Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bike Rides and Sugar Sand Dune Hikes

We needed a break from the beach so decided to go on an epic bike ride down historic 30a one day. We rented bikes at Yolo Board and Bikes and headed east to Watercolor. It was a perfect, cloudy, but sunny day and not too hot. 

We must have burned a trail to the coffee shop in Seaside with our rental car, but to take in the scenic route by bike was a whole new experience.

These water lilies. These water lilies made me just jump for joy that they were in bloom.

E. has such great memories of visiting Grayton Beach when he lived in Atlanta. This was pre-me so we wonder if we were ever swimming in the same ocean at the same time. 

He encouraged us to pull over for a visit at the Grayton State Park. Growing up we never went to another beach because we had the beach in front of us. It was fun seeing it from a different perspective.

The guard even gave us a deal and charged us for a vehicle, vs. four bikes. Pretty awesome.

E. and I hiked the Pine Trail, while our pals went to the beach for a quick swim.

I'm so glad my camera has a self timer. This little spot had fairy dust and sparkles everywhere it was so mystical.

Can you see the fairy's? I know my little buddy James from NC would be able to see them.

#ewalking The clouds grew darker and darker on our walk. The sugar sand dunes burned your eyes it was so bright, even on a cloudy day.

We hiked fast but I tried to pay attention to the tiniest details in the sand. 

I heard E calling from ahead and I was like, "hold your horses" thinking he was rushing me. My precious husband was rushing me so I could see our friend, The Great Blue Heron. He kind of felt like our welcome greeter to the pines.

Sexy devil.

I love all of the evergreens at the beach. Pine trees, pine straw everywhere.

Keep off dunes. (Dude, such a bummer.)

Bossing Uncle Charlie around, on where he needed to take a picture. Poor guy. Puts up with my bull.

Standing under my favorite pines of all time.

I wanted him to get a shot of the kayaker.

It was a scorcher. It rained about 20 seconds after this photo. We ran for cover and met up with the Haygoods to wait it out a bit at the rest station in the park.

We rode back out, in the rain, and these are my favorite pines of all time. I love how they gather at the top. We had just walked that whole route and this perspective is back on the road.


We landed at the Wine World and had the most hilarious, drenched wet lunch with a fantastic meal, great service and nice folks in the restaurant who we ran into another day at George's in Alys Beach. 

After drinking and eating we had another 6 miles to go back! Whew. It was so much fun and the absolute highlight of our trip. I want to remember how happy I was at this very moment for the rest of my life. It was just such a perfect day, great friends and fun adventure. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Averitts Favorite

This stucco road marker represents pure bliss. It means we have finally arrived at the beach. 

The sea oats are another welcome marker. Our first morning we woke up super early to watch the sunrise.

It rained even earlier our first morning. The rain stamped sand is just the prettiest.

The last time E and I took a two week vacation was nine years ago at Lake Michigan. With my mother. Ha!

This house is now twenty years old. As I said, my uncle designed it after hurricane Opal destroyed the first house.

My godmother did this wonderful sketch of the original house. It was a two bedroom beach shack. We were so little and crammed four adults and 5 kids back in the day. I never remember it feeling crowded because we were always at the beach. I learned to really fall in love with reading here, play gin rummy and learned to make the best salad dressing from my grandmother. It swayed in the breeze because it was up on stilts so it always felt like you were gently rocked to sleep by the house. Isn't that a romantic memory?

The hurricane truly knocked down the dunes. The only hint of what was left of them is in this photo off to the right. Again we were little, but ran up and down the dunes and jumped off of them for hours. Now there are signs everywhere that you have to stay off the dunes. I get it, but man those were the days.

Cooking was always front and center at the house. E's roommate from UNC joined us with his new bride for four nights during our break. We just celebrated with them at their wedding last fall in Jamaica. It was the first time I've ever been down to the beach with just friends. Felt a little weird without my brother and I did miss my grandparents like crazy.

The house is a rental for most of the year and we had fun sprucing the old girl up a bit. My aunt and I were on the phone constantly our first few days, creating Pinterest boards and disagreeing with my Daddy on the importance of a Lazy Boy vs a wing back chair/ottoman. First world problems at its best. I know he'll be super happy with our choices in the end. These stools add just the greatest pop of color and truly change the whole look of the space.

We moved the old stools to the deck with a great, new bar stool table.

The "All In the Family" chair will be history by the next visit. I found a fun new lamp with a tree trunk base and the sofa will be replaced with a much longer, slip covered, white sofa so more friends can lounge on rainy afternoons and watch movies and football. I'm really hoping to blow up one of my "beach chic" photos to go over the sofa. It would also look great to have a huge mirror reflect the ocean on that wall.

Any chance you get to see this view reflected in the house is a bonus in my opinion.

The neighbors to our west have a seriously huge mansion. Rumors on the road have it that the family are from Baton Rouge but we've never, ever seen them. Averitts Favorite feels like this little Martin House compared to it.

Mansion on the left. Averitts Favorite roof line on the right.

Tang-O-Mar hasn't changed that much but many houses have been updated in the last 20 years. Some have added pools too. I dream of a small dipping pool and covered patio under the house one day in the future.

We all feel so lucky that my grandparents found this little gem on the water 36 years ago.

Our dear family friend's home was also destroyed in Opal and they rebuilt this large duplex to the right. Sadly they sold so we don't get to see them at the beach anymore. It was the Craddock's who inspired my Granddaddy to buy back in 1978.

I added a mirror to reflect the light and coast in the master bedroom. Amazing what a mirror does to a room. 

Each bedroom has a view of the water the way my uncle designed the angles of the house. 

I took this photo before I hung a mirror in this bedroom as well. But again, it reflects the ocean perfectly on the back wall. I moved a mirror in the middle bedroom to do the same thing. Now all three of the bedrooms have mirrors reflecting the water.

We enjoyed our visit with the Haygood's so much. Granddaddy used to always tell a story about how he learned how to drink like a gentleman at UVA. Two drinks and done. 

We may have broken that rule with two drinks in the morning, and two in the evening. We tried new things. Spicy bourbon, peachy mimosas and local beers. I cooked things I've never cooked before, like biscuits with sausage gravy inspired by this recipe. I've made a million frittata's but this Nelly Frittata took the cake when I used the left over grill roasted potatoes from the Haygood's meal from the night before. It's really fun house to cook in. I feel like I fell in love with cooking all over again.

This French Toast Casserole was by far the most fun meal I made during the vacation. I am a little late on the Pioneer Woman craze but now I understand. Her recipes are so easy. They are also so decadent. It's insane how we ate, but with lots of activity we actually lost weight. Proves that living life and enjoying the food you eat makes a difference. I torched the top not knowing how hot our oven got at the beach house but it was still fantastic. Use sourdough bread. The Winn Dixie loaf was the perfect size.

When our buddies left we tried to take a few timed photo shots with my camera. This one makes me laugh as we took about ten to finally get the one below. I want to be this relaxed all the time.



I'm looking forward to seeing how the house comes together with a few more updates. It's all I can think about now. Last week was a little tough re-entry but knowing it is there for a getaway makes work even easier. 

Best wishes for a productive week and for many beach dreams.