72 Hours in Brooklyn

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Near Madison Square Garden, walking between subway stations!

SMS and I had an extended weekend in NYC!  It was fantastic!  We arrived into EWR very late on Friday and took a ride share over to Brooklyn.  We stayed at an Aloft that was on the edge of the DUMBO district.  The hotel had a few mixed reviews, mainly regarding the paper thin walls (true) and the too-tiny size (not really true but this is very subjective).  Importantly, it was clean, on the inexpensive side, and a place to sleep.  Since we usually travel to do things rather than hang out at the hotel, I would recommend the Aloft.  The only reason I wouldn’t stay again is that I would likely want to explore a different neighborhood rather than repeat an experience.

It wasn’t the most über-cool part of Brooklyn, but enough that there was an awesome food hall nearby.  We ate at the DeKalb Market Hall three times during the trip.  We had thin Spanish-style churros (awesome), arepas (really disappointing), pierogis (delicious), and coffee (necessary).  The building also has an Alamo Drafthouse and Flying Tiger so it’s definitely worth checking out.

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We were in town to celebrate my college friend’s birthday.  I still owe her for the amazing time she showed me on my 21st birthday (heavy sarcasm).  In all seriousness, I wanted to be there for my amazing friend for her landmark birthday so SMS and I made it happen!  Saturday was the main day so after sleeping in (we stayed on West Coast time the whole trip) and eating at DeKalb, we headed over to Citi Field for a private tour!

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Overall, Google Maps is a lifesaver for figuring out how to take public transport in a new city but there are definitely some gaps in the system.  We found a big one on our way to the tour since we took the subway to the LIRR with the plan to go two stops to Mets-Willets Park.  We were cheerfully oblivious that this would not work since the train does not stop there on game days.  Fortunately, a very nice conductor saw our tickets and told us this before we reached Woodside, so we hopped off and took a Lyft.  So, not the most efficient and we didn’t have time for a pre-tour drink at Mikkeller, but at least we weren’t late for the tour itself.

The tour was awesome!  We went to the press room, different box seat levels, the rotunda, the club house, the dugout, and the field.  I think the highlight for me is knowing that beer cooler #1, the Grand Central Station of all the non-craft beer to different vendors around the stadium, is directly opposite the Clubhouse.  It was nice to meet some of Karen’s friends before the group grew for a delicious Thai dinner at SriPraPhai.

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Best Bobblehead Collection- more were on the side!

Dinner was delicious.  SMS and I shared a green curry and pad see-ew.  After that, we headed back to Brooklyn with Laddie, Dave, Hillary, and Jason.  Laddie, Hillary, SMS, and I grabbed an after-dinner drink at Svendale Brewing Co. Tasting Room, which was a really cute place with a nice bartender.  All the beers were served in wine glasses, which angers one of Karen’s friends on principle but fortunately, he wasn’t there.

On Sunday, SMS and I slept in again and then headed to DeKalb.   We headed to the NY Transit Museum, which was pretty interesting.  It’s not a must-do but it is cool to learn more about the vast, iconic subway system and what went into making it and the maintenance and upgrades over the years.

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The most Brooklyn thing that every Brooklyn’d.

Then, we went to the Other Half brewing company where we had a few taster beers with Karen and, a little later on, Stephen.  The beers were delicious and it was fun to try a lot of different small pours.  Then, we went to Laddie and Dave’s house for the Super Bowl with a brief stop in the most ridiculous, gourmet grocer on the way, Court St Grocer.  It’s less ridiculous if you just accept it as a slightly mis-named fancy sandwich shop.

Laddie had an ad in the Super Bowl line-up, which was fun to see.  The game was an exciting, fast-paced one with a comeback ending.  And that’s about the depth of my analysis and caring.

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What nightmares are made of…

Monday was our dedicated tourist day.  I had listened to Abbi Jacobson’s A Piece of Work podcast and I really wanted to go to MoMA.  There were a few Jackson Pollack’s that were really cool and “Number 1A, 1948” was interesting to look at in juxtaposition with Jack Whitten’s “Atopolis: For Edouard Glissant.”  I also liked The Planes of Color gallery.    We also enjoyed Haegue Yang’s Handles installation and took a few pictures there.

The highlight, though, was a trip across the river to PS1.  This is prime evidence that SMS is a saint because once I realized the James Turrell Meeting was located there and that it wasn’t in the middle of Long Island (I don’t know why I thought this), I wanted to go so badly.  And SMS gamely agreed to two art museums in a day!

PS1 was so cool! It’s located in an old public elementary school and is such a throwback, evocative building that the setting itself is one of the best elements about the visit. It reminds me of St. James Catholic School in Red Bank, NJ.

