Vacation provides chance to recharge personal batteries, create memories

The wild horses of Shackleford Banks, North Carolina, can move in herds around the island. The horses are feral and part of the ecosystem of the island.

I’m not one to take huge, extended vacations anymore. A week is enough time to build up some terrific memories.

When I was a kid, every two years, my parents would save up money and we would be gone for two weeks, traveling across the United States in a maroon Volare station wagon and a canvas tent designed for a family of four.

The use of the tent allowed us to save on hotel costs. Those excursions included fishing trips or tickets to Disney World.

My brother and I even had bunk cots. I had the bottom cot and he had the top. It was not necessarily glamorous by any stretch and we learned a lot about being together. In all these adventures, there are thousands of memories to call on.

Last week, we spent time in North Carolina. First, we enjoyed a few days with my daughter’s boyfriend’s family in Durham and then we headed for Atlantic Beach. It’s been years since I have been in the ocean.

I got in the water and allowed the surf to roll me around the fine sands.

For some people, spending hours and hours at the beach, reading, playing in the water and building sandcastles is the epitome of a perfect vacation. For others, the chance to see a different part of the country beckons sightseeing and excursions. For our little family, it’s a bit of both. We had a chance to see an aquarium and a fort one day with plenty of time to go to the beach.

On another day, we went to Shackleford Banks, a barrier island system on the coast of Carteret County, North Carolina. We took a passenger ferry out to the island, which is part of the National Park Service.

While we watched boaters drive around the island looking for a place to swim, our reason for the visit was the wild horses. Like the western mustangs, eastern horses were reintroduced to North America by European explorers and settlers. Records show horses living on the Outer Banks for centuries. Genetic research shows evidence of Spanish ancestry in the Shackleford herd.

The horses aren’t huge, but they are lovely, roaming around seemingly oblivious to us humans. As a child, I read a book called “Misty of Chincoteague,” which is about a wild horse in Virginia. While we weren’t going to Virginia, I knew the wild horses were nearby in North Carolina.

My brother and I, of late, have been talking about bucket lists. Seeing the wild horses was part of mine.

I’m not sure if I can pinpoint why seeing the wild horses is on my bucket list. Maybe it’s reaching back to my childhood and a love of horses.

Whatever the reason, I got a chance to watch the horses, take photos and add to my storehouse of vacation memories.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at or 389-6630.

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