When Clay and I make plans to visit our parents, it hardly feels like a chore because both sets have chosen to retire in locations that are geographically desirable and vacation destinations in their own right. Thank you, Mom and Dad! So when we realized that we’d be able to drive down to Clay’s parents for the holiday weekend with only a slight rearranging of our schedules, we hopped into the car and headed south to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Named after the Earl of Wilmington, Spencer Compton (1673-1743), Wilmington, North Carolina is a port city and considered a gateway to the beaches along the Cape Fear coast. The most industrialized North Carolina river, the Cape Fear flows 200 miles and empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Southport, North Carolina and served as a main transportation route in to the interior of North Carolina during the colonial era. Downtown historic Wilmington stretches along the Cape Fear, complete with a riverwalk, cobblestone streets, restaurants, bars, and boutique shops.
We arrived on Friday in the early evening hours. Clay’s parents offered to feed the kids and handle the bedtime routine and insisted that we go out for the night. They didn’t have to twist our arms hard – before we knew it we were dressed up and heading into downtown Wilmington. As soon as we found out that it was the kick off for the Downtown Sundown Concert Series, we paid $1 for wristbands, grabbed some beers, and watched the sun set as 42, a Coldplay tribute band, performed with the USS North Carolina in the background.
Afterwards, we walked over to Circa 1922 for dinner, where we had cocktails and the local snapper “escovitch”, which came with a warm bammy, pickled peppers, scallion and chayote. After our late dinner, we walked along the river underneath the stars.
The next morning, we headed south and crossed the intracoastal waterway to Caswell Beach on Oak Island. This is our go-to beach when visiting Clay’s parents because it is low-key and almost always empty. Dolphin sightings are almost always guaranteed and we even had a blue crab that kept swimming our way in the waves. The kids thought he was cute – Clay and I thought he looked delicious.
We spent hours body surfing and playing on the beach. As I mentioned in my previous post, we’re really enjoying this phase of parenthood and love that our kids are so adventurous and up for anything. The forecast for the weekend was touch and go for awhile but thankfully, we couldn’t have asked for a better beach day on Saturday. The waves were big, the sun was shining, and the occasional cloud provided much-needed cover.
After the beach we stopped for frozen yogurt. So healthy.
We showered and then played in the backyard for a little while before deciding we were hungry enough to head down the road to The Shuckin’ Shack. We had local beers and Saul T’s Steampot, which comes with a dozen oysters (we ordered 6 steamed and 6 raw), a dozen clams, 1 pound of snow crab legs, 1/2 pound of steamed shrimp (we ordered them Old Bay style), corn, and slaw.
The next morning, we went to church with Clay’s parents and out to breakfast. Afterwards, we headed over to Ocean Isle Beach. We stopped in OIB Surf & Java and purchased coffee and some gear before hitting the beach.
The weather was starting to deteriorate but we didn’t let that stop us from going in the water. We made the best of the cloudy afternoon and body surfed until we decided to head back to Clay’s parents for dinner.
After showering, Clay and I were tasked with picking up the pizza from Pizzetta’s. We stopped next door at Lowe’s Grocery Store and somehow ended up at The Beer Den. We chatted with other customers and the server about our love of beer and ended up taking home a growler for Clay’s parents.
We headed back home yesterday morning, but not before snapping a picture of the kids with their grandparents. The drive home wasn’t the best – lots of rain but the not-so-fun drive was worth having a great date night out in Wilmington and two days at the beach. It was great being able to spend time together as a family and having four interrupted days with Clay – time is precious and we have made a pact to take advantage of every opportunity we have to do what we love most. Nothing is guaranteed in life. Might as well make the most of it and swim into crashing waves and eat fresh seafood.