Highway Surfin’ to Wrightsville Beach

The roar of the ocean crashes into sand, collapsing and rising against the gravity magnet concert of the moon. The night is deep and dark illuminated by the lunar silver; the stars reflect against the sand like diamonds in the rough. As I stand on the edge of the continent my heart beats wildly and in the chaos of coming night all I feel is an overwhelming peace. I look at the harbor lights in the distance and adventure whispers like the echo of the pounding wind creaking against Crystal Pier on Wrightsville Beach. The coarse sand is in my tennis shoes, evoking childhood memories of the magic of the ocean.

It has been eight years since I last visited North Carolina’s golden coast. Eight years since I last saw the ocean. The salt air reminds me I am finally home in Tar Heel sand. I forgot just how peaceful the restless waves and uneven sand is, how tranquil it is to stroll on wooden planks staring off into the colors of the horizon. I don’t think you realize how much you need a vacation until you let your tension and frustrations fall into the rhythm of the waves and the beat of the beach. I feel free and I have to admit the salt air has cast a spell I’m not sure I’m ready to break.

I have come full circle in the past year.  On March 9 2015 I left Bozeman Montana to travel across the country with my mom to move back home to NC.  A year ago I was in between Utah and Idaho in a blizzard, now I stand thousands of miles away listening to the song of the sea.

I am in Wrightsville Beach/Wilmington for forty-eight hours for a conference, but business and pleasure are not mutually exclusive. My mom and I decided to take time to have a beach rendezvous enjoying a little sand and surf while in Wilmington for the career conference.

We left Raleigh at noon and drove two hours east on I-40 until the road runs out. Wilmington is the terminus for I-40. The dreamer in me wouldn’t mind chasing down 40 all the way down to California. I think I am content to bask in the heavenly North Carolina spring weather: 67 degrees of sunshine against a crystal clear Carolina blue sky; spring’s kiss is sublime after a month of ice storms and slushy mucky snow. The hum of the tires rolled at seventy through open farmland of the state’s Coastal Plain. Paul Simon set the soundtrack to the rhythm of this beach trip.

Per a recommendation from a friend, I booked a room at the Sandpeddler in Wrightsville Beach. With suites offering a full bath, bedroom, kitchenette, cozy living room and breathtaking views and sea breeze from the Atlantic Ocean and Sound, The Sandpeddler is an ideal hideaway for beach bum families who are looking for a quiet and laid back environment. The Sandpeddler has daily and weekly rates for every budget. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about Wrightsville and Wilmington happenings from providing the scoop on area restaurants to fun activities including the aquarium and Battleship NC.

The Sandpeddler is a seagull’s caw away from the beach. The historic Oceanic Restaurant and Crystal Pier is a short walk across the street, making the hotel a great location to spend a day on the water, relax in the room then enjoy a top of the boat dinner with seaside views.

After unpacking, my mom and I took advantage of the transcendent weather and went on a two mile walk, meandering by the funky and classic colorful seaside cottages on stilts and coastal villas, weathered by salt and wind. The character of the homes makes this resort communities have personality. You feel the love beach residents feel for the ocean and sound, a love of the coast imbued on every cottage conk shell gourd wreath and pelican door knob.

As we meandered down the back streets on the edge of the ocean, behind the dunes, the sound in view, bicyclists pedaled by, beach gear in tow. I love the laid back vibe of Wrightsville. The focus is the beach and positive energy.

I love tacos. If you are what you eat I would be a Mexican Baja fiesta, so I was eager to try out Tower 7 Baja Mexican. Located in the heart of Wrightsville, Tower 7 specializes in Baja style Mexican food with fresh ingredients and local Carolina fair. The energy of the bar and surrounding restaurant was kinetic with families, teens, college students filling the space, buzzing about their weekend at the beach. My mom and I both have Celiac Disease (gluten intolerance) so we opted for chicken and beef tacos with home style rice. We will venture into the sea, with a yummy seafood meal tomorrow.

I highly recommend Tower 7, it has a surf-mex vibe. The salsa is fresh and the tacos were full of flavor.

Wrightsville has lots of great restaurants I look forward to trying out mainstream and off the beaten path grub spots in future travels to the area. North Carolina has so many fresh local ingredients from our farming culture to fresh seafood, it is a joy to eat the freshest NC food that is prepared with care and respect for Tar Heel flavor.
We trekked back the two miles to our hotel in the dimming dusk as night took hold before winding up on the Crystal Pier. The power of the ocean is a heartbeat pulsing me to hope.

I look forward to my conference tomorrow and will continue to blog about our trip…

p.s. The myth of the sun dog is still a work in progress. Stay tuned…maybe I’ll also write a myth of the sea.

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