We saw Meeting (yay!) and a few other pieces.  SMS thought the coolest thing was the old coal furnace in the basement.  It was huge and very elaborate!  We grabbed a coffee in the little cafe and then headed to Williamsburg for pulled noodles at Xi’an’s Famous Foods, which were delicious!

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In North Williamsburg, walking towards the water.
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Skyline at Dusk.  The ferry pictures were a bit blurry.

We walked around Williamsburg, including McCarren Park.  Then we headed to the water and took the East River Ferry from North Williamsburg down to Dumbo, which was a gorgeous thing to do at sunset.  We walked through Dumbo and settled on Colonie for drinks and a light dinner.  I loved that bar and, since we came upon it rather than researching it, were lucky that we found the perfect fit for what we were looking for!

After dinner, we headed to the hotel and watched two episodes of Cheer.  It’s a good series and it let us stay up so we were still on West Coast time.  One more episode to go!  Will they win?!?!  I think the answer is yes but I’m waiting to watch with SMS!

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Bluestone Lane.  Can you tell why I picked the place?

Our last day, we went to Bluestone Lane for breakfast after testing the wheels on my MUJI roll-aboard.  Still holding strong!  Strong recommend- both the cafe and the suitcase!

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9/11 Memorial

Then, we went to the 9/11 memorial since SMS had never been.  It is so amazingly powerful.  It doesn’t even feel like history since I can so vividly remember the day and it still has such wide ramifications on our current time.

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Afterwards, we went to Eataly and grabbed a coffee while discussing a super cool company, Cesta Collective with the two founders.  It was really exciting to talk about a promising, mission-based business that these two women believe in so strongly.

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One World Trade Center and the Occulus

Then, it was time to go.  We took the PATH train from WTC to Newark-Penn Station.  Then, we took the 62 bus, which was really easy and came every 10 minutes.  Even an Uber wouldn’t have been that much faster and it was nice to use public transportation.  Basically, getting to EWR is a bit of hassle no matter which way we would go but hey, the flights are the cheapest!

We had cheesesteaks before our flights because we like to choose the healthy option.  Then, it was back to the West Coast for an abbreviated work week.

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Hold out your hand for a special surprise! Seriously, is this sign for real?

Highlights: August 2019 (Part 1: Road Trip Edition)

SMS and I are YouTube stars.  Yes, really!  Ok, no, not so much.  But we do have our own channel with 11 subscribers and a few hundred views.  We’re going to go viral any….second…

But, yes, I’m going to be a little bit lazy and start off with the YouTube channel first since it covers our entire cross-country trip from Norfolk, VA to San Diego, CA.  We had a really nice time although, surprise, surprise, it was a lot of driving.  (This blog: come for the pictures, stay for the insights.)

But I do have pictures!  Yes,  I’ll go into a few highlights and lessons not really covered in the Vlog since our main focus there was the logistics of driving an EV cross-country.

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Birds go first!

Lesson 1: There is always more stuff than I think!  Argh, yes, I envisioned a completely clear back seat so that the car was less of a target for break-ins.  But, yet again after many moves, the “small amount” I left behind blossomed and filled the trunk and back seat.  While this may have been a predictable outcome, it was still annoying.

Our starting point was Virginia Beach.  We actually touched the ocean before leaving, although by the time we got to San Diego, we were over it and didn’t make it to the coastline proper.

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Breakfast with Dad at Three Ships coffee in Virginia Beach.  I love that place and their country ham biscuits are delicious!

After breakfast with Dad and dropping him off at the airport (you can’t ride with us!), we went to the hospital for my final checkout.  There, I had my first Bates blowout of my career.  What’s that, you ask?

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Bates Blowout

A Bates Blowout is when your overpriced, cheaply made Bates uniform shoes completely fall apart on you in very short order.  I never really believed people before it happened to me, but it’s real.  In the span of walking 30 feet down a hallway, my shoes completely fell apart, shedding chunks of black rubber along the hallway.  It reminded me of a line from a Will Farrell movie: “I’m not angry, I’m impressed!”

So, we finally hit the road where I promptly sliced the tip of my finger open.  See vlog for evidence.  So yes, the road trip was off to a rough start and SMS is a saint.  The end.

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Kidding!  Our first stop was Charleston where we stayed for two nights.  It kind of squished the rest of the trip but this was the city we wanted to explore a little more.

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Charleston was very pretty.  I was somewhat tempted to go on some sort of tour, but after a crazy month, I just wanted to relax and walk around.

