Balderrama Beach Bums 2018

We just wrapped up a most memorable week in beautiful Surf City, North Carolina, with the Balderrama Beach Bums (BBB 2018).

We had been on the search for a perfect spot to spend a week at the beach that started with Hawaii, but after looking at costs and travel times, we decided to stay within the mainland. The search started with Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, then kept moving up towards the north and finding the best value – and I think we found it on Topsail Island and Surf City.

We stayed at a beautiful house that was right on the beach, which was the main reason for choosing Surf City. With traveling with 4 kids 6 & under, I was worried about packing everything up for a day at the beach, then having one of the kids get sick of it after 30 minutes and want to go back.  For a reasonable price, we couldn’t beat this level of access and the flexibility to work around nap times and taking breaks from being in the sun.

The beach itself was beautiful, with soft, fine sand and ocean water that felt like a warm bath. I was a bit fearful about the level of humidity we’d get in North Carolina in July, but it was definitely at a bearable level for us Colorado wimps. One of the best aspects of this beach was the fact that that it was not crowded. Most of the people there were occupants in the house, and while there were public access points, it still seemed very low-key, giving the illusion of seclusion.

Surf City itself is a very charming town that was very welcoming to guests, embracing the interest and growth. Every business and local we encountered seemed genuinely glad to have the people there, unlike some other destination towns that seem resentful of the tourists.  What also made Surf City ideal was that there were not many temptations away from the beach.  We had little outings that we went to each afternoon to get out of the sun, but the beach remained the main focus and felt timeless as if we were living in a Corona commercial.

While there seemed to be a lot of dining options, we found our favorites pretty quickly and went back a few times. Some places that we loved:

Surf Dog Bits and Brews – they were so friendly and accommodating. The food and beer were a great casual options, and they were really awesome with our kids.

Salty Turtle Beer Company – a new craft brewery that opened up and was a relaxing way to beat the heat. I was a big fan of La Surfeza (a cool play on words with Cerveza – Spanish for “beer”).

Topsail Steamer – a cool concept that’s basically a “take & bake” for steaming seafood. They give you everything – including the bucket – to steam everything and have a cajun boil at home.

However a ProTip: don’t drink the broth. It made Wednesday night a really bad one for me and also took me out of commission on Thursday.

Overall this turned out to be a really relaxing trip, with absolutely no regrets.  If you are looking for a beach vacation, we couldn’t recommend Surf City enough.

Why I haven’t written: Part One–Summer of Balderramas

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As a justification to you (but mainly to myself) as to why I haven’t posted all summer, I wanted to share of some of the cool stuff that kept me away from blogging.  Up first is our SOB trip – Summer of Balderramas.

Our family is trying to get on the pattern of setting up a reunion vacation every 3-4 years.  We did the first one in Breckenridge, CO back in 2011.  This year we put one together in Daytona Florida for a week in June.  We had a bit of a smaller turnout compared to the last one, but we actually had different family members come out to this trip and had an awesome time.  At one point, there were 18 of us all together.  As with all vacations as of late, we once again booked a VRBO house that sat right on the beach.  The shot below was taken from our back yard on a wooden walkway.  This house was amongst of group of five others that were right on the beach.  Neighboring them were groups of hi-rise buildings with condos, hotels, restaurants and shops.  It was really neat to think that we were occupying the same footprint as a hi-rise with hundreds of people.  During the day folks would drive their cars onto the beach, which then became pretty funny when they got stuck in the sand – similar to folks getting stuck in the slush out here.  For the most part though we had the area right in front of the house to ourselves.  Every day I had Zac Brown Band’s “Toes” playing in my head.

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We couldn’t fathom going to Florida and not going to Disney World, so we had that in our agenda.  Given that we were traveling children that were 1 and 2, we didn’t think the lines and 48”+ height requirements of Magic Kingdom would have been best for two little ones that were likely going to skip naps, so we opted for Epcot.  There was plenty for them to see and interact with, as well as letting the grown ups do the “Beers Around the World” crawl by drinking in each country of the lagoon.  The girls spent the morning doing a breakfast with the Disney Princesses, and Clara got lipstick on her cheek with a kiss from Snow White.  We did a couple of low-key rides which were on par with “It’s A Small World”.  Clara also loved seeing all of the musical features as well, as the Taiko Drumming.

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Epcot definitely wore her out though.  She took a mini-nap in the USA part of the lagoon, but she stayed up through the fireworks show, easily making this her longest day ever.

Later in the week we drove across the state to visit Clara’s Great Grandparents, enjoying a great lunch with them. Clara loved exploring all of the cool things they had.

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The rest of our trip was spent hanging out at the beach house, drinking a lot of beer, eating raw oysters and clams, playing games and staying low key.  Clara was a champ during her first plane ride, staying sane through most of the 4 hour flights.  The trip home turned out to be pretty rough, as weather shut down DIA and forced us to stop in Amarillo for a refuel, making our trip home interesting. All-in-all: this was a fantastic vacation.