June 25, 2018

Topsail, North Carolina - Turtle Haven & Toddler Heaven

The beach is my happy place.

No matter the season and through nearly any type of weather, I experience a great peace when I hear the waves crashing and can feast my eyes on the great expanse of the water. At the end of last summer, we drove to Topsail Island, North Carolina, to spend five days just steps from the ocean, and despite sick children and a less than ideal house situation, we had a great time worrying primarily about applying sunscreen and rinsing the sand off our feet.

We arrived at the beach house on a Wednesday after a fairly stress-free drive from central Virginia. Both the girls behaved well in the van, despite being sandwiched between five tons of baby gear (we have yet to master the art of not over-packing for domestic trips), and we only stopped once on the way down, which is nearly miraculous when accompanied by a toddler and two month old.

Once we unpacked our bags, filled our bellies, and got the kids down for an early bedtime, it felt like vacation had finally started. We sat on the balcony, talked with the friends who were with us, and enjoyed some wine and beer. This is the good life, folks! Second only to a cross-country road trip, a beach trip is the quintessential American vacation, and after having not seen the Atlantic in nearly three years, it was good to be smelling the salt air.

The next morning, though, brought new concerns. Toddler Gypsy was running a fever, Baby Gypsy was congested, and the air conditioning in the beach house was blowing hot air. And mid-September in North Carolina is still HOT and HUMID. While we waited for the maintenance crew to show up, we spent time out on the sand, out on the deck, and up on the couch just enjoying a schedule-free day. The adults traded off kid-free time during naps, and then after dinner, we played some tunes and clinked our beer bottles to cheer the end of another beautiful day.

All our days at the beach were spent similarly. Unfortunately, we had arrived just a few weeks too late to witness the hatching of the sea turtles and their subsequent race to the sea - something for which the island is well known. Topsail is one of the northernmost nesting sites for loggerhead sea turtles. Green turtles, leatherbacks, and occasionally Kemp's ridley sea turtles also nest and lay their eggs here. The nesting season runs from mid-May through August, and the island takes its status as turtle sanctuary very seriously. Any nesting turtle is automatically considered endangered or protected, and heavy penalties exist for anyone who hampers, harasses, or harms a turtle.

As Toddler Gypsy has a newfound obsession for turtles (thanks, Finding Nemo), perhaps we can return during hatching season in the future.

Have you ever seen sea turtles hatching?

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