Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Outer Banks Rental

This week, I tagged two of my Facebook friends associated with the Outer Banks in this beach house photo (above) which I took during June 2004. It was one of my favorites that I only saw in passing on the way to the Cape Hatteras Motel, and again to head for home. So I didn't catch the name of it anywhere at the time and wondered about it whenever I look back at my vacation photos. All I did remember was that it was near the original location of the Serendipity beach house (in my photo below), which is known for use in the film "Nights in Rodanthe." Particularly, it was slightly north of that spot and on the sound side of Highway 12.

It didn't take long at all to find out the name of the very unique beach rental. Someone saw my photo on one of my tagged friend's pages and sent me an email about it. The beach house is called the Green Lantern and is rented out by Midgett Realty. Midgett, by the way, is apparently one of the surnames on my mother's side and through her father. We have a lot of Outer Banks ancestry, which explains my family's great interest in the popular travel destination.

Back to the beach rental, one I'd love to rent if I could get enough family members together at the same time. I'm hoping to find out some reviews on it by former renters as more people see my photo of the Green Lantern. Reviews, as well as more detailed photos of the property on the Midgett Realty Web site would be very helpful in getting family interested. It's just a matter of our varied schedules of course. That's why my family's Outer Banks visits have been very spaced out.

I first went there with my family when I was very young, five or a little older. We ran into tropical storm Dennis. At one point when the storm had calmed down a bit, we were out on a sand dune. The wind was still blowing enough to make the sand feel like it was stinging! I also remember the wind's ghostly howl around our relative's Hatteras Village house.

The next time I visited the Outer Banks was not until June 2004, what with work and school schedules. The original plan was to visit in September 2003, yet a variety of things came up. It was a vacation worth a little bit more of a wait in the end. It was the first chance I had to really use the new camera I had at the time. I took a mix of b/w and color photos of scenery, boats, waves, the lighthouses, and even the cemetery stones of ancestors. The 2004 trip was party for ancestry research purposes anyway.

My cousins and I wanted to go to the Outer Banks as a first-time vacation together. Plans were a little too last minute for 2009, and money has been tight of course with this economy since then. But maybe sometime in the near future, it'll work out. I wonder if in some way, I can make it sort of a journalism adventure. I am definitely more into this path than during my 2004 Outer Banks vacation. I only took photos at the time, no writing about the experience. Also, I didn't capture certain aspects of the time spent there...documenting the restaurants, noting any opinions on them, taking photos of them. So I want to do that as well next time...full coverage of dining out, taking in the attractions, capturing images both in photos and videos. I want to do the same for the ancestry angle of the next visit as well.

I think it will be a fun experience whenever we finally get to the Outer Banks again. At least three of us going will be taking a lot of photos, so there will be plenty of great memories no matter where we stay!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Space Shuttle

As I write this, I'm waiting for the news to cover the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis for its STS-132 mission. I tried to arrange going to Florida and getting tickets for a viewing tour for this particular launch. In the process, I found out a lot of useful information...just in case I can find a way to see one of the two remaining launches. Talk about coming down to the wire, after so many years of wanting to see a space shuttle launch in person!

So, here is what I found out. These aren't necessarily "little known" tips for viewing a launch...just things that were unknown to me as a would-be first-time visitor to Florida. The first thing is that the best place for viewing a launch is on the NASA causeway. Not being familiar with Florida myself, I would have wanted to get there with a tour company that sells tickets for the causeway viewing area. I found one company that gives a listing of particular tour bus pick-up spots, some of which are accommodations. That's one convenient option...staying at one of the hotels that also happens to be a pick-up spot. I made a note of all such places just in case things work out for one of the final two launches.

Getting tickets from a tour company for the causeway view seems to be easier than trying to buy them through the KSC Web least in my case anyway. On the day I tried to buy launch viewing tickets for the causeway, I made a mistake in the hour that tickets would officially go on sale. I woke up thinking that tickets went on sale at 8 a.m., however, they would go on sale an hour later. When the time came, I went onto the Web site and saw that it was set up sort of like being in a virtual waiting line. Visitors would be picked at random for their turn to buy tickets, and I only had 40 minutes to hope I'd be picked. So, I decided to try another option and that led me to Google searches of space shuttle launch tour companies.

For next time, my two biggest pieces of knowledge...accommodations on the tour bus pick-up route and buy causeway viewing tickets through the tour company. Beyond that, the hardest part will be getting to Florida and back. If I fly, I'd need a rental car...and I don't know if I could afford both of those plus accommodations and shuttle launch viewing tickets. Of course, I am unfortunately a long way from Florida by car. The other thing is that both of the upcoming and remaining two launches will be within my Fall semester. I'm not sure how it will work out in getting to see either launch, however this is a long-time goal. It would mean seeing a part of American history involving people I've always felt were heroes, the astronauts.

The photo I used for this post is one I took at the Wright Brothers museum while visiting the Outer Banks in 2004.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dreams of Ireland - Becoming Reality?

Whether I go to study abroad or for travel unrelated to education, my first choice is Ireland. This is because of all the ancestry I have going back there on either side of my family. I also love castles and the scenery in books, or used in film and TV.

I've been looking into study abroad options for a few years now, and thought it would have to be for no more than one 12-week semester. A full year program anywhere would be way out of budget. However, a single semester could be $15,000...still over budget. So it comes down to Summer programs, and I found one offered through a college in Ireland that also directly relates to my communications major. I can take something in visual arts or a course on Ireland in film and TV. That one would be perfect, because I love film locations in many films. Some of my favorites are the scenes in films with stories set in previous centuries of the U.S., the British Isles and Europe in general.

There is a lot I'll have to do in order to get ready. I don't have a passport yet, but I don't have to apply for this program until sometime during the coming Fall semester. I also have to decide if I really want to do the whole study abroad thing. I figure that to travel just as a citizen rather than as a student, it will cost more money. I'd lose out on the student rates. Of course, planning to go as a student, there are all the application processes involved. I'd also be the oldest person going with a group of other students. But being 10+ years older than everyone else I'd be going with isn't really a big deal. I just want the chance to go to Ireland and elsewhere. The entire group would have in common wanting to see famous sites, and it might be a first time visit for someone else besides me.

The other thing is that maybe I can always go back for an at-my-own-pace visit throughout Ireland. Something I'd also love to do is to visit Scotland, England and Wales...all of which I also have a great deal of ancestral ties to. I'm not sure if there would be time to get all of those in during a study abroad experience. If there is time, it will only be a bonus to the whole experience.

Just going to another country is full of firsts for me. I have not only never left the U.S., I have never flown anywhere. I never actually had a reason to travel by plane, since none of my travel experiences required it. I've never done any major travel on my own; or even with a group, without any family or old friends also being there. It will definitely be an exciting time and I hope that I'll be able to visit Ireland soon...for study abroad or non-study-abroad travel. No matter what other country or countries I get the chance to visit, Ireland will always be my favorite.