“My favorite place to vacation is anyplace by the ocean.”
— Nina Arianda
I don’t take many vacations. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of vacations I’ve taken since college.
It’s not that there’s something wrong with me, though that’s arguable. It’s not that I’m beneath vacations or that I can’t afford one, though that’s arguable, as well.
It’s just that I feel like I don’t really need a vacation. You see, I’m one of those people most people probably like to despise. I really like the work I do. It’s fulfilling, challenging and something different every day.
That’s not to say it doesn’t get tough at times, but it’s a good kind of tough.
In any case, there’s something to be said of travel, exploring new places, meeting new people and generally touring.
About a month ago, I got some news from my stepdad he needed to use some points on his timeshare or lose them. So he offered them to me.
Now with most of these places, it’s customary to book a room at least six months, and sometimes a year, in advance. We had almost counted out a trip to the beach – or anywhere close to water, for that matter – until he came across a place I didn’t know existed.
Now, it’s a place I’ll never forget.
On a whim, sight unseen, he booked us at the Fairfield Harbour in New Bern, N.C. At the time, all I knew was it was on the coast and within a day’s drive from Lebanon. At the time, that was good enough for me.
Our trip this time was unique in that we weren’t going as an entire family. Due to the time constraints, we booked our trip at the same time our oldest two children were at CentriKid Camp. Ironically we would all be in North Carolina at the same time, but the children were in the mountains while we visited the coast.
Shortly after we dropped the oldest two off with the capable hands of our church’s youth leaders, we were off on our own adventure with our 6 year old.
We took our time, which landed us in New Bern right around 11 p.m. We found the resort, checked in and found our room.
Exhausted and hungry, we decided to venture out to grab a quick bite to eat before quite literally passing out. We rode through a McDonald’s drive-thru only to find out it didn’t sell Happy Meals past midnight. After a little convincing and a few tears, we got that Happy Meal and settled in for the night.
Not looking to be overwhelmed by our first impressions of our vacation destination from the night before, we decided to take an afternoon tour of New Bern’s historic downtown.
Picture a New England harbor town with southern charm. That’s the best description I can muster. It wasn’t crowded, the weather was beautiful and we knew we had made a wonderful discovery.
I know I am speaking for myself when I had my sights set on enjoying some seafood, so my landlubber wife and daughter accompanied me to Captain Ratty’s, where we found a table on the roof to enjoy an early dinner.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at the town park overlooking the inlet.
The next day, we took to the pool before another early dinner, this time at the Stingray Café next door to a seafood market. Afterward, we returned to the resort for a round of putt-putt before taking a stroll around the harbor.
Our third day featured a tour of the downtown shops in New Bern. You know, it’s where Pepsi was invented. And this town has some really unique bears painted to fit the businesses. There was a pirate bear, a doctor bear, a police bear and even a bear painted like a taxi.
We then took a trip to Atlantic Beach, N.C., about 35 minutes away, for some fun in the sun and surf. Spoiled only by a few brief mishaps from some unruly waves for my daughter who has no fear, we had an awesome time there. There were some people on the beach, but it was by no means crowded.
It was really a nice stay in a laid-back area along the North Carolina coast. Even the 650 miles we had to travel to get there were scenic through the mountains near Asheboro.
So, however you rate vacations or most anything, for that matter, New Bern gets two thumbs up or five stars or whatever signifies in my daughter’s words, “best vacation ever.”
Speaking for myself, however, it’s always good to be back home. Hopefully we can book a return trip to New Bern sooner than later. After all, everyone needs a vacation every now and then.
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.