We ate a few delicious places, some planned, some not.  167 Raw is a delicious temple to awesome seafood.  It has a pretty relaxed vibe and it was fun to learn a little bit more about oysters from the really nice bartender.

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We stayed at the Grand Bohemian hotel, which offered overnight charging.  The hotel was pretty awesome with a lot of contemporary art works on display and a cool gallery on the first floor.  We met up with my cousins at the Eleve rooftop bar, which had a really nice outdoor space.   I felt very cool because my cousin’s girlfriend said she had been wanting to go there for a long-time so I felt in the know, even though I had no idea what was cool!

The next night, we went to Chez Nous, which has a really good reputation with a very small menu and cool interior.  Honestly, we didn’t love it but it was fine.

Afterwards, we went to Edmund’s Oast because I had lasting FOMO from when I was in Charleston for a bachelorette party and I didn’t have the PB&J beer because I was worried what it might do to my stomach at the beginning of a night of dancing and drinking.  Ha!  Don’t tell me I don’t have good judgement!  Well, maybe it’s not perfect judgement because I still wanted to drink it and it was, at best, so-so in my opinion.  Win some, lose some!  The outside courtyard was a total winner though and it was nice to relax outside.

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Then, we were off!  We met up with our Yokosuka friends while charging in Atlanta.  Emily is out of the military and studying to be a CRNA while her husband continues to work as a civilian as well.

Another awesome meal stop was in Birmingham where we stopped at Saw’s BBQ.  We both ordered the Pork ‘nGreens, which I rhapsodize about on the YouTube episode.  SMS ordered it the last time we were in Birmingham and this time, I didn’t make the same mistake of not getting a plate for myself.  It’s a dish with a delicious nest of grits with collard greens, pulled pork, and fried onions on top.  This does not sound amazing but I promise you, it is completely insane.

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We pulled into Memphis late that evening and the next morning, we had brunch with more Yokosuka friends!  I am so happy to have seen my friends, whom I basically just messaged out of the blue to see if we could meet for a meal.  I didn’t invite ourselves over to Brooke and Aaron’s but because of the kids and visiting parents, it was easier for them to meet at their place.

After brunch, we hit the road.  Aaron lent us a Route 66 book that we used during our trip.  They also recommended going to Bass Pro shop inside a former basket ball arena, a 535,000-square-foot pyramid!  We took the slow elevator to the top and had a pretty incredible view of Memphis.

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On our way West, one of the Tesla Superchargers was in the town of Shamrock, TX.  There’s an old restaurant (no longer in service) and U Drop Inn, a highlight featured in the Route 66 guidebook!  The building is featured in the animated movie Cars.  It’s very cute.

It’s also staffed by the most aggressively nice volunteers I ever met.  We were strong-armed into a photoshoot, posing in the restaurant and sticking a pin in the town we’re from.  The map, aided by the fact that every visitor is forced at nicepoint to place a pin, is pretty impressive in showing the worldwide appeal of Shamrock, TX.

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SMS drove the car up to the pump and pretended to fill the Tesla.  We’re hi-wa-wi-ous!!!

At another Texas BBQ stop, we came upon a DeLorean time machine.

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Another highlight featured in our YouTube episode: The Continental Divide.  You will see SMS pour out water from a bottle.  Where will it go?!?!

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The Grand Canyon State…*sigh*…someday I will see the Grand Canyon.

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The Petrified Forest vista.  I wish we could explore the park more but our charge was low, which meant our AC wouldn’t work in Park mode.  This was problematic since there were four feathered friends in the car that would have roasted.

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Thank you for caring!!!
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Random food shot- looks delicious!

Highlights: July 2019 (Part 2)

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Aaaand…we’re back!  Second half of July!  On Saturday, I decided to treat ourselves by booking tickets to Hamilton!  I have wanted to see the show for a really long time.  I was excited to take SMS to a show since it isn’t something we have really done together before.  Actually, we had seen Wicked and that was pretty awesome but that was six years ago!

In the spirit of a decadent night out, we went to Rich Table in San Francisco for an early dinner. Jyotsna raved about the place and she was right- it was exceptional!  The menu changes often but there are a few regulars.  We ordered two: the dried porcini doughnuts, raclette and the sardine potato chip with horseradish.  The former was sublime and the latter was interesting but not worth ordering again.  As I type this, I’m getting a case of serious deja vu…wait!  I wrote about this in June!  But we went in July!  Oh, the perils and trials of writing too late.  But this was definitely Rich Table.  June was State Bird Provisions, now that I think about it.  I am writing this correction here because who knows if I’ll get to it in the actual post.  I can’t even blog on time!  Anyway, between the two restaurants, I would go to Rich Table any day but both are gustatory treats!

