Our trip to North Carolina has come and gone. We were happy to get away for a while, and perhaps even happier to get back after a pair of annoying flight cancelations wound up splitting up our family and causing us to arrive home 24 hours later than scheduled… but more on that later!
The reason for choosing to travel during that time period was Johnny’s school is closed for 12 agonizing days for August break, and rather than try to figure out what the frick to do with him in Austin with two full-time working parents, we decided to blow through our PTO and travel somewhere. We briefly considered the Black Hills, but it coincided with Bike Rally time and you don’t want to be in the Black Hills during the Bike Rally if you don’t have to. I mean that’s like traveling to New Orleans to sightsee during Mardi Gras or really coming to Austin as a tourist during SXSW. Just don’t. That turned our attention to North Carolina because Uncle Brian owns a brewery in Wilmington, Waterline Brewing. When your uncle owns a brewery, how can you not make a trip out there and check it out? Good friend C. M. Walsh had made mention of his family wanting to do a beach trip this summer as well and it worked out perfectly to do a joint trip. Lauren’s brother Matt and his wife were also set to join us, so we went in on a big rental house for 8 on the beach. (Sadly, Matt and Calla had to cancel at the last minute due to a work trip.)
You’d have to back up a little further though to understand why we even took the flight path we did. We chose to fly into Jacksonville, NC rather than Wilmington, NC despite Wilmington being our destination. The reason was that we wanted to be able to use our free Companion Fare that we receive each year from our American Express Delta card, and for whatever reason it wouldn’t allow me to use that fare with the Austin-Wilmington route. It would, however, let me use it for Jacksonville, the second-closest airport, just after Myrtle Beach, Fayetteville, and Raleigh. It was a pretty quick 75-mile drive down to the beach from there and I thought it might just be a fun drive along the coast (it wasn’t).
Our faithful travel partners, the Walshes (Milwaukee ’08, Mexico ’15, etc.), arrived separately from Minneapolis and we all met up at our rental house a block away from Carolina Beach at the Atlantic Ocean. We spent lots of time at the beach, of course, and were treated to lots of big waves. I learned to bodyboard and learned the dangers of sunscreen coming off in the water. The big waves constantly whacking my body caused me to feel seasickness long after getting out of the water. I kept feeling like I was swaying in the water and getting hit by waves. We ate out at a number of area restaurants up and down the Carolina Beach Boardwalk including SeaWitch, where the kids were the hit of the dance floor well past their bedtime on the first night. (That ‘Renzo has some sick moves!)
Our first trip to the Waterline Brewery was a great time. Uncle Brian gave us the grand tour and we enjoyed beer flights on the house and ate at the local food truck. Good to catch up with Brian and Mary Ann again! Side note: so get this, I went to Tennessee for Brian and Mary Ann’s wedding in 1997. Nick Sandbulte and I visited Brian and Mary Ann at their cabin in Virginia in 2007. And then this trip in 2017. I wonder where we’ll meet them in 2027?! Two nights later, the Glanzer family branched off and met up with the Bells for dinner at another local brewpub, Waterman’s. We even stopped by the brewery on the way out of town Wednesday with seemingly (at the time anyway) time to kill before our flight out.
The rest of the trip was just a lot of downtime, really. Beach, chilling at the house, beach, putting the kids down for naps, more beach, and a little tiny bit of sightseeing on the boardwalk. I also was nearly killed in a car accident trying to make a left hand turn at a tough intersection (no joke, it was unbelievably close), and we almost killed someone when our giant beach umbrella blew away and nearly impaled a nearby beachgoer (the guy laughed, but holy crap it was close to killing him).
It was our flights home, unfortunately, that were the real talk of the trip. Upon returning to Jacksonville Wednesday afternoon, we were repeatedly delayed until we would have missed our Atlanta connection. And then they cancelled the flight altogether. Delta sent us in a 2-hour cab ride and put us up in a Days Inn in Raleigh to catch a direct flight back to Austin Thursday morning. After waking up and getting ready for the flight, we learned that it too had been cancelled. After 90 minutes on the phone with Delta, we were re-booked. Johnny and I on one itinerary and Lauren on another. We had booked separate itineraries so we could use SkyMile rewards and redeem our AMEX Companion Fare. That meant we couldn’t be kept together on our flights. I departed Raleigh with Johnny on a whirlwind tour of the country. Raleigh to Washington to Detroit to Austin. 3 flights with a toddler. Thank God for electronics. We got home at 7:00. I thought at first I had the rougher go of it, but Lauren was just left to sit at the Raleigh airport alone for nearly 12 hours waiting and hoping that she had a confirmed seat on a late night flight to Atlanta. She did, thankfully, and connected and was in Austin shortly after midnight and home by 1am. We haven’t received any sort of compensation from Delta for our woes, but a formal complaint is in. I’m requesting $894 and 100,000 SkyMiles. Ha. No chance.
Oh and before I forget – if you’ve read this far, leave a comment stating your name and that you read this sentence! You’ll get a very special surprise shout-out in the next blog post.
I posted 81 photos on Facebook, so if you want to see the full batch, head over there. But here are 5 favorites.