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Nov 29 - Lauren's B-day Party
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 Outer Banks Vacation
We just returned from a swell family vacation to the Outer Banks. My whole family from my parents on down made the trip to North Carolina for the festivities. Everybody had a great time and we're already looking forward to the next one. The write-up is pretty long, but don't miss the video slideshow that my sister Jayne made.

My parent's flew to Delaware and drove down the coast with my sister Jennette and her family, my sister Joce flew in from Texas with her family, and my brother Jordan and his family helped Karen and my kids on flights from SLC. My sisters Jayne and Jessie and my brother Justin drove with me from Orem to Corolla, North Carolina in 36 hours of straight driving, with only the occasional gas and bathroom break.

I'll give you a little introduction about the Outer Banks in case you've never heard of them. Check out this satellite photo of the area to see what I'm talking about. There are little narrow strips of land, usually less than 1 mile in width, that run along pretty much the entire North Carolina coast. Those narrow strips are collectively known as the Outer Banks. On one side of the Outer Banks is the Atlantic Ocean, and on the other side are several sounds. All the sounds between the Outer Banks and the continent are estuaries from the rivers that empty into the ocean there. It's a really unique place with some neat features.

We stayed in a town called Corolla, which is on the North end of the Outer Banks. The home we were in was right on the Currituck Sound, and had a neat boardwalk dock, several hundred feet long, that went from the house right out into the sound. The water on the sound side was very warm, calm and clear, and it wasn't nearly as salty as the ocean. We had lots of fun putting around on ocean kayaks and just wading around. A favorite of the kids was to tie a boogie board line to the back of a kayak to hitch a ride.

Even though the sound was lots of fun, it was nowhere near as exciting as the ocean, so most days we loaded up the kids and drove or rode bikes a few blocks over to the ocean-side beaches. The little kids loved digging in the sand and playing in the surf, and the big kids learned how to ride the surf on boogie boards. Many days we were having so much fun, we forgot to apply or reapply sunblock, and there were some pretty impressive sunburns in the group. I think Justin won the grand prize and went from snow-white to solid pink.

We also made some day trips and saw some neat sights. There was a visit to a nearby light house, a visit to the Wright Memorial near Kitty Hawk, a visit to Jockey's Ridge State Park, which is a giant sand dune (and had great wind for flying our kites), and a visit to the lost colony at Roanoke Island.

Every morning my parents hosted a "Cousins Camp" activity with all their grandkids, doing fun arts and crafts and having fun games. On the last day, the water-fight activity received some extra participation from the aunts and uncles of the Cousins Campers.

All week long we kept trying to muster enough energy at the end of the day to get cleaned up and get back to the beach for a family photo before the light was gone. Every day we were all too tired, and we continued procrastinating it. We finally made it happen, and even managed to get my dad to the beach. As you can see from the following photo, as your family grows, it becomes increasingly impossible to get everyone to smile and look at the camera at the same moment.

Last, but not least, we had a fun family talent show at the end of the week. My sister Jayne made a cool video slideshow from the photos that were taken up to that point, and showed it for her talent. For your viewing pleasure, here's "Ocean Man":

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"A sunny morning, a flower growed."
--Lauren (3/2005)

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