Living the life of a “retired” person is an entirely new world. Did you ever wonder what life is like outside of that office, school, hospital, store, etc. while you are hard at work? I often did. Sitting in front of my computer or in a meeting was all I knew five days a week for the entire year minus a few weeks of vacation. I almost never took a random day off, always saving it up for a trip away from Seattle, so what the world is doing during work hours was left to my imagination.
This all changed beginning July 29th when I was no longer employed ((by my choice, of course)). During that entire month of August in Seattle as well as the past two months on the road trip across the USA, I witnessed what the other side is like. Peaceful, calm and mostly stress-free is what that other side is all about. There’s no agenda for this kind of life. There’s usually no lines ((queues for my Brits)) for anything; no hassle. Departing September 1 meant traveling during a time not many people take a vacation. If they have kids or are a teacher, it’s back to school time. September directly follows the summer, when most people are taking at least one big vacation. It was just hubs and I and the old folks for much of the journey.
One of the places at which I witnessed this unique view into weekday life was during a day trip to beautiful Bald Head Island, on the southern North Carolina coast. I had visited this island oasis years ago with my sister, and I was eager to return and bring Andrew. It was a weekday, and it was supposed to be a clear sunny September day, with temperatures in the 80sF. Perfecto.
Andrew parked the car at the Deep Point Marina terminal in Southeast, NC while I purchased round trip tickets, and we hopped on the small passenger ferry for the twenty minute ride out to the island. Since it was still fairly early in the morning and a bit cool, I chose to sit inside rather than up on the open deck. That meant we were surrounded by employees who were heading to work at various facilities on the island. One guy was a chef, several people worked at the golf club. Some of them chatted about work, some sat there listening to music on their headphones, some just quietly looked out the window as the boat sped up and headed out of the marina towards the island. Then there was us – two tourists watching all of them and remembering what it was like to wake up to an alarm and go to work each day.
Andrew and I packed up a lunch, sunscreen lotions, bottled water, sunglasses and a beach towel – the only island necessities in my opinion. The island is car-free except for the occasional construction or utilities truck, so you get around the island entirely by walking, or by renting a golf car or bicycle. I remembered the island being small, not to mention we needed the exercise, so we opted for bicycles. Plus they were cheaper than the golf cart option. Well, I should say that I opted for a cool one-speed beach cruiser… while against the suggestion of the friendly bike rental employees at Riverside Aventure, my stubborn husband opted for the adult tricycle. He pedaled so hard that day in such a low speed, and for once in our bicycling history together, could barely keep up with ME!
We biked around the entire island, climbed the 108 steps to the top of Old Baldy Lighthouse, lunched on the beach, took a splash in the water and soaked up the glorious sun rays. Would you just take a look at those blue skies? Contrary to the Pacific Ocean on the west coast, the water in the Atlantic in this part of the country is quite refreshing instead of bone-chillingly cold, especially this time of year. I think this was the first spot along the road trip where I put more than my big toe in the ocean water. Since the summer months are the most bustling on the island, it was incredibly peaceful on such a glorious Autumn day, and felt like we had the island to ourselves. Sheer bliss.
If you are ever in North or South Carolina, I highly recommend a visit to Bald Head Island. Sure, it can be a bit of a pricey day: the ferry ride is currently $24.75 per person round trip, bike rentals are about $20 per person, per day; accommodation on the island can vary if you choose to go for longer than just a day trip. Both times that I’ve been, I brought sandwiches and a picnic lunch which is great on a budget. The groceries offered at the Market were not outrageous, but then again we come from Seattle where everything seems pretty spendy, and therefore our frame of reference is a bit off. Going into Old Baldy Lighthouse is $5 per adult. This all undoubtedly adds up quickly, but the value is well worth the price of a trip to the island. Start setting aside that fresh air fund, ok? One of the free activities to do on the island is something I like to call “pick out which house you would live in,” so there’s always that.
I would love to return someday for a Polizzi & Darbyshire family vacation in one or two of the beach house rentals. It would be such a pleasure to be back on this marvelous little island again, with our families. Until then, I think the photos will speak for themselves and tell you just how much we both loved our day on Bald Head Island!
Next up on the blog…I will tell you all about my visit to a city that is proving to be a solid contender for my relocation upon return to the USA! Can you guess where?