat-screen TV (not a luxury I have at home). Since we only stayed one night, we didn’t avail ourselves of the storage areas–a wardrobe and chest at the foot of the bed. I loved the heavy-duty wood of all the furnishings.

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I want a wardrobe like this at home!

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Lying in bed watching TV is a rare treat for us. The upstairs loft was supremely cozy.

I did, however, avail myself of the Wifi. As a free-lance writer and columnist for my local newspaper, I need constant access to the Internet, so I was happy to have good online service. (And of course, I wanted to brag a little about my great staycation on Facebook!)

We found the large bed (king or queen? I can’t remember! Maybe king in Cabin 4 and queen in Cabin 1?) to be super-duper comfy, with great pillows and high thread count sheets. And I didn’t even break my neck going downstairs to use the potty in the middle of the night–ha ha! (Yes, I am used to having a bathroom on the same floor of my bedroom, but this was no big deal in the coziness of this loft bedroom.)

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That’s Superman there on the bed–enjoying his staycation in pure leisure.

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Who knew that the tobacco barns I grew up working in would one day function as romantic getaway cabins–ha ha!

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Me in total peace in my big ole bed in Cabin 4 last year. You can see how the furniture differs slightly from cabin to cabin.

I like to sleep late on vacations, but the temptation of a delicious breakfast was enough to lure me from the plush bed fairly early–8:45! And we even made it down to the breakfast room before they quit serving at 9:30. It was well worth every second of sleep I lost! And you paid no extra for it–price included in lodging rate.

The first year we ate at a table for two near the large open fireplace. This year we ate at the windowed wall that looks out at the swimming pool and right at Pilot Knob. Great views but an even greater breakfast!

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Our Valentine’s getaway breakfast by the fireplace last year.

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This year we got a table by the big window; it was occupied last year.

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The breakfast room is full of interesting local memorabilia and pictures–a lovely place.

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Love the high ceiling and glassed-in wall of the breakfast room!

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On both trips, we stayed on a Sunday night. Not many people in the breakfast room on a winter’s Monday morning!

We began with fruits, muffins, yogurt, cereal and other goodies at the well-stocked tables to the side. While we ate that, our orders were being cooked in the nearby kitchen. Eggs any way you like them, bacon, sausage, toast, Belgian waffles and MORE! The waitress (Kathy or Cathy?) was super-friendly and pleasantly conversational. One of the owners, Jennifer, helped us out the first year and was just as amiable and sweet.

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Looking at this good fruit and such makes me hungry right now!

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Believe me, breakfast is a veritable feast, with something for everyone!

They had t-shirts and such for sale (I regret not buying a tie-dyed one), and we settled up our bill right after breakfast in the kitchen. The atmosphere was casual and down-home. Some owners at places I’ve been are all uptight, wanting you to pay upfront before you even step inside your room. Not these folks. True Southern hospitality.

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From the swimming pool area, looking back at the breakfast room.

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The view from the window of our breakfast room.

Since I’m from the region, I didn’t take advantage of the cool places to visit in the area–Hanging Rock State Park, Pilot Mountain State Park, Mount Airy (the real Mayberry–Snappy Lunch and all), the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was satisfied to hike to the Swinging Bridge and enjoy the stream in the March sunshine. I was pleased just to sit by the lake and daydream of the spring to come. I was happy just to chillax in the gazebo across from my cabin and read a good book while enjoying the view of the daffodils just beginning to show their pretty yellow heads.

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A real swinger on a swinging bridge! The hike to it is very easy to manage.

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The nearby lake on a late winter’s day. . .

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Guests can canoe on the lake if they please. We did not but would like to one day.

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Dreaming at the lake on a Sunday afternoon. . .

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I enjoyed some quiet time reading a book at the gazebo across the road from Cabin 1.

We have not stayed in any of the suites or the Love Shack or either of the two cabins that allow pets. But the two tobacco cabins that we lodged in were just perfect for us. And the price was very reasonable for such a place and meal.

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This is a larger, private hideaway near the main lodge. There are several options for lodging here.

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The Love Shack has such an interesting vibe to it. It has a great view of the mountain.

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This is a luxurious suite at the main lodge. The ones there are more expensive but full of luxuries.

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This is the Yadkin Valley Honeymoon Cabin at the main lodge. It has gas logs and the biggest Jacuzzi of all!

I long to go back there for more than just one night–to be able to escape the demands of life and meditate on the Lord while enjoying His beautiful creation there at the base of the regal mountain knob. Maybe when the last of the five kids is grown or when they are between sports seasons.

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But for now, I will fondly recall the two trips I took to Pilot Knob Inn–the mini-staycations with the beloved hubster, the escape into an oh-so-brief hermitude, the peace of a cabin in the woods where God seemed just a little nearer in the quietness of the retreat.

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For information on prices and further details, visit http://www.pilotknobinn.com/

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