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Hamilton was awesome.  Wow, such an original opinion and so cutting-edge!  I had listened to the soundtrack prior to the show, but the experience was elevated by the incredible staging.  My favorite aspect was the rotating stage that was particularly effective during a slightly dream-like, time-and-perspective shifting scene during the song “Satisfied.”  I also liked seeing King George III on the sides of different scenes with his snarky expressions and body language even when his songs weren’t featured.

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Guess who Ishann loves the best?  Ok, ok, it’s probably his parents but it’s hard to tell when SMS is around!

The next day, we met up with Jyotsna and Akshay for our long-planned Pt. Reyes picnic and outing.  We went to Tomales Bay Oyster Co for several dozen oysters.  Unfortunately, they no longer have picnic facilities there so we went to Pt. Reyes Station and ate in the small garden/picnic area of Cowgirl Creamery.  There, we supplemented our picnic with cheese, bread, and a few other delicious things like…wine!

After our picnic, we decided to go to Heidrun Meadery, a favorite of A&J.  We had gotten a late-ish start so we didn’t have it in us to head out to the lighthouse, although it is a great place.  It just adds a fair bit of car time to take the backroads to the farthest parts of Point Reyes National Seashore.

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Sitting on the kid’s chair outside the “secret door” to the picnic area underneath the tree canopy.  Pro tip: don’t cut to the right because there is a branch that will try to impale itself into your head.  Trust me.  It doesn’t tickle.
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Ishaan takes half the tree home to plant as a sapling.  Don’t worry- this sapling harvest was supervised and approved by a meadery worker!

After an awesome house-hunting leave (and I did find an apartment on Craigslist for Coronado!), I went back to work.  I really worked until the very end, seeing clinic and even operating on my very last day (31 July) because a patient really wanted me to do her tracheostomy.  She said I “didn’t bullshit her” when talking about medical care so chalk that up to good bedside manner (I think!).

Before that last day, however, I spent the last weekend of July in Belmar, NJ where I got together with my college friends whom I’ve kept in touch with for the last 18 years and known for the last 21!  Ooo, I just noticed those years are very college-age lengths of time.  I drove from Norfolk to NJ via Philadelphia to pick up Gisele and her sons.  My brain was a little fried from PA traffic and the stress of being late, but once we arrived in NJ, things were pret-ty perfect!  The six of us hung out all weekend long and were fairly mellow.  I had the best time and feel so lucky to know these wonderful women.  We were missing one of our “group,” who’s on the West Coast and recently-ish had a baby but six out of seven isn’t bad.  Keeping in touch doesn’t seem to be anyone’s strong suit in the group but we write and get together just enough that I feel we are still in each other’s lives.  Four of the seven live in the NYC area so they’re in more frequent contact (lucky!) but there’s still room for the three of us who aren’t local!

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Argh, I hate being on the end for photos!  But I’m glad we got an adult group shot!

Finally, after a month of highlight upon highlight, it was time to leave Norfolk.  SMS flew in on the 31st in preparation for leaving 1 Aug.  Our trip will be featured in next month’s highlights but a teaser photo is below.

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Time to keep the birds alive in the Summer heat of the Southern Interstate cross-country route!  The little birds did not do their fair share of driving, spoiler alert!

Jamestown, with and without an “E”

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SMS and I spent the Thanksgiving weekend in the Tidewater area of Virginia.  Since we were in such a historic part of the country, we decided to check out the former site of Jamestown, the first permenent English colony in the U.S.  SMS had been there when he was in junior high and remembered the glass blowing demonstration.  I had never been and really didn’t know that much about it which led to the following encounter-

Upon following Google Maps to Jamestown, we pulled into a large parking lot for a museum.  We walked inside, used the bathrooms, and then I went up to the ticket counter.  I was pretty sure we weren’t at the Jamestown site but I wanted to know where to go and since it was already 3 p.m, I wanted to make sure we didn’t go to the wrong place.

Me: “Excuse me, but is this where I buy tickets to Jamestown?”

Ticket lady: “[Loud Audible Sigh]  It’s been a long weekend.  Jamestown DOESN’T EXIST!!! IT HASN’T BEEN HERE SINCE 1624!!!!”

Me (slightly taken aback): “Um, I’m sorry.  But I thought there was a historic site to see?”

Ticket lady: “Look, this is Jamestowne with an ‘e.’  We’re a living history museum.  The archeologic site of Jamestown (which doesn’t exist) is down the road.”

Me: “So, do I need to buy a ticket here?”

Ticket Lady: “No.”

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Can’t rain on my ranger parade!

