Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunset Beach "Kamping" Excursion

RNH and I decided half-way through last week that we'd go to the beach this weekend since our weekends coming up are going to be pretty busy. I started researching the hotels at various beaches throughout North Carolina. I'm pretty familiar with all of the beaches in NC because my mom and I took two years, a week each year, and divided up the NC coast. We started at the northernmost beach in NC and worked our way 1/2 way down, visiting all of the light houses. The next year we picked up where we left off and finished off the coast. It was one of the best trips I've ever taken. Unfortunately I was fresh out of college and jobless, thus making my mom pay for the entire trip (she knew this ahead of time and didn't mind!). As we travelled down the coast, we didn't make any plans and "hotel hopped." As we reached each new town, we'd stay wherever we thought would be best, and usually cheapest. All of this being said, I have a lot of knowledge on the cheapest areas, and the areas that are "hidden gems." Unfortunately, I might not know as much as I'd like to think. We couldn't find any hotel rooms that were less than $200 a night. I was bummed. We hadn't saved up money for this spur-of-the-moment trip, so it would all be coming out of the monthly budget.

Then I thought of something. Last month we had camped at Carolina Beach State Park for $15 a day. That wasn't bad, I really enjoyed it. But RNH wasn't quite as thrilled- he likes to have air conditioning at the beach. Taking this into account, I came across "Kamping" at the KOA Kampgrounds!!! I've never been, but seen them advertised everywhere and I knew that my mom's family always camped at them growing up. As I did more and more research, we decided to hit the road and make the KOA our destination, the KOA of Brunswick County, NC. The total cost of accomodations for 2 nights: $130!!!
I actually looked into the KOA's that are closer to our home, however the sites were filled. We settled for the KOA of the Shallotte area and hit the road. It took about 3 hours to get there, not too bad, but a little longer than we'd hoped. Next time we'll try to plan ahead and possibly stay at the KOA in Wilmington or Cape Hatteras. Once there we immediately checked out our digs for the weekend. We were staying in a "Kabin" that holds up to 4 people. I was excited! We got the keys from the friendly staff and went around to the area of the "kabins." I got uuber excited just looking at the place because of the cute little porch and porch swing. Once I unlocked the door I was really surprised! The Kabin was huge and it smelled SO good- of wood! There was a nice-size queen bed and bunkbeds. I fell in love immediately. RNH immediately turned on the window-unit A/C!
After a quick un-packing we took one glance at the sky and decided it wouldn't be a beach day. We decided to check out the area and go to the grocery store. I had already done a little bit of research on the area and knew there was a winery about 2 miles away from our campground. I suggested it and surprisingly, RNH was all for it! We took off down the road and visited the Silver Coast Winery. I'll blog about it later when I open up a bottle of Calabash White we bought. It was a TON of fun! RNH and I did our first (EVER!) official wine tasting. I was kinda nervous at first but I told the wine host that it was my first time and he made us feel real relaxed... Especially after a few shots of wine! I can't even remember the old man's name, but he was really sweet. Turns out RNH knows the guy from somewhere. They both know the same people from Lexington and Southern Pines area, but can't really place a finger on how they know each other. Small world. But we really enjoyed the wine. We did a full tasting of the reds and whites for $10 and got to keep the Silver Coast Winery wine glass! Like I said, I'll tell more about that when I pop the cork on a bottle we bought. Oh- and I let the wine go straight to my head and ended up blabbing my loose lips to some local high school football coach and his wife. RNH talks to him about coaching high school football (since RNH used to do that) and the coach has a Pitt t-shirt on. I begin to blab about how my dad played for Penn State for a "hot minute" until he broke his finger. And how my cousin is a current pitcher for them, oh except it doesn't really matter because I don't know my cousins because we don't talk to them because my dad isn't a good person, blah, blah BLAH. Yeah. RNH kinda stares at me with an open fishy-mouth like Did you really just say all that? On that note he says a quick goodbye and leads me to his truck. Oooopsy!We end up going to the grocery store, changing into something a bit nicer and taking off for our most favorite seafood restaurant EVER. EVER. Dockside in Calabash, NC. Calabash is not only a sea-side town in North Carolina, on the border of South Carolina, it is also a style of seafood. Calabash means that it is lightly breaded and fried, and delicious! If we're staying within 30 minutes of this place, we try to go. The fun thing about this restaurant too, is the docks and boats you can admire while waiting for your name to be called. And believe me- there will be a wait. No matter what. But it is totally worth it!

