Thursday, July 27, 2017

Michael's Big Project - A Brand New Deck

Michael decided to embark on an epic project while we were down in the Outer Banks - you know, when we were supposed to be maxing and relaxing, and enjoying our leisure time, and not being stressed?  Michael decided to tear up his dad's deck and build him an entirely new one with his bare hands.  I guess everyone has a different idea of what they'd like to be doing on vacation...

First he had to measure and survey the old deck.
 Then he spent a whole day tearing up the old boards.  He loaded them into our big truck to bring to the recycling center.

This was how it looked after all the boards had been pulled up.

 I got to see the recycling center - lucky me.
 Then I also got to see the lumber yard, where Michael went to buy big beams of wood.  It was just thrilling, I tell ya.
 Once all the stakes and boards had been pulled up, Michael had to prepare the ground and lay the frame - the trickiest part.

It was pretty hard work, and it was HOT.  There were lots of various tools and saws being used.
 Here, halfway through the framing process.
 Here, the frame is starting to take shape nicely.
 Here, Michael cut the boards to size and laid them out in various patterns/configurations, trying to figure out which one would work best.
And finally, here are a few pictures of the finished product.  Soon, the wood will be weathered to the same gray color.
It's really pretty, right?  He also installed some solar deck lighting.
This is a table he completed on one of his previous trips down to North Carolina, which we saw this time when we were there.  I guess it goes without saying that he really likes to work with wood!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Travels in the U.S. - A Week in the Outer Banks, North Carolina

Picking up on my last post, our vacation continued in the U.S. with a trip down to the Outer Banks.  I love it down there (but for the fact that it's kind of hard to get to, and the mosquitoes are vicious)!  I have never had the luxury to stay down here for a full week, but that's what I got to do on this trip.  It was wonderful.
Michael and I began our journey out of La Guardia airport (yikes) but were blessed with these amazing views over Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Man, this city can be so annoying and frustrating and expensive and crazy, but these bird's eye views are breathtaking.
We landed in Norfolk, picked up the largest truck ever (no, really, see picture below), and made our way down to Avon.  
Michael's parents have a house there and I had forgotten how comfortable and nice it is. 

 This being North Carolina, alcohol is only sold in state stores, called "ABC Liquors".  They stock the stores so it looks very... utilitarian.  It was a funny experience.

 We grilled on a couple of nights using the outdoor grill.  I love a hot charcoal fire.
 I've mentioned it before, but I love the scrubby landscape here.  I love that windswept, sea-grass covered dune look (if that is indeed a look).

The beach itself is not so bad either. 
 There was a turtle reserve.
 There are some incredible sunsets here.  We saw a few from the top deck of the house, but then we also kayaked to get out to the sound one day, and took the boat out on another day, just to catch the spectacular colors.
 I hadn't been in a kayak in a long time!  Those specks in the background are kite surfers.
 In the boat, we could get out a little farther.

 On another day, we saw what looked like a tornado swirling over the water.  Pretty cool!
 Then, on one of our last days there, we went fishing, fully not expecting to catch anything.  It was my first time learning how to cast and reel.

For the most part, this was our view:
 Michael caught something pretty big and white, but it was so heavy and jumped from one side of the boat to the other, and took a chunk of line and the hook and bait!  Oh well.  However, Michael started fishing with renewed vigor after that!
On my last day, we drove down to the tip of Hatteras island to check out a new island that emerged out of the water a few months ago.  No, seriously!  Shelly island just popped up out of the water, and its progress seems to be changing every day.  To get there, we parked near the beach at the very tip of the island right after the lighthouse, then headed down the beach on foot.  It was about a mile each way.
 We walked by a lot of marsh lands until we hit the beach, where lots of cars were lined up with people fishing.
 Once we made it past that, we got to the point where we could see the new island.  Can you see it?  Pretty large mass of sand that just emerged out of nowhere, eh?
 It curved around the tip of the island, and in this calmer part a lot of people were kayaking, stand up paddling, fishing or just swimming.  It was very peaceful.
 I collected a ton of beautiful seashells while Michael waded across  and took some pictures from Shelly island, and then we walked home, enjoying more of the grassy dunes and marsh lands.
Next post? Michael's project while we were in the Outer Banks.