Sheesh.  What a weirdo!  While I was talking to her, she had pulled out a laminated placard showing the difference between Jamestowne with an ‘e’ and Jamestown.  Jamestown is run by the National Park Service, which is great since SMS and I have an annual pass.  That meant we could get in for free, which was perfect since we didn’t have a lot of time.

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First, we went to the glassblowing shop which had on-going demonstrations and was really warm from the incredibly hot oven in the center.  This was delightful since it was so cold!  We drove down to the Jamestown site proper, showed our pass, and walked to the artifact museum.  Then, we walked around the fort which hadn’t even been excavated when SMS last visited.  After looking at the fort that didn’t exist, we walked around the Newtown area, which we slightly regretted since it was so cold.  But, hey, we were there so we had to see the sights!

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We hopped in the car and had dinner at La Tienda, a Spanish tapas restaurant.  It was delicious!  I wished we had bigger appetites and/or a larger group because there were several dishes I wanted to try.  But, while we were there, the berenjenas con miel and judiones fritos were particular highlights!

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Other events from Thanksgiving weekend: I made a delicious but homely looking sweet potato pie.  It suffered in comparison next to my friend’s Cheesecake Factory worthy dessert.  Ah well.

Also, at a local restaurant, SMS had a fruit salad, Southern style: iceberg lettuce, canned fruit in syrup, and shredded cheddar cheese.  We were both slightly confused.  The restaurant is called The Grey Goose.  The doorstop goose out front was missing its head.  Apparently, this has been an ongoing saga where the head keeps getting knocked off despite trying to glue it back on.  The owner has now given up, per a shamelessly eavesdropped conversation on my part.

 

Day trip to Outer Banks, NC

SMS and I decided to take a day trip to the Outer Banks earlier this month.  It was the Saturday after Labor Day so even though we were charged peak tolls, it seemed that we were into the “shoulder season” with far fewer tourists.  We had an amazing time!

We drove along the 158E and once we crossed the bridge to the Outer Banks, we took a right to head down towards Kill Devil Hill and Kitty Hawk.  Our first stop was for lunch at Pigman’s BBQ for some East Carolina-style pulled pork and ribs.  I really like the tangy, vinegar-based sauce.  We were pretty hungry and the food hit the spot!  We ate outside in the shade.  The restaurant also does picnics-to-go, which would be a nice way to have a gourmet beach feast.

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SMS as a plane. Next to him is the launch rail. In the background are the flight distance markers.

After Pigman, we headed to the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hill.  Kill Devil Hill was the dune (now grass-covered hill) that they used to launch their gliders.  Slightly north of the hill is the site of the first four flights.  There is a launch rail that was used to help guide the plane to take-off that is still present.  Four boulders are placed marking the landing site of each of the first flights, which got progressively longer.  I didn’t realize how short the first flight was!  We walked along the path to the 4th flight boulder, which was the longest distance by far.  It was really neat.  In addition, there’s a cool juxtaposition of a modern airstrip right next to the monument so right next to the historic field is a modern airport with Cesnas flying in.

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We decided to head South and try to find a beach.  I saw a marker for Coquina Beach at the Wright Memorial so we headed there.  What a find!  It’s down Highway 12 about 20 minutes from Kitty Hawk.  It’s part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore so it’s completely undeveloped.  But at Coquina Beach, there is a large parking lot with plenty of spots when we were there.  Best of all, there’s a spotlessly clean bathroom, changing room and outdoor shower area which makes it SO much nicer when it comes time to leave.  Rather than sitting in damp suits with sticky sand, we were able to wash off and change.  I really liked it and can definitely see myself going back.

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After a few hours at the beach, we got back in the car and headed home.  We stopped at the Weeping Radish, a microbrewery in Grandy opened by an immigrant from Bavaria in the 1980s.  They follow the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516 and both the beer and food are German-inspired.  The beer, all from the microbrewery, was really good.  I was surprised because sometimes super-small places can be uneven in quality but every beer was pretty great, although there were some I favored over others just based on personal taste.   Unfortunately, we weren’t hungry due to the size of our lunch but I bet the food there is pretty awesome. We watch the last set of the Serena-Naomi US Open, which was pretty intense.

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Feeding a goat!

Also, I got to feed a goat!  There were two goats outside and I went over to admire their cuteness.  A woman leaving the brewery told us that they liked branches from the tree and that I should feed them one.  So, I took a little twig and fed one of the goats.  Super cute!

Then it was time to head back.  It was a great day with lots of cool stops- a perfect day trip!  For future Outer Banks trips, I would like to go back to Coquina Beach, check out Duck, and travel to Ocracoke for an overnight (or several) based on my cousins’ recommendations.