After dinner we decided to take a night-time walk on the beach. I completely forgot to warn RNH that Sunset beach has a one-lane bridge that you have to cross to get to the ocean. The bridge actually opens quite often for boats to pass through. So of course we get to the bridge and it takes about 15 minutes for it to be our turn to cross. This drives RNH insane. Once across and over to the ocean finally, we take a wonderful walk in the sand. Loved every minute of it! Then back home where we slept peacefully in our Kabin. That is until RNH wakes up in the middle of the night to barf up his $16 dinner. At first he wants to blame it on the fish- and realizes that we ate at Dockside. Nope- can't blame it on our most favorite restaurant EVER!!! So we decided that it was the multiple flavors of wine we had earlier in the day, and then topping it with a bunch of fried food- not good! I wasn't feeling too hot either, but drank some water before bed (instead of beer like he did!) The next day we woke up feeling pretty good, despite the mixture of drinks and seafood from the night before, and decided to go on a bike ride. We ended up crossing the street from the KOA and found ourselves riding through a multi-million dollar retirement golf community. It was a very cute, very nice place. We got worried someone would call us in to the police. We did a ride-through and made it out safely.

In the neighborhood there were speed limit signs posted and then a sign telling you to brake for Fox Squirrels. I'd heard of them, but didn't really know much about them. I came across one and had to hit my handlebar brakes because the darn thing skipped out in front of me. I tried to snap a few pictures of it because it was the weirded looking thing I've ever seen! It looked like a miniature panda bear in the "heat of the moment." But once the excitement died down, and I look back at the pictures, it just looks like a black squirrel. Maybe the previous day's wine was still in my system...
After getting home and doing a little "googling," I find out that this monkey-looking thing is really just a regular Fox Squirrel, like the one you'd find in your backyard, they just "come in black" in some locations. Haha.
After the bike ride we took off for the beach. We spent several hours out there and really enjoyed ourselves. Sunset is a beautiful beach. Near the pier, it looks like a crowded California-type beach (I'm only guessing here, since I've never been to Cali!) but you can walk a while down and then feel like you're the only ones in the world. RNH and I parked our rear-ends in the shallow water of the secluded section of the beach and sat there forever. It was wonderful.

After we were fried to a crisp, we went back to our Kabin and enjoyed the pool there. Later we decided to go to Sunset beach and have dinner. We ate at a place called "Crabby Oddwaters." It looked like a neat little restaurant, sitting on the Intracoastal Waterway. The restaurant was located above a fresh seafood market. That means the food has to be great, right? Well, it was. The only problem was our waiter. He made the food not seem so great. He was a Yankee and obviously didn't know a damn thing about seafood. We had to ask for hushpuppies that we saw everyone else getting, ask for butter for our hushpuppies and got some really good cinnamon butter. But let me ask you this- any good southerner would know that the flavors of cinnamon and hushpuppies do not belong together!!! Why would you put cinnamon on a piece of fried bread that has onion flakes inside? Ugh. This was such a disgrace. We also had to ask for several other items that are a given if you've ever eaten seafood. We chalked it up to it being the guy's first day on the job. At least I hope. Either way, the food was delish. That is unless you're being interrupted mid-dinner being asked by the waiter if you want some key-lime pie. Really? Let me swallow my dinner first puh-lease!
Afterwards, ice cream on the beach and then back to the Kabin to drink beers on the porch swing. The next morning we slept in and then headed back to Calabash to eat at Sunrise Pancake place. Delish. We decided to stop at the "Butcher of Brunswick," Randy's Meat Center. No preservatives in the meat and RNH picked up some fillets for dinner tonight. It was insanely good and we wish we lived closer!
On a sad note- we had so much fun at the Silver Coast Winery, we decided to stop in Rose Hill, to check out the Duplin Winery on the way home. It was closed. Of course we should have known this, since it was Sunday, but we just couldn't help and hope it was open! Oh well!
Needless to say it was a wonderful weekend getaway and I wish I was still there!


  1. Hey - yankees know about seafood, too! I think this guy is just dumb all around.

    I'm thinking about just taking a day trip down to Wilmington because I'm having beach withdrawal. You are welcome to join if I actually do it! (Not sure how its going to work with us being on midnight shift but whatever - maybe when we go back to days I'll make it happen).

  2. I guess Yankees do know about seafood- I mean there's all of those shore places up there to get the best seafood EVER, but yeah, I just wanted to blame it all on his Yankee-ness! Haha! He didn't even know what months are good oyster months. Ugh.

    And ummmm YESSSS! Please please PLEASE take me with you! I LOVED going on day trips down there in college & RNH won't ever go with me because of the "drive." Oh whatever! I'm def. game!!!