Pork Rinds & the Crystal Coast

It’s no secret I love North Carolina despite having massive culture shock upon moving there. So coming back to visit after nine months away was a huge treat. We were looking forward to so many things and decided to just squeeze in as much of it as possible.

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First up was a visit to see Lena’s second cousins. She needed some kid time and I was confident that after a couple hours of being manhandled by the four older kids, she would be sufficiently worn out. Since we didn’t have a car, Dustin and Melissa offered to go with us/drive us. It was a typical Southern summer day – high temperatures and sweltering humidity. I have to admit I questioned my love for the Tarheel state after a few minutes outside but then I remembered we were headed to the beach the next day and my confidence was restored.

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Wanting Lena to sleep, we stopped at a gas station for some necessities. My pregnant pal, Melissa, requested white cheddar popcorn and pork rinds. Dustin, being the little saint that he is, happily obliged and emerged from the shop with an enormous shopping bag full of nutritious goodies.

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The next day, it was off to the Emerald Isle or, as I like to call it, Heaven. If I had to be stuck one place for the rest of my life, I would choose the North Carolina beaches. I don’t have words to describe my love for this sandy stretch of paradise. And when you add in my “people,” life is complete.

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We lounged, swam, and made sand castles. Glorious, I tell you! And contrary to last year, Lena didn’t eat the sand so I wasn’t stuck trying to wipe it out of her butt crack for a week after. After taking some time to get used to them, Lena decided she liked the crashing waves and demanded we take her out to swim. I love that she’s adventurous though she freaked me out a little bit when she thought she could just swim on her own.

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The guys booked us a great room overlooking the ocean. Melissa and I were pretty excited especially since it had beach access and a pool and we vowed to come back every year. Unfortunately, there was no sound barrier between the “rooms” and when Lena woke up before anyone else, we headed outside so the rest of the adults could sleep.

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Dustin must have heard us because he crept up on Lena to surprise her before taking a walk with us down to the ocean. Normally, we just drive to the beach for the day so this was my first time seeing a sunrise over the Atlantic. The beach was relatively empty and the sunlight made everything feel so fresh and pure. The hotel staff had started setting up for a wedding the day before making me think if we ever were to have an anniversary celebration, I’d want it at that exact location.

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We let Lena chase some waves and get her giggles out with Uncle Ducky before heading back to the room for breakfast. Then it was down to the beach to soak up some more sun and salt water. At one point, Dustin and Lena had both fallen asleep and were laying in the exact same position. If ever there was a guy who was made to be a dad, it is Dustin.

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Before heading back to Goldsboro, we took a final dip in the hotel pool. Everything was going great until we noticed a floater of the brown variety. Jason and Dustin made an enormously obvious scene trying to get out of the pool leaving me holding a diaperless Lena and swimming away from the poo shark. They claimed it came from Lena but I know better. Even more curious is that both Jason and Dustin had upset “tummies” on the way home. Guilty much, boys?

Slightly sunburnt and salty skinned, we bid farewell to the Crystal Coast eagerly anticipating our customary stop at Hardee’s. It’s not an official beach trip until we’ve filled our bellies with the glorious grease of hamburgers and french fries.

Can you blame me for loving this place so